After a Kickback on Hilton Stays? Here’s What I’m Doing

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With the disappearance of Hilton from the UK cashback sites, we lost one occasionally very lucrative opportunity for rebates on Hilton hotel stays.

hilton cashback

As we sobbed into our freshly laundered pillows, however, we did realise that all was not lost. You can still go through (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 option is my default choice unless and until I’m offered a very clearly better deal.

hilton cashback2

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 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:

Avios eStore

 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).

hilton cashback1

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 Even when this rate reverts to 6 Avios, it’s preferable to most of the 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.

hilton cashback1

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.

hilton cashback3

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. 


  1. Craig Sowerby says

    Great ideas. It’s worth mentioning that I often have trouble getting the AA portal to track Hilton properly (IHG is fine) and AFAIK there’s no real process to chase down un-tracked clicks.

    Also, for the next 10 days at least, you miss out on the triple points and 5,000 point Visa bonus if you book via cashback / miles portal. But after 1 Feb the app might be deleted from my phone again…

  2. Ben says

    With Hilton offering 5000 points for ordering via their mobile app, I guess this would certainly be the best kickback?

    • Tom Sumner says

      Hi Ben – per Craig’s comment and this post, it’s 5k points for registering for the Visa promo, booking via the Hilton app and paying with a Visa card.

      I didn’t focus on the Visa promo in this post as it ends on 31 January, and you also need to have stayed by this point too. But certainly if you’re going to be booking and staying in the next 10 days, it’s the obvious option.

      • Tom Sumner says

        It’s a complex calculation isn’t it, because booking via the app also gets you triple rather than double points. I suppose you could try and get the cashback cookies on your phone, then book via the app and so benefit from cashback + Visa bonus + triple points. All slightly moot though as it ends on the 31st.

        I have an absolute shedload of Hilton stays in March/April, so I’m really hoping for some chunky Spring offers. Let’s hope they haven’t exhausted themselves with the current spate ending 31 Jan.

    • Tom Sumner says

      We don’t really know, and frankly it is a touch ridiculous. Our theory per this article is that Hilton has a nominal “acquisition cost” for people relative to their HHonors status (or lack of it), and as Diamond members are likely to keep coming back, they have a much lower acquisition cost and therefore get less cashback.

      I’m Diamond, and so am booking all my post 31 Jan stays through the Avios eStore.

      • Andrew M says

        It seems a bit bizarre and unfair. Of course Hilton has “form” with playing cashback games. I still haven’t forgotten the 19% Secret Cashback deals that they offered on TCB but declined to pay and then ran away to escape their obligations.

        Would it be possible to book the hotel on the US TCB site with the full cashback but without logging into your HHonors account and then add your number to the booking later or just show your card at check in?

        • Tom Sumner says

          It’s a very odd way of rewarding loyalty.

          Short answer is I don’t have a clue. Worth a go maybe, but given the delay in getting the cashback I’d be surprised if you got anything other than the “Diamond rate” if you benefit from Diamond status on the stay.

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