I must admit, I was shocked to learn of this card initially given it’s annual fee. But reading more about the card made me realize, I’m basically getting paid to keep this card, getting a guaranteed free weekend night (which could be worth $300 depending on peak prices), lounge access for me and two other companions as well as $600 in credits.
No way. It can’t all be that great, or is it?
The card does come with a sign-up bonus of 150,000 Hilton Points which when redeemed at premium locations, can give you over $900 in value right off the bat. Do keep in mind, you need to spend $4000 in the first 90 days of being approved for the card to receive the bonus. Additionally, the annual fee of $450 for the card is NOT waived.
But when you sign up, you instantly get access to:
- $250 Airline Fee Credits
- $250 Hilton Resort Credits
- $100 property credit
- $399 Priority Pass Lounge Access
- Hilton Diamond Elite Status
- And an annual weekend night
Renewing the card will give you all the aforementioned for the second year of membership (except the 150,000 sign-up bonus). I’ll explain more on each of the benefits later on.
Setting aside the Priority Pass membership as well as the $100 property credit (more on that later), math kind of goes like this-
$250 (Airline) + $250 (Resort) -$450 (Annual Fee) = $50 reimbursed to you to simply keep the card and book stays.
I’m interest, what are the point earning categories?
14X Points Per Dollar for each eligible purchase on your Card made directly with a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio.
7X Points Per Dollar for eligible purchases on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies and at U.S. restaurants.
3X Points Per Dollar for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
Averaging it out, 1 Hilton Point can be valued at 0.6 CPP (cents per point) however your mileage may vary (you may get more value or less on a per point redemption).
So how can you maximize the returns to create more value?
Airline Fee Credit (and hack)
While the $250 credits are towards airline incidentals such as in-flight food and drink purchases, baggage charges or for upgrading a seat at the counter. You have the ability to choose an airline partner with which you shall redeem these credits ONCE per CALENDAR year. Airline partners include United, American, Spirit and Southwest amongst others.
This credit CANNOT be used to purchase airline tickets. However, there is a hack for getting gift cards which code as travel when purchased either from Southwest or Delta (through Desktop/laptop ONLY) websites.
You may purchase gift cards in $50 installments (5 gift cards for one airline) when you buy them directly from the website. Please DO NOT use a mobile/tablet device to purchase the giftcards as they will not code as “Travel – Airline”. You will still earn 7X points on each dollar spent towards these purchases. General advice is to do the hack as soon as you get the card (space them out) and wait for the reimbursement credit to apply. Once you see the first reimbursement, you may repeat the process for the other cards.
I personally prefer Southwest because their flights are relatively cheap and they have first two free checked in bags plus I did the hack when I got my Amex Gold card (so I know it works).
This is relatively straightforward and will be applied whenever you stay at Hilton. It is automatically applied to cover all charges billed to your room (restaurant, bar, room service, spa, room rate). It however does NOT apply simply if you happen to dine in a Hilton property – you need to charge this to a booked room stay.
It has been observed that international destination bookings under “advanced purchase rate” tend to automatically apply the $250 credit but the same can’t be said about US properties. For example, a $500/night room at a US location may not trigger the $250 credit on the room booking itself but will do so in a Non-US location (effectively $250/night).
Probably the only expense that can be tricky to redeem because it will only be applied to reimburse charges made at the super luxurious Waldorf Astoria and Conard by Hilton is the $100 property credit. This will be applied towards room charges such as restaurant/bar/spa and room service.
Hilton Diamond Status
This status is particularly useful as you get hotel lounge access (not necessarily available at all properties) where you may find 24/7 food/snacks/drinks. You also get free breakfast for two which potentially saves you upto $60/person and a possibility of a room upgrade. The last two can add a lot of value as they come at no additional cost and improve the quality of your stay.
Priority Pass Lounge Access
The best perk for frequent fliers who may travel solo or with family/friends as this gives you (+two people) airport lounge access. Some airports come with showers, bars and frankly speaking, for something that you’re getting for free, you can save a lot! I cover my impressions of lounge access at airports in my article on the Chase Sapphire Reserve which also offers this perk.
Free weekend night
Upon receiving the card, you are eligible to a free night EVERY year of holding the card including the first one. Best way to redeem the free night (upto 35,000 point redemption) is to bundle it with a two night stay where you can use your Hilton points to cover the second night.
Should you then get this card?
I think it’s a no-brainer, albeit the $4000 sign-up bonus spend may be difficult for some, but beyond that this card not only pays you to keep it, it rewards you with so much value you’d otherwise spend thousands of dollars on.
If you wish to apply for the card, feel free to use the link provided as it helps support the website.