As the only direct-earn Hilton HHonors card in the Australian market, just how does the Hilton HHonors Macquarie Platinum card stack up against the likes of AMEX Membership Rewards?
Serving up four HHonors points per dollar spent at hotels and resorts within the HHonors worldwide portfolio and one point per dollar spent everywhere else, the card also comes with free HHonors elite status – but more on that later.
Who’s it good for?
Being linked to a hotel loyalty program rather than an airline, this card is best-suited to those paying for their flights outright and choosing to save some coin on hotel stays instead.
While HHonors points can be converted into airline currency, it’s far from the best use of your points – instead, look to redeem for free nights or for a ‘points and money reward’ at participating hotels.
With a minimum income requirement of just $30,000 and no points capping, this platinum card is well within reach of full-time workers, and suits both ‘once a year’ travellers and weekly road warriors.
How much you have to spend to earn a free night
The number of points needed for a free night fluctuates based on demand.
Using imminent travel dates, a night at the Hilton on the Park hotel in Melbourne clocks in at 40,000 points, or 16,000 points + $70.62 for a ‘points and money reward’.
For the completely free night, you’ll need to spend either $10,000 within the Hilton HHonors portfolio or $40,000 on everything else.
However, better value can be had by booking that ‘points and money reward’ – available after spending just $4,000 at Hilton hotels and resorts, or $16,000 on everything else, plus the $70.62 co-pay.
Being a platinum card, travel insurance comes as standard.
Coverage kicks-in after charging a return international travel ticket to the card, while insurance is also extended to a spouse and children if travelling with the primary cardholder on the same itinerary.
Other protections like extended warranty and transit accident insurance, purchase security cover and interstate flight inconvenience insurance are also on tap, in a similar fashion to other premium-grade cards.
Hilton HHonors perks
By far, the card’s best perk is free HHonors Gold Elite status for the life of the credit card account.
When staying with Hilton and brands like Waldorf Astoria, Conrad and DoubleTree, you'll be on the receiving end of perks like free room upgrades, daily breakfast, free bottled water and high speed Internet access.
If you happen to charge $40,000 to the card in a single year, your Hilton HHonors status is automatically upped to the Diamond level.
Above what’s offered to Gold, Diamond guests are guaranteed access to hotel Executive Lounges where available (regardless of room type), can reserve nights at fully-booked hotels and have a higher chance of grabbing a suite upgrade.
At either level, the perks more than cover what you’ll pay in the annual fee, so even if you’re only after the card for the perpetual HHonors status, it’s worth it in my book.
Fees and charges
The Hilton HHonors Macquarie Platinum card comes with a $295 annual fee, which you should be able to offset through your ‘free’ hotel status.
You can add an extra cardholder for $49/year, but as the perks and points belong to the primary cardholder, only give out a second card if the points alone make it worthwhile.
Up to 55 interest free days are available on purchases, but interest charges of 20.7% will apply if the closing balance isn’t paid in full (voiding any interest free period), with cash advances attracting an even-higher 21.95% rate.
While the number of interest free days is generous, the purchase and cash advance interest rates are on the higher end for a rewards card, which reinforces the need to pay the closing balance wherever possible.
All overseas transactions – whether reeling in four points per dollar with Hilton or one point per dollar on everything else – come with a 3% ‘currency conversion fee’, which largely offsets the value of the points you’ll earn.
How it compares
After converting Membership Rewards points across to Hilton HHonors, the American Express Platinum Edge card has the same earning rate on everyday transactions as the Macquarie card.
That’s great if you already have elite status with Hilton, as you’ll earn the same number of points from the same spend – in addition to a free return flight each year – for a lower annual fee.
Also on offer are bonus points at supermarkets and at petrol stations, which makes the AMEX card a no-brainer for big families. However, if you’re almost a permanent resident in Hilton’s hotels, you’ll find value in the bonus points on the Macquarie card.
As a Visa card with no points cap, you’d also run into fewer surcharging and acceptance issues than with an AMEX, so if there’s room in your wallet (or even if there’s not), it’s definitely worth making space for.
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