Not got thousands to splash? Two low-spend credit card bonuses

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There’s little doubt that credit cards are one of the best ways to get low cost, great value points and miles to in turn fund low cost, great value travel. Options like the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold card (20,000+ points) and the BA American Express Premium Plus card (25,000+ Avios) for example both offer a massive points haul as “welcome bonuses”.

hilton credit card

Indeed, in both cases that’s more than enough miles/points for a return flight from London to (amongst many other destinations) Moscow.

The problem for many, however, is the initial spend threshold required to activate these bonuses. There are many, but taking the examples above, the Preferred Rewards Gold card requires a £2,000 spend in the first three months, while the BA Premium Plus card requires a £3k spend in the same period. While these targets are reachable for some (including anyone married to my wife), for many others – including those unfamiliar with complex “manufactured spend” opportunities – they are simply not achievable.

If you fall into this category, don’t despair! Set out below are two fantastic little options that allow you to get a great reward on a credit card, without breaking the bank. Both the credit cards featured are free, too.

Option 1 – IHG Rewards Club Credit Card

This free card will earn you 10,000 IHG Rewards Club bonus points when you spend just £200 in the first 3 months.

hilton credit card

10,000 IHG Rewards points is enough to get you a night at a Category 1 IHG hotel. It’ll even get you 2 nights at an IHG hotel featured in the regular PointBreaks promotion. Two free nights at a hotel for spending £200 on a free credit card? There’s some travel value for you.

Anything else?

Yes, you’ll automatically get Gold Elite Status when you open your account.

(Note that the £99 a year IHG Rewards Club Premium credit card will net you IHG Platinum Status and 20,000 points for a £200 spend, plus a better points earnings rate on spend: more costly yes, but worth thinking about.)

Option 2 – Hilton HHonors Platinum Visa credit card

Again, this is a free card. The Hilton Visa will get you a free night e-certificate, for any weekend night at the vast majority of the hotels in the Hilton Group portfolio, when you spend £750 in the first 90 days.

hilton credit card

Ok, so £750 is a fair bit more than the £200 spend for the IHG card, but given that the free night can be used at some spectacular Hilton properties, you can get fantastic value from it. The Conrad Maldives is a good example of a genuinely top-end hotel where you can use this voucher to get a seriously luxurious free night.

hilton credit card

For ease of reference, the list of Hilton properties excluded from the free night certificate is here.

While there’s no big Hilton HHonors points haul,  you will earn 2,500 bonus HHonors points for each of your first four stays at any Hilton Group hotel in your first 12 months.

Anything else?

Yes. You’ll get Hilton Silver status automatically, and HHonors Gold Elite status if you spend £10,000 on the card in any calendar year (although I fully appreciate the latter is hardly in keeping with the tone of this article!)

So there we have it – two credit card options where you don’t need to break the bank to get a great bonus. While the IHG card is definitely the better option for the budget-conscious traveller, there’s no doubt that the Hilton credit card can offer you serious value if you redeem wisely.


  1. Josh says

    In all fairness Tom, if someone is going to struggle to hit £2k spend in 90 days for the Amex Gold card, they are unlikely to be redeeming the Hilton free night in the Maldives! The Conrad in London or Waldorf in Edinburgh would be more realistic as an aspirational redemption for someone UK based.

    • Tom Sumner says

      An entirely fair point. I was just flagging (probably) the most aspirational redemption for the free night. But yes, in the tone of the article, you’ve also got some great options like the Conrad St James in London, or a little further afield (If I may…:)), the Waldorf Astoria Rome Cavalieri would be a pretty good choice. Just make sure you get to Rome on a BA Reward Flight Saver flight, or similar!

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