Reader Request: What’s The Best Way to Get Lots of Hilton or Hyatt Points? Part 1 – Hilton Points

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[NONE of these cards, except for the Citi Hilton Reserve, pay me a referral commission, but they have the potential to get you over 440,000 Hilton hotel points + 2 free nights + free gold elite status!]

Million Mile Secrets reader Tom commented on the Hotel Credit Card page:

What would be the best credit card out there to gets lots of Hilton or Hyatt points, whether it be a Hilton or Hyatt card, or other, which can transfer to these hotels? I already carry the Citibank cards. gthanks.

Of all the hotel programs, Hilton points are the easiest to acquire via credit card sign-up bonuses (sometimes more than once ;) )AND amongst the easiest to earn by regular spending via the American Express or Citi co-branded Hilton cards.

Credit Card
Sign-On Bonus
Minimum Spending Required
Annual Fee
Total
440,000 Points + 2 Free Nights
$13,750
$418
Citi Hilton Reserve2 free nights + Hilton Gold Status (free breakfast & internet)$2,500 in 4 months$95, but well worth the free Hilton Gold elite status
Bank of America Virgin Atlantic
50,000 miles (transferable to 75,000 Hilton points)
$2,500 in 3 months
$90 NOT waived for 1st year
Bank of America Hawaiian Airlines Visa35,000 miles transferred to 70,000 Hilton points
$1,000 in 4 months
$79 NOT waived for 1st year
Bank of Hawaii Hawaiian Airlines Visa (card currently unavailable)35,000 miles transferred to 70,000 Hilton points
$1,000 in 4 months
$79 NOT waived for 1st year
American Express Hilton Surpass60,000 Points
$3,000 within 3 months
$75 NOT waived for 1st year
American Express Hilton HHonors50,000 Points
$750 within 3 months
No Annual fee
Citi Hilton HHonors Visa50,000 Points
$1,500 within 6 months
No Annual fee
Citi Hilton HHonors Visa40,000 Points
$1,500 within 6 months
No Annual fee

For example, you can get ~440,000 Hilton points + 2 free nights + Hilton gold status by applying for 8 credit cards from 3 different banks. These 450,000 points + 2 free nights can be redeemed for 12 nights at a top tier category 7 Hilton hotel using an AXON award (think the Maldives, Hawaii, London, Paris, Tokyo, etc.)  or for many more nights at lower-tier Hilton group hotels.

Update:  Hilton has devalued their AXON awards.  See this post for more details.

The lowest category Hilton group hotels start at 7,500 points a night and the highest category cost 95,000 points per night.  Waldorf Astoria hotels range between 50,000 points to 95,000 points per night.  Here’s a link to the Hilton award chart.

And you may be able to get some of these either more than once in a short period of time or twice at the same time, which means that it is easier to replenish Hilton points via credit card sign up bonuses than other hotel points.  Even better – none of these cards are from Chase which usually has the best offers.

However, these are Emily and my personal experience, and your experience could be completely different.

I’ve written about the cards individually, but never listed together all the different ways to rack up Hilton points.

I wouldn’t start off with these cards if you were new to miles and points  because you can usually save more money by using credit card sign-up bonuses for airfare, but at some point you’ll need hotel points.

I value 1 Hilton point at ~0.6 cents per point, but I value Hyatt hotel points much higher (~1.5 to 1.8 cents per point).  The main reason is because it takes a lot more Hilton points (50,000 points) to earn a top tier hotel room versus only 22,000 points for a top tier Hyatt.

However, the Hilton brand has hotels almost everywhere versus much fewer hotels for Hyatt, and you can earn Hilton points much faster.

This post will cover Hilton, and I’ll cover the different ways to earn Hyatt points tomorrow.

 425,000+ Hilton Points + 2 Free Nights

If you apply for cards below i.e. the Virgin Atlantic, 2 Hawaiian Air, AMEX Hilton Surpass, AMEX (non-surpass) Hilton and 2 Citi Hilton cards at the same time, you can get ~425,000 Hilton points + 2 free nights + Gold elite status (free breakfast and internet).

You shouldn’t apply for them all at the same time (unless you know what you’re doing!), and should not apply for credit cards if you have a big loan in the next 2 years.

Even better, the Citi Hilton Reserve, Virgin Atlantic, Hawaiian Air, & regular Citi Hilton, cards are churnable which means that you may be able to get another 240,000 Hilton points every 3 to 4 months.

Let’s see the different ways to rack up Hilton points:

1.   2 Free Nights – Citi Hilton Reserve.  This card gets you 2 free nights which can be used at any Hilton on the weekend.  That’s ~100,000 points if you redeem at top category Hilton hotels.

Even better the card gets you free Hilton Gold elite status for as long as you have the card.  This means free breakfast and free internet which will save you money when you use your points at Hilton hotels.  The card (unlike the others below) also has no foreign transaction fee so is great for using outside the US and saving the 3% foreign transaction fee.

Here’s a link to a detailed review on the Citi Hilton Reserve.  Emily and I were both able to get 2 Citi Hilton Reserve cards for 4 free nights each!  Note that you can NOT get 2 Citi Hilton Reserve cards at the same time any longer.

2.   75,000 Points – Bank of America Virgin Atlantic Credit Card.  Isn’t it strange that the card which offers the most Hilton points isn’t a Hilton branded card? 

You earn 20,000 miles after your 1st purchase and an additional 25,000 miles after spending $2,500 within 90 days.  You also get 5,000 miles by adding 2 authorized users to your account for a total of 50,000 Flying Club miles.  Here’s my earlier review of the card.

You can convert 50,000 Flying Club miles to 75,000 Hilton Points by calling Virgin Atlantic (800-365-9500) and asking them to transfer the miles to your Hilton account.

Emily and I are on our second Virgin Atlantic card and we didn’t cancel the previous version before applying for a new one.  We had to call Bank of America’s reconsideration line, but were both quickly approved for the card.  We waited ~5 months since we last applied before getting another Virgin Atlantic card.

Some readers have written that they were able to get another card after 3 months and some reported being approved for 2 cards at the same time after calling the reconsideration line.  But of course, your experience could be different.

You earn 1.5 Virgin Atlantic miles or 1.5 Hilton points per $1 spent and 3 Virgin Atlantic miles per $1 spent on Virgin Atlantic.

3.   70,000 points – Bank of America Hawaiian Air Credit Card.   The Bank Of America  Hawaiian airlines credit card gets you 20,000 Hawaiian Miles after the first purchase and an extra 15,000 miles after spending $1,000 within 4 months.  Here’s my earlier review of the card.

These 35,000 Hawaiian Air miles can be converted to 70,000 Hilton points by calling Hawaiian Air (877-426-4537).

Note that you may instead receive the Platinum Visa card which offers only 10,000 HawaiianMiles after the first purchase if you do not qualify for the Signature card.

4.   70,000 points – Bank of Hawaii Hawaiian Air Credit Card.   Same deal as the Bank of America Hawaiian Air card in #2, except that this card is issued  by FIA card services, a division of Bank of America, and you may be able to get more than 1 card every few months like with the other Bank of America credit cards.

Note that you may instead receive the Platinum Visa card which offers only 10,000 HawaiianMiles after the first purchase if you do not qualify for the Signature card.

5.  60,000 points – American Express Hilton Surpass Credit Card.   If you have Hilton points, you should strongly consider getting either the AMEX Hilton Surpass card or the AMEX Hilton regular card (#5).  Why?  Note that you can’t have both the AMEX Hilton cards open at the same time.

Because you get access to AXON awards which give you a significant discount on award redemptions.  For example, instead of paying 200,000 points for a 4 night Hilton stay in a Category 7 hotel, you’ll pay only 145,000 points or 27.5% less.

You also get free Gold status for the 1st year (free internet, breakfast, and a shot at upgrades) and then Silver status which gets you access to the discounted VIP awards.  If you’re a big spender you can earn Gold status by spending $20,000 a year (free if you have the Citi Reserve card) or top tier Diamond status for $40,000 a year.

You earn 9 Hilton points per $1 spent at Hilton hotels, 6 points per $1 at  supermarkets, drugstores, gas stations, phone/internet/cable & 3 points per $1 for everything else which makes it pretty easy to rack up Hilton points via regular spending as well (but of course the big pay off for most folks is to focus on the credit card sign-up bonuses).

6.   40,000 to 50,000 points – American Express (Regular) Hilton Credit Card.   This card has NO annual fee which makes it a great card to build a long term history with American Express.   You get free Hilton silver status which makes you eligible for discounted VIP awards.

7.   40,000 to 50,000 points – Citi Hilton Visa.   The regular affiliate link is for 40,000 points, but there is a link to a 50,000 point version which also works based on reader feedback.  You get free Hilton Silver elite status which makes you eligible for discounted VIP awards

Another reason to get this card is because it doesn’t have an annual fee and is a nice card to plan to keep for a long time and build a long-term relationship with Citi.

Hawaiian Air Debit Cards

Bank of America used to offers a Hawaiian Air debit card for a $30 annual fee which earns 1 mile per $2 spent.  But I can’t find a link to it anymore.

Bank of Hawaii offers Hawaiian Air debit cards, but doesn’t have any branches in the mainland US.  You can transfer Hawaiian Air miles to Hilton points at a 1:2 ratio so the net effect is that you’re earning 1 Hilton point per $1 spent.

Other options

There are other ways to get Hilton points, such as transferring American Airlines miles to Hilton, but I don’t recommend that because the transfer ratio (1.67 Hilton point for every 1 American Airlines mile) is not worth it to me.

Bottom Line:  It is fairly easy to rack up lots of Hilton points for Big Travel with Small Money.  If you do collect Hilton points, you should consider an American Express Hilton card, because it will get you access to discounted VIP or AXON awards which means paying less points for Hilton awards.

* If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 4,500+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in a RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another way to earn Hilton points.

160 Responses to Reader Request: What’s The Best Way to Get Lots of Hilton or Hyatt Points? Part 1 – Hilton Points

  1. @ – The Hawaiian Air card offers 35K miles which can be converted to 70K Hilton points. You can get the Citi Hilton Reserve for 2 free weekend nights and use that for the Friday stay. You’d get gold status for free breakfast and internet. And then you could get the AMEX fee free Hilton card for access to reduced price AXON awards.

  2. I just applied for the Hilton Amex Card and the Citi Hilton Reserve and got instantly approved. The Hawaiian Airlines ones said that it is pending and could take up to a month. Should I call them now or should I wait to see whether I am approved? Also, I did not have a Hilton Honors # before applying. Will they send me one or should I sign up for one?

  3. @juli – I’d call bank of America for the Hawaiian Air card. For Hilton, the banks will have opened a separate Hilton account for you, so you’d have to call them find out to find out the account number and then call Hilton to merge the account. I suggest keeping the account associated with the Citi Hilton Reserve since the 2 free night certificates will go to that account and asking Hilton to move the points from the AMEX Hilton to your Citi Reserve account. Or just call AMEX and give them the Hilton account number from your Citi Reserve card.

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  5. There seems to be a pretty decent fee if my wife were to sign up for all of these and we pulled points. We are planning for a long 10 night Orlando in-park Hilton stay, 700k pts or so. Does it make sense to pay the fee or would they let me book half a week, her the other? Thx D!

  6. @Mike H - You can book half the stay and your wife the other half and ask them not to move you. But I’d check availability before hand to see if you can get rooms on points before applying for the cards!

  7. Looking at the member levels on the Hilton site. See that “spouse” stays free as long as you are signed up as a Hilton member, any level, I think. Funny, first off, that they charge a different price for 1 person vs 2. I’ve never encountered that in any hotel I’ve stayed at. 4 or more people maybe but 2 people, come on. Maybe it’s a European thing. I haven’t seen that in the US.

    At least the “spouse” stays free, LOL. I don’t care how in love you are, straight, gay, etc. You ain’t married, you ain’t benefiting. And I suppose Hilton also asks for your marriage certificate as well just to make sure you’re not sneaking in that extra person. Too bad if you are going with your friend, I guess you are screwed. God forbid that extra person pays for spa treatments, orders room service, uses the minibar, etc. Hilton might make a profit that way. But I guess they don’t want that extra cash. Yea, makes complete sense. Discourage that behavior.

    There’s a reason most hotels don’t ever charge extra for 2. More money in their pockets for services and food.

  8. According to American Express Hilton application website:

    Eligible Purchases means purchases for goods and services minus returns and other credits. Eligible purchases do NOT include fees or interest charges, balance transfers, cash advances, purchases of travelers checks, purchases or reloading of prepaid cards, or purchases of other cash equivalents. Additional terms and restrictions apply.

    Will American Express track down on purchases?

    I hope not or we will longer get points fast

  9. Daraius, I just applied for the American Express Hilton HHonors and the American Express Hilton HHonors Surpass cards at roughly the same time. I got the “Thank You for applying for the Hilton HHonorsTM SurpassSM Card. In order to provide you with an instant decision, we need to speak with you. We are available to assist you during our Hours of Operations: Monday-Friday 8AM to Midnight, Saturdays 9:30AM to 9PM, and Sundays 10AM to 9PM Eastern Time.” Does this mean trouble for me and the points? For information I was approved for the HHonors and got the message for the Surpass card. First AMEX cards but have several other cards and am just starting out with the Hilton cards. Thanks for your help.
    James

  10. @James – Unfortunately, you can’t have both the AMEX Hilton cards at the same time. However, you can always upgrade the fee free card to the Surpass card later on and get additional points when they make you an offer in your account.

  11. Are there any links for the 25k bonus after 3k spend right now? Or, any in the future?

  12. @Ed – Which card are you referring to?

  13. Hi Mr. Bowtie, curious as to why your incredibly useful Hilton spreadsheet isn’t adding the points up properly. Also, has the Virgin Atlantic BofA card dropped to 50,000 points transferrable? It still seems to total 50,000 (20k+25k spend+5k authorized users), which should go over to Hilton 1:2? Thanks for all you do.

  14. @488 – The Virgin Atlantic card had dropped to 25K, but is now up to 50K so I’ll update the spreadsheet.

  15. First of all.. Amazing website. I went to ‘trial book’ a hotel with Hilton.. Just a basic hotel in NY and it was coming up with points per night all over the place.. From 70k per night to something like 180368 points.. What am I doing wrong?

  16. @Erik - Thanks for reading! Hilton recently increased the number of points needed for a room, so 70K sounds right for a basic room. They have premium rooms as well, but they charge more points, which is usually a bad value.

  17. “Even better, the Citi Hilton Reserve, Virgin Atlantic, Hawaiian Air, & regular Citi Hilton, cards are churnable which means that you may be able to get another 240,000 Hilton points every 3 to 4 months.”

    Do u need to cancel the original card in order to get the bonus again?
    Thanks! Amazing post!

  18. @Zhao - With Bank of America it doesn’t seem to matter, though some will cancel and some won’t. With Citi the rules changed recently, so not sure.

  19. Thanks for the reply!
    Just a piece of information.
    The link of Priority 80K link(1K/3M) and Citi 50K(1500/6M) above are still working :)

  20. @zhao – Thanks for confirming!

  21. I have the no fee Amex Hilton card. Then I got the Amex Hilton Surpass card about a month ago. Amex gave me an additional Hilton Hhonors number when I signed up for the Surpass card, even tho I supplied them with my first Hhonors account number. I know I can merge both accounts. However, I have Gold status for the first year on the Surpass card, but no points, plus I have yet to meet my spend requirement to get the sign-up bonus.
    I haven’t been able to find much info online, but several places stated I should wait until my bonus posts before combining accounts. Is that true? I have points on the no fee card account, but no points (yet) and Gold status on the Surpass account. Will Amex have a problem giving me the bonus if I change the account number to the old one and will Gold status stick if I do that? Or should I change the old account number to the new account number? Once I merge accounts, do I need to tell Amex this so they can change whichever of the accounts is no more, so I get credited correctly? Or am I completely over-thinking? :D
    The reason I ask (admittedly convoluted question) is that I want to use my Gold status in early June (and I don’t think my bonus will have posted by then). I also want to be able to sign in to the new account, but I can’t login, since I didn’t set it up and I can’t see a way to find out the PIN/password for the new account. I’m worried if I call Hhonors for help with the new account, they are going to see I have two accounts and want to merge them, but, for the reasons explained above, I’m not sure if I should do that now or after the bonus posts.

  22. @Mera – I’d wait until the bonus posts. AMEX doesn’t usually give the bonus on both the Hilton cards, so please do let me know if you get both bonuses!

  23. Thanks MMM. That’s what I will do, then.

    There’s a possibility I won’t the get bonus?? It was an eligible upgrade their site offered me and promised 50,000 points after 3k spend. I thought it would be an upgrade from the no-fee to the Surpass, but that new pesky law about companies not being able to change a no-fee card into a fee card in the first year, caught me unawares and what they did was replace my Delta Gold card with the Surpass. So I’ve the two HHonors cards now instead of the one I was expecting. I don’t fly Delta much so I just let it go.

    Should I contact Amex and ask them if I will get the bonus, or is that a bad move?

  24. Oops, I meant MMS = Million Mile Secrets…

  25. @Mera – If you upgrade the card, you do get the bonus, but I’m not sure since you got a new card. It doesn’t hurt to ask and get it confirmed before spending the money.

  26. Hi Dairaus, absolutely love that table you have configured up near the top of the article – it really says a million words in just that simple, small table. Just out of curiousity, do you have a table like that but for tracking reward points for AAdvantage program (since AA links to so many partner rewards)?

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  28. @Chris – Thanks, but I do not have a table for tracking AA miles. You can earn AA miles from the AA cards and by transferring points from the Starwood hotel points.

  29. Hello Dairius! Quick question about the AMEX HHonors SURPASS: If I sign up (and get approved) for the card today and meet the minimum spending requirements – do I get access to AXON awards immediately? It looks like on their page (that you conveniently linked) that I’ll get access immediately to the discounted HHonors Rewards redemptions; however, in your post you stated that it access to AXON comes in the second year.

    To put in perspective, I currently have 0 HHonors points but I’m looking to have a strong balance to get a couple nights in a HHonors hotel in Q4 2014.

  30. @Chris – Hilton devalued their award chart and the AXON awards are no longer the bargain they used to be. I’ll update the post with new links. But, yes, you get access to the AXON awards once you sign-up for the card.

  31. Daraius,

    I just hit my minimum spend on my Hilton Honors Reserve card and I was curious about when I would receive my 2 free weekend nights since my wife and I are planning a trip to Oktoberfest this year and would like to use the free nights to stay in Munich during the festivities. I have just been told that it would take 6-8 weeks to receive the voucher O.O!!! Can you tell me how long it took to get yours? I am very afraid that I will not be able to use it for this trip since they may be sold out :(

    Thanks,

    Erik

  32. @Erik – It took 2 weeks from when the statement in which we completed our minimum spending to close for us to get the vouchers.

  33. Thanks for all the great info. I started this recently and your blogs have been great helps! I wonder about churning cards, like Citi Hilton, every few months. If you cancel the a card after 3 or 4 months you got it, will it look bad to the bank? What’s the shortest time that is reasonable to cancel a card after you are approved, if you want to churn it? And if you then reapply the same card a few days or weeks after you cancel it, won’t bank see it as a red flag? Or it’s better to just apply the same card while the old one not cancelled and say you want another card to track different expenses (like buz vs personal)? Thanks a lot!

  34. Thanks for all your work and info. Couple questions, I mainly travel to Hawaii, kids in college. What would be the best credit card for earning freq. flyer miles and hotel points?
    Also can you tell me is their a website to get current info. on churning credit cards and how do you value miles and points.
    Thank You,
    Chris

  35. @Chris John – I’d use United or American Airline miles for flights to Hawaii. If you live on the West Coast, I’d use British Airways Avios points for American Airlines flights to Hawaii.

  36. My wife and I have been traveling to Kauai and Maui annually for the last 5 years churning the B of A and Bank of Hawaii Hawaiian Air cards. Since those cards are no longer being offered we are looking for alternative ways to get Hawaiian Air miles. If we got the B of America Virgin Atlantic card 50000 mi bonus could we transfer it to 100000 Hilton points and then transfer that 100000 Hilton points into 50000 Hawaiian Air miles ? Or is it possible to transfer the 50000 Virgin Atlantic miles directly to 50000 Hawaiian Air miles? We are hopelessly addicted to Hawaii with 20 trips since honeymoon in 1982 (mostly standby on the now bankrupt ATA airline) Thanks for all the great tips you share and present so clearly.

  37. @Larry – You can transfer points from Virgin Atlantic to Hilton, but the 50K version isn’t available any more.

  38. Can you transfer from Virgin Atlantic to Hilton and transfer again from Hilton to Hawaiian Air .Or can you transfer directly from Virgin Air to Hawaiian Air where I need the miles?

  39. @Larry - Unfortunately, you can’t transfer from Virgin Atlantic to Hawaiian Air.

  40. Can you get the Citi Signature card and the Citi Reserve card at the same time or should I get the Sig card then after earning the bonus cancel and get Reserve?

  41. @Steve Godfrey – You should be able to get both cards together.

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  43. Hey Emily/Daraius, not sure if this is something mentioned but if I applied to get the 2 free weekend night voucher, and my fiancee does the same thing, do you know if they could be applied during the same stay, extending our planned travels? I assume we would have to make 2 separate reservations. Love your site!

  44. @Hector Truong – Thanks for reading! You can use the certificates for the same stay. But they are weekend certificates (Friday, Saturday & Sunday).

  45. Pingback: Which Hilton Card is Better? The American Express Hilton Surpass Or Citi Hilton Reserve? | Million Mile Secrets

  46. Can you update some of your links. I couldn’t find the Bank of Hawaii Hawaiian Air Card and it looks like Barclays is now issuing the old B of A hawaiian Air card. Thanks.

  47. @Gail – Thanks for the reminder. I’ll update the post.

  48. Hi Darius,

    Can the Hilton 2 free nights certificate be used in Hilton in Bora Bora and Moorea?

    Thank you!

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  50. I think Virgin Atlantic is devaluing their Hilton transfer ratio to 2:3 instead of 1:2.

  51. Also, regarding the HHonors credit cards from Amex and Citi, can I apply in this manner?
    D+0 days
    Apply for the Citi Hilton HHonors Card (for the 50k bonus) and the American Express Hilton HHonors Surpass Card (for the 75k bonus + Gold status + 12x points) at the same time.

    D+90 days
    Apply for the Citi HHonors Reserve Card (for the 2 free nights + Gold status + 10x points) and close the Amex Surpass and Citi HHonors cards.

    D+??? days
    Apply for the American Express HHonors Card (for the 40k bonus points).

  52. @Amy – They sure can!

    @Mike – That should be possible, but I’d keep the card open for at least 9 to 10 months.

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  55. Kimberly Busch

    Hey Darius, thanks for the great blog! Trying to apply for Hilton Honors Amex with the 50000 bonus before it expires at the end of this month but when I put in my application it says the system is not responding . Tried several times/browsers same result. Called customer service and they couldn’t pull up the offer even though my link says it expires on the 31st. Is this a done deal? Thanks!

  56. ^^ Same thing happened to me. I wanted to apply for my first AMEX card with no annual fee and felt this was the best current offer. Stinks it isn’t working even though it’s supposed to until the end of the month.

  57. ^^ Brian/Kimberly
    Try using Incognito mode. I got the “System is not responding” error when trying to apply for my Platinum card last week. I used Incognito mode, and I was able to get to the application and submit it. It looks like Amex might be having a problem with the system that checks your browser to see if you’re a previous cardholder.

  58. ^^ This worked!! Thanks a bunch Mike

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