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Which Hilton Honors Credit Card is Best for You?

Which Hilton Honors Credit Card is Best for You?

*Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

This article was last updated Dec 20, 2018, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.

Hotel-branded credit cards are a popular option for travelers who want more ways to earn points, especially if they belong to a particular hotel loyalty program. Having that card comes with benefits important to members, such as higher points per dollar spent, elite status and travel perks.

With the Hilton Honors loyalty program covering 15 hotel brands at more than 5,500 properties in 109 countries and territories, it only makes sense for Hilton loyalty program members to enhance their stays by having one of its four branded American Express cards. But which one should you apply for?

All four cards include basic benefits, including earning higher points for hotel and travel-related spending, elite Hilton Honors status, transferring points to airline loyalty programs and travel and purchase perks. Points can be redeemed for hotel rooms, flights, trains, dining, shopping, donations and unique experiences. And all cards come with the Pay It® or Plan It®  payment options, which allow you to either make multiple small payments during the month or spread payments out over a specific time period.

But how many of these benefits you get depends on the card you choose, from the basic Hilton Honors American Express Card to the luxury Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express. We’ll look at all four Hilton Honors cards and unpack the pros and cons of each. After we answer your questions, you’ll be able to pick the card that is the best fit for you. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.

Hilton Honors American Express Card

  • Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

  • Up to 7X Hilton Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases

  • No Foreign Transaction Fees. Enjoy international travel without additional fees on purchases made abroad

Highlights
  • Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Honors portfolio of brands.
  • Earn 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees. Enjoy international travel without additional fees on purchases made abroad.
  • Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status with your Card. Plus, spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn an upgrade to Hilton Honors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for Hilton Honors American Express Card

More Info

Best for: If you’re looking for a credit card that offers some good points per dollar spent and nice perks — priced at a $0 annual fee — this is it.

What we like

Nice welcome offer. Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Use those points to book an overnight stay at San Diego’s iconic Hotel del Coronado, a Curio Collection by Hilton property.

Solid rewards. Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio, 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations AND 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.

You get status. The Hilton Honors American Express Card comes with silver Hilton Honors status, which includes 20% tier bonus points per hotel stay, a guaranteed member discount, no resort fees on reward stays, late checkout, fifth standard reward night free, two bottles of water daily and free breakfast.

Fair perks. The card comes with travel accident insurance, car rental loss and damage insurance, Global Assist, extended warranty, return and purchase protection and access to ticket presales and cardmember-only events.

Things to watch out for

Lowest points. The Hilton Honors American Express Card offers the least number of points per dollar spent among the four Hilton-branded American Express cards, although it is still more generous than competing travel credit cards.

Spend for status. You need to spend at least $20,000 in a calendar year if you want to make the jump from silver to gold Hilton Honors status.

Fewer travel perks. It’s no surprise that a $0 annual fee card doesn’t come with a lot of benefits, despite being a travel credit card. It only comes with travel accident insurance and car rental loss and damage insurance.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

  • Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

  • Up to 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases

  • Earn Hilton Honors Diamond status

Highlights
  • Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
  • Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio.
  • Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Spend $40,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn Hilton Honors Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

More Info

Best for: If you’re loyal to Hilton Honors and want a card that comes with more points per dollar spent and more perks than the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, then consider this card.

What we like

Abundant welcome offer. Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. That’s enough for a weekend stay at Hilton Garden Inn Charleston Waterfront/Downtown in South Carolina on March 22-24, 2019.

Strong rewards in popular categories. Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio. Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations. Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card. Points per dollar spent are good when compared to competing credit cards for hotels, travel, dining, supermarkets and gas.

Solid status. Hilton Honors gold status is automatic with this card. That includes 80% tier bonus points per hotel stay, an automatic space-available room upgrade (up to an executive room), a guaranteed member discount, no resort fees on reward stays, early check-in and late check-out, fifth standard reward night free, free breakfast and two complimentary bottles of water daily.

Better perks. The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card comes with a Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership that comes with 10 passes a year, travel accident insurance, car rental loss and damage insurance, access to the Global Assist hotline, extended warranty, return and purchase protection and access to ticket presales and cardmember-only events.

Things to watch out for

Annual fee. The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card has a $95 annual fee.

Room reward — with a catch. If you want the annual reward night offered by this card, you must spend $15,000 during a calendar year on the card to get it. And the free standard room is only good on weekends.

Status costs. If you want to move up from gold to diamond Hilton Honors status, you’ll need to spend $40,000 annually on the card.

Skimpy travel benefits. The card only offers travel accident insurance. Competing travel cards offer things such as trip delay/cancellation insurance and lost luggage coverage.

Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express

Best for: This card is for those who are among Hilton’s most loyal customers who want a luxury card with all the perks and status that come with it.

What we like

The best welcome offer. Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.. Use them to bid on an experience such as the Fleetwood Mac Premium Concert Experience in Dallas on Feb. 7. The package includes two premium tickets in the first five rows of the stage, either free parking or a $50 Uber credit, a preferred entrance to the concert and on-site ambassador support.

Most rewards. This luxury card allows you to earn the most points per dollar spent on hotels, flights, car rentals and dining. Redeem them for Hilton hotel stays, car rentals, cruises, shopping, dining, gift cards and donations.

Superior status. Get automatic Hilton Honors Diamond status, the top category in the loyalty program. It comes with 100% tier bonus points per hotel stay, premium in-room and lobby Wi-Fi, an automatic space-available room upgrade (up to 1-bedroom suite), executive lounge access, a guaranteed member discount, 48-hour room guarantee, no resort fees on reward stays, early check-in and late check-out, fifth standard reward night free, free breakfast and two free bottles of water daily.

Bountiful benefits. Luxury cards should come with luxury perks, and the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express doesn’t disappoint. It comes with one weekend night reward; a $250 statement credit and a $250 airline credit every year; a $100 Hilton on-property credit for each two-night stay; a free Priority Pass™ Select membership for you and up to two guests at more than a thousand airport lounges around the world; car rental loss and damage insurance; access to the Premium Global Assist® Hotline; baggage and travel accident insurance; premium roadside assistance; extended warranty; return and purchase protection; and access to ticket presales and cardmember-only events.

Things to watch out for

High annual fee. The Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express comes with a $450 annual fee, although the credits that come with the card more than cover it.

“Free” room isn’t exactly free. The card gives you the chance to earn a second free weekend night hotel stay — but you’ll have to spend $60,000 during a calendar year on the card to get it.

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

  • 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases in the first 3 months of Card Membership

  • 12X at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio, 6X on Select Business & Travel Purchases, 3X Everywhere Else

  • Enjoy complimentary Gold status

Highlights
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card: 12X at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio, 6X on Select Business & Travel Purchases, 3X Everywhere Else. Terms & Limitations Apply.
  • Enjoy complimentary Gold Status with your Hilton Honors Business Card.
  • Earn a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
  • Earn another Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend an additional $45,000 in purchases on your Card in the same calendar year.
  • Relax with 10 free airport lounge visits each year once enrolled in complimentary Priority Pass™ Select membership, which offers access to over 1,000 lounges in over 120 countries.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

More Info

Best for: Business owners who are loyal to Hilton Honors and want benefits that help manage operations and make travel smoother.

What we like

Strong welcome offer. New cardmembers earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases in the first 3 months of Card Membership. If it’s time for a quick vacation, those points are enough to book a room at the Hilton at Resorts World Bimini in the Bahamas March 15-17, 2019.

Great rewards for business. 12X at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio, 6X on Select Business & Travel Purchases, 3X Everywhere Else. Terms & Limitations Apply. The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card allows cardholders to earn higher rewards for spending on categories that are attractive to businesses including Hilton hotel brands, gas stations, wireless telephone services, shipping, dining, flights and rental cars. And you earn higher points for all other spending.

Card assistance. Get handy tools to manage your business with employee cards, a designated account manager, a Spend ManagerSM feature that allows you to add receipts and notes to transactions via desktop or a mobile device, a connection to QuickBooks®, account alerts, a year-end summary and online statements.

Status matters. The card’s automatic gold status comes with 80% tier bonus points per hotel stay, an automatic space-available room upgrade (up to an executive room), a guaranteed member discount, no resort fees on reward stays, early check-in and late checkout, fifth standard reward night free, free breakfast and two complimentary bottles of water daily.

Business benefits. Get 10 free Priority Pass airport lounge passes a year, baggage insurance, travel accident insurance, car rental loss and damage insurance, roadside assistance, access to the Global Assist hotline, extended warranty and purchase protection.

Free nights. Earn one free weekend night from Hilton Honors after spending $15,000 on the card in a calendar year and earn a second weekend night by spending another $60,000.

Things to watch out for

Pay that fee. The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card will cost you a $95 annual fee.

Where are the travel benefits? For a business-branded credit card, it would be nice if this card came with more travel perks such as trip delay/cancellation insurance or emergency evacuation and transportation assistance.

Free room not so free. If you want the two free weekend room nights that come with this card, you’ll have to spend $75,000 in a calendar year to get them.

Spend for status. If you want to go from gold Hilton Honors status to diamond, you’ll need to spend $40,000 a year on the card.

Check out our review of The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card.

 

Hilton Honors American Express Card Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
Annual fee $0 $450 $95 $95
Regular purchase APR 17.74%-26.74% Variable 17.74% - 26.74% Variable 17.74%-26.74% Variable 17.74% - 26.74% Variable
Rewards Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio, 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations AND 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card. Earn up to 14X Hilton Honors Bonus Points on eligible purchases Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio. Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations. Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card. 12X at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio, 6X on Select Business & Travel Purchases, 3X Everywhere Else. Terms & Limitations Apply.
Welcome offer 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership. 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases in the first 3 months of Card Membership.
Foreign transaction fee None None None None

 

The bottom line

Hilton Honors offers a range of credit cards designed to fit every budget and need, along with perks help make travel easier. If you’re loyal to Hilton Honors and spend more on hotels, travel, dining, gas and supermarkets — plus want more points in all categories — these cards are attractive. Since they all have a lot of benefits in common, you’ll have to look at things such as the points per dollar spent, the annual fee and card perks to see which one best fits your needs.

There are things to watch out for before making your final pick. One, the exchange rate to transfer your Hilton Honors points to airline and rail partners isn’t very generous, at 10,000 points to 1,500 miles, on average. You’re better off using your points for hotel stays or experiences. Despite being in the travel category, some of the cards don’t have the benefits you see with other competitors in the travel space.

Before hitting that apply button, ask these questions about the Hilton-branded cards:

  • What is the annual fee and will I use the perks to offset it?
  • Will you earn the best points per dollar spent in top categories?
  • How important is it to have travel and purchase perks?
  • Will you do the spending required to keep elite status and room rewards?
  • How helpful is the card when it comes to managing your business?

Once you answer these questions, you’ll know which Hilton Honors is the right one for you. If not, take a look at CompareCards.com’s round-up of travel-branded credit cards or our roundup of best hotel credit cards.


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