Is the Hilton Honors American Express Card worth it?

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The Hilton Honors American Express Card doesn’t charge an annual fee, so it’s technically “worth it” in the sense you don’t have to pay for the privilege of being a cardholder. However, not paying an annual fee will get you a lower earning rate than you would achieve with other Hilton Honors credit cards. And not surprisingly, the Hilton Honors Credit Card from American Express comes with fewer perks overall.

Before you decide on a Hilton travel credit card, it’s smart to look at all your card options, their unique benefits and any annual fees required. The Hilton Honors Credit Card from American Express is the only Hilton Honors card without an annual fee, but whether it’s the right option for you depends on how often you travel, your spending habits and the elite hotel perks you want the most.

Hilton Honors American Express Card highlights

  • Welcome offer: Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points when you spend $1,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership; new cardholders can also earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending a total of $5,000 in purchases on the card in the first six months of card membership
  • Rewards rate: Earn 7X points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio, 5X points at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and U.S. restaurants and 3X points on all other purchases
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Purchase intro APR: None
  • Balance transfer intro APR: None
  • Regular APR: 15.74 percent to 24.74 percent variable APR

Earning points

The Hilton Honors American Express Card gives new cardholders the chance to earn a generous welcome bonus as well as Hilton Honors points for each dollar they spend. Specifically, you can earn 7X points on eligible Hilton purchases, 5X points at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and U.S. restaurants and 3X points on all other purchases.

While these rates seem generous, keep in mind that Hilton Honors points are only worth around 0.6 cents each. Also, note that other Hilton cards feature much higher earning rates for Hilton purchases and other spending. With the top-tier Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Credit Card, for example, cardholders earn a whopping 14X points on purchases made within Hilton’s portfolio of hotels and resorts.

Redeeming points

The Hilton Honors program lets you redeem points for free hotel nights at more than 6,500 properties in 119 countries around the world. While Hilton points are worth around 0.6 cents each on average, you can sometimes get more value when you redeem them for a standard night award at premium Hilton properties.

You can also get more value from your points by utilizing Hilton’s 5th-night free promotion, which is available for Hilton Honors members with Silver status or better who book at least four consecutive nights with points. Fortunately, the Hilton Honors American Express Card comes with complimentary Silver elite status.

If you don’t want to redeem your Hilton Honors points for hotel stays, other ways to cash in your points in the Hilton Honors program include vacation packages, shopping and dining experiences, Lyft rides and rental cars. You can also convert your Hilton Honors points to airline miles with specific frequent flyer programs, yet doing so is not a good value.

Benefits

We already mentioned how the Hilton Honors American Express Card comes with automatic Silver Elite status, but what does that get you outside of the 5th-night free benefit? For the most part, you won’t get a lot for this tier of status that you don’t get for being a Hilton Honors member. Other benefits you qualify for include 20 percent bonus points on paid stays, free bottled water and access to elite rollover nights.

Additional benefits you get for being a cardholder include no foreign transaction fees, access to a Global Assist travel assistance hotline, secondary auto rental coverage, American Express experiences and year-end summaries of your spending.

No annual fee

The Hilton Honors American Express Card is the only Hilton credit card that doesn’t charge an annual fee. This means you could keep this card for the long haul without ever having to factor in carrying costs.

By contrast, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card will set you back $95 per year, and the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Credit Card costs cardholders $450 per year. However, both cards feature higher earning rates and more perks that can offset their annual fees.

Is the Hilton Honors American Express Card worth getting?

If you are thinking of picking up a Hilton credit card but don’t want to pay an annual fee each year, the Hilton Honors American Express Card is a good choice. You’ll earn fewer points when you stay with Hilton and use your card for other spending, but you’ll never have to worry about justifying the carrying costs of the card. Not only that, but you’ll get the chance to earn a generous welcome bonus you can use to stay with more than 6,500 properties worldwide.

At the very least, you can sign up for this card and try it for a while before deciding whether it’s the right fit for your travel style and goals. And due to the way the Amex “once per lifetime” policy works, you can always sign up for other Hilton Honors credit cards later on if you change your mind.

The bottom line

The Hilton Honors American Express Card is popular for a reason. With automatic elite status, a generous welcome bonus, and a solid earning rate that can help you rack up Hilton Honors points quickly, what’s not to love?

Even so, it never hurts to look at other hotel credit cards as well as flexible travel credit cards that let you transfer points to the Hilton Honors program. Make sure to compare all the best credit card offers to find the best fit.

Written by
Holly D. Johnson
Author, Award-Winning Writer
Holly Johnson writes expert content on personal finance, credit cards, loyalty and insurance topics. In addition to writing for Bankrate and CreditCards.com, Johnson does ongoing work for clients that include CNN, Forbes Advisor, LendingTree, Time Magazine and more.
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