Hilton is in the unique position of having co-branded credit cards with both Citi and American Express.
I’ve written extensively about the new Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card, which I think is a fantastic card product. The reason this card is so awesome is because it comes with Hilton HHonors Gold status for as long as you have the card, which is hands down the most valuable mid-tier hotel status (perhaps with the exception of Marriott Gold, though that requires 50 nights per year, the same as other programs’ top tier status). Hilton HHonors Gold gets you free internet and breakfast/club lounge access, which are the most valuable elite hotel benefits, in my opinion.
Anyway, I suspect quite a few Hilton customers have switched from the American Express products to the Citi products, so American Express has spiced up their offerings a bit.
Increased sign-up bonus on the Hilton HHonors American Express
American Express has the no annual fee Hilton HHonors American Express Card, on which they’ve raised the sign-up bonus to 65,000 Hilton HHonors points after spending $3,000 on the card within six months. This is a phenomenal card simply because it has no annual fee, and it gives you access to Hilton HHonors AXON awards. AXON awards are available exclusively to those with the co-branded American Express card, and get you four nights in a category seven hotel for only 145,000 points (as opposed to the usual cost of 50,000 points per night). You can see some of my favorite value AXON awards in this post.
So even though I accrue all my Hilton points through credit card spend on the Citi Reserve Card, I still need the co-branded American Express card to have access to those AXON awards. The 65,000 points happens to be the best sign-up bonus I’ve seen on the card as well, so this is a great time to jump on the offer. It’s worth noting that the increased sign-up offer is only available through November 30, 2012.
More points for Hilton stays with the Hilton Surpass American Express
American Express’ “premium” co-branded Hilton card is the American Express Hilton HHonors Surpass Card, which offers a 60,000 Hilton HHonors point sign-up bonus when spending $3,000 within the first three months. Much like the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card, it offers Diamond status if you spend $40,000 per year, though unlike the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card it only offers Gold status for free for the first year, and after that $20,000 per year in spend is required to maintain Gold.
That being said, to spruce up their offerings they’ve increased the points you earn for stays at Hilton properties from nine points per dollar to twelve points per dollar as of November 1, 2012. That’s extremely rewarding, and it’s also worth keeping in mind that you earn 500 bonus Hilton HHonors points when you make your booking online using a co-branded Hilton American Express card. Meanwhile the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card offers ten points per dollar spent at Hilton properties.
Man, I sure love when a single loyalty program has co-branded credit cards with multiple card issuers. Sure makes it fun for the consumer.
The number of Hilton points that can now be earned through a hotel stay is actually getting quite ridiculous. A $100 stay booked with a co-branded American Express now nets you 3,700 Hilton HHonors points as a Diamond member, not even factoring in any promotions (500 points for booking online, 12 points per dollar for using the Surpass American Express, and 20 points per dollar for base points and being a Diamond member). I don’t think any other hotel chain offers that level of return.
(In the interest of full disclosure the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card link does earn me a referral bonus, while the other links do not)