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In the hotel rewards arena, the Marriott and Starwood merger has been stealing the spotlight lately.  And for good reason, it’s not every day that two high-caliber programs merge and allow points transfer from one to another.  Behind the scenes, Hilton has also been sweetening the pot by increasing the sign-up bonuses for several of their credit cards to close out 2016.  For some of the cards, it is the highest bonuses offered.

Current No-Fee Hilton Credit Card Offers (Expired)

American Express Hilton HHonors

The Amex solution for the no-fee Hilton credit card is the American Express Hilton HHonors with a regular sign-up bonus of 50,000 HHonors points.  Although, there are some targeted offers for 75,000 points after spending $1,000 within three months when redeemed before November 30, 2016.

The no-fee Amex Hilton offers slightly different perks than the no-fee Citi Hilton HHonors by offering the following benefits:

  • Purchase Rewards: 7 points for Hilton purchases, 5 points at U.S. restaurants, gas stations,and supermarkets, and 3 points on all other purchases.
  • 500 point bonus each time you reserve & pay for a Hilton Portfolio stay with the no-fee Amex.
  • Complimentary Silver Status with the opportunity to upgrade to Gold HHonors status after spending $20,000 each calendar year.

There is a 2.7% foreign transaction fee, so this card is still better served as a secondary credit card for most travelers.  Unless you can take advantage of the Citi relationship bonus of earning 10,000 bonus points by making $1,000 in Hilton purchases each year, this is probably the better option of the no-fee credit cards without taking the sign-up bonus into consideration.

Both of the no-fee Hilton credit cards have temporarily increased their sign-up bonuses to 75,000 points from 50,000 points, but, the better offer still might be the $95 annual fee Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve as the anniversary night reward out values the annual fee if you use the card to make $10,000 in purchases each year.

Citi Hilton HHonors Visa (Expired)

To start things off, the no annual fee Citi Hilton HHonors has boosted their bonus from 50,000 Hilton HHonors points to 75,000 points after spending $2,000 within the first three months.  This is the highest sign-up bonus offered for this card! Ok, so Citi has offered 75,000 points in the past, but it has never gone higher than that mark.  The normal sign-up bonus is usually 50,000 points.  There isn’t an expiration date posted for this bonus, although, the increased Amex Hilton offers expire on November 30, 2016.

Additional Citi Hilton HHonors Benefits

For a no-fee credit card, the Citi credit card offers some pretty good rewards.  Here are some of the highlights:

  • Purchase Rewards: 6 HHonors points for Hilton purchases, 3 HHonors points at supermarkets, drugstores, and pharmacies, and 2 points for all remaining purchases.
  • Complimentary Silver HHonors Membership Status (15% point redemption bonus and 5th night free)
  • Fast Track to HHonors Gold Status after 4 stays within the first 90 days of account opening or spending $20,000 in a calendar year.
  • Annual 10,000 Hilton HHonors Point Bonus after spending $1,000 in Hilton Portfolio purchases within a calendar year.
  • Citi Price Rewind will refund you the price difference on select retail purchases if the price drops within 60 days of purchase.

This card is better served as a secondary option because it has a 3% foreign transaction fee if you plan on traveling abroad.

Annual Fee Hilton Credit Card Bonuses (Expired)

Amex Hilton Surpass

The Amex Hilton HHonors Surpass is offering a 100,000 point sign-up bonus, through November 30th, after spending $3,000 in the first three months.  The normal sign-up bonus is 75,000 HHonors points.  With an annual fee of $75, you can earn some additional rewards that the no-fee varieties do not offer.

  • Purchase Rewards: 12 HHonors points for Hilton purchases, 6 points at U.S. gas stations, restaurants, and supermarkets, and 3 points for all remaining purchases.
  • Complimentary Gold HHonors Status and the ability to earn HHonors Diamond status after spending $40,000 per calendar year.
  • Complimentary Priority Pass Airport Lounge Membership ($99 value) although each lounge visit will cost $27 per person.

The Amex Surpass also carries an annual fee of 2.7%.  This credit card can be a better option than the no-fee options due to the better purchase rewards earning potential, but, the better option is to apply for the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve if you plan to carry a monthly balance of at least $1,000.

Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve

There isn’t any increased sign-up bonus for the HHonors Reserve, but, this is still the card overall for most Hilton aficionado.  The current sign-up bonus is 2 free weekend nights after spending $2,500 within the first 4 months.  While it’s possible to redeem the 75,000 or 100,000 bonus points from the other three credit cards for three or more nights, the weekend nights is the most valuable offer as they are valid at virtually any Hilton portfolio property.

Despite being charged a $95 annual fee, the annual fee is justified as cardholders earn an anniversary night for each year of membership if you use the card to spend $10,000.  As the average nightly rate for any Hilton property is greater than the $95 annual fee, this card pays for itself when the anniversary night is redeemed for any stay worth more than $100 (which isn’t hard to do).

Additional card benefits include:

  • Purchase Rewards: 10 points for Hilton Portfolio hotel stays, 5 points for airline and car rental purchases, and 3 points for all other purchases.
  • Anniversary Night good for one weekend nightly stay after spending $10,000 each year (anniversary day to anniversary day).
  • Complimentary Gold HHonors Status with the option to upgrade to Diamond status after spending $40,000 within a calendar year (January to December).
  • No foreign transaction fee

Maximizing Hilton HHonors Points

If you decide to go with a Hilton bonus that offers points, which can give you many domestic or international travel opportunities.  It is easy to rack up the Hilton points with any of the above credit cards, but, the high-end hotels cost a lot of points.  The earning potential is a good thing as it can be rather difficult to transfer points among travel partners.

For example, Chase Ultimate Rewards points cannot be directly transferred to Hilton.  You would have transfer them through another loyalty program first.  It is possible to transfer Citi ThankYou points and Amex Membership Rewards points, although the redemption rates might not be the most valuable.  1,000 Citi or Amex points are currently worth 1,500 Hilton points when transferred.

With four credit choices to choose from, there is a Hilton card that can benefit anybody.  Some things to remember, in regards to the sign-up bonus, is that Amex will only provide you the bonus once per card per lifetime.  Citi will allow prior cardholders to receive the bonus again after waiting 24 months.

Johnny Jet Editorial

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.

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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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