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Hilton Honors American Express Card review: Balanced, everyday rewards for Hilton loyalists

The Hilton Honors American Express Card has a great balance of hotel benefits and everyday rewards that can rival higher-tier travel cards. 

 /  15 min
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Snapshot

4.3

Bankrate rating
Info
Rating: 4.3 stars out of 5

Bottom line

Although Hilton Honors Points may not be as valuable as other hotel cards’ rewards and the Hilton Honors American Express Card may not carry as many travel benefits as rival cards, few hotel-oriented cards with no annual fee offer such well-rounded bonus categories on day-to-day expenses as this Hilton card.

Best Hilton card with no annual fee
  • Rewards value
    Rating: 4.3 stars out of 5
    4.3 / 5
    APR
    Rating: 3 stars out of 5
    3 / 5
    Rewards flexibility
    Rating: 3 stars out of 5
    3 / 5
    Features
    Rating: 3 stars out of 5
    3 / 5
Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Recommended Credit

Earn 70,000 points

Intro offer

Info

$420

Offer valuation

Info

3X - 7X

Rewards rate

Info

$0

Annual fee

20.99%-29.99% Variable

APR

Hilton Honors American Express Card Overview

The Hilton Honors American Express Card gives consumers the chance to earn valuable hotel points without having to pay an annual fee. On top of the impressively accessible welcome offer, bonus points awarded in categories like gas, dining and groceries can make racking up points for free hotel nights and room upgrades easier than ever.

You won’t get a lot of elite hotel perks with this Hilton card, but it’s geared towards the casual Hilton guest instead of weekend warriors and business travelers. At the end of the day, you should consider applying if you want a base level of hotel loyalty perks and the chance to earn free hotel stays through the Hilton Honors program.

  • Credit Card Cash Back

    Rewards

    • 7X points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio
    • 5X points at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and U.S. restaurants
    • 3X points on all other eligible purchases

    Expert Appraisal: Exceptional
    See our expert analysis

  • Rewards

    Welcome offer

    70,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points plus a Free Night Reward after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the card in the first six months of Card Membership (offer ends July 31, 2024)

    Expert Appraisal: Exceptional
    See our expert analysis

  • Credit Card Search

    Rates and fees

    • Annual fee: $0
    • Purchase intro APR: None
    • Balance transfer intro APR: None
    • Regular APR: 20.99 percent to 29.99 percent variable 
    • No foreign transaction fee

    Expert Appraisal: Good
    See our expert analysis

  • Congrats

    Other cardholder perks

    • Car rental loss and damage insurance
    • Purchase protection
    • American Express Experiences
    • Complimentary Hilton HonorsTM Silver Status
    • An upgrade to Hilton HonorsTM Gold Status when you spend $20,000 in eligible purchases

    Expert Appraisal: Typical
    See our expert analysis

Hilton Honors Amex pros and cons

Pros

  • Checkmark

    No annual fee, which is fantastic for a hotel rewards card

  • Checkmark

    Bonus rewards in popular categories like dining, groceries and gas

  • Checkmark

    Automatic Silver status as a cardholder, bringing you closer to Gold level

Cons

  • Does not offer the best elite hotel perks like free breakfast and room upgrades

  • Has lower rewards rates on hotel purchases than other Hilton Honors cards

  • Superstores and warehouse clubs like Wal-mart and Costco not included in grocery bonus category

Why you might want the Hilton Honors Amex

The Hilton Honors American Express is quite generous for a no-annual-fee travel card with its combination of low fees and high rewards rates.

Welcome offer: Stretches pretty far despite point value

For a limited time, you can earn 70,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points and a Free Night Award after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the card in the first six months of card membership (offer ends July 31, 2024). This new offer is a slight downgrade from the previous offer of 80,000 points with the same spending requirement, but still holds decent value since it adds a free night award.

Based on Bankrate’s latest hotel point valuations, which give Hilton points an average value of around 0.6 cents each, we estimate a 70,000-point bonus is worth around $420 in Hilton stays — great value for a mid-tier travel rewards card and especially generous given this card doesn’t have an annual fee. You can frequently find award space at Hilton properties for as little as 5,000 points per night and can now stretch your stay for an extra night, so this intro offer can go quite far.

Rewards rate: High and versatile earnings

With this card, you’ll get the chance to earn 7X points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio and 5X points on U.S. supermarket, U.S. gas station and U.S. restaurant purchases. You’ll also earn a flat 3X points on all non-bonus spending, which is a higher base reward rate than many hotel cards offer on regular purchases. These everyday bonus categories coupled with a high rewards base rate means you could rack up points fairly quickly with this card.

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Bankrate Insight

If you use your Hilton card often on road trips, you can also use Hilton’s Drive Off With Savings program to earn an extra 500 points per day of your rental car reservation. Make sure to keep an eye on the Hilton Honors car rental page for bonus offers since they’ve been known to stack an additional 500 points per day in the past, typically up to a 4,500-point limit.

Rates & fees: Great value for an entry-level travel card

Overall, the Hilton Honors American Express Card is free of any fees you can’t avoid since there are no annual fees or foreign transaction fees to worry about. The main fees to watch out for include a 5 percent cash advance fee (minimum $10) if you use your card to get cash out of an ATM, late payment fees that can be as high as $40 and a returned payment fee that may also be as high as up to $40 (plus a potential 29.99 percent penalty APR if you miss a payment).

If you end up needing to carry a balance, however, you’ll face a 20.99 percent to 29.99 percent variable APR, which is around the current average interest rate if you qualify for the best terms.

Why you might want a different hotel card

Though the Hilton Honors American Express comes with many benefits, as with other co-branded cards, it has its limitations.

Redemption: Limited options for non-travelers

When it comes to redeeming points earned in the Hilton Honors program, the most popular redemption option is free hotel nights. Reward stays start at 5,000 points and increase in 1,000-point increments, although a standard night in a premium hotel like the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island will set you back at least 95,000 points. However, keep in mind that, if you’re a Silver elite member or better, your fifth night is free when you book at least five consecutive nights with points.

According to recent valuations, Hilton Honors points are worth around 0.6 cents each. This estimated value makes them worth less than points in the Marriott Bonvoy program or the World of Hyatt program, which are worth about 0.7 cents each and 2.3 cents each, respectively.

Benefits: Misses some better long-term benefits

This card comes with some standard perks, like secondary rental coverage insurance and a Global Assist hotline, but competing cards might offer more value. 

You can enjoy automatic Hilton Honors Silver elite status that comes along with the card. These benefits include digital check-in, free internet access, a fifth night free on award stays, two free bottles of water per stay and more. This deal is solid since not too many hotel cards with no annual fee offer complimentary elite status off the bat. Still, Silver status isn’t too hard to qualify for early on since you’d only need to either stay with Hilton twice for five nights or earn 12,500 base points in one year.

As an American Express card, you’ll also have access to the issuer’s Pay It Plan It features, which can help as alternative payment plans. But the Plan It fees can possibly cost more than the initial interest you would owe.

Overall, the list is a bit underwhelming once you see several rival cards offering stronger travel protections and perks. And it might be a better option to book travel with another general travel card anyway since the Hilton Amex card doesn’t earn boosted rewards on travel outside hotels (like airfare).

We tried it: Here’s what our experts say

Frequent Bankrate writer Holly D. Johnson discovered that switching from the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Credit Card to the no-annual-fee Hilton Honors card delivers the best personal value for her reduced travel needs:

The Hilton Honors American Express Card may not be the most lucrative travel credit card in the world, but it’s the best hotel credit card for my needs at the moment. With no annual fee, automatic Silver elite status, and an excellent earning rate on paid Hilton stays, what’s not to love?

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card gave me automatic Hilton Diamond status. While I will definitely miss it, Silver elite status comes with a 20 percent points-earning bonus on stays, free bottled water and elite rollover nights. More importantly, having Silver status unlocks this card’s fifth-night free benefit, which qualifies you for a free fifth award night when you book four consecutive nights with points.

I love the Hilton Honors fifth-night free benefit since it lets me stretch my points considerably farther on longer stays. The last time I used it was for my 40th birthday in Aruba. Thanks to Hilton’s fifth-night free benefit, I was able to book a six-night stay at the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino (where standard rooms start at 67,000 points per night) for 335,000 Hilton Honors points instead of 402,000.

— Holly D. Johnson, Bankrate writer

How the Hilton Honors American Express Card compares to other hotel credit cards

Deciding whether you want the Hilton Honors American Express Card will come down to your hotel brand preferences versus the convenience of more flexible rewards cards. If Hilton is your preferred hotel chain, you may want a card that offers more premium perks and higher elite status. Or, if you prefer to shop around for the best deals, a card that earns with a variety of brands may be the best option.

Image of Hilton Honors American Express Card
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
on American Express's secure site

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

Earn 70,000 points
Info

Rewards rate

3X - 7X
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
on American Express's secure site

Annual fee

$150

Intro offer

Earn 130,000 points
Info

Rewards rate

3X - 12X
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Hotels.com® Rewards Visa® Credit Card

Hotels.com® Rewards Visa® Credit Card

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

N/A

Rewards rate

$11
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info

Best cards to pair with the Hilton Honors American Express Card

Since the Hilton Honors program is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, consider pairing this card with a premium travel credit card that lets you earn points in this program. After all, you can rack up American Express Membership Rewards points through regular spending and then transfer them to the Hilton Honors program whenever you’re ready. You can also pair it with a card that earns on everyday purchases, so you have a well-rounded mix.

Who is the Hilton Honors Amex right for?

The Hilton Honors Amex card is great for Hilton hotel loyalists and frequent travelers. However, it can also be a solid option for food lovers who enjoy traveling.

Bankrate’s Take — Is the Hilton Honors American Express Card worth it?

The Hilton Honors American Express Card is worth it for Hilton enthusiasts who want to earn rewards for award stays but aren’t traveling a lot right now. After all, you’ll earn a big welcome bonus and rewards on your everyday spending with no annual fee, which you can use for free hotel stays now and later.

With that being said, there are other Hilton credit cards and even other hotel credit cards to consider that offer more in the way of general travel benefits and protections, so make sure to compare all your options before you decide the most valuable option to reward your visits.

Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.

The information about the Hotels.com Rewards Visa Credit Card and Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

For Capital One products listed on this page, some of the above benefits are provided by Visa® or Mastercard® and may vary by product. See the respective Guide to Benefits for details, as terms and exclusions apply.

How we rated this card

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We rate credit cards using a proprietary card scoring system that ranks each card’s estimated average rewards rate, estimated annual earnings, welcome bonus value, APR, fees, perks and more against those of other cards in its primary category.

Each card feature is assigned a weighting based on how important it is to people looking for a card in a given category. These features are then scored based on how they rank relative to the features on other cards in the category. Based on these calculations, each card receives an overall rating of 1-5 stars (with 5 being the highest possible score and 1 being the lowest). 

We analyzed over 150 of the most popular rewards and cash back cards to determine where each stacked up based on their value, cost, benefits and more. Here are some of the key factors that influenced this card’s overall score and how the score influenced our review:

Frequently Asked Questions

Written by
India Davis
Editor, Credit Cards

India Davis is an editor specializing in credit cards and updates. She believes in putting the reader first and carrying out a brand’s voice to its fullest potential. She has lived and worked in three different countries and hopes to explore more of the world post-pandemic.

Edited by Editor II, Credit Cards
Reviewed by Former Personal Finance Writer, Credit Cards

* See the online application for details about terms and conditions for these offers. Every reasonable effort has been made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. After you click on the offer you desire you will be directed to the credit card issuer's web site where you can review the terms and conditions for your selected offer.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.