As the choice of credit cards continues to increase, so too does the number of rewards programs attached to various cards. And if you particularly like the sound of enjoying the spoils of what the Hilton Hotel chain has to offer, as a result of using your credit card, the Hilton Honors rewards program could be a way of helping you achieve that.
So how exactly does this program work, in light of other rewards programs?
Reward programs in a nutshell
All reward programs are based on accumulating rewards points, or benefits you are eligible for as a result of what is considered everyday spending on your card, and the points gained are usually proportionate to the amount you spend.
You can then redeem the points for a range of rewards which are offered through the program. The type of reward you receive generally comes in four main forms, which may be a cashback, frequent flyer points, merchandise such as fashion items, electronics, homewares, fuel or event tickets, or shopping discounts on any or all of those items.
Most programs also offer a points-plus-pay option, where you use your points to redeem part of your reward and pay the rest in cash based on pre-set amounts by each program.
Generally, credit cards with reward programs attached do attract higher interest rates and fees than cards without reward programs.
How does Hilton Honors work?
In the case of Hilton Honors Rewards, the program allows you to earn points on everyday purchases, as well as bonus points on purchases made with Hilton Hotels and its partners.
Those points can then be used in a number of ways to redeem a range of offers through the Hilton Hotel chain and members of its reward program alliance.
Once you spend a certain amount of money on the attached credit card you can become eligible for an upgrade to the elite levels of Hilton Honors membership which include silver, gold and diamond status. The number of services and benefits you have access to through the reward program increases in line with the elevated membership status.
Becoming a member of the Hilton Honors Reward program is conditional when applying for any credit cards attached to the program.
The program’s global reach
The program is one of the largest hotel reward programs in the world and provides benefits within the group’s hotels, resorts and properties across more than 5,000 different locations and 100 countries, including a network of major cities and the world’s most popular holiday and tourist destinations.
Through Hilton Honors, members also have access to the Hilton portfolio of hotels which includes other leading accommodation brands and properties around the world:
- Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts
- Conrad Hotels and Resorts
- Canopy by Hilton
- Curio – a collection by Hilton
- DoubleTree by Hilton
- Tapestry Collection by Hilton
- Embassy Suites by Hilton
- Hilton Garden Inn
- Hampton by Hilton
- Tru by Hilton
- Homewood Suites by Hilton
- Home2 Suites by Hilton
- Hilton Grand Vacations.
Redeeming your points and points expiry
All Hilton Honors bonus points earned are in addition to the points that you earn via the earning style option you select.
You can check your points balance online at any time and choose your reward option from the following options:
- Hotels and resorts – this includes booking rooms or obtaining upgrades, or using points for special hotel services or meals from any of the Hilton group properties
- Flights and car travel – convert your points into miles with participating frequent flyer partners, or car hire with program partners.
- Shopping and dining – offers special rewards at the Hilton Honors Shopping Mall through program partners.
- Events – apply to use your points to attend special events being held at Hilton properties around the world
- Charitable donations – you can also donate points to a range of program charities.
Your bonus points will not expire, provided you do one of the following within a period of 12 consecutive months:
- Remain a Hilton Honors credit cardholder
- Stay at a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio
- Earn Hilton Honors bonus points through any participating program partner
- Purchase Hilton Honors bonus points
You can boost your Hilton Honors rewards balance by transferring points from an eligible travel or frequent flyer program, and Hilton Honors points can also be bought, gifted or transferred between members with annual points limits placed on each transaction.
What should I consider before I apply?
You need to take into account the following factors when making your decision about choosing a credit card with a reward program:
- Interest rates and fees – many reward card providers will offer a $0 annual fee for the first year to new card applicants as well as special interest rates on any balance transfers. However, you need to also look at what that annual fee reverts to beyond the initial period, as well as finding out what the interest rate is on any balance transfers beyond the initial specified period. Read the fine print.
- Cost versus benefit – as enticing as any reward card sounds, you do need to weigh up the total annual cost of the purchases you need to make to be eligible for the card’s various rewards. If you’re spending more than you usually would in a bid to achieve a reward level, you need to determine if the additional financial pressure this puts on you to pay off that amount is actually worth it. Be realistic about whether you are disciplined with money and are able to remain living within your means if you have the card.
- Paying off the balance in full – there’s no value in having access to the reward program if you can’t afford to pay for the items you put on the card in full within the interest-free period. The interest payments can quickly rack up when you consider many cards have revert rates which are commonly around 20 per cent.
- Are the rewards relevant to your lifestyle – you need to look at the accommodation, travel and shopping benefits the card offers to determine whether this is a financial equation that makes sense for you, based on your lifestyle. You should have a pre-determined idea of what sort of rewards are right for you and if it will provide an efficient complement to your existing financial platform.
- Compare what else is on offer – compare this card against the reward programs offered through partnerships between other leading hotel chains and card providers. Other hotel chains that have reward programs include the Starwood, Marriott, Hyatt, the Ritz Carlton and IHG and all offer different entitlements through their respective properties and partners. You need to compare apples with apples in order to feel comfortable that you’ve really done your homework.
Once you do all your research, you’ll then be in a more considered position to determine whether the card and the program will financially suit your needs.