There’s been lots of talk lately about the 100,000-point signup offer for the Hilton Honors Surpass card from American Express, but I want to refocus attention on a lesser known deal for the regular Hilton Amex, which has no annual fee and still offers 80,000 points when you spend $2,000 in the first three months days. Even this smaller offer can be turned into five-night award stay at some great destinations.
Hilton’s award chart starts as low as 5,000 points per night, but you and I both know that probably isn’t your idea of a vacation. Most people want an aspirational award — something at a really nice hotel, or at least a good quality hotel in a nice location. I think that starts around 40,000 points per night with Hilton Honors.
There are many hotels available with free nights at this price level, and that includes resort destinations like Hawaii and Orlando. Is it the Conrad? No. But an Embassy Suites or Hilton Garden Inn is fine when you’re spending most of your time outside the hotel. Any resort fees are also waived when you book an award entirely with points.
So, by signing up for a single no-fee credit card like the Hilton Honors Card from American Express, you can get 80,000 points — enough for two free nights at one of these hotels. If you and a spouse or partner both sign up, then that’s enough for four free nights. But it gets better.
If one of you already has Hilton Honors elite status (Silver, Gold, or Diamond) then it’s possible to get the fifth night free on five-night award stay. But wait, you have two separate accounts. Fortunately Hilton allows you to pool your points with up to 10 other members. The member with elite status can then book the award to take advantage of his or her status benefits.
For example, my wife doesn’t have Hilton status, but I do. We could each apply for a no-fee Hilton Amex to get a total of 160,000 Hilton Honors points. Then we could pool those points, and I could use my status to book a five-night award at a property that normally charges 40,000 points per night, securing a discount on the fifth night.
What if you don’t have Hilton status? It’s not as difficult as you might think to obtain. This no-annual fee card includes Hilton Honors Silver status. If you already have an American Express Platinum Card, that includes Hilton Honors Gold status. Just call Amex with your Hilton Honors number to get your account updated. Or, you could still apply for the Hilton Honors Surpass card from Amex. This card does have an annual fee of $75, but it includes a 100,000 points (a sweeter offer), plus Gold status and one free weekend night after your first cardmember anniversary.
I like to call out the smaller offer on the card with no annual fee to show that you don’t have to pay these fees in order to get great travel rewards. Personally, I think the offer on the no-fee card is good enough that I’d take that option if I already had status elsewhere.
It’s also a good option for people who may have had the Hilton Surpass card in the past. Amex normally allows only one bonus per lifetime, but the regular Hilton Amex is an entirely different product. In fact, if you already have the Hilton Surpass you could still apply for a second Hilton Amex just to add more points to your account.