Hilton Honors American Express Card

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A solid no-fee choice for Hilton loyalists with high rewards potential.

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For travelers loyal to the Hilton brand, the no-fee Hilton Honors Card from American Express offers decent rewards that will help you earn free stays in no time. The major drawback is that rewards can only be used for stays within the Hilton portfolio, which for some, might be limiting. There are other hotel credit cards that offer better rewards rates on everyday spending.

Review

We give this card high marks for its 5x Hilton Honors Bonus Points per dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. restaurants and U.S. gas stations. And it pays an even better 7x Hilton Honors Bonus Points per dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a participating hotel or resort in the Hilton portfolio. All other eligible purchases are worth 3x points.

That’s not all. New cardholders will earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after they spend at least $1,000 on this card within the first three months of Card Membership. Since the number of points required for a reward stay starts as low as 5,000 per night, the bonus alone could earn you several free nights at select properties.

From the outside, this appears to be a particularly solid rewards program for Hilton loyalists — but the inflated points aren’t necessarily always worth what they seem. We looked at several properties and found the redemption value lacking in some cases.

When we checked the Hilton booking website, a room at the Hilton Garden Inn Phoenix Airport North was going for as little as $87 a night, for example. The site listed the minimum redemption rate at 23,000 points. That’s not nearly as good a redemption rate as you can get with a cash-back rewards card.

Bottom line: This is a decent second or third card for Hilton fans to carry, but it shouldn’t be the card you use every day.

Who should get this card

This card is great for road warriors who can stay loyal to the brand. But you if value flexibility in where you stay, you may get more value from a general travel rewards card. And if you travel internationally, this card would be a good choice to use because of there is no foreign transaction fee.

Advantages
  • This card gives holders Hilton Honors Silver status, which grants a fifth night free when booking a reward stay of five nights or more.
  • Achieve Hilton Honors Gold status when you spend $20,000 on eligible purchases within a calendar year. That status is good through the end of the next calendar year.
  • You can transfer your Hilton points to one of their airline partners, which may result in greater value than using for a hotel stay.
  • Starting at 5,000 points, you can choose a combination of points and money in 1,000 point increments to pay for a Hilton property hotel room.
  • Terms apply.
Disadvantages
  • You cannot redeem your rewards for cash back, only for hotel stays, gift certificates or experiences through the Hilton portfolio.
  • High spend requirement to achieve Hilton HHonors Gold Status.

Fees and APR

  • There’s no annual fee with this card.
  • This card comes with a variable APR of 17.74% to 26.74% based on creditworthiness.
  • The balance transfer fee is $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • A penalty APR of 29.99% may apply for at least six months after one or more missed payments or a payment is returned by the bank.
  • A late fee of up to $38 may apply.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fee
  • See Rates & Fees.

Extras, perks and using points

This card comes with auto insurance and protections, cell phone insurance and access to a 24-hour concierge.

Cardholders also are eligible for exclusive pre-sale access to select entertainment events.

You can use your points to pay for rooms at Hilton properties. The amount of points required varies by hotel, room, booking and stay date. The minimum number of points required for a stay is 5,000. You may redeem points on line or by booking a reservation on the phone.

How this card compares

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Credit Needed

Excellent/Good

Regular APR

17.99% - 24.99% Variable

Annual Fee

$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95

Purchase Intro APR

N/A

Balance Transfers Intro APR

N/A

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card was introduced in 2009, but got a significant makeover in 2016. We found this is an awesome card if you travel frequently and want the flexibility to book the airline or hotel of your choice with your reward points.

This card is one step below the super-premium credit cards, meaning you’ll get good rewards without having to fork over hundreds of dollars in annual fees each year.

EDITORIAL NOTE

Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.