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This is a multi-series post which lists out my favorite credit cards to use when paying at the following major hotel chains:
- Club Carlson
I am constantly being asked “What is the best credit card to use when I stay at a certain hotel chain?” While most hotels have their own co-branded credit card, there are also other cards out there that provide bonus points for hotel spend. So let’s compare to see which card is best to use when staying at a Hilton property.
There are currently four Hilton co-branded credit cards:
- Citi® Hilton HonorsTM Visa Signature Card: Earn 6x points at Hilton hotels
- Citi® Hilton HonorsTM Reserve Card: Earn 10x points at Hilton hotels
- Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express: Earn 12x points at Hilton hotels
- Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express: Earn 7x points at Hilton hotels
So with the co-branded cards you can earn anywhere between 6x to 12x points depending on which card you have. Aside from the points you earn on your spend, the main difference is the status that comes with the card, the annual fee, the sign up bonus, and the annual bonus. Unless you stay at Hilton hotels all the time, some of the other perks should actually be the deciding factor on which card to apply for, in my opinion. But are the Hilton credit cards actually the best card to use when staying at a Hilton hotel?
Hilton points are worth about .5 cents per point on average. Hilton has a huge range of hotels, so you can definitely get a better value depending on where you are traveling to, but you can also get a lesser value. Of course you can get a higher or lesser value based on your redemption, but this seems to be the average in the points and miles world. So when using the Hilton cards you are getting anywhere between 3% and 6% cash back. That can be a great value, assuming you are able to get .5 cents per point on your redemption.
From my post on which card to use at Marriott, I actually recommended other cards instead of the Marriott credit card. However, for Hilton hotels, if you stay at Hiltons often and want to accrue Hilton points, then earning 12x points is the best option! With the Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express you also then get access to AXON and 5th night free awards allowing you the possibility to use less points for an award stay.
However, if you are annoyed with Hilton’s massive devaluation from last year and would prefer to earn other credit card points/cash back when staying at Hilton hotels, here are some other options:
- SimplyCash® Business Card from American Express: This card comes with a bunch of bonus category options and you are able to select 1 category out of the 7 given to get 3% cash back. If you select Hotels as your category you will get the 3% cash back on all hotel spend, including Hilton. This could be a better option as it is cash in your pocket now and you do not need to worry about limiting yourself to only a Hilton hotels for a future stay or having the points devalue even more – although I am not quite sure how much more Hilton can devalue! (Note that the 5% and 3% cash back is capped at $25,000 spend during the year and is then 1% cash back).
- Chase Sapphire Preferred: This card gives you 2x points on all hotel spend. And if you were a card member prior to 7/20/2014 you’ll earn a 7% annual bonus on all points earned, meaning you’ll get 2.14x points at Hilton hotels. I value my Chase Ultimate Reward points at 2 cents per point (when transferring to an award partner), so the cash value you are getting is 4% back (or 4.28% back if you are entitled the 7% bonus). So this is comparable to the lower level Hilton credit cards, but not as good as the Hilton credit cards that come with an annual fee. But, you have much more flexibility when redeeming your points and allows you to diversify your redemption options.
I personally have the Hilton Honors Card from American Express which has no annual fee. When I stay at Hilton hotels (which is not too often), I use this card. While I probably get a slightly better value out of my Chase Ultimate Reward points, I have many opportunities to earn those points and have a healthy balance. Earning Hilton points is more limiting and my balance is somewhat low right now.
What credit card do you use at Hilton hotels?