A few days ago I’ve received an email from one of my husband’s relatives and wanted to share it (as well as my advice) with readers:
“Hey Leana. Is the Hilton Honors credit card good? My husband just sent me a message saying we should both get it. I thought I would run it by you.”
The answer: It’s complicated…
Before giving any specific advice, I reached out to this person to ask why exactly they are interested in Hilton co-branded cards. Do they have plans to stay in Hilton properties? Do they like the chain so much they can’t imagine vacationing anywhere else? Will Gold elite status come in handy because they are going to a Hilton resort?
She responded saying that her husband simply saw an advertisement for Hilton cards highlighting sizable sign-up bonuses. So, he viewed this as an opportunity to collect points for some free-ish hotel stays in Florida. With toddler in the house they don’t really plan to fly often, so they primarily focus on local resort getaways.
I’ve said before that unless you have specific plans for hotel points, those type of offers should be your last choice. In majority of cases you will be better off going after flexible points, cash and miles, in that order. Hotel points (except for Marriott program that has a decent mileage transfer ratio) tie you down to one specific chain. It’s great if you are planning on paying cash for a property which happens to be a fantastic deal via points. Otherwise, I recommend you exhaust all of your other options first.
That being said, I do sign up for hotel cards from time to time, depending on the offer. It’s nice to have a stash of points on hand, so I can plan a spur-of-the-moment getaway or treat family and friends to an occasional vacation.
Back to Hilton cards
As many of you know, right now the offers on all four Amex Hilton cards are increased. See more details here My relatives were specifically interested in Ascend version, details below if you apply via personal referral link:
- Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
- Earn a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
- Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio.
- Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
- Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
- Spend $40,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn Hilton Honors Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.
- $95 annual fee.
What’s odd here is that the affiliate offer is for only 125,000 points. But fear not!
In the past this offer came with 100,000 points bonus and a free weekend night upon renewal. It’s impossible to say whether it will ever return, but I think the current bonus is superior for most folks. Well, unless you were planning on redeeming the free night in Maldives or Tahiti.
After all, you would have to pay $95 renewal fee in order to get the “free” weekend night, and you would miss out on 50,000 Hilton points. With this offer you can cancel after one year and avoid $95 fee. Regardless, this is the best offer on Ascend at the moment, and I do think that for some it’s definitely worth considering.
My relatives are not interested in Diamond status, 10 Priority Pass certificates or free weekend night that you get after putting $15,000 on the card. The only reason they want to apply is due to sign-up bonus. Admittedly, 150,000 points is nothing to sneeze at, but it’s not as impressive as it appears at first glance. Related post: Five tips on squeezing the most value out of Hilton Honors program
They are primarily interested in this card so that they can stay in nice, family-friendly resorts or beachfront hotels. Unless you snag a deal during off-season, you should expect to pay 50k-60k Hilton points per night for decent Hilton resorts in our home state of Florida. So, the bonus should cover at least three nights. It’s a good deal, even when you factor in the $95 annual fee. But can they do better?
Enter Hyatt card
I asked her if they like Hyatts and she replied that indeed they do. In fact, she happens to have the old version of Chase Hyatt co-branded card ($75 annual fee) and they renew it each year for one night at a Category 4 Hyatt. Her husband doesn’t have it, though. Bingo!
I replied that they really should consider applying for The World of Hyatt Chase credit card in her husband’s name. Even though the annual fee is now $95, the bonus is superior as well.
You get 40,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. You also earn an additional 20,000 bonus points after you spend $6,000 total on purchases within the first 6 months of account opening. For most people, renewing Hyatt card will be a good deal due to “free” Category 1-4 certificate.
She can also refer her husband and get 10,000 Hyatt points on top of it. Yes, you can generate referral link even if you have the old version of the card. So, if all goes well, they will end up with at least 76,000 points total.
To me, 1 Hyatt point is worth approximately 3 Hilton points. Plus, the new Hyatt Card will make a good companion to the one they already have. Now they will be able to put together a weekend getaway via two renewal certificates. If you look at it that way, applying for Hyatt card becomes a no-brainer. She agreed.
Of course, this is a subjective valuation, plus, Hilton has a superior footprint. However, Florida has quite a few nice Hyatt resorts within a short driving distance from this relative’s house. Many cost 15,000 points per night and go for $500+ during high season. Here is a list of Category 4 Florida properties:
See this link for list of worldwide properties and corresponding categories.
Even Category 1 and 2 Hyatt properties that cost 5,000 and 8,000 points respectively can be a good deal. Over Labor Day weekend we decided to spend one night in Hyatt Place Sarasota / Lakewood Ranch which costs 8,000 points. It’s not a resort, but the property is brand new. It’s located within a 25-minute drive from Siesta Key beach, though Red Tide has killed our plans to go there.
The kids didn’t mind hanging out at the hotel, though. There was a nice pool, a hot tub and even a cabana. How fancy is that?
I’ve become a Hyatt Place convert over the last few years and really appreciate their decent breakfast, spacious suites and a “notch above” vibe. My kids feel the same way. In fact, my son told me recently that Hyatt is fancy and Holiday Inn is old school. Well, aren’t we spoiled rotten!
When it comes to hotel points, it’s not a “one size fits all” type deal. Everyone has different goals and preferences. But if right now I had to pick the best hotel offer with an annual fee of less than $100, I would say it’s probably The World of Hyatt Chase credit card. Though Amex Ascend is close second. Of course, there is always an option to get both as long as you can handle minimum spending requirements.
The Hyatt card is currently not subject to 5/24 restriction, so that’s another reason to apply while you still can. Update: the card is now subject to 5/24 restriction. Do keep in mind that hotel categories can shift without notice, because it happens all the time. Never pick a hotel credit card based on only one property because you may end up disappointed.
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.