Credit cards are undeniably a great way of earning airline frequent flyer points, but for travellers who amass plenty of these throughout the year from actually flying, a smarter strategy can be to earn hotel loyalty points from credit cards instead, such as in the popular Hilton Honors program.
That’s because when it comes time to book your holiday, you won’t only have enough points to fly there, you’ll have enough points to stay there too: and with flights and hotels covered, that’s as close to a ‘free holiday’ as you can get using your points!
If your points balance could do with a top-up, here are the five best credit cards in Australia for earning Hilton Honors points, with some also elevating you to Hilton Honors Gold or Diamond status for extra perks as you relax on your points-booked stay
1. American Express Explorer, Business Explorer credit cards
Offering Australia’s highest uncapped earning rate for Hilton Honors points on everyday purchases are the American Express Explorer and Business Explorer cards, delivering the equivalent of two Hilton Honors points per dollar spent through AMEX’s Membership Rewards Gateway program.
You’ll start by earning two Gateway points per dollar spent, which can later be converted into Hilton Honors points at a 1:1 rate – notably not at a 4:3 ratio as applies when transferring frequent flyer points from the same cards to programs like Virgin Australia Velocity and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer.
The only exception are government transactions (such as ATO payments) on which you’ll earn the equivalent of 0.5 Hilton Honors points per dollar spent, although unlike some other AMEX cards, payments to insurers and utilities accrue points at the full ‘two points per dollar’ rate.
New cardholders can also scoop up 50,000 bonus Hilton Honors points via the personal Explorer card when spending $1,500 in the first three months, or 100,000 bonus Hilton Honors points via the Business Explorer card when spending $3,000 in the same time frame.
2. American Express Business Accelerator Card
Another option for business owners is the American Express Business Accelerator Card, which also offers two Hilton Honors points per dollar spent on most purchases via the Membership Rewards Ascent scheme, where points also convert to Hilton at a 1:1 rate.
There’s a lower annual fee to pay – $160 versus $395 for either Explorer card above – but in return, after reeling in 100,000 Hilton Honors points each year (from $50,000 in spend), the card’s earn rate decreases to one Hilton Honors point per dollar spent for the rest of the year.
Payments to government providers, utilities and insurers always earn a reduced 0.5 Hilton Honors points per dollar spent, making this a better-fit for smaller businesses with lower spends, and the Business Explorer for businesses spending north of $50,000 on plastic each year, or heavily on utilities and insurance where Explorer offers more points.
3. Hilton Honors Macquarie Platinum Visa
Look to the Hilton Honors Macquarie Platinum Visa credit card to earn one Hilton Honors point per dollar spent on most everyday charges (excludes ATO payments), and an impressive four Hilton Honors points per dollar spent at Hilton Worldwide hotels and resorts.
There’s no annual fee to pay, and you’ll also be boosted to Hilton Honors Gold status for as long as you keep the card, which delivers perks such as complimentary breakfast, room upgrades and free bottled water when you stay at hotels like Hilton, Conrad and DoubleTree by Hilton.
Charge at least $40,000 per year on the card and that’s elevated to Hilton Honors Diamond – offering extra niceties like guaranteed Executive Lounge access with every stay, where available – with new cardholders able to earn up to two free weekend hotel stays in the first year.
4. American Express Platinum, Business Platinum cards
Spend heavily on dining and travel – even at hotels other than Hilton? You could be earning three Hilton Honors points per dollar charged at most Australian restaurants with the American Express Platinum charge card, and two Hilton Honors points per dollar spent with airlines, hotels and on all overseas charges.
Merely having this card also boosts you to Hilton Honors Gold status – plus comparable levels in other hotel programs like SPG (Gold Preferred) and Shangri-La Golden Circle (Jade) – with 80,000 bonus Hilton Honors points also on the table when you apply, pay a $1,200 annual fee and spend $1,500 in the first three months.
Business owners could instead apply for the similar $1,500/year Business Platinum card to earn two Hilton Honors points per dollar spent on advertising, courier expenses, computer equipment purchases and at restaurants, airlines and hotels, with both cards offering one Hilton Honors point per dollar spent on most other charges, except on government, utility and insurance payments where earning is halved.
5. American Express Platinum Edge credit card
If your household spends more on groceries and fuel as opposed to luxuries like travel, the more affordable American Express Platinum Edge credit card is your ticket to earning three Hilton Honors points per dollar spent every time you visit the supermarket.
Filling up your petrol tank also provides two Hilton Honors points per dollar, with utility, insurance and government payments offering 0.5 Hilton Honors points per dollar spent, and purchases everywhere else a simple one Hilton Honors point per $1, via the Membership Rewards Ascent program.
There’s a $195 annual fee to pay, but that’s offset by the inclusion of a yearly $200 travel voucher, so even if you’re planning to use points for your next getaway, if you’d have otherwise spent $195 on a flight or hotel stay throughout the year, this $195/year card is essentially ‘free’.