ACCUMULATING HOTEL POINTS – HOW TO SCORE BIG!

Well, I’ve begun my “to do list” from you my readers.  One of my first requests was to learn more about the acquisition and use of hotel points.  So Joe, this post is for you.  It will be the first in this series.  hope you find it helpful and it gives you some direction in this regard.
So for the leisure traveler earning hotel points is primarily through non-travel related activities.  We aren’t out traveling on business racking up those hotel stays, earning status, and accumulating stay points each month.  For us we have to use other creative ways to earn those free stay nights.  The best way I know to earn huge points for free stays is through hotel loyalty credit card bonuses and spending.  There are many hotel loyalty programs that offer credit cards but I will try to highlight some of the top and most popular programs.  Today, I will discuss Hilton & Starwood.
    Hilton has three rewards credit cards offered.  One is offered through Citibank and the other two are offered through American Express.  Here is a breakdown on those cards.  If you applied & received all three you could accumulate 160,000 Hilton points.  You could possibly accumulate more as there is the slight possibility of a bump on one of these offers.  Bump information listed below.  Once you have these cards, you can then continue to earn points from your regularly spending.
    *Note: What is a bump?  A bump is when you apply for a card and a better offer is offered either before you applied or after you applied.  You then request that the lender as a courtesy to you extended that same bonus offer on your account.  Sometimes you’ll get a bump and sometimes you won’t.  It’s always worth a try if you are aware of a better offer.  You can make this request either via a secure message from your account or by calling customer service over the phone.

    Card Name

    Rewards



    Citi Hilton HHonors
    (no fee)
    • 6pts (3%) at Hilton
    • 3pts (1.5%) at groceries, drugstores, gas
    • 2pts (1%) elsewhere
    • 40k-point bonus for spending $1k in 4 months
    • Automatic Silver status
    Hilton Amex Credit Card
    (no fee)
    • 6pts (3%) at Hilton, groceries, drugstores, gas, some utilities
    • 3pts (1.5%) elsewhere
    • 60k-point bonus after first purchase
    • 2,500 points each for up to 4 stays in first 18 months
    • 500 points for booking online
    • Automatic Silver status
    • Gold status if you spend $20k+ a year
    Hilton HHonors Surpass
    ($75 annual fee)
    • Same as no-fee Amex, except you earn 9pts (4.5%) at Hilton
    • 60k-point bonus after first purchase
    • 2,500 points each for up to 8 stays in first 18 months
    • 500 points for booking online
    • Gold status for first year
    • Airport lounge access

    BUMP OPTIONS:
    Citibank Hilton Honors Visa
    There is a thread on Flyertalk with a link for a 50,000 bonus offer.  Here is that application link if you’d like to give it a try.  There is no landing page with the details of the 50,000 bonus point offer.  I would give it a try.  Couldn’t hurt.
    UPGRADE OPTION:
    There is an offer available to current Hilton Honors card holders to upgrade to the Surpass and receive 50,000 bonus points.  If you already have the Hilton Honors no fee card and need some additional points consider doing this upgrade.  Call and ask for this offer or apply through this link

    TOTAL HILTON POINTS POSSIBLE
    :
    50,000 Citibank Hilton Honors Card
    60,000 Amex Hilton Honors Card
    60,000 Amex Hilton Honors Surpass Card

    STARWOOD HOTELS & RESORTS

    These two offers may not seem like a ton of points but you must understand the Starwood points value.  They are valued at around 2.3 cents per point.  Here I will give you a personal example.  I just booked a category 6 Starwood property for my husband & I to stay at.  The room cost is $600+.  I have booked 2 nights which cost me 27,000 Starwood points.  If I paid cash for the room, it would be $1,200 plus tax. So you can see that in my real life example these points are valued 4.5 cents per dollar (.045 x 27,000 = $1,215).  So basically the way I have maximized my Starwood points in this example, my one Starwood bonus essentially gave me a $1200 plus hotel stay for my husband & I.  Pretty high value, I’d say!  You can also use Cash & Points options for booking hotels and this give you a very high redemption option too.  I’ll discuss this in more detail in a future post regarding getting the best value from your points.
    The other awesome benefit of Starwood points is they can be transferred to almost any airline at a 1:1 ratio.  You will also receive a 5,000 miles bonus when you transfer 20,000 points.  So 20,000 points equals 25,000 miles.  The only airlines that are not a good transfer partner are United, Continental & Air New Zealand.  United & Continental transfer at a 2:1 ratio and Air New Zealand transfers at a 65:1 ratio.  Not a good deal! So don’t plan on using Starwood points for these airlines.  The Starwood AMEX is one of the cards in my wallet and I only keep two in there.  The other is my favorite Chase Sapphire.  The rest are in my drawer.  I do have both personal & business because I wanted both bonuses.

    Card Name

    Rewards

    Annual Fee- $65
    Waived first year
    • 10,000 Starpoints with your first purchase
    • 15,000 more Starpoints when you spend $5,000 in 6 months
    • Redeem Starpoints at over 1,000 participating hotels & resortsor for flights on over 350 airlines, all with no blackout dates.Earn one Starpoint per eligible dollar & two Starpoints at participating hotels & resorts when you use the Card.
    • 5,000 Starpoint bonus when you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to miles
    Annual Fee – $65
    Waived first year
    • 10,000 Starpoints with your first purchase
    • 15,000 more Starpoints when you spend $5,000 in 6 months
    • Redeem Starpoints at over 1,000 participating hotels & resorts or
      for flights on over 350 airlines, all with no blackout dates.
    • Earn one Starpoint per eligible dollar & two Starpoints at participating hotels & resorts when you use the Card.
    • 5,000 Starpoint bonus when you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to miles

    TOTAL STARWOOD POINTS POSSIBLE:
    25,000 Starwood Preferred Guest Card
    25,000 Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card
    50,000 Starwood Points
    Rough Estimated Value:
    2 cents per point = $1,000
    4 cents per point = $2,000

    Note:
    The Citibank Hilton Honors & Starwood links are my affiliate links.  The Hilton Honors links are directly from AMEX.  I always want you to have the best offers and I will always provide the information to you for the best offers I am aware of.  If you know of any better offers, please email me.  I would greatly appreciate the info.

    8 thoughts on “ACCUMULATING HOTEL POINTS – HOW TO SCORE BIG!”

    1. FYII tried the Surpass upgrade offer both by trying to log in with my HHonors AMEX account and with card number and it did not authenticate. Maybe this offer is targeted?

    2. Hi, thanks for all the great information. I always worry about having too many credit cards in terms of it affecting my/our credit score. Maybe I overestimate the impact having so many cards has on credit rating? I have an AMEX Gold and use the Membership Rewards on a regular basis, but is there an advantage to me getting the SPG one as well? We are in the process of refinancing our mortgage, so applying for another credit card would be a hard sell to my DH. 🙂

    3. @Anonymous – Thanks for the feedback. Maybe it is targeted. I didn't think so. I would print the screen shot and call and try to get the upgrade over the phone. I bet it will not be a problem. Pls let me know what happens.@Karen C. – I'll post something soon to answer your question with some details.@ Irene H. – I would stay absolutely DO NOT apply for any cards while you are in the refinancing process. Wait until all those papers are signed at the title company and the loan is a done deal. Not worth risking right now! The hit on your score for each application is only 2-3 points. Not a big deal. The only thing is that it does not look good to the potential mortgage lender when you have all kinds of unsecure lines of credit open because you could possibility at any time use all those credit lines and max everything out. If you aren't getting a mortgage anytime soon, it's no problem. The amount of open credit cards has in no way ever brought my credit scores down. They actually have increased in the last 3 years since I've increase credit card accounts. Your debt to income ratio is really important. If you have open credit cards and no balances I think it's no problem. If you have lots of debt on different cards then it is definitely not wise to be playing in this credit card bonus arena. It's better to just focus on paying off your debt.Regarding SPG verses Membership Rewards. The two major benefits are the 5,000 bonus when transferring to airline miles and the high value for luxury hotel redemptions with Starwood Resorts all over the world. Plus the cash & points redemption is a huge value. I'll discuss this more in a future post on best use of Starwood points.

    4. Thanks Faith. Just to let you know I contacted American express and they have let me know that I am not eligible. They have stated an interesting reason though "I wish to inform you that accounts that have been open less than 13 months may not transfer to a new account if a change would result in a higher Annual Membership Fee.I see that your Card account was opened on November 2011. That is why it is not eligible for upgrade to Hilton HHonors Surpass Card at this time.In addition, your account will be eligible for receiving bonus points for the upgrade if you have received a solicitation regarding the offer."

    5. @Anonymous – That is really an interesting reason. I would call and talk to a customer rep over the phone and see what answer you get there. I remember being offering to upgrade to the Surpass over the phone when I called one time and I had definitely not had the card 13 months. Strange answer. Thanks for the heads up! Let me know if you have any different response over the phone.

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