he Hilton HHonors program has changed in the last year with both the Visa and American Express versions of the cards. We have noted some minor tweaks that can help you really add up some points but some that actually make the non-Visa Signature version a bit better. The Signature Visa version gives you 15,000 points to start out with after making a required $150 in purchases versus the American Express version that starts you out with a much bigger 25,000 points.
You get 6 Hilton HHonors points at participating Hilton hotels with both cards. Although there are promotions with both cards that can also make them worlds apart. For example, October 2009 through November 2009 the American Express version of the card actually gives you 3 bonus points per mile when you spend over $50 in October or whenever you decide to spend that one-time $50 during the promo.
You get only 3 HHonors points per dollar spent with the Signature Visa compared to 6 points on the American Express for “everday purchases” which includes gas, grocery stores, and drugstores. You also lose out on one point with the Visa because they give you only 2 points on “all other purchases” that do not include what they think are “everyday purchases”. You will receive 3 Hilton HHonors bonus points for each U.S. dollar of all other eligible spending with the revamped American Express version.
Both cards give you the Silver VIP status but there are some benefits that make you feel like royalty on the AMEX version. You get discounts on things such as limos (although its an already expensive limosine company) and get reduced rewards on hotel stays of 4 nights or more. You can actually book a category 5 hotel for 4 nights using only 125,000 points when it would normally cost 140,000 by calling an 800 number and using the American Express Hilton HHonors Credit Card.
Hilton HHonors introduces the Surpass card
If you stay at the Hilton family of hotels often enough to settle paying an annual fee of $75 then you may want to consider this card at least for the 40,000 bonus points and the extra points on hotel stays. If you stay at a Hilton family hotel you get 9 points per dollar spent. If you shop at say Walgreens you get 6 points as an everyday purchase. If you shop at Wal-Mart supercenter then it goes down to 3 points.
The main benefit of the Surpass card is that it gives you 3 more points per dollar compared to the other cards. You are also getting an upgrade to HHonors Gold VIP status and can achieve an automatic upgrade to HHonors Diamond VIP status when your total eligible spend reaches $40,000 or more during a calendar year. With Diamond VIP status you may enjoy a 50% bonus credit on all HHonors Base points earned, 48-hour reservation guarantee, access to the Executive Floor lounge, and of course upgraded accommodations some of the time.
That chauffeur service or limo just got cheaper with this card with a 20% discount and a onetime $50 off coupon. As if people who get limos care about $50 off. The bottom line is that it is not too bad of a card but would be better without the steep annual fee of $75. I just do not see a reason to Upgrade my current American Express card to this for that much a year. HHonors points just do not get me as excited as the higher valued “miles” I earn with Starwood. Hilton HHonors has now created another card named the Reserve Card which you can see here.