Posted on

New 100,000 Marriott Business Credit Card Offer from Chase

There are a ton of reward programs out there, but not all are created equal. Signing up for a good deal that automatically gives you points for spending a minimum amount is exactly what you should be looking for. The Marriott Rewards program is currently offering 100,000 points on its business credit card (application here: as a bonus after you spend 5,000$ in the first 3 months. This deal is amazing considering you would have to spend 20,000$ at Marriotts around the world to accumulate that many reward points. This makes it an absolute steal for anyone who can grab this offer.


Marriott points can be used on so much more than just hotel rooms. With their points you can splurge on yourself with a little shopping. 100,000 points can get you the next big tech item you have been wanting like Fitbit Blaze Smart Watch (55,000 points), or you can spend it on something to block out all the sun on those sandy beaches you are sure to visit with left over points after getting some Ray-Ban Wayfarer Sunglasses (55,000 points). Shopping not only is a great way to spend a few points, but it makes buying your next new toy a little easier on your wallet. With 100,000 points in the Marriott Rewards program some serious shopping can be done without having to spend a single extra dollar. This is the perfect way to splurge on something for yourself or a loved one or for helping take a bite out of that Christmas list that never seems to end.

If shopping is not your cup of tea, you can also book your next cruise through Marriott’s reward program. Cruises start at 149$ and for every 63,000 points you have you get 250$ worth of credit you can use, which will bring your price for a cruise for two as low as about 50$! This also means you would have enough points left over for some shopping, flying, or any other services the Marriott rewards program has. While cruising is a wonderful way to spend your points, you also get 6 points per dollar spent on up to 60,000 points on the cruise when you book a balcony or suit room! This is more points offered per dollar than any other way through the Marriott Rewards program.
Maybe you’re not a shopper, and cruising makes you sick. Maybe you’re more of the giving type and have a huge heart. The Marriott Rewards program has an amazing set of non-profit organizations they team up with where you can use points to give as donations. The organizations include some really amazing non-profits including the Children’s Miracle Network, Peace One Day, and Habitats for Humanities. Not only does giving back feel good, but finding a cause that hits close to home, or one that you are just truly passionate about and helping them out is a wonderful thing to do. Everyone needs a little light in their life and by helping out those organizations you can be helping building houses, giving kids second chances, and so much more. This is one of the most meaningful ways your Marriott points can be used. You can give a portion of your points (2,500 is 5$) and feel great about yourself! With the rest you can shop, cruise, or whatever else floats your boat!

The Marriott Business Credit Card’s 100,000 point offer is one that you should not miss out on. The points can be used for so much from shopping, to giving, to cruising. These points can be used all over the world and are very versatile compared to other rewards programs out there. With 100,000 points you can get the latest tech gadget you have been eyeing, you can grab a quick cruise for you and your love, or so much more. These points normally would take a ton of spending to accumulate, and with so many options these points are some of the best. The Marriott Business Credit Card not only gives you great points per dollar conversion on everything you buy (from 1:1 all the way up to 6:1), these points have a lot of bang for their buck. Grab this deal while you can, it is sure to not disappoint.

Posted on

Amex Hilton HHonors Credit Card Review

Many other cards from Hilton have been covered on this site.  It seems a little ridiculous that there are four Hilton credit cards spread over two different credit card issuing banks, but this is the world we live in.  This article is aimed at reviewing the most basic of Hilton credit cards issued by American Express, the Hilton HHonors Card from American Express (clever name, right?).  Let’s dig into the details and see if this card earns a spot in your wallet!



The first thing that most people want to know when they are applying for a credit card is “What’s the sign-up bonus?”  Well, the sign up bonus for this credit card is 40,000 Hilton HHonors points, which can be used for any Category 1-8 hotel in the Hilton lineup (hotels like the Arizona Biltmore, Conrad Chicago, and Conrad Miami are some examples).  These points are granted to you when you make $750 in purchases within the first three months of cardmembership.

Furthermore, you’ll earn a ton of bonus points when you use this credit card, especially if you are using it on Hilton purchases.  For all Hilton HHonors purchases you make, you’ll earn seven points per dollar spent.  This includes any money spent on reservations, onsite spend, and other purchases on the Hilton website.  Furthermore, you’ll receive five points for every dollar you spend at restaurants, gas stations, and supermarkets.  Finally, you’ll receive three points per dollar spent on everything else.

A great feature of the card is all of these benefits come with an annual fee of zero dollars.  That’s right.  This card has no annual fee!  Furthermore, you’ll receive HHonors Silver Status as long as you are a cardmember.  This comes with a 15% bonus on all base points earned.  And, if you are a big spender (I’m talking $20,000 per calendar year), you’ll receive HHonors Gold Status, which comes with room upgrades and free breakfast.  It’s a great mid-level status to have (I’ve been upgraded to suites in the past!).

Finally, there are some other miscellaneous benefits that come with most American Express credit cards, including rental car protection, great customer service, and purchase protection.  Your APR depends on your credit score, and will be either 15.24, 17.24, or 19.24 percent.  APR for cash advances is 25.24%.



As a frequent guest of Hilton, you have many options when it comes to credit cards.  One of the biggest factors for this card is that it offers a similar sign up bonus as the other cards, but with no annual fee.  The opportunity to earn Gold status for $20,000 in spend in a year is attractive, since that is less than $2,000 in spend in month (easy for a family of four to hit!).

Furthermore, the sign up bonus gets you in the door of a seriously aspirational Hilton property, available worldwide!  Or, if you’d prefer, you can split the points over multiple nights at a lower category hotel.  The possibilities are endless.  So, is this card a fit for your wallet?  If so, apply away!

Posted on

American Express Hilton Surpass Credit Card Review

Hilton is a great hotel chain, with a global footprint that rivals any other of its competitors.  But, with such a popular brand, there are several credit card products out there for one hotel chain.  American Express offers one of those credit cards, the Hilton Surpass Credit Card, with benefits that vary from the other Hilton credit card products out there.  This post is aimed to analyze the card from a benefits perspective, and see if it is right for your wallet!  Let’s take a look, shall we?




One important aspect of any credit card that must be stated first is the annual fee.  This credit card charges its cardholders $75, which is a hefty fee.  For that price, you would expect the benefits would match.  For one, the bonus offer must be high.  It is for this card, at 40,000 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for your first purchase on the card.  That’s good enough for a Category 8 hotel room with Hilton (there are 10 categories in total).  Furthermore, you’ll earn 20,000 additional HHonors points for spending $3,000 in the first three months of owning the credit card.

Bonus points for more spending are also an important aspect of any card.  With this card, you’ll earn 12 points per dollar spent at Hilton HHonors properties.  This is in addition to any base points you’ll earn for being a status member of Hilton.  Even further, you’ll earn six bonus Hilton HHonors points per dollar spent at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations.  And, you’ll earn three bonus Hilton HHonors points per dollar spent for all other purchases with your credit card.

Other benefits are offered by the credit card.  One important one is Priority Pass membership, which offers membership at 600 airport lounges around the world.  This is valued at $99, but take note, each entry to a club costs $27 per person, per visit.  I’ve personally used the service, and it really does come in handy when you’re on a long international plane trip.

A final important benefit that the card offers is complimentary Hilton HHonors Gold status, which offers you free breakfast, bonus Hilton HHonors points, and room upgrades.  I can personally state that my upgrades at Asian and South American Hilton properties have been in suites, but your mileage may vary.  I can say that they are larger than any apartment I’ve ever lived in.



Hilton treats its customers well, especially the loyal ones (and especially the ones with status).  I can personally vouch for this.  Furthermore, with a cobranded credit card, you’ll earn more free nights faster, which is such a great reward for just using a credit card.

While the annual fee may seem steep, the perks are worth it.  Hilton properties like Waldorf Astorias and Conrads are top notch, especially abroad.  So, if you are a Hilton loyal, or could be, I would apply for the American Express Hilton Surpass credit card.  The benefits outweigh the price to pay to keep the card active, and you’ll become a more luxurious traveler.  What’s wrong with that?  So, when will you apply for the Surpass card?

Posted on

The Best Travel Credit Cards with No Annual Fee!

Looking for a great rewards travel credit card with no annual fee? Look no further!

We all have a reason to travel, even if we don’t enjoy it.  Whether it’s for business or pleasure, at some point in our lives we will have to rent a car, stay in a hotel, or hop aboard a plane and take off somewhere, domestically or abroad.

There are many credit cards to help you make the most of your travel purchases, but many of those cards feature steep annual fees that can really make a dent in an individual’s budget.  So, this post is geared for those of you looking into a travel credit card, but don’t want to pay an annual fee.  Let’s explore below!


Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®

The Barclaycard Arrival is one of the most sought after credit cards today.  Why?  It’s one of the best credit cards out there for purchases!  There are two options for this card, a basic and premium version. For the basic version, there is no annual fee, ever. For the premium version, the first year’s fee is waived, but there is an annual fee of $89 each year after.

Depending on which card you choose, you’ll earn one or two points per dollar on all purchases, so you won’t be constantly wondering which card is best for what category.  Furthermore, its large sign-up bonus of 20,000 when you spend $1000 or 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 in 90 days of account opening is a great deal.  The miles can be used for any flight you find, as well as any other travel purchase.  All you do to redeem is purchase with your card, and allocate the miles to the purchase you’d like to reimburse yourself for on your statement.


Barclaycard ArrivalTM World MasterCard®

Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®


Chase Sapphire Card

The baby brother of the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card, with the Chase Sapphire, you can book travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal or use your points like cash back for your travel purchases.   You’ll earn 10,000 points after spending $500 in the first three months of account opening.  And, you’ll earn two points per dollar spent at all restaurants, and one point per dollar spent on everything else.

While this is a solid card, I recommend the Sapphire Preferred for more serious travelers, as it gives you more options with the ability to transfer your Ultimate Rewards points out to many different travel partners, like Southwest Airlines, United, and British Airways. The Preferred does have an annual fee of $95, but it is waived the first year.


American Express Hilton

There are many Hilton cards out there, but this one is a no annual fee version of similar products.  You’ll earn Hilton Silver elite status just for having the card, and, you’ll earn six points per dollar spent at Hilton hotels, supermarkets, drugstores, gas stations, and phone/internet/cable serices, and 3 points on everything else.

You’ll also earn 50,000 bonus miles with Hilton after you spend $750 in three months with this card, enough for a couple nights stay at a lower category Hilton or one night at a mid-tier hotel. Hilton points aren’t as valuable as they used to be, since they devalued their award chart last year, but this is a nice no annual fee card option and the category bonuses are a great perk.



These credit cards are all great offerings.  In my opinion, though, the clear leader is the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®.  Not only does the 20,000 miles sign-up offer beat any of the other ‘no annual fee’ credit cards out there, it offers a slew of other benefits that really drives home the value of the card, like no foreign transaction fees, free TripIt Pro subscriptions, free monthly credit score on your statement, and the easy redeeming.

The other cards mentioned here are also very great cards for your wallet, but are lower in points earning than the Arrival World MasterCard.  The options are there, above for you to peruse.  Which credit card do you think is the best for your wallet?  Sound off below!

Posted on

Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Credit Card Review

For Hilton enthusiasts, the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve credit card is worthy of consideration. Since Hilton Hotels has one of the largest footprints of any hotel chain out there, with 540 properties across 78 countries and six continents, it makes sense that some people stay loyal to Hilton. Travelers can find a Hilton in most of the major cities on earth.

If you are a loyal to a certain hotel chain, it just makes sense for you to have one of their co-branded credit cards.  Hilton has several, and the one being reviewed today is the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve credit card.  Let’s check out some of the benefits below and see if it’s a card you need in your wallet!




Every good credit card has a solid sign up bonus, and the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Credit Card doesn’t disappoint.  For spending $2,500 in the first four months of card membership, you’ll receive two weekend night certificates, good at almost every Hilton property out there.  The only ones excluded can be found here.

Furthermore, the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Credit Card earns points on every purchase made.  If you make a purchase within the Hilton HHonors portfolio, you’ll earn 10 HHonors points per dollar.  If you spend your money on airline and car rentals, you’ll earn 10 HHonors points per dollar.  Everything else, you’ll receive three HHonors bonus points per dollar.

Another great benefit is HHonors Gold status as long as you hold the credit card.  This means room upgrades and bonus points when you stay (and free breakfast!).  Plus, if you spend $40,000 on your card in a calendar year, you’ll be upgraded to Diamond status with Hilton, which allows you access to suites and even more bonus points.

For you foreign travelers, this credit card has no foreign transaction fees.  This means you avoid what is often a 3% fee on purchases when traveling abroad, a major annoyance.

As a reward for keeping the card more than a year, you’ll receive an anniversary bonus of one weekend night at a Hilton hotel if you spend more than $10,000 a year with the card.   This is a great incentive for those that want to use this as a ‘regular spend’ credit card, since that’s less than $2,000 per month in purchases.

The Nitty Gritty

For this card, you’ll have a 15.24% APR, with penalty APR up to 29.99%.  Annual fee is $95 a year, and balance transfers are charged either a $5 fee or 3% of the transaction, whichever is greater.  Cash advance is either $10 or 5%, whichever is greater.  Penalty fees run the standard $35.



This is a very solid card offering from Hilton.  The bonus weekend nights, the high points earning, and free status just for having a card make this a great deal.  I’ve used the card when staying at properties around the world and the Gold status really makes a difference, especially in Asia, where I’ve often been granted a suite.  If you plan on staying at a Hilton hotel at least once a year, I would definitely consider getting the Hilton HHonors Reserve Credit Card.  The benefits are just that good!

Interested in other Hilton cards? Check out our review of the Citi Hilton Visa Signature credit card.

Posted on

The Best Hotel Credit Cards of 2014

There are many elements that come together to create a great vacation.  One of them is a marvelous hotel.  I know many a vacation where the destination wasn’t particularly exciting, but the hotel or resort we were staying in was something incredible, making the trip.  One way to stay in these incredible properties is to pay the rate they charge per night, but where’s the fun in that.  Below, we have compiled several great hotel credit card deals for 2014.  Let’s see which ones apply to your travels, shall we?


Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card

One of the “oldies” on the market, this credit card rocks.  You’ll earn 10,000 points on the first purchase (even a pack of gum), and then 15,000 points after spending $5,000 in six months.  There aren’t any category bonuses like other credit cards out there, but with all the transfer partners that Starwood has compiled for its program, and the 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points you transfer to one of those programs, makes this a killer credit card.  There’s a $65 annual fee, waived the first year.  You can check out the full review here.


Citi Hilton Reserve

Another great option for hotel hoppers, the Citi Hilton Reserve credit card is a Visa Signature credit card, which offers many benefits above other cards (like access to Visa Signature hotels).  When you spend $2,500 in 3 months, you’ll receive two free weekend certificates to any Hilton worldwide.  Furthermore, you’ll receive free Hilton Gold Status, which, in my opinion, is the best mid-tier hotel status out there.  I’ve consistently been given suites that I would have only dreamed of staying in before.  A $95 annual fee applies.


The Hyatt Credit Card

Issued by Chase, the Hyatt Credit Card is valuable for one thing, and one thing only: the sign-up bonus.  Your sign up bonus of two free nights when you spend $1,000 in three months gets you in the door at any Hyatt hotel in the world (even the Park Hyatt in the Maldives).  This is huge, and worth thousands of dollars.  In addition, you’ll earn bonus points at Hyatt hotels, and have Platinum status as long as you have the card (which doesn’t offer much besides free internet and a ‘preferred room’).  Furthermore, you’ll get an anniversary night at any Category 1-4 property each year.  You’ll have no annual fee the first year, but $75 after that.


How to Choose

There are many credit cards out there that are tied to a hotel chain, and these are just a few of them.  They key to any credit card strategy is to know your spending habits.  Do you only like staying at Hyatt hotels?  Then apply for that credit card!  Having status with a few programs is always nice, in case you’re in a city that doesn’t have your preferred chain.  Hotel credit cards are sometimes not as flexible as other options (SPG card excluded), but if you do much of your travel in hotel chains, it’s a no brainer.


Posted on

Chase Hyatt Hotel Credit Card Review

Those with a taste for luxury will enjoy the metal Chase Hyatt credit card. Though Hyatt may not offer as many properties as the competitors, they tend to be nicer. Plus, this card is one of the most lucrative hotel cards on the market. Though its $75 annual fee isn’t waived for the first year, that may be to offset the stellar sign up bonus.

Earning Rewards

After spending just $1,000 in the first three months, you will receive a credit for two free nights at any Hyatt location. That’s right — any of them. (If you already have Platinum status when applying, you’ll get two free nights and two suite upgrades. If you already have Diamond when applying, you get two free nights in a suite.) This bonus only takes up to 10 days to post, which is pretty low. Beware: if the account closes in the first three months, your free nights will be deducted from your Gold Passport account.

Then, every year after you renew the Chase Hyatt card, you will receive a credit for one free night at a category 1-4 hotel. This one takes 4 to 6 weeks to post. All free nights are only good for one standard room (aside from the bonuses for existing Platinum/Diamond members) and must be redeemed within one year after being issued.

You also earn Gold Passport points for making purchases at the rate of 1 pointper $1 spent, with 2x points for restaurants, airline tickets, and car rentals, and 3x points for stays at Hyatt properties. (That’s in addition to the 5 points you get from the Passport program.) There’s no limit on your Passport points, and wonderfully, they never expire! Between that and the anniversary certificate, this card is worth hanging on to despite its annual fee.

Gold Passport points are worth about 1.5 cents each, depending on when and where you redeem them. You need to have at least 5,000 points in order to redeem. The range runs from 5,000 points for one night in a standard room at a category 1 property, all the way to 22,000 points for the same deal at a category 6.

Get Status

You, but not your authorized user, get complimentary Platinum membership for as long as you’re a Chase Hyatt cardmember. Platinum benefits include a 15% point bonus on eligible spends, free in-room Internet, 2:00 p.m. late check-out, a 72-hour room guarantee, upgrades based on availability, and more.

The Chase Hyatt card also gives you a fast track to Diamond status. Spend $20,000 in a calendar year and receive 2 stay credit and 5 night credits. Spend $40,000 in a calendary year and receive an additional 3 stay credits and 5 night credits. After you reach either 25 stays or 50 nights in a calendar year, you’ll get Diamond status. Be aware, these Diamond credits can take up to 2-3 weeks to post and are not valid for award travel.

If you do reach coveted Diamond status, you will enjoy a 30% point bonus on eligible spends, four suite upgrades per year on paid room nights, a 48-hour room guarantee, 4:00 p.m. late checkout, and guaranteed best room available upon arrival (except suites). You also receive exclusive access to Reagency Club or Grand Club lounges, which serve breakfast and evening hors d’oeuvres. And at those places without a lounge, you still get breakfast — which can prove quite valuable when traveling in Europe.

Traveler Benefits

Happily, the Chase Hyatt credit card comes with no foreign transaction fee. Plus, as a chip and signature card, it will be accepted at many places where magnetic-stripe-only cards are not, and offers extra security.

Not to mention that this is a Visa Signature card we’re talking about. Visa Signature benefits include solid protections for your purchases as well as many travel-minded perks such as lost luggage reimbursement, travel accident insurance, trip cancellation insurance, and 24/7 concierge service that can provide referrals, translations, etc.

The Bottom Line

Any Hyatt diehard should get this card. The sign up bonus is killer, since those free nights can be redeemed at any hotel — for Hyatt, that can get pretty darn rewarding. Plus, you get Platinum benefits that guarantee you availability, late check-out, and Internet access.

Posted on

Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card Review

First of all, the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier card is pretty. It’s pure black, somehow both shiny and matte, and distinctly heavy from the real metal inside.

Edit: see here for a higher limited time offer. 

But beauty is only skin-deep. For the Marriott diehard, this card also promises some valuable rewards. Although the card carries an $85 annual fee, it’s waived for the first year, and might be worth it even if it wasn’t. Here’s a guide to the benefits.

Earning Points

There’s two tasty sign-up bonuses to be had with the Marriott Rewards Premier from Chase. First, right off the bat, you get a credit for one free night at a category 1-4 hotel, to be redeemed within six months. Then, if you spend just $1,000 in the first three months, you get 50,000 Marriott points. That’s enough for three nights in mid-priced hotels with PointSaver awards, or a whole seven nights at a category 1.

Just be aware that if you close the account for whatever reason within the first six months, Chase and Marriott “can legally deduct your bonus points from your account.” That sounds to us like they’ll make you pay for it, and probably will. So hold on to this card for at least six months!

Plus, every year after you renew, you will receive a certificate for one free night at a category 1-5 hotel, to be redeemed within six months. This annual free night does well to make up for the annual fee, which is already waived the first year. It’s interesting because it makes the card worth holding on to even if you only occasionally stay at a Marriott.

The Marriott Rewards card also gets you 5 points per $1 spent at Marriott hotels and resorts, 2 points per $1 spent at restaurants, airlines, and car rental agencies, and 1 point for every other dollar spent.

Redeeming Points

It takes about 6 to 8 weeks for points to hit your account, so plan accordingly. You can redeem points at all Marriott properties, 3,600 locations in 68 countries and territories. Here’s the list:

  • The Ritz-Carlton
  • JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts
  • Autograph Collection
  • Renaissance Hotels
  • AC Hotels by Marriott
  • Marriott Hotels & Resorts
  • Courtyard by Marriott
  • Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott
  • SpringHill Suites
  • Residence Inn
  • TownePlace Suites
  • Marriott Vacation Club International
  • Marriott Conference Centers
  • Marriott Executive Apartments
  • Marriott ExecuStay

Marriott Points are worth about .8 cents each, depending on where and when you redeem then. The range goes from 7,500 points for a standard reward night at a category 1, to 45,000 points for the same deal at a category 9. Happily, if you redeem for four nights, you get the fifth night for free! There’s no limit on your points and wonderfully, points never expire! (Yet another reason this card is worth holding on to.) However, you might be denied your award during peak times.

One could also exchange Marriott points for airlines, car rentals, cruises, travel packages, or merchandise, but for considerably less value. If you looking for ultra-flexible travel points, turn to a fixed value travel rewards card such as the Bank of America Travel Rewards card or the Barclaycard Arrival.

Get Status

The Chase Marriott Rewards Premier card gives you 15 Elite Credits right away and again every year after you renew. This insures you will always have at least Silver status, which requires 10 Elite Credits. You also get one Elite Credit for every $3,000 spent. Silver status elite benefits include a 20% bonus on base points earned on hotel stays (doesn’t include the credit card bonus points), priority late check-out when available, a private reservation line, and a weekend discount at participating Courtyard and SpringHill Suites locations. Not too shabby.

Traveler Benefits

This card is great for the traveler because it has no foreign transaction fee and is a chip and signature card, so you can expect it to be accepted at more locations in Europe, Asia, Canada, and beyond. This is also a Visa Signature card, which along with purchase protections, has many traveler-friendly benefits such as lost luggage reimbursement, travel accident insurance, car rental insurance, 24/7 concierge service including referrals and translation services, and much more.

The Bottom Line

The Chase Marriott Rewards Premier card is definitely worth the annual fee for any Marriott diehard, and maybe even the occasional patron. That’s because the annual free night makes up for that annual fee, plus the points never expire. The sign up bonus is solid, and every fifth award night is free! Looks like you’re running out of excuses not to take that vacation.

Posted on

The Citi & American Express Hilton HHonors Credit Cards Review

Both AmEx and Citi offer a 40,000 points bonus on their Hilton credit cards.


Hilton hotels number over 4,000 and are located all over the world, making the chain a solid choice for the prolific traveler. The Hilton HHonors program comes in four credit cards, two with an annual fee and two without.

This article focuses on the two Hilton cards with no annual fee, the Citi Hilton HHonors card and the American Express Hilton HHonors card. Despite being free to hold on to, both of these cards come packed with value, making either a great choice for the non-committal. But which to pick? Here’s the scoop, one feature at a time.

Earning Points

The Citi HHonors card nabs you 40,000 points after spending $1,000 in first 4 months. You also get two HHonors points for every dollar spent, with 6x points at Hilton hotels, 3x points at supermarkets, drugstores, and gas stations.

The American Express HHonors card also has a 40,000 point sign up bonus, but you only need to spend $750 in the first three months. It also has a more generous rewards scheme: you get three HHonors points for every dollar spent, with 7x points at Hilton hotels, and 5x points at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations.

As you can see, in the points category the AmEx HHonors card is the clear winner. Both cards offer a 40,000 point sign up bonus, but the AmEx card’s minimum spend is considerably lower. Plus, it offers more points earned for each spending category. The only reason to favor the Citi card is that you spend a lot at drugstores.

By the way, in order to get the hotel category bonus, you must, of course, be staying at a hotel that’s part of the Hilton HHonors portfolio. Just charge the room to your HHonors card and charge all hotel services to the room bill to receive the bonus. Simply using the card at the hotel is not enough.

Redeeming Points

You can redeem HHonors points for stays at select Hampton Inn & Suites, Embassy Suites, DoubleTree by Hilton, and Hilton Hotels & Resorts. An HHonor point is worth about half a cent. Now, your mileage may vary. The value depends on what category of hotel you will be redeeming at most and what time (peak or off-peak).

Redemptions start at 7,500 points for a standard room in a category 1 hotel, giving you a lovely 1.7 cents per point. But there seem to be only six (6!) category 1 hotels in the US. You can find them at Clarksville, AR; Cleburne, TX; Colombus, GA; Florence, AL; Jacksonville, FL; and Sandston, VA. So for most people, category 1 redemptions are not likely.

Then, for 10,000 points you can get a night at a category 2 hotel. Thankfully, there are 136 of those in the US. It’s 30,000 points per night for a category 4 and 50,000 points for a category 7. The middle range gets you about .4 to .5 cents per HHonors point.

One could also redeem points for merchandise or experiences, but these are lower value options. You can also purchase points directly from Hilton, up to a max of 40,000 per year. However, this is not recommended, since at the price of $10 for 1,000 points, you’re paying a 1.25 cents per point. Buy at least 10,000 at a time and you do receive a 25% discount, but this still doesn’t quite hold up to our point value estimate of half a cent.

There is no cap to how many points you can accumulate, and points don’t expire as long as you stay at a hotel, earn points, or purchase points at least once every 12 months.

Get Status

Both the Citi and AmEx HHonors cards automatically get you Silver Status, which includes benefits such as:

  • Book a reward stay of five nights and get the fifth night free. This applies only to standard rooms and kicks in automatically, you don’t have to do a thing. Needless to say, this perk is packed with value. Never has there been a better excuse for extending your vacation.
  • 15% bonus on HHonors Base Points earned on hotel stays. This doesn’t include the bonus points earned from the credit card, just the ones that any HHonors member would get.
  • Complimentary access to health club/fitness center

Additionally, both cards offer a way to “fast track” to Gold status. The Citi HHonors card will grant Gold status if you complete four stays at Hilton Worldwide Portfolio hotels within the first 90 days after opening your account. The American Express HHonors card will grant Gold status if you spend at least $20,000 per calendar year. When you do attain Gold status, it remains for the rest of that calendar year as well as the subsequent year. Gold benefits include free Internet access, room upgrades when available, 25% bonus on Base Points, and more.

American Express “AXON” Awards

The American Express HHonors card comes with a unique feature. It opens the door to what are called AXON awards, special redemption options available only to AmEx members. AXON awards are applicable to four-night stays in standard rooms and only in hotel categories 5 through 10. Here are the options, with the equivalent regular redemptions rates per night in parentheses:

  • Category 5: 130,000 (vs 30,000-40,000)
  • Category 6: 160,000 (vs 30,000-50,000)
  • Category 7: 190,000 (vs 30,000-60,000)
  • Category 8: 220,000 (vs 40,000-70,000)
  • Category 9: 260,000 (vs 50,000-80,000)
  • Category 10: 300,000 (vs 70,000-95,000)

Nice options, but AXON awards are not always the best choice. For example, four nights at the 30,000/night rate costs 12,000, which is less than the Category 5-7AXON prices. You also have to factor in the deal you get as a Silver member: stay five nights, get the fifth night free. AXON awards do not stack with that deal, you have to pick one or the other, and often the Silver deal is better.

To book an AXON award, you must call the line at 1-800-920-5649. They will ask for your Diamond number; just explain that you are an AmEx member calling for an AXON stay.

Traveler Benefits

The Citi HHonors card comes with Visa Signature benefits, while the AmEx HHonors card comes with American Express benefits. Both include car rental insurance, luggage insurance, roadside assistance, travel accident insurance, and 24/7 concierge-style customer service. Clearly such benefits are of great value to travelers.

On the other hand, both cards comes with a foreign transaction fee, which is a real bummer. The Citi card sports the usual 3%; the AmEx, 2.7%.

The Bottom Line

Getting an HHonors credit card is a no-brainer for any Hilton diehard. You get a tasty sign-up bonus and automatic Silver status, which includes a considerable discount built right in. Now, as for which no-annual-fee card to get, we think most people would want to get the American Express card, as it has a lower minimum spend for the bonus, better bonus categories, and extra award options. However, if you are planning to complete four Hilton stays in the first three months of card ownership, go for the Citi HHonors card to grab that Gold status.

Posted on

Visa Signature Card Benefits Guide

We talk about Visa Signature benefits a lot, for good reason. They are thorough and packed with value — and most Visa Signature holders don’t even realize the full extent of it. Here’s your guide to the nitty-gritty.

Basically, the Signature cards are Visa’s highest tier of quality. Some well-known Signature cards include the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Capital One Venture. You can figure out if your card fits the bill by googling its name or simply looking at it. It will proudly display ‘Visa Signature’ on the front.

Benefits can be broken down into three main categories, as follows:

1. Protections

When you purchase certain things with your Visa Signature card, they become insured or protected automatically. You don’t need to fill out any paperwork for this perk — just don’t buy insurance elsewhere.

  • Put airfare on the card and get reimbursed for lost luggage, up to $3000.
  • Use the card to pay for your taxi, bus, train, airport limousine or courtesy transportation and get Accidental Death and Dismemberment travel insurance (minimum $250,000) for yourself and your dependents
  • Pay for your car rental and enjoy automatic insurance, covering eligible collisions as well as theft. This insurance comes secondary to your own car insurance, and doesn’t cover cars that are very expensive or exotic (like a Lamborghini) or over 20 years old.
  • Get protected with their Zero Liability guarantee — you won’t ever pay a penny for fraudulent charges.

2. Business Perks

Your fancy Visa Signature card grants you certain perks with businesses — provided that you use it at the business.

  • More than 800 participating luxury hotels will guarantee the best possible rate and give you an automatic upgrade if available, as well as complimentary in-room Internet, valet parking, continental breakfast, late check-out, and a $25 food and beverage credit.
  • The Visa website grants you special exclusive discounts, such as on car rentals, cruises, movie or sports tickets, attractions, etc.
  • Also get discounts at common retailers such as Macy’s, Crate & Barrel, etc.
  • Qualifying purchases receive 90 days of protection against theft or damage due to fire, spills, or vandalism. That means they’ll get replaced, repaired, or you’ll get reimbursed.
  • Qualifying purchases also receive an extra year of warranty on top of the manufacturer’s warranty when registered.

3. Customer Service

The customer service for Visa Signature cards is available 24/7 by phone and often described as being like a concierge. That’s because your lovely Visa rep is ready to assist you with almost anything you can think of, even at the witching hours of the night. He or she can:

  • Make reservations for you at hotels or restaurants
  • Make arrangements for you, from finding suitable events or attractions to purchasing the tickets to getting you directions
  • Look up information, such as car rental rates, business hours
  • Purchase gifts and set up delivery
  • Provide travel services such as translation or help with visa/customs issues
  • Provide medical or legal referrals
  • Send you roadside assistance for just $60
  • Arrange for emergency cash, usually within hours but certainly within one business day

Convinced Yet?

With all the perks listed above, we thought you might be. It just makes sense to have one of these cards in your wallet. So if you’re interested in enjoying all the benefits a Visa Signature card has to offer, we’ve listed some of our top picks below. Check them out and see what makes the most sense for you.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

First, this card gets you 40,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months of card membership. Ultimate Rewards points are extremely valuable for their flexibility and 40,000 points isn’t too shabby at all. On top of the generous sign-up bonus, you’ll get 2 points per dollar spent on dining and travel expenses and one point on everything else. Plus, this card just looks cool.

Apply Now: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Freedom

The Freedom card offers 5% back on certain categories that rotate every quarter. 5% is about as good as it gets in the cash back world. Fortunately, these categories tend to be nice and broad, such as gas stations or department stores. The points earned on the Chase Freedom card can be transferred to your Ultimate Rewards account for maximal value, rather than just cashing out. Ah, synergy! All of this for no annual fee. Not every Freedom card is a Visa Signature, but you can certainly get one that is if your credit score is good enough.

Chase United MileagePlus Explorer

This card represents yet another way to pool your Ultimate Rewards points, since United is one of the airline partners. Spend $1,000 in the first three months and you receive 30,000 bonus miles. Add an authorized user and you get another 5,000 miles. And if you manage to spend $25,000 with the card in one year, you’ll receive a lovely 10,000 bonus miles. That makes for a total of 45,000 miles, which can really open up the travel doors. Not to mention that this card goes all in the perks, nabbing you waived fees for checked bags, priority boarding, and more.

Capital One Venture

Capital One is known for their “No Hassle Rewards Program.” This Visa Signature card is for the traveler that values major flexibility and enjoys bargain hunting. The Venture gets you 2 miles on every purchase, period. These so-called “miles” actually don’t transfer with any frequent flyer program, though. Rather, they can be redeemed for 1 cent per mile for any travel expense, from any source. It doesn’t matter whether you book with an airline or a travel discount site. Plus, the sign-up bonus is 10,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first three months, good for $100 of travel expense.