MSing for Hilton HHonors Points (4 Credit Card Comparison) and Reykjavik, Iceland Hotel Options

MSing (not to be confused with PMSing) is one of my specialties.  When I tell people that I have to spend $2,000, $5,000, or $10,000 on credit cards, they look at me funny.  “Wow, that is a lot of money, how are you going to do that?”  I do a quick calculation in my head; 4 stops at CVS, a quick trip to Albertson’s or Ralph’s, 2 visits to Walmart, carry the thousand, “I’ll be done with that later this week.”  I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks like that.  Since I do not have any real bills to pay (no mortgage, student loans, auto payments, etc.) I would say 95% of my spending is MS, and the other 5% comes from restaurants (I <3 food).

Anyway, enough about me.  My Hilton HHonors account has been dwindling as of late thanks to stays at the Hilton San Francisco Airport and Hilton Vienna in January, the Hilton Copenhagen Airport and the Hilton Seattle Airport in April, the Hilton Los Cabos Resort and the Hilton Portland next month, and my DoubleTree Scottsdale reservation for #westcoastdo in November.  Needless to say, it is time to replenish my stash of Hilton Honors Points.

Over the weekend, I compared the perks and category bonuses of my Citi® Hilton HHonors Reserve Card and my Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express.  After I finished analyzing those credit cards, I decided that I would also include the other 2 Hilton HHonors credit cards that have no annual fee.  It is unfortunate that the transfers from Hawaiian Airlines and Virgin Atlantic are no longer 1:2 (they are now 1:1.5).  That was a quick way to get a ton of easy Hilton HHonors Points.

With that said, here is the master chart (please let me know if you spot any mistakes and I will fix them right away).  The yellow boxes represent the information given on the credit card information pages.  The white boxes are inferred values based on the “Everything Else” category.  The red font represent the best deal(s) for each type of transaction.  For example, the best credit card to use for stays at a Hilton property depends on whether the hotel is in the United States or abroad.  Since only the Citi® Hilton HHonors Reserve Card has no foreign transaction (FOREX) fees, that is my go to card for international stays.  If I am staying in the United States, I use the Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express.

MS Hilton HHonors Points Comparison Chart

One of my favorite perks of having the Citi® Hilton HHonors Reserve Card or the Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express is the free Hilton HHonors Gold Elite Status.  You get free room upgrade (if available), free breakfast (if there is a restaurant), free lounge access (if there is a lounge), free WiFi, and access to early check-in and late check out (if available).

The Citi® Hilton HHonors Reserve Card also earns a free weekend night each cardmember year you spend at least $10,000 on the credit card, on top of any Hilton HHonors Points you earned from the spending.

My go-to MSing locations are supermarkets and drugstores.  I plan on using my Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express at supermarkets to earns 6x on all my “grocery” purchases.  Meanwhile, I will use my Citi® Hilton HHonors Reserve Card at both supermarkets and drugstores even though those purchases only earn 3x.

Let’s assume I will spend $10,000 on each credit card at the above locations, I will earn 60,000 Hilton HHonors Points with my Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express, but only 30,000 Hilton HHonors Points with my Citi® Hilton HHonors Reserve Card.  Let’s not forget that I will also get a free weekend night certificate worth up to 95,000 Hilton HHonors Points (assuming I stayed at a Category 10 Hilton property during peak season).

Since I probably have less than $500 in Hilton purchases this year (past and future), I plan on MSing the remaining $9,500 to receive the free weekend night and then stop using that card until after my next year’s annual fee comes around.  $10,000 / $500 = 20 gift cards x $5 activation fee = $100 out of pocket.

I will also use my Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express to rack up a few thousand Hilton HHonors Points throughout the months when I am not currently working toward any minimum spending requirements.

Let’s fast forward to next spring/summer.  I am trying to plan a trip to Reykjavik, Iceland.  According to Trip Advisor, these are some of the nicest hotels in the city.  They also happen to be a part of the Hilton and Club Carlson family of properties, my 2 favorite hotel chains.

Top 3 Reykjavik Hotels on Trip Advisor

The Hilton Reykjavik Nordica has a very good price with Hilton HHonors Points.  I love international Hilton properties so this hotel is right at the top of my list.

Hilton Reykjavik Room Prices

Not to be outdone, but the Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel also has a very good price with Club Carlson Points and I could definitely cash in some Club Carlson points from my personal and business Club Carlson accounts.  It is a tough decision, which one should I go with?  Has anyone stayed at either hotel?

Radisson Blu Reykjavik Room Prices

That’s it for me.  Good night everyone!  If you have any questions, please leave a comment below.

47 thoughts on “MSing for Hilton HHonors Points (4 Credit Card Comparison) and Reykjavik, Iceland Hotel Options

  1. caveman

    Your comparison chart is excellent. However the free anniversary night that comes with Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Credit Card cannot be used at category 10 Hilton property (if I am correct). I think that free night can be used up to category 4 only or something like that. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    Reply
    1. Eric

      @caveman – you are indeed incorrect. There is no category limit on the free weekend night certificates. The only restriction is that they can’t be used at properties that don’t have Standard Room awards. There are approximately 35 properties worldwide that fall into that category.

      Reply
      1. Grant

        Thank you Eric. I think the free award nights from Hyatt and Marriott are restricted to Category 4/5 properties, but the Hilton free weekend night certificate has no category limit.

        Reply
  2. Jack

    Like your comparison chart!! Since Vanilla GCs can not load BB at WM, do you have any card to recommend in CVS?

    Reply
    1. Grant

      CVS and Walgreens only sell One Vanilla GCs and Vanilla GCs, so you need to go to a different store. Office Supply Stores and Grocery Stores sell different Visa gift cards that are not issued by Vanilla.

      Reply
      1. Kent C

        Related question Grant. That’s what I thought so I buy no more cards at CVS, but you stated above, “4 stops at CVS” so I’m thinking your buying gift cards. If so, since you can’t load those to Serve or BB anymore, how are you liquidating those? money orders? For me right now, I buy strictly at Staples and supermarkets for 5x on my cards.

        Reply
          1. Mike

            Grant, have you stayed at any of the category 7 Hyatt properties? Which do you think are worth blowing the 30K points on? Also, and category 6’s that you think are like cat 7’s?

          2. Grant

            The only high end Hyatt hotels I’ve been to are the PH Paris Vendôme, the PH Hamburg, and the Andaz Amsterdam. All 3 of those are great. The new PH Vienna looks very nice too.

  3. rick b

    I wonder why you bother MSing Hilton points when with Club Carlson so get enough for free nights so much faster.

    $5k spend with Hilton Surpass gets you 30k which is barely enough for most mid-range properties, while it gets you 25k with CC, which with 2nd night free, is enough to stay at any of their hotels (except a few cat 7).

    Hilton has great redemption options in most of Asia, a lot of low category hotels, but it sounds like you mostly stay in US and talking about Northern Europe, where Radisson has excellent presence.

    Reply
    1. Grant

      You definitely have a valid point. Most of my Hilton redemptions are for lower end properties and I always look for Cash and Points options. For example, at the Hilton Seattle Airport, the price was $50 and 12,000 Hilton HHonor Points per night. I try to stretch my Hilton HHonors Points as far as possible.

      Reply
      1. rick b

        How much do those 12k properties cost to book with cash? I always work all the way back and see how much my MS dollar gets me in terms of Hotel dollar, and Hilton rarely is worth it. There’s an even deeper point here, where in many locations, a high-end chain is total overkill and there are many very nice accomodations available much cheaper.

        For my travel style, I either need deep discounts on points or if I stay in a very expensive city during some event, I can justify booking high-category properties.

        Reply
        1. Grant

          Great question Rick, sorry it too so long to get back to me.

          Looking at the Hilton Seattle Airport for 1 night on September 14, the price is 30,000 HH points, or 12,000 HH points and $50, or $149 for the easy cancellation rate. If you cashed in 30,000 HH points, then you would get 0.5 CPP. If you cashed in 12,000 HH points and $50, you would get 0.83 CPP. I try to stay above the 0.5 CPP redemption level.

          I agree with you. I don’t need to stay at the fanciest hotel in the city, if there is a cheaper alternative (price or points) somewhere else close by.

          Reply
  4. travelbloggerbuzz

    Excellent chart indeed. You are in again at the next TBB post!

    If the 2 free weekend nights can not be used at the Conrad Hong Kong please someone let me know….

    I have not heard great things about the Club Carlson properties in Iceland. And i heard the Hilton there is so so. Definitely not Vendoming material!

    Reply
    1. Grant

      Thanks George, glad I made it on your blogs I love blogs I like blogs I read sometimes list ;)

      That’s a bummer that the reviews are not that great. Maybe there will be a Park Hyatt Reykjavic Vendome by next summer :)

      Reply
  5. wkulhanek

    As for Iceland: We stayed at the Radisson Blu last February and it was very nice. Downtown and you can walk anywhere. No free breakfast though – but there is a grocery store about 1 block away. The Hilton is quite a bit outside – so you’ll need a car if staying there. And if you want to save some points look at the Park Inn (another Club Carlson property) – right next to the Hilton and for 12.000 points for a night (or two…) definitely worth it. Comes with free breakfast. It does look a bit like left over from the old Soviet Union… but we got upgraded to a huge room on the top floor. And the staff was great.

    Reply
    1. Grant

      Interesting, thank you for sharing that information. I might Club Carlson hotel hop. Are they close by each other? I love breakfast and it’s too bad you don’t get free breakfast at the Radisson Blu. Bummer that the Hilton is not in a better location, oh well. Club Carlson it is.

      By the way, how long did you stay in Reykjavik? What did you do?

      Reply
      1. wkulhanek

        We stayed for four nights – so perfect split for two nights at the Radisson Blu (right next to the most famous hot dog stand btw…) and two at the Park Inn. Our ultimate goal was to see the Northern Lights – which we didn’t since it was overcast all four days. Luckily it didn’t really rain or snow. We had a car rented (small SUV because there were four of us – but any car would do). Walked around Reijkavik the first day with a quick trip out to a Geothermal power plant in the afternoon. Second day we drove the golden circle. Third day we went to the Blue Lagoon (expensive – but worth it!). Final day we drove out to the black pebble beach (wish I had known about the DC3 on another beach…) and stopped at a few waterfalls along the way. Final day we did a few museums and headed back to the airport around 3pm or so.

        It’s not that the Hilton (or Park Inn) are in a bad location – they are in the business district. Just not a ton to do there and a few miles outside of the city center. No problem with a car.

        Reply
        1. Grant

          That is great information. Sounds like a rental car is a must. Any public transportation from the business district to the city center?

          Reply
          1. wkulhanek

            There are busses – not sure how frequently they run. Also from what I read the bus from the airport into the city is not really cheap. It’s about a 45-60 minute drive from the airport to the city. Since there were four of us and it was winter we just thought a rental car was the best option – and it turned out to be for us. We were independent of any tour operators and really got to go wherever whenever we wanted.

          2. wkulhanek

            Oh. And for the SUV part – we figured we might need it for wintery roads. But outside of one stretch in the south where it was snowing all the roads were perfectly clear (they actually use hot wastewater in the city to heat the roads….). So any car really would have been fine.

          3. Grant

            Thank you for all the good information. Now I know where to stay and that I should get a rental car. What month did you go? What was the temperature when you were there?

  6. Andy F.

    Great info! Thanks Grant!

    btw, because it’s a citi card, why not apply for a new Citi Reserve card and get two certs, rather than spending $10,000 and only getting one cert?

    Reply
      1. Andy F.

        I’m not sure… If you can get multiple AA Exe cards, probably the same rule applies to the Reserve card. However, it is no longer the case for AA Plat cards. Might be double check the ft threads..

        Reply
        1. Mike

          Meaning that the Platinum are single use only? For how long? I have 4 offers from them right now for 50K miles, no annual fee first year, 3K spend first 3 months. All the offers solicit biz and personal cards.

          My wife and I each have 3 Exec cards off the last promotion. However, I don’t want to waste applications for the Platinum if the rule is only for 1.

          Reply
          1. Andy F.

            18-24 months churnable for AA Plats. AA Exes churnable as long as follow the 8/65 rule. Not sure how about regular Hilton and Reserve cards..Better to double check those ft threads..

          2. Grant

            I have a feeling that answer is somewhere in here: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/credit-card-programs/1438606-ongoing-offers-hilton-amex-hilton-citi-cards.html

            Looks like the Citi Cards are churnable (get the same bonus multiple times without closing an existing card).

            It doesn’t matter as long as you’re following two rules:
            -Only 1 Citi application of any kind per week (at least 8 days to be safe, but some people are being denied even after 8 days, so the longer you can wait, the safer it might be).
            -No more than 2 Citi applications of any kind in 60 days (65 days to be safe).

  7. Steph

    Great post. It got me thinking, though. Since I am not planning any specific travel that I don’t already have covered with existing points, I am using these cards based on the best value I can get back: Discover-2% everything + 2% foreign travel + 5% gas; Amex Blue 3%-grocieries and Southwest 1.67% when I can’t use Discover. Where does Surpass fall in here? I guess what I’m asking is what is a hhonors point worth?

    Reply
    1. Grant

      HH points aren’t worth much anymore. If I can get 0.5 CPP or better, then I’ll take it. so 6x HH = 3% cash back. In terms of hotel points, Hilton is toward the lower end. I feel like SPG, Hyatt, and Club Carlson points are worth more when redeemed for free nights.

      Reply
  8. Nick Knight

    Can I ask? I got excited when I saw that said you can transfer Hawaiian Airline miles to HHonors, as my wife and I each have a very small handful that are due to expire in a couple of months. I don’t see a need to pad this account, although I MIGHT before I lose these miles. However, transfering elsewhere, even 1:1 would be wonderful. Also considering donating, but I couldn’t pull the trigger on this … yet.

    I checked HA’s website and found little help. When I did find a like to “share or transfer”, it directed me to Points.com, where it appears they want a significant amount of dollars to transfer my piddly amount.

    What am I missing? Can I get my left over miles to HHonors? If so, how?

    Thanks.

    Reply
      1. Nick Knight

        Thanks. I found the page on HA.com, but the minimum point xfer to HHonors is now 10k and in 10k increments. I had a handful under 5000, so this puts me off a bit. Looks like I’ll spend something small through their shopping portal and prolong my points for another 18 months. Same for my wife’s account at about the same balance I don’t recall what their intra-island flights cost … we did this over a year ago … 5k? 7k? But perhaps we beef up our just a little accounts and plan some island hopping in the near future.

        Or maybe there’s a new credit card in my future … although HA miles served their purpose in the past, I don’t see much need for them now, tho.

        Reply
        1. Grant

          If you know anyone that has a HA credit card, I believe you can transfer your HA miles to their account for free. This only works when transfer HA miles to someone who has an HA credit card. You can transfer SPG or AMEX MR to HA, but that is not really a good deal.

          Reply
  9. Yrag Yobdop

    Great discussion. I love this blog.

    Is it possible to apply for for and receive the Hilton Reserve card every 65 days? In other words, is it possible to receive 2 free weekend certs every 65 days?

    Reply
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