I’ve often lamented how hard it is to earn hotel points in Singapore. Only American Express and Citibank offer transfers to any hotel partners, and the rates are decidedly poor.
If you hold a Citibank PremierMiles Visa card, you’ll earn the equivalent of S$1= 1.2 IHG points (~S$0.01 in value), a pretty miserable return considering that you could earn 1.2 KrisFlyer Miles instead (~S$0.024 in value). If you hold an AMEX Platinum card, you’ll earn the equivalent of S$1=1.56 Hilton points (~S$0.011 in value), also a rather dismal return.
However, there’s a special transfer bonus now available to all AMEX cardholders that changes the equation significantly…
Get 3 Hilton points for every 1 MR transferred
From now till 20 December 2018, all AMEX cardholders can transfer Membership Rewards points to Hilton at a ratio of 1:3. This offer is not targeted, it is open to anyone who holds an AMEX card that earns Membership Rewards points. AMEX Platinum Charge, AMEX Platinum Reserve, AMEX Platinum, AMEX Rewards Card all qualify.
This offer will also apply to those who sign up for AMEX cards after the promotion started. In other words, it doesn’t matter when you get your AMEX card, so long as you do the transfer before 2359 hours on 20 December 2018.
There’s been some confusion about this offer because the eDM says:
Receive 3 Hilton Honors Points for each Membership Rewards point, when you transfer 1,000 or more points. That’s 50% higher than the usual rate
But if you know your usual rates, you’d know that 1,000 MR points is 1,250 Hilton points. 50% higher would be 1,000 MR points to 1,875 Hilton points. Moreover, if you click through from the eDM, you’re brought to the rewards portal where you still see the regular rate of 1,000 MR= 1,250 Hilton points.
The AMEX team has told me to ignore the “50% higher than the usual rate” line, so I assume the eDM has a typo. They’ve confirmed that the rate is indeed 3 Hilton Points to 1 Membership Rewards point, but say that the online redemption portal will not be updated to reflect the bonus rate.
Why I think this is a bit strange is that AMEX is currently running a 25% transfer bonus to British Airways Avios, and this bonus rate does get reflected on the Membership Rewards portal (250 * 1.25= 312.5 Avios)
So I’m not sure why tactical transfer bonuses appear for British Airways but not Hilton, and if you’re the paranoid sort you may want to wait until I’ve clarified the matter further with AMEX. I don’t doubt that the rate is indeed 1,000 MR= 3,000 Hilton points, but I’m sure everyone would feel a bit better if all the t’s were crossed and the i’s dotted.
Edit: The AMEX team has confirmed the promotion will be honored
Remember that it may take a few days to link your Hilton account to your Membership Rewards account, so you want to factor that time into the equation as well. It may take up to 8 weeks for bonus points to appear in your Hilton account.
Should you transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to Hilton at a 1:3 ratio?
In so many words, yes.
To put it another way: KrisFlyer miles can be earned quickly and easily everywhere in Singapore. Credit cards (especially the 10X ones), Kaligo, Mileslife, Esso, Shell, Grab, Chope, M1, PAssion card… I could go on and on.
Hotel points, on the other hand, are almost impossible to get in Singapore without (1) staying at hotels (2) buying them outright.
So here’s the math: if you’re a Platinum Charge cardholder, you earn MR points at a rate of
- S$1.60= 2 MR points for regular spending
- S$1.60 = 5 MR points with Singapore Airlines, SilkAir and Scoot
- S$1.60=20 MR points with Platinum EXTRA Partners for the first S$16,000, subsequently 10 MR
Thinking about this in terms of Hilton points…
- S$1.60= 6 Hilton points for regular spending
- S$1.60 = 15 Hilton points with Singapore Airlines, SilkAir and Scoot
- S$1.60=60 Hilton points with Platinum EXTRA Partners for the first S$16,000, subsequently 30
Looking at this on a points per S$1 basis…
- S$1= 3.75 Hilton points (general spending)
- Hilton sells points at 0.5 US cents each, so you get 2.59 SG cents of value per S$1 of general spending if you pick Hilton points
- KrisFlyer miles are valued at 2 SG cents each, so you get 1.56 SG cents of value per S$1 of general spending (0.78 mpd) if you pick KrisFlyer miles
The upside is obviously even greater if you spend on Singapore Airlines, SilkAir, Scoot or any Platinum EXTRA partners.
Maximise this promotion through sign up bonuses
AMEX Platinum Charge
Why this particularly excites me is I’m well on my way to hit the $20,000 sign up bonus that comes with the AMEX Platinum Charge card, thanks to some upcoming nuptial payments.
Assuming I hit the bonus, I’ll get a total of 100,000 MR points (75,000 bonus, 25,000 base), which would be 300,000 Hilton points. That would cover 3 nights at one of Hilton’s top tier properties in high season, with 15,000 points to spare.
That’s one short trip next year with The Milelioness sorted.
Or if you really want to stretch your points, you could use those 300,000 points for 60 nights at the Hilton Garden Inn Bali (yes, it’s near the airport, but still…)
or 30 nights at the Hilton Garden Inn Hanoi…
Or 15 nights at the Doubletree Beijing
I think you get the point. 300,000 Hilton points from S$20,000 of spending may not be much to our MS-ing, churning, American brethren, but it’s one of the most amazing ways to earn Hilton points in Singapore.
If you’re planning to do this, please remember that the points from the sign up bonus typically take at least 4 weeks to credit. This means you’ll pretty much have to hit your minimum spending a couple days before 20 November to be on the safe side.
As a Platinum Charge cardholder, you also get complimentary Hilton Gold status. Have a read of the full benefits here.
AMEX Platinum Reserve
If spending $20,000 in 3 months is out of the question, you might want to try the AMEX Platinum Reserve. Spending $5,000 in the first 6 months gets you 56,250 Membership Rewards points (6,250 base + 50,000 bonus), which would be 168,750 Hilton points. That’s actually a better spending:points yield than the AMEX Platinum Charge.
The AMEX Platinum Reserve has a $150,000 income requirement with a non-waivable $535 annual fee. The same caveat goes for the Reserve as for the Platinum Charge- the sign up bonus points may take 4 weeks or more to credit, so hit your spending threshold early.
AMEX Rewards Card
If spending $5,000 in 6 months doesn’t work for you, you can try getting the AMEX Rewards card. Spending $1,500 in the first 3 months gets you 24,000 Membership Rewards points (1,500 base, 1,500 first 3 months bonus, 21,000 sign up bonus), which would be 72,000 Hilton points. That, again, is a better spending:points ratio than the AMEX Platinum Reserve.
The AMEX Rewards card has a $30,000 income requirement with a $53.50 annual fee.
This is one of the best opportunities to earn hotel points in Singapore that I’ve seen so far, and that’s definitely where I’m going to put my Membership Rewards points once they get credited.