American Express is currently offering their highest-ever signup bonus on their no-annual-fee Hilton HHonors card: 80,000 Hilton Honors points! Should you eschew it though for a 75,000 point offer? In some cases, yes.
I’ll break down both deals in this post so that you’ll understand which offer is better for you!
Overview of the Hilton Honors AMEX Card
The name of the card gives it away – this one is tied to the Hilton loyalty program. The program was previously known as HHonors. Hilton recently dropped the leading “H” but this card still bears the old loyalty program moniker.
It’s an American Express card, so you know you’ll get decent customer service with it.
The card has some earning rates that will get your attention:
- Earn 7X Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your card directly with a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio
- Earn 5X Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your card at:
- U.S. restaurants
- U.S. supermarkets
- U.S. gas stations
- Earn 3X Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your card
It doesn’t carry an annual fee so it’s a good card to nab (when the signup bonus is strong) and keep. On the downside, you’ll be charged a 2.7% fee for foreign transactions on the card so this isn’t the card to use while on travel outside the states.
Another benefit: Hilton HHonors Card members automatically receive Silver status in the Honors program.
Which Signup Offer is Better – 75k or 80k Points?
The Hilton HHonors AMEX usually comes with a 50,000 point signup bonus, but sometimes the offer jumps to 75,000 points. For a limited time, American Express is running a signup promo that will get you 80,000 Hilton Honors points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the card within your first 3 months of card membership.
There’s another offer, still available here, that will get you 75,000 Hilton Honors points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card within your first 3 months of card membership.
So which is the better deal? Here’s how I break it down…
A Hilton Honors point is generally worth about 0.5 cents to me on average (my most recent redemption yielded me over 1 cent per point though). So the extra 5,000 points that come with this latest offer are worth about $25 more to me. Is it worth taking on an additional $1,000 in spending requirement for a chunk of points worth about $25? In some cases, no, and other cases, yes.
The effective return of that second $1,000 in spending will be 2.5% ($25 / $1,000). That’s not super impressive for a return on a signup bonus. Contrast that with the 75,000 point haul you get with the other offer for spending $1,000. Those 75,000 points are worth about $375. That means you’re getting a whopping 37.5% return on the first $1,000 of spending on the 75k point offer ($375/$1,000).
So looking at it from that perspective, it may be unclear why you would opt for the 80,000 point offer. There are two reasons that could be a better choice for you: 1) If you are about to spend a boatload of money such that the extra $1,000 in spending requirement is inconsequential to you and 2) If you have your eye on a redemption that is going to cost you about 80,000 or more points. In such a case it may be easier and more cost-effective to simply go for the higher signup bonus and get the 80,000 points in one fell swoop as a signup bonus.
It’s pretty cool to see these two offers available simultaneously. It gives the consumer flexibility and really minimizes the temptation of someone to make unnecessary purchases simply to meet a spending requirement. With this situation a consumer who doesn’t have much spending planned for the near term can opt for the lower-spending-requirement offer. Conversely, a consumer who is about to make a large purchase – say a set of new appliances – can opt for the higher signup bonus offer and maximize their return on the significant purchase.
Some Notes on the Hilton Honors Program
The Hilton Honors program is longstanding and the strengths and weaknesses of it are well known.
One of its greatest strengths is portfolio depth and breadth. There are Hilton hotels everywhere and they range from budget properties to swanky resorts.
One of the main weaknesses of the program is the low value of a point. Whereas a hotel point can be worth two cents or even more with some other programs, a common redemption value for Hilton Honors points is 0.5 cents/point. However, I have recently obtained much greater – over a cent/point – value with some Hilton Honors redemptions. And of course the value of a point isn’t the whole story – you also need to understand how easy or hard it is to earn points to really know the value of a program. Earning Hilton Honors points is relatively easy, especially if you pick up the Hilton Honors AMEX card.
The Hilton Honors AMEX card gets you Silver status in the program. With that status level comes a few perks. One, you automatically receive a 15% bonus on all the Hilton Honors Base Points you earn. More importantly, Silver (and Gold and Diamond) members will get every 5th night free when booking a reward stay of five nights or more using all points. This is a great perk!
The highlights of the new program are:
- Members are now able to use a combination of points and money for an award night. The Hilton Honors Points & Money slider lets you decide how many points you want to use for a stay, and there are no blackout dates. This is a feature we’ve seen with other loyalty programs before. It’s usually unexciting but can be nice for those situations where you’re short of the number of points necessary for an award stay and worried about the hotel selling out of award rooms. In that case you can eliminate that risk by booking with a combo of points and cash. Of course you have to analyze the breakdown to make sure that you’re not essentially paying a fortune for the points you’re missing.]
- Starting in April, Hilton Honors members will be able to combine their points with up to 10 friends or family members for free. That means that 11 members could pool their points for award nights for group trips. This can have major value and it can make a trip with friends or family a lot more “fair.” Instead of one person booking the entire stay with his/her points and the rest of the travelers trying to find some way to reimburse them, points could be pooled in equal amounts to book the whole stay.
- Hilton will launch Shop with Points at Amazon.com this summer. I doubt this will be worthwhile in any way.
For a limited time there are two great signup bonus offers for the Hilton HHonors AMEX. You can opt for a 75k point signup bonus offer that requires $1,000 in spending or an 80k point offer which requires $2,000 in spending.
Either way, you’ll be getting a great signup bonus and it’s for a no-annual-fee card that offers some pretty good earning rates. If you use Hilton properties quite a bit you should definitely consider having this card in your wallet. Even if you don’t you may want to consider getting the card while the signup bonuses are elevated.
Are you going after the Hilton HHonors AMEX? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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