The Hilton brand is one of the fastest-growing hospitality companies in the world, and they currently boast over 18 different types of hotels in 119 countries worldwide. With more than 6,100 properties around the globe to choose from, travelers can choose from top of the line luxury or roadside motels without leaving the Hilton umbrella. And many choose to do so, often because they aim to build loyalty within the Hilton Honors program.
While you can earn Hilton Honors points by paying for stays at any Hilton property worldwide, many Hilton loyalists opt to pick up a co-branded hotel credit card they can use for travel and regular spending. Not only do Hilton credit cards let you earn more points on Hilton stays than you would earn otherwise, but many of their cards come with automatic elite status and other benefits that make visiting Hilton hotels and resorts more rewarding.
To find the right Hilton credit card for your travel style, compare Bankrate’s picks for the best credit cards for Hilton travelers in 2020:
- Best with no annual fee: Hilton Honors American Express Card
- Best for casual travel: Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
- Best for luxury travel: Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
- Best for business travel: The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
Hilton Honors American Express Card
- Earn 80,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 within three months of account opening
- Earn 7x points on Hilton stays, 5x points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations and 3x points on other purchases
- Receive automatic Silver status and no foreign transaction fees
- No annual fee
- Terms apply
Why it’s best with no annual fee
The Hilton Honors American Express Card is the only co-branded Hilton credit card without an annual fee, yet it might be sufficient for someone who stays in Hilton properties infrequently. You’ll earn a welcome bonus worth two nights in a mid tier Hilton property within the first three months if you meet the spending requirement, and you will get automatic Silver status just for being a cardholder.
This card also lets you rack up Hilton Honors points quickly with 7x points on paid hotel stays with the brand, 5x points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations and 3x points on other purchases.
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
- Earn 130,000 bonus points when you spend $2,000 on your card within three months of account opening
- Earn 12x points on paid Hilton hotel stays, 6x points at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and U.S. grocery stores and 3x points on other purchases
- Receive complimentary Gold status, no foreign transaction fees and 10 airport Priority Pass lounge visit passes
- $95 annual fee
- Terms apply
Why it’s best for casual travel
The Hilton Honors Amex Surpass® Card may be a better option if you travel enough to take advantage of its perks. You’ll earn a much larger welcome bonus of 130,000 points when you spend $2,000 on your card within three months of account opening, but you’ll also earn a higher rate of rewards on Hilton stays and U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and U.S. grocery stores. Not only that, but you’ll get automatic Gold status with Hilton and 10 free passes to enter Priority Pass airport lounges in airports worldwide.
Also consider the fact that you can earn a free weekend night award with this card when you spend at least $15,000 within a calendar year, and that this free night is good for almost any Hilton property worldwide.
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
- Earn 150,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 within three months of account opening
- Earn 14x points on paid Hilton stays, 7x points on flights booked with airlines or through AmexTravel.com, car rentals booked directly with select car rental companies and U.S. restaurants and 3x points on other purchases
- Cardholder benefits include a free weekend night, a $250 resort statement credit, a $250 airline fee credit, complimentary Hilton Diamond status, a Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership, no foreign transaction fees
- $450 annual fee
- Terms apply
Why it’s best for luxury travel
The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is intended for Hilton loyalists who travel often and can take advantage of various travel perks. You’ll get automatic Hilton Diamond status for starters, which is the highest status this hotel loyalty program offers. You’ll also get a free weekend night at any Hilton property each year including the first year, a $250 resort statement credit, a $250 airline fee credit, a Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership and no foreign transaction fees.
A $450 annual fee applies, but it’s the airline fee credit and resort credit alone more than make up for this fee. The welcome bonus and earning rates on this card are also exceptional, and they can help you rack up points quickly if you spend a lot at Hilton properties or on flights, car rentals or dining each year.
Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
- Earn 130,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases on your card within three months of account opening
- Earn 12x points on paid Hilton stays in eligible purchases, 6x points at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service provider, U.S. shipping, U.S. restaurants, flights booked with airlines or AmexTravel.com and car rentals booked directly with select companies plus 3x points on all other eligible purchases
- Receive automatic Gold status, 10 airport Priority Pass lounge visits and no foreign transaction fees
- $95 annual fee
- Terms apply
Why it’s best for business travel
The Hilton Honors Business Card lets you apply with your business name and Employer Identification Number (EIN), although you can also apply as a sole proprietor using your Social Security number. You have the potential to earn a sizable welcome bonus when you do, as well as a high rate of rewards on eligible eligible paid Hilton stays (12x points) and 6x points in a broad range of categories.
Automatic Gold status is another cardholder perk, and that goes along with the 10 free passes you receive for Priority Pass airport lounges worldwide. The $95 annual fee on this card is very reasonable for a business credit card, and you won’t pay foreign transaction fees when you travel for business abroad.
As a final perk, you’ll receive a free weekend night with this card when you spend $15,000 within a calendar year, as well as another free weekend night when you spend $60,000 on your card within a calendar year.
Alternatives for Hilton travelers
If you’re unsure about picking up a travel credit card that earns points for Hilton properties specifically, then you may want to consider a flexible travel credit card instead. American Express credit cards that let you earn points in the American Express Membership Rewards program are a good option since this program lets you transfer points to the Hilton Honors program at a solid ratio of 1,000 Amex points: 2,000 Hilton Honors points.
Popular American Express travel credit cards to consider include the American Express® Gold Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express. The Platinum Card® from American Express may be a good flexible travel card in particular since it comes with automatic Gold status with both Hilton Honors and the Marriott Bonvoy program.
If you don’t want to make a huge financial commitment, you could also check out Amex cards that earn Membership Rewards with no annual fee, such as The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express. This way, you could earn points in this program without paying a fee each year, then you could transfer them to the Hilton Honors program once you were ready to book.
How to choose the best card for Hilton hotel stays
How do you decide between Hilton credit cards? There are several important points to consider, and your best option also depends on how often you travel. Here’s everything you should ask yourself as you choose between cards on this list and flexible travel credit cards that let you transfer points to the Hilton Honors program.
- Will you take advantage of airport lounge passes or annual travel credits? Some Hilton credit cards come with airport lounge passes, while the Hilton Honors Aspire Card comes with Priority Pass Select membership with unlimited visits. Make sure you fly often enough to take advantage of these benefits before you pay a premium to have them.
- Do you mind paying an annual fee? Also note that Hilton credit cards and flexible travel credit cards with the most benefits tend to come with higher annual fees. Make sure you’ll use all the cardholder perks before you commit to paying a pricey annual fee for the year.
- Are you interested in elite status? All Hilton credit cards offer some level of elite status, but you’ll get a higher level of status (including up to Hilton Diamond status) with cards that come with higher annual fees. It can help to compare elite status benefits with Hilton to see which levels of status offer the perks you really want.
- Do you want points good for Hilton hotel stays only, or do you want the option to redeem rewards in other ways? Also decide whether you want Hilton Honors points specifically, or whether flexible rewards may serve you better in the long run. If you want to be able to cash in your rewards for airfare and hotel stays with other brands, check out travel credit cards instead.