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American Express is on a roll – it has just upped the sign-up bonuses for its two Hilton HHonors co-branded cards (the Surpass and the Hilton HHonors) to 100,000 and 75,000 HHonors points respectively. The HHonors cards have been living in the shadow of other American Express cards until now and so many of us have not yet had them.
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Hilton HHonors™ Surpass® Card from American Express – 100,000 Bonus Points
The Hilton HHonors™ Surpass® Card will get you 100,000 HHonors bonus points when approved and when you spend at least $3,000 within the first 3 months.
The card gets you a massive 12x when used within the Hilton portfolio and a respectable 6x when shopping at US supermarkets, restaurants and gas stations.
It comes with a $75 fee that is not waived.
This limited time offer (which is the highest ever for this card) ends 05/04/2016.
Hilton HHonors™ Card from American Express – 75,000 Bonus Points
The Hilton HHonors™ Card from American Express will get you 75,000 points if you spend a modest $1,000 on it within 3 months once approved.
The card gets you 7x when used within the Hilton portfolio and a respectable 5x when shopping at US supermarkets, restaurants and gas stations.
This card has no annual fee!
This limited time offer (which is the highest ever for this card, too) ends 05/04/2016.
So what would I do with this 175,000 HHonors points bonanza?
AXON 4-night awards
As an American Express cardmember, you have access to a special award category called AXON. This needs to be booked over the phone and many HHonors agents have never heard of it. The best bet is usually to get connected to the Diamond Desk.
The rates are as follows:
I have linked to the Hilton website’s list of categories (which is horrible to look through).
With the changes Hilton HHonors introduced in June 2013, an AXON award is not necessarily the cheapest redemption anymore. Now if that sounds complicated – it is! Hilton HHonors does not make it easy to save on points.
Fifth night free
A regular Hilton HHonors redemption gets you the fifth night free at the same property. This benefit often leads to a better price than an AXON award.
My favorite properties
Since Hilton has so many properties in so many places (and many of them are mediocre), here is my list of places I’d love to send you to.
The Hilton Moorea is a Category 9 hotel and will set you back 70,000 points a night. You can book almost 3 nights if you manage to spend ~$5,000 in US supermarkets, which isn’t so hard if you live in the Central United States.
The beautiful Hilton Mauritius Resort & Spa is a Category 8 hotel.
40,000 Hilton HHonors points are enough for one night and with the sign-up bonus earned with these two cards you can spend 5 nights at this beautiful resort for just 160,000 points (as the fifth night is free). I spent a few weeks in Mauritius a decade ago and the mix of Indian and French cultures is unique.
I visited the DoubleTree Seychelles Resort Allamanda in December 2014 and thought it was a beautiful property. It’s very boutique and small, though. The biggest drawback is that there is no real internet at the property.
The property charges 70,000 HHonors points a night, but it usually has a Points and Money redemption available, which is a great deal at EUR 90 & 28,000 HHonors. Keep in mind that the fifth night is NOT free when using the Points and Money option.
So Malabo is the capital of Equatorial Guinea, on an island off the coast of continental Africa. The country is flush with oil dollars and many airlines including Iberia and Lufthansa have just added service to the island. US citizens do not need a visa to enter the country.
The Hilton Malabo is a great base to explore the island and charges 40,000 points a night, so five nights will cost you 160,000 points (including the fifth night free).
The DoubleTree Kuala Lumpur is an outstanding property and I wrote not just one but two DoubleTree Kuala Lumpur reviews.
All you need is Hilton Gold status and you can enjoy a few days in KL in style (and with lounge access). It’s priced at a modest 10,000 points per night, which makes 5 nights just 40,000 points (with the free night).
Many DoubleTree (but not Hilton) hotels in Malaysia are cheap with points. Also look into the DoubleTree Johor Bahru, located just across the bridge from Singapore.