Hilton Honors American Express Card review

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Best Hilton card with no annual fee

Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Terms and Restrictions Apply | Rates and Fees

Bankrate Rating

Best for everyday spending

  • Rewards rate: Earn 7X points on Hilton Honors purchases, 5X points at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and U.S. restaurants and 3X points on all other purchases
  • Welcome offer: Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors bonus points when you spend $1,000 within three months of account opening
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Purchase intro APR: None
  • Balance transfer intro APR: None
  • Regular APR: 15.74 percent to 24.74 percent variable APR

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 generous welcome offer, bonus points awarded in categories like gas, dining and groceries can make racking up points good for free hotel nights and room upgrades easier than ever.

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

Current welcome offer

Once you sign up for the Hilton Honors American Express Card, you’ll earn 80,000 Hilton Honors points when you spend just $1,000 on your card within three months of account opening. This bonus is pretty generous when you consider the fact this card doesn’t have an annual fee, and when you realize you can frequently find award space at Hilton properties for as little as 5,000 points per night.

The welcome bonus on this card is also easy to earn. With just $334 in spending per month for three months in a row, you could reach the spending threshold to earn 80,000 bonus points.

Earning and redeeming rewards

Consumers looking for a card that helps them rack up rewards on regular spending will be happy to see how relevant the bonus categories are with the Hilton Honors American Express Card. Redeeming rewards for free stays can also be a fruitful endeavor, and that’s especially true if you plan to stay for five nights or longer.

Earning rewards

Once you sign up for the Hilton Honors American Express Card, you’ll get the chance to earn 7X points on Hilton Honors purchases and 5X points on U.S. supermarket, U.S. gas station and U.S. restaurant purchases. You’ll also earn a flat 3X points per dollar on all non-bonus spending, which is a higher rewards rate than many hotel cards offer on regular purchases.

Redeeming rewards

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, although a standard night in a premium hotel like the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island will set you back 95,000 points. However, keep in mind that, if you’re a Silver elite member or better, your 5th night is free when you book at least four consecutive nights with points.

How much are points worth?

According to recent valuations, Hilton Honors points are worth around .6 cents each. This makes them worth less than points in the Marriott Bonvoy program or the World of Hyatt program, which are worth .8 cents each and 1.7 cents each respectively.

Benefits

The Hilton Honors American Express Card doesn’t have an annual fee, so its perks are somewhat limited as a result. However, you do get some cardholder benefits when you sign up, including the following:

Automatic Silver elite status

When you sign up for the Hilton Honors American Express Card, you’ll qualify for automatic Silver elite status. This level of status comes with benefits like digital check-in, free internet access, a fifth night free on award stays, two free bottles of water per stay and more. And if you spend $20,000 on your card within a calendar year, you can move up to Gold status through the end of the next calendar year without ever staying in a Hilton property.

Travel benefits

You won’t pay any foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside of the United States. Cardholders also receive secondary rental coverage as a cardholder perk, as well as access to a Global Assist hotline that can help with lost passports, medical referrals, legal referrals and more when you’re far from home.

Rates and fees

Overall, the Hilton Honors American Express Card is free of any fees you can’t avoid. 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 $40.

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

Hilton Honors American Express Card Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
Welcome bonus Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors points when you spend $1,000 on your card within three months of account opening Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors points when you spend $2,000 on your card within three months of account opening Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors points when you spend $4,000 on your card within three months of account opening
Rewards rate Earn 7X points on Hilton Honors purchases, 5X points at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and U.S. restaurants and 3X points on other purchases Earn 12X points on Hilton Honors purchases, 6X points at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and U.S. restaurants and 3X points on other purchases Earn 14X points on Hilton Honors purchases, 7X points on flights booked directly with an airline or with AmexTravel.com, at U.S. restaurants or on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies and 3X points on all  other purchases
Annual fee $0 $95 $450
Elite benefits Automatic Hilton Honors Silver status Automatic Hilton Honors Gold status Automatic Hilton Honors Diamond status

Up to a $250 annual resort credit

Up to a $250 airline fee credit

Free weekend night each year

Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership

The information about the 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.

As you compare Hilton credit cards, you’ll notice that cards with the most benefits come with higher annual fees. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card comes with a whopping $450 annual fee, yet you can easily get enough value in return when you consider the $500 in airline fee and resort fee credits you can utilize. Not only that, but the Priority Pass Select membership that comes with this card has a retail value of $429.

But not everyone travels often, and the Hilton Honors American Express Card is a good option for someone who wants to earn hotel rewards without paying an annual fee. Meanwhile, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card offers a slightly higher rewards rate and better elite status perks for just $95 per year.

Any of these Hilton credit cards can help you rack up rewards in this program, but the best one for you will depend on how often you travel and how much value you could get from the additional benefits you get with a higher tier card.

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 then transfer them to the Hilton Honors program whenever you’re ready.

A good option right now is the American Express® Gold Card since it’s offering 60,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $4,000 within six months of account opening. You also earn 4X points at restaurants worldwide and on up to $25,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets each year (then 1X), as well as 3X points on flights booked directly with an airline or with AmexTravel.com and 1X points on other purchases. There’s a $250 annual fee, but you’ll qualify for up to $120 dining credit for select eateries each year.

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

The Hilton Honors American Express Card is best for Hilton enthusiasts who want to earn rewards for rewards 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 on.

With that being said, there are other Hilton credit cards and even other hotel credit cards to consider, so make sure to compare all your options before you decide.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Generous welcome bonus is easy to earn
  • Bonus rewards in popular categories like dining, groceries and gas
  • Get automatic Silver status for being a cardholder

Cons

  • No access to the best elite hotel perks like free breakfast and room upgrades
  • Lower rewards rate than other Hilton Honors cards