Earning 390,000+ Hilton HHonors points in one credit card churn…

In the interest of full disclosure, One Mile At A Time earns a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through some of the below links. These are the best publicly available offers that we have found for each card. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Please check out my advertiser policy for further details about our partners, including American Express, Chase, and Citi, and thanks for your support!

Yesterday I posted about how tempted I was by Hilton HHonors, and after reading a lot of the comments it occurred to me just how easy it is to rack up hundreds of thousands of Hilton HHonors points with credit card sign-up bonuses (for the record, none of these links earn me a referral credit).

Anyway, off the top of my head, here are the current sign-up bonuses that can earn you Hilton HHonors points:

American Express Hilton Surpass

Sign-up offer: 40,000 HHonors points after your first purchase and 20,000 HHonors points if you spend $3,000 within three months

Total: 60,000 HHonors points

Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card

Sign-up offer: 40,000 Hilton HHonors points after spending $1,000 within four months. However, based on this FlyerTalk thread you may be able to sign-up for this card twice, and earn the bonus both times.

Total: 80,000 HHonors points

Bank of Hawaii Hawaiian Airlines Signature Visa

Sign-up offer: 35,000 HawaiianMiles after spending $1,000 within four months. HawaiianMiles can be converted to Hilton HHonors points at a 1:2 ratio.

Total: 70,000 HHonors points

Bank of American Hawaiian Airlines Visa

Sign-up offer: 35,000 HawaiianMiles after spending $1,000 within four months. HawaiianMiles can be converted to Hilton HHonors points at a 1:2 ratio.

Total: 70,000 HHonors points

Virgin Atlantic American Express

Sign-up offer: 45,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles after spending $2,500 within three months. Flying Club miles can be converted to Hilton HHonors points at a 1:2 ratio.

Total: 90,000 HHonors points

So when you add up those totals, you’re looking at 390,000 Hilton HHonors points, and best of all you’re not “using up” any Chase apps. That adds up to nearly 12 nights at Hilton’s top category hotels using AXON awards.

Funny enough these are all cards I’ve never had before, so I’m sorely tempted to go for a churn…

Are there any cards I’m missing? I sure could go for 8+ nights at the Conrad Koh Samui right about now.

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Regarding Comments: Neither this post, nor the comments, are provided by the Issuing bank, or any other advertiser. The comments on this page are not endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not the bank or advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. do the regular amex for 40k w/$750 spend; then upgrade the card to the surpass for 50k-60k bonus.

  2. @ vince — Any clue after how long (and how regularly) they offer the upgrade bonus with 50-60K points?

  3. @lucky – I’ve had the card for over 6 months… still no offer to upgrade.

    I don’t understand why everyone is so keen on transferring Hawaiian points to Hilton. with those 2 cards sign up bonuses plus min spending you’re very close to 80k miles… which gives you a business class non-stop round trip JFK-HNL… great value in my opinion.

    Also, what about Virgin’s own program? are the fuel surcharges so bad that it actually makes sense to transfer to Hilton? the surcharges certainly cannot be worse than ANA which recently quoted me $1k in fuel surcharges for JFK-VIE!!!

  4. @ Lantean — Let me put it this way — I value HHonors points at a minimum of 0.8 cents each. So in order to justify NOT converting Hawaiian/Virgin miles to HHonors points, I’d have to value them at a minimum of 1.6 cents each. For me the most valuable mileage currencies are United and American miles, and I value them at 1.8 cents each. So there’s no way I value Hawaiian or Virgin Atlantic miles at just over 10% less than United and American miles.

    But that’s not to say it couldn’t work out better that way for someone else. 🙂

  5. No clue. I got the regular card before the deadline so I got 50k. Deadline expired 5/31/12 I believe.

    When I Goto Amex.com and look at all cards, it knows that it’s me and says upgrade to the surpass for 50k points (with spend req).

    I’ve read other people who have the 40k card get upgrade offers for 60k. So my guess is that Amex is willing to give 100k total for regular + upgrade.

    Sorry don’t know how long offer last or the frequency as I’m still brand new to gettin this card

  6. Really great insight, thanks. I’d love to attempt this but am concerned all of the open credit cards will whack my credit score on the “credit available to me” metric. About 10 yrs ago I had a bunch of open cards with little to no balances but was getting rejected for new cards due to too much credit available to me. Is this still a thing? Does anyone else run into this problem. I don’t know because I have shied away from new cards ever since then.

  7. Citibank has been promising a more compelling offer for this card in third quarter. No promises, but it could get even better.

  8. Chase’s Amtrak CC gives you 12k after your first purchase. Amtrak allows you to transfer their points to Hyatt at a 1:2 ratio.

  9. @Lucky, re: Vince’s comment, I signed up for Amex Hilton and then only about 2 weeks later they emailed me to “upgrade” to the Surpass, and were going to give me points to do it. I called to upgrade only to be told I had to wait 1 year from sign up before I could upgrade. Of course, she couldn’t tell me why I was targeted for and upgrade I did not qualify for.

  10. could you please include annual fees for each card? This will help us better understand the cost of points. I believe Bank of America card has an annual fees.

  11. I have had this card for over one year and just noticed the upgrade offer for 50,000 points appearing when I login to American Express.

    Another route to pickup HHonors points is to utilize the 75,000 Amex Business Gold card offer that ends today. By routing from Amex MR -> VA -> Hilton, you can get 150,000 Hilton points, which is enough for a 4 night stay under the AXON rate at any CAT 7 property. I realize the spend threshold is a bit high ($10,000 in 4 months), but even if you conservatively value a Cat 7 room at $250/night, that still a 10% return ($250 x 4 = $1,000) on your $10,000 spend.

  12. When I say “this card” in the above post, I mean the base Amex HHonors card.

    I have also seen some mention elsewhere of being able to get a 5,000 bonus on the VA Amex card, which could net a total of 100,000 Hilton points.

  13. I didn´t know hawaiian airlines or virgin america could be transfered to hotel points…. how is the procedure? I can´t seem to find it on their websites….

  14. Under some fairly recent federal law, the credit card issuer cannot upgrade you to a card that includes less favorable terms within the first year you hold a card. Apparently, because the Surpass card has an annual fee (even if waived) and the regular card does not, it qualifies, and thus Amex will not upgrade you until you’ve held the regular card for a year. If the upgrade link appears before a year is over, it probably will not work. It appeared for me and I called and they wouldn’t upgrade me, but they threw me like 7500 points for the trouble.

    With respect to the value of HA miles, I ended up keeping mine instead of transferring them to Hilton. Once you have the card, you get reduced mileage requirements — 35,000 is enough for round trip from the mainland. Plus, HA miles are combinable among members that hold the credit card. These two features make them more valuable to me than 2x Hilton.

  15. 8 nts at the Conrad?…you’d have them already with AXON redemptions! Why would you need more cards?

  16. @ Lucas — Unfortunately Virgin American points can’t be transferred to Hilton, though Virgin Atlantic points can. Haven’t done the transfer so don’t know exactly how it works, though am looking into it right now.

  17. Lucky; going back to your analysis on what points are worth; I did some Math. It seems on all cards using the Amex HHonors seems to beat all other cards (sans the 5x UR Point from Freedom/Ink) in terms of the value you gave them. Base Rate is 2.4 cent/dollar (.08 * 3 points eared per dollar) while the bonus catagories (gas/groc/pharm) is 4.8 cent/dollar?

    Is my math wrong?

  18. @ vince — That’s correct. Using my numbers the HH Surpass AmEx would be best for everyday spend.

  19. @ Lucky : It doesnt even have to be the Surpass card if people do not stay at Hilton’s regularly, just the regular Amex HHonors is enough since benefits of Surpass > NonSurpass is status (Gold/Diamond) & 3 extra points for staying at a Hilton. All for no annual fee.

  20. Can you actually apply for the Hilton AMEX and the Virgin Atlantic AMEX at the same time? Aren’t they both from the same issuer?

  21. you must have the amex regular card for 13 months before they will let you upgrade to surpass. its a flaw in the recent credit card reform act that will not allow an increase in annual fee for a credit card in the first year, congress never thought a customer would WANT to increase their fee on a credit card. so you can do it even if you want to. on another note the citi visa is churnable every 3 months, no need to get 2 at a time just get 4 each and every year

  22. @ RT — They’re different products, so shouldn’t have a problem being approved for both at the same time.

  23. I went through a similar churn wherein my girlfriend and I earned 630k HH points between the two of us. This involved transfers from HA and VS. Both can be done on the phone, and the points showed up in my HHonors account within a week of initiating the transfer. The HA call can be grueling because their CSRs are terrible, but the VS call was very easy. A bonus of the HA is that BofH/BofA cardmembers can combine points online, so if you and a spouse have balances in your respective accounts, you can combine them into one HA account, then transfer over to HH from there.

    In both cases, transfers from HA to VS must be done over the phone and the name on the HH account must match the name on the HA/VS account.

    We’re currently booked for 16 nights in Europe in Hilton hotels and still have over 170k points left. HHonors gets a bad rep in a lot of circles, but I’ve found them to be extremely valuable.

  24. @lucky, that Virgin Atlantic link will net you an additional 5K for an additional user. already got it.

    @lucas, you have to call VA and Hawaiian to transfer the points. it takes 11 days to transfer from VA. It took 7 days to transfer from Hawaiian.

  25. don’t you have to wait 90 days between applying for the Virgin Atlantic and BofA Hawaiian card, since they are both issued by BofA?

  26. @ Askia : no. Lots of banks issues Amex Cards. Citi/BofA all do it.

    Amex is a payment network (visa/mc) & a creditor (BofA/Chase) though in the past they were tied together that is no longer the case

  27. #8 @Lucky

    Do you mind me asking how many cards you have open and are willing to continue paying annual fees? I did access the link provided in this post. I am concerned about all the annual fees after the first year though I imagine because you are churning it’s not a concern.

  28. Better Hilton Amex offers:
    60,000 points: 40,000 HHonors Bonus Points with your first purchase, plus 20,000 Bonus Points when you spend $3,000 within the first three months of Cardmembership. https://www262.americanexpress.com/apisites/microsite/apply/hilton-hhonors-surpass-card/71-1000-51

    50,000 points: 50,000 HHonors Bonus Points when you spend $750 within the first three months of Cardmembership. https://www262.americanexpress.com/apisites/microsite/apply/hilton-hhonors-card/71-1000-148

  29. @Rob – sometimes individual issuers (e.g., Chase) get nervous about extending you too much credit. Perfectly reasonable for a bank to ask why you need another card if you already have $30,000 going unused. However, if you run into this problem it can usually be solved by offering to close an account or transfer a line of credit to another card.

  30. Hey-

    What is the likelihood that you can get approved for two Amex cards in the same churn?


  31. @ Will — I have probably about 15 cards open at a time, and of those about five are “keepers” that I pay the annual fee on each year. The rest I cancel just before the first year is up when I would be hit with the annual fee.

    @ KCal — Shouldn’t have too many issues being approved for two different AmEx products at once.

  32. VS and HA miles are pretty valuable on each other (without any surcharges). Example: 70K HA miles gets you RT anywhere in the world VS flies with no surcharge.

    To see the partner awards on VS you have to switch to the “UK” site once you’re in. For some reason they don’t show on the US site.

    I just do Priceline for hotels. There’s no equivalent for air discounts.

  33. Question about the Amex Hilton Card. It says:

    “Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have had this product within the last 12 months or any other Consumer Hilton HHonors® Credit Card account within the last 90 days.”

    Does that mean you cannot have a Hilton Honors card from a different bank within the last 90 days, or do they mean you cannot have a Consumer Hilton Hhonors Credit Card specifically from Amex in the last 90 days?


  34. @ KCal — It would be specific to American Express products, and not cards issued by other banks.

  35. The Virgin Atlantic American Express Link doesn’t work. Also, I only have 300 hilton points from topguest but planning on applying to a number of hilton credit cards to get more. When I log-in with Hilton, I see no availability for Paris location using hilton points. However, when I search without login in, I see lots. Any explanation why that is like that?

  36. What about getting the regular Amex HHonors card, gettin the 40k signup bonus, canceling it, waiting 90 days, then getting the surpass card. That would get you 100k points, correct?

  37. What is currently the most hilton points I can earn from signing up? I have a big purchase to do and I want to make it a little more worthwhile. I was going to signup for the Virgin Atlantic Amex for 90k points, but the link is dead.

  38. Is Bank of Hawaii card issued by Bank of America as well? I called BoA to check the status of my BoA HA card, the agent saw both applications and asked me if I applied twice. I told her that I applied for both BoH version and BoA version. She said, no you applied for BoA card twice.

  39. ps, Ben, it’s so difficult to find your old blog articles. You should consider a better indexing method. The search function is not working well.

  40. @ Tao — To the best of my knowledge they’re different banks, so that’s news to me.

    Sorry about the bad search function, wish there was something I could do about it. I usually just use Google as it works better.

  41. @lucky,BoH card is issued by FIA Card Services, which was acquired by BoA in 2006. I’m just surprised that they couldn’t distinguish the two applications, or maybe I didn’t explain myself clearly. Anyway, be wary if you apply these two cards at the same time. I have no idea if they’d approve both if I had said I needed two cards.

  42. A couple quick questions… does the 2 browser trick work on Amex Hilton? I am trying to rack up Hilton pts. If I do Citi Hilton for 50k pts x 2, do I submit the 2 apps on 2 browsers literally at the same time? Should I do a Hilton apporama all on the same day? I am thinking of throwing in the B of A Virgin for 1:2 conversion. So 3 apps x 2 (my wife) = 400k Hilton pts or more with 2 browsers. Finally, since I have 120k limit on my current cards (none with Citi or Bof A), is there a chance I can get declined b/c of too much avail? I have 5 Chase and 2 Amex with abt $120k limits? Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated.

  43. @ Ed — Some have reported luck with the two browser trick with this card, but I don’t have any personal experience.

    I’d probably only go with one Citi personal card (or two with a two browser trick). I think you might have issues if you tried to get this card and the other Citi Hilton card at the same time.

    But other than that you’re probably good to go.

  44. Yo Lucky-

    I was able to do 2browser on Virgin Air,
    2 browser trick on Citi hilton,
    1 BOH HA and 1 BOA HA. I already had the hilton Amex a month ago for 50k. All done on 8/9 and both Virgin Air spends are done, 1 Citi Hilton and BOA HA are done.

    So estimating around 200k (2 Virgin Air) + 100k Citi Hilton + 140k BOH and BOA + 50k Amex Hilton = 490k in bonuese before spend.

    Umm wanna shoot my your thought I how to spend these guys?

  45. Also a big bro hug to you man..this is my 3rd AOR ever. I just started this year collecting points/miles. Thanks for the hints/tips and sorry about your luck about the showers!

  46. Lucky – Thanks so much for the quick response. aznprzn your input here is very much appreciated… assuming I can hit the minimum spends, should I do 2 browser Virgin, 2 browser Citi Hilton, BOH, and BOA on the same day???

    Also, do you think already having $120k avail with Chase and Amex with close to $0 balances is an issue? I don’t care about getting low limits, I just don’t want to get declined for already having so much avail credit. I never had a B of A or Citi so I figure it should be a slam dunk. Just let me know in your experience if they decline ppl for having too high of limits. Credit score is in 780 range. Thanks so much for your input!

  47. @ Ed — It’s tough to say for sure whether your high credit limits would be an issue, but your high credit score and low utilization means that I doubt you’ll have an issue.

    I’d go for the two browser trick on those cards in your shoes.

  48. @Ed – I was able to do all of mine on the same day. I have very similar # to you in terms of Chase and Amex and I have little to no utilization.

    1.) Let Virgin Atlantic(call you), they also approved both of my HA miles cards. The CSR approved all 4 cards for me.

    @Lucky- Yes I have the no fee Amex Hilton I would have never thought that card provided value until I found out about AXON.

  49. I heard AXON is for Diamond members only. As far as I can see the best I am going to do is Silver, b/c I am going for the no fee Amex. (Surpass gives you Gold status for a year). Any advice on being able to take advantage of AXON, or perhaps I heard wrong about AXON. Thanks guys for all of your feedback. I am pumped to be getting on board with Hilton. SPG and Chase UR have been good to me but can’t argue with 400k+ Hilton pts just for signing up and spending…plus I like the 6/1 on the Amex for groceries, etc. Let me know ur thoughts on AXON. Thanks again!

  50. @Ed

    Axon awards is for those with people Amex co-branded Hilton credit cards. Just google axon boarding area and read the articles about the ins and outs.

  51. I am trying to do the Hilton Churn and am finding the Virgin atlantic are only offering a 1 to 1 rate . Is there a way around this or is this all the miles are worth?

    Thanks in advance

  52. @ Dslsmk — You’re saying Virgin Atlantic is a 1:1 ratio to Hilton? Cause that’s not the case to the best of my knowledge — it should be 1:2.

  53. I have just read that the VA website has not been updated to reflect 1 to 2 ratio. If you call VA the agent will confirm 1 to 2 ratio I have read. I will try it myself in a week or two and post my results

  54. 2 browser trick on Citi Hilton came back with one instant approval for $18k limit, and the other came back with this msg. This is my first time trying this. Do you guys think I will get both. Any more steps I should take? Thanks for your help.

    A system error has caused a delay in processing your application. Be assured that we have received it and there is no need to resubmit. We will contact you at the mailing address you provided as soon as it is processed. Thank you!

  55. Worked like a charm. Just got 2 Citi Hilton cards yesterday and confirmed 50k bonus on each. Also did the Hilton Amex and Bof A and B of H Hawaiian airlines cards, all from your link. Looking at well over 300k Hilton pts including spend. Thanks SO MUCH for this post!

  56. Given that you can funnel Amex MR through Virgin Atlantic and then out to Hilton at 2:1 (or better, if you get a transfer bonus, commonly 15-30% with VS), the current Amex Business Gold 75,000 offer seems like a nice way to increase this.

  57. I did get 1 to 2 ratio with virgin. Just a confused employee.
    Going to try and do it one more time. tying to top off my account for a inspirational stay next fall! 🙂

  58. Hi Lucky,

    I have a question regarding Hotel Credit Cards. I have applied for Hilton American Express Hilton Honors & Citi Hilton Honors Visa Signature cards (both has $0 annual fee) & would like to do the same for my husband as well. Wondering if there is anyway we can merge points from both Hilton account to 1 account. I used my own Hilton account number when I applied for the Cards so the signup bonus from both cards are in my Hilton account. Can my husband also refer to my Hilton account when applying for his cards?


  59. @ Ronald Bassen — Unfortunately the name on the credit card has to match the name for the HHonors number. There’s no way to consolidate points into a single account without paying a fee, though you can always book back-to-back award stays using your individual points.

  60. @ Lucky,

    Thanks for the reply. Wondering if having my husband as an authorized user can help? As you know being an authorized user he will have the same card on his name.


  61. @ Ronald Bassen — Wouldn’t make a difference, unfortunately. It’s the name of the primary cardmember that counts.

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