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As we sobbed into our freshly laundered pillows, however, we did realise that all was not lost. You can still go through TopCashback.com (i.e. the US-facing site) to earn Hilton cashback on bookings, albeit at an extremely odd (and not altogether generous) earnings rate. The Paypal payout option here means that you don’t need a US bank account to benefit.
However, the loss of the “no-brainer” cashback rates on TopCashback UK caused me to take a fresh look at what’s available by way of kickbacks on Hilton spend, and there are a few options beyond mere cash in your pocket.
So what’s my sweetener of choice?
I’m generally a big advocate of taking the “hard cash” route wherever possible. It’s more flexible than miles and, although I’m not ruling anything out during a Trump presidency, doesn’t expire. With that in mind, the TopCashback.com option is my default choice unless and until I’m offered a very clearly better deal.
The fact is, at the moment there quite clearly are better options than the cashback, for me at least. I am a Diamond Hilton member so my TopCashback.com earnings rate is a paltry 1%.
You may not be as hard hit, but the Hilton cashback rates are hardly spectacular. In summary, the earning rates are:
- Non HHonors Members – 7%
- Blue Tier HHonors Members – 6%
- Silver Tier HHonors Members – 4%
- Gold Tier HHonors Members – 2%
- Diamond Tier HHonors Members – 1%
Here’s where that can potentially be beaten:
Until 31 January 2017, you’ll earn 8 Avios per £1 spent at Hilton through the Avios eStore (after 31 Jan, it reverts to 6 Avios per £1).
Given that I value Avios at 1 pence each, that’s an effective rebate of 8%, and clearly trumps almost all the cashback earnings via TopCashback.com. Even when this rate reverts to 6 Avios, it’s preferable to most of the TopCashback.com rates.
Indeed, it’s only at 4% cashback that I’d start to even debate Avios versus cashback. At 6% cashback, I’d take the cash.
Virgin Shops Away
Again until 31 January, you’ll earn 6 Virgin Flying Club miles per £1 spent at Hilton through Virgin’s Shops Away eshop.
Given that I value Flying Club miles at pretty much exactly the same 1 pence rate as Avios, this is clearly a worse deal.
American AAdvantage eShopping
Your final kickback comes from the American AAdvantage scheme, where you’ll earn 2 AAdvantage miles per dollar spent at Hilton.
While AAdvantage miles are very arguably more valuable than Avios and Flying Club miles, to the UK-based mileage collector they often offer similar value, hence my equal valuation of AAdvantage miles at 1 pence too (although I will almost certainly be heavily chastised by Joe “exotic mileage redeemer” Deeney for saying that).
To keep Joe onside, I will say this: even allowing for a bit of a premium on AAdvantage miles, there’s no way that 2 AAdvantage miles per $1 competes with 8 Avios or 6 Flying Club miles per £1.
So my current sweetener of choice? Avios, via the eStore, at 8 per £1. However, individual circumstances of course vary – you may desperately need Avios, Virgin or American miles and in that case they are almost certain to have “added value” for you. If you’re indifferent as to which miles are best for you, go with the Avios option. Indeed even after it drops to 6 Avios per £1, Avios will remain my clear preference until cashback of at least 4% is available to me.