Most travel bloggers and points enthusiasts don’t view Hilton HHonor as being valuable. In fact, most of them value the points at $0.005 – $0.007 per point. That may be the case, but I decided to go with Hilton because I can rely on finding a Hilton property whenever I travel.

Most people tend to go for the American Express SPG card because the points are more valuable. ThePointsGuy said earlier this year that he values SPG points at 2.1 cents a piece. That’s quite a difference compared to Hilton points! Take a look at though to make sure you can actually find a property before you travel.

SPG allows you to transfer your points to airline partners and do all sorts of things with your points.

  • What happens when you actually just want to book a night with your points?
  • What card is best for manufactured spending?

I put these questions to the test by running my numbers below. I am strictly focused on manufactured spending my way to earn a free night.

What happens when you “work the spending categories” on a Hilton card?

Let’s take the Amex Hilton Surpass card for an example. You earn 6 HHonor points for each eligible dollar spent  at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations.

One of my favorite places to buy gift cards from is my local grocery store. It’s right next to Walmart, so as soon as I buy the gift cards, I hop over to Walmart and liquidate them via BlueBird.

Let’s say I bought $13,500 worth of gift cards in a month on my Surpass card. At 6 points per dollar spent in the grocery category, that would earn me 81,000 HHonor points. That’s enough for a category 9 hotel.

$13,500 in gift cards would cost me $160.65 in gift card activation fees ($5.95 x 27 cards).

If I do a quick search on Hilton’s website, I could stay a the Hilton Times Square in New York for $364 a night or 80,00 HHonor points in May 2015. $364 – $160.65 saves me $203.35 a night!

Now let’s look at the SPG card

You earn 1x point for every eligible dollar spent, and 2x points for each SPG booking.

The W New York – Times Square costs $361 a night or 20,000 SPG points for the same dates in May 2015. If I were to manufacture spend $20,000 in gift cards that would cost me $238 in activation fees. $361 – $238 only saves me $123 a night!

Let’s not forget that the more gift cards you buy, the more BlueBird cards you’ll have to have.

This is just 1 test I’ve done to compare the numbers

The point being, don’t always go off what other bloggers tell you is best. Each person’s situation is different. For me, I’m only worried about manufactured spending to earn points for free hotel nights. I know others like the SPG card because they can transfer the points to an airline. That completely makes sense then. You’re not just stuck with booking a free night at a hotel. In fact, some SPG card holders never use their points to stay at an SPG property. They strictly transfer their points to a participating airline.

However, I know there are others out there that simply want to buy gift cards to earn free nights. In the above example, this would show that Hilton is the better option. You’ll save more money per night and have to buy less gift cards.