Why is this my favorite hotel credit card, and how do I use it

Since my first trip to Paris, when my husband and I used our frequent flyer miles for free travel, I’ve been addicted to the loyalty rewards. Initially, I earned them through frequent flyer miles, or hotel stays that I made as a corporate traveller. Then, I found out that I could earn more points with credit card purchases. While I’ve had many different types over the years, I’ve settled on using Hilton Honors American Express. I find that my biggest travel expense is hotels, so I choose the hotel card over the airline card.

Hilton Honors has four status levels: Member, Silver, Gold, and Diamond. Higher levels receive more rewards. Hilton determines your level based on the number of nights you stay each year at its property unless you have a Hilton Honors American Express Card. After that, you can earn points that will increase your status level by making purchases with your card.

I have an American Express Basic Blue Card, where American Express doesn’t charge for the card, but you do pay interest on unpaid balances. However, they have other cards with higher annual fees and benefits. This article will focus on the Hilton Honors American Express Card with no annual fee.

While there are many ways to earn and use Hilton Honors Points, here are some hints and tips on how to earn and spend points most often with my Hilton Honors American Express Card.

The Hilton Honors American Express Card automatically grants Silver status

Silver status rewards you with 20% on base Hilton Honors Points earned from your stay with the Hilton Honors Program. The more points you earn, the higher your status, and the higher your status, the more points you earn. With Gold status, you get 80 percent bonus on base Hilton Honor points, and with Diamond status, you get 100 percent more.

When you spend $20,000 on your card in a calendar year, you can earn Hilton Honors Gold status during the next calendar year. Note that eligible purchases do not include items you returned or credits you received. Also, it does not include interest charges and the purchase of its equivalent such as buying a prepaid credit card.

However, with each increasing level, you get additional advantages.

Maximize your earnings with bonus points

Different types of purchases receive different multiples of bonus points. For example, when you charge a Hilton hotel or resort, you can earn 7x Hilton Bonus Points for every dollar you spend on your American Express Card.

Pro tip: To maximize this, if you eat at the hotel restaurant and have it shipped to your room, you’ll earn more points than if you used the card to pay for the meal directly to your American Express.

When you buy at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations within the US, you’ll earn 5 times the reward points and 3 times the points on the rest of what you buy.

Take advantage of our 48-hour room guarantee

In a conversation with my husband, he mentioned that he wanted to stay in a hotel after the big game. I agreed and delegated his reservations. After a few hours, he told me there were no rooms anywhere. I couldn’t believe it and decided to check myself, as I have more experience dealing with reservations.

When I called after providing my loyalty number, the reservation assistant asked me which brand I prefer. I said, “Because there’s a big game, wherever you have availability.” After being offered several options, I made a reservation and everything was set for the big weekend game. I asked why I could get a reservation, and my husband couldn’t. They explained that as a Diamond member, I received a room through a 48 hour guarantee.

Since it was 48 hours ago, Diamond members had priority to book over other members. This is a valuable benefit – but be aware that there are some limitations to it.

When one night is not available, it may still be available two Available nights

When you ask to book a room for one night and are told that there are no rooms available, it may mean that they don’t have any reservations for just one night. Ask if they have two Nights are open. Although I know it’s counterintuitive that if they don’t have one night available, they may have two, which is sometimes the case. just ask. This works even if you are not using loyalty points.

Staying in the same hotel for five nights

Starting in Silver, you only pay for four nights with your points and get the fifth night free when you book with points. Therefore, to maximize return, use your points when staying at the same hotel for five consecutive nights or more.

For example, if you’re going down a road and only staying one night in one hotel before moving to another, it’s best to earn points and spend points on hotels where you’ll stay at least five nights.

Save on resort fees

Hotels often add a resort fee to their published rates. While resort fees vary, this can quickly add up to $25 to $50 per night more than the advertised room rate. However, Hilton does not charge a resort fee when you pay for your stay with 100 percent reward points. So, your visit is completely free.

Save on foreign transaction fees

An international transaction fee, also known as a foreign transaction fee, is a fee that is charged when you travel abroad and make a purchase or process a transaction using an offshore bank. These fees are usually applied to each purchase and constitute about 3 percent of the value of your purchases.

As a frequent traveler, I soon learned that foreign transaction fees are expensive. Hilton Honors American Express does not charge a foreign transaction fee when you buy something outside the United States with your card. But be aware, you may find that a particular merchant or ATM will still charge fees.

Run all your spends with American Express to maximize points

Evaluate how your bills are currently being paid. Do you use a check or debit card? Do you use Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)? Consider switching to pay for everything on your American Express card. I pay rent, cable TV, mobile phone, electricity, and groceries, to name a few, with my American Express Card.

I pay as much as I can with my card and then pay the balance due weekly. Of course, I can choose to do this once a month and keep my money longer, but I can better control things weekly rather than monthly.

Be aware of the status of your other credit card

Having a backup credit card is a good safety net if you’re traveling and get scammed or lose your card. So, while I was using my Hilton Honors card to collect thousands of free points and transfer all my purchases to it, I recently found out that some of my other cards became inactive.

For example, when my spare Visa card expired, I didn’t get a new one. When I called to inquire why, I found out that I had not used it in over three years, and it became inactive. Since not every institution takes American Express, especially in Europe, I find it necessary to have non-American Express points-earning cards. So don’t be surprised. It keeps track of the status of the active backup card.

Pay your balance monthly

Finally, a key tip is to pay off your total balance each month. The Hilton Honors card works for me because I am eager to pay my balance in full every month. If you don’t, interest rates make this transaction undesirable. If you have a card with no annual fee, the card company makes money with interest paid on unpaid balances. So make sure to pay your monthly balance on time or early to avoid interest to make earning points on your Hilton Honors card economical.

Editorial Disclosure: The opinions expressed here are those of the author alone, and not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities listed in the post.

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