by Mac Candee

Posted: Saturday, October 24, 2020

After doing my research and analyzing my experience, I want to share something many of you have asked me about. And that is - which credit card is best to use when traveling? Of course, this is a very subjective question, which largely depends on your own situation, lifestyle and preferences. That’s why I’m doing a deep dive into different options available on the market, analyzing their benefits, as well as critically assessing which one is best suited for which lifestyle.

Before we get into the topic any further, I want to give general advice to anyone who has an interest in travel credit card hacking. It is very important that if you’re carrying a balance and acquiring interest, you must pay those off in full first. Your number one goal is to always be debt free, after which you can focus on the travel rewards points. If you’re paying interest, it’s going to be between 18%-30%, which can easily get out of hand. This will completely negate the value you receive from getting points from traveling, because you’ll lose all that money in interest. As a rule of thumb, always pay off your credit cards at the end of the month. That’s why it’s really crucial to be responsible, and never spend more than you can pay back, and clear all debt before going further.

A quick disclaimer - I am not sponsored or endorsed by this company.

Everything I’m saying in this blog post is my own personal opinion and experience tied in with the benefits. I realize this card might not be for everyone, so I’m taking a very critical approach while writing this, as to give you all the information you need in a useful way. I’m not getting any direct money from writing this but, using my link to sign up for the card supports creating more blog posts like this.

Whether you choose to use my link or not, I’m just sharing my experience, because this card has been very useful to me with my current lifestyle. My motivation in writing this blog post is to tell you what the benefits are and how this has positively impacted my life, so you can make your own educated decision.

Now, let’s get into this week’s credit card. As you can probably tell from the title alone, this time we’re talking about something a bit different. This time, we’re discussing a hotel card. This might sound a bit foreign to you, but it’s something that has been extremely useful for me with my lifestyle. That said, what do you have to consider to know if this card is right for you?

Does the card match your lifestyle?

First off, do you travel often? If you do, do you usually stay at Hilton? If you answered yes to both questions, then this card is already a pretty good fit for you.

Hilton is my personal favorite hotel chain, but there are others as well that offer different credit card options. As an example, there is the Marriott, as well as others, that have great credit cards that you can check out if you prefer another hotel chain. The reason I chose Hilton to do this is that I know they have a pretty big spread all around the world and I had already stayed in some of their locations and I liked it a lot. So I figured it would make sense for me to choose an establishment I already like and I’m probably going to use often.

The reason I talk about this card specifically is that it has been extremely useful for me. I was traveling with the company I worked at a lot in 2019, and for many months of the year. I was staying at a hotel for at least three nights of each week. I would get to pick my accommodation within a price range, and I would always go with a specific hotel chain. This was with the intent to build up my loyalty status. In addition to this, I also opened up a credit card, so I could maximize my points. This brought me to the credit card in question - the Hilton Honors Aspire Rewards card. It is a high annual fee card, and of course this might be a turnoff for many people if you don’t have the lifestyle where it’s worth it. But before you click out of this blog post, read through the information, because you might be surprised how useful this card can be.

Let me give you a teaser - after using the card frequently enough, I now have enough points to stay in the Maldives for about 7 nights for the amount of points I’ve built up - all completely free. That’s worth well over the annual fee that I spent ($450), just for that benefit alone. One other thing I want to mention is that if you’re not a frequent hotel stayer or loyal to a certain chain, this could make sense for you if there is a period in time when you’ll travel more often, because it provides a status level that gets you free upgrades. There might be various years when there are different things that make more sense than others, so you have to factor that in as well.

Personal experience - When I critically assess my experience, for most years it wouldn’t have made sense to open a hotel card. Alternatively, I would have just opted for one with a much lower annual fee. This is because it just didn't fit my circumstances at that time. If I didn’t travel as much or if I wasn’t loyal to a hotel chain like I was in 2019, this wouldn’t have been as beneficial for me. Make sure you consider this before making a decision.

Now, let’s talk about why this card might be right for you.

Now let’s break down how you build up points so quickly, so you can get that once in a lifetime trip like the Maldives. A week at such a premium location can easily cost you $5,000- $7,000 or more just on your accommodation. You could find some more affordable deals of course, but in general this is an expensive destination. That’s an important thing to take into consideration - maybe you have a big event or something coming up in the next few months that would greatly benefit from you having this card and having gathered points. At the time I was traveling, for every 5 nights that I stayed in a Hilton, I would get another 10 000 points. This helped me gather my points quite quickly. This is separate from the credit card spend and separate from the multiplier, just the amount of time you spend in the hotel will give you points in and of itself.


Now let’s say a few words about some other benefits that help you build up points and allow you to stay in amazing places for free.

The first one I touched on briefly, but it’s the new card member offer. You get 150,000 Hilton points, if you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months of your card membership. I would recommend waiting before you have a big purchase coming up, so that you can be sure you can meet the minimum right after opening the card.

You also earn points in the following cases:

  • Earn 7X points when you place an order with your Card at U.S. restaurants.
  • Earn 14x Points on Hilton Purchases
  • Earn 7x Points on Select Travel
  • Earn 7x Points on Dining
  • Earn 3x Points on Other Purchases

Complimentary Diamond Status

This card gives you a Hilton Honors Diamond status.

Weekend Night Rewards

Every year after you have paid your annual fee, you can stay in a location for free for a whole weekend. I actually did this in New York with some friends, where we stayed in a $700 room without spending a penny. It was a great time, so this is definitely a benefit you shouldn’t ignore. Just this weekend for me already made it worth it to spend the annual fee. You can also earn an additional night after you spend $60,000 on purchases on your Card in a calendar year.

$250 Hilton Resort Statement Credit

Each year of Card Membership, you can get up to $250 in statement credits on your Card Account that you can spend in different Hilton Resorts.

$100 Hilton On-property Credit

If you book a minimum of 2 nights stay from their website, you can use this perk to make yourself feel more comfortable and enjoy your stay even more.

Priority Pass™ Select

This benefit allows you to visit over 1,200 airport lounges all around the world with up to 2 guests.

If I tally up everything I’ve spent on this card, it’s about $900, since I’ve had it for two years', but I’ve made great use of the benefits that they offer, which I talk more in detail about further below. This is not a small price, but I’ve already used so many of their benefits, and I also have an additional 500,000 points I have yet to use, which makes it completely worth it for me. These aren’t even all the benefits, you also get things like no foreign transaction fees, car rental loss and damage insurance, baggage insurance plan and others. You can learn more about these here.

Final Thoughts

Make sure to check the link provided for any changes to the benefits that might have occurred after this article has been posted. The fine print is always important and can be subject to change at any time. As of the time of writing, all information is recent and factually correct, but there is a possibility that the company has made modifications to its offer afterwards.

I hope this blog post helps you in making an informed financial decision and aids you in your quest to travel the world! I would be very happy to hear any feedback or questions you might have regarding this topic or any other down in the comments.

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