I’m paying a bit more in rent in Bellevue than I did in Tampa, but I kind of expected that. The good news is that they accept credit card payments for a fixed fee, and it comes out to roughly 1.5% for what I owe. They don’t accept American Express cards, or else I’d put it on an American Express Prepaid card that I bought at Office Depot (funded with a Chase Ink Bold card so I earn five Ultimate Rewards points per dollar).
So is it worth basically “buying” points at 1.5 cents each in a spend category that doesn’t accrue bonus points? I’d say yes, though not all that enthusiastically.
On the surface I figured the Chase Sapphire Preferred card would be my best bet. After all, I value Ultimate Rewards points at 1.9 cents each, and I’d be earning 1.07 of them per dollar spent (thanks to the 7% annual points dividend), so I’d be coming out ahead. But still, there’s a certain holding cost to points, and while I’d probably do it, I wouldn’t he thrilled about it.
The card that somehow completely slipped my mind is the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card. I applied for it during my most recent credit card churn, though after completing the minimum spend I put it in my sock drawer for the time being. The card comes with Hilton Gold status for free as long as you have the card (which more than justifies the annual fee in my opinion), and gets you Hilton HHonors Diamond status after $40,000 of spend in a calendar year, so that was my goal for next year. I didn’t quite know how I’d do that, given that I’m quite infatuated with American Express Prepaid cards right now, and I’d have a hard time giving those up in favor of achieving Diamond status.
But paying rent — or any large expense that doesn’t otherwise qualify for a “category” bonus — on the Hilton HHonors Reserve card has to be the greatest thing since reality TV. While my rent (fortunately) isn’t $40,000 per year, it gets me a good way there. $40,000 of spend in a non-bonus category gets you:
- 120,000 Hilton HHonors points
- Hilton HHonors Diamond status
- A free weekend night certificate — it can be redeemed for properties that cost 80,000 points per night, though due to the weekend restriction let’s conservatively value it at 40,000 Hilton HHonors points.
Now, Gary and I disagree on the value of Hilton points. I value them at 0.8 cents each, and he values them closer to 0.5 cents each. My reasoning is simply that as long as you have a Hilton American Express card as well you can redeem for AXON awards, whereby four nights at their top category hotels will run you just 145,000 points. That includes properties like the Conrads in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Koh Samui, and the Maldives.
Either way, between the equivalent of 160,000 Hilton HHonors points of value and Diamond status, I’d say that’s a return that’s impossible to beat — and makes putting rent on the card a complete no brainer. If I could maintain the 1.5% rate for all $40,000 of spend I’d be looking at just $600 for Hilton Diamond status and ~160,000 Hilton HHonors points, which would be amazing. Guess I need to rent a more expensive place so I can knock it all out at once?
The bottom line is that I think this card is the best out there for spend that doesn’t belong in a bonus category on another card. Otherwise I’d say the Starwood American Express card is the other best option, though I do value three Hilton points at slightly more than one Starwood point. Oh, and I’m happy that my apartment community is miles and points friendly.
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