The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card review: Excellent hotel rewards for loyal business travelers
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The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card Overview
Even as Hilton’s only business credit card, the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card is one of the best branded hotel cards on the market for its $95 annual fee.
Despite its low-value points, this card comes with enough reward opportunities across its bonus categories to offset this downside. The Hilton Honors Business card’s loyalty benefits and redemption choices add to its overall value and help solidify it as one of the overall best Hilton cards for brand loyalists.
However, the hotel-oriented rewards might mean that another general-purpose travel card is a better option for business owners less concerned with where they stay.
What are the pros and cons?
- This card carries a $95 annual fee, which may hard to justify if you don’t take advantage of loyalty privileges and perks
- Hilton Honors points are only worth 0.6 cents on average — a slightly lower value than most competing hotels’ rewards
- Despite multiple reward redemption options, general-purpose business travel cards may be more valuable if you spend more in non-hotel bonus categories
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards rate: 12X points on hotels and resorts in Hilton portfolio, 6X points on select business (U.S. gas stations, U.S. cellphone service providers and U.S. shipping purchases) and travel purchases (U.S. restaurants, airfare booked through Amex Travel and select car rentals) with 3X points on all other purchases
- Welcome offer: 130,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after spending $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership
- Annual fee: $95
- Purchase intro APR: N/A
- Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
- Regular APR: 18.74 percent to 27.74 percent variable
Current welcome offer
New cardholders have the opportunity to earn 130,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in purchases within their first three months of card membership.
Based on Bankrate’s recent valuation, Hilton Honors points are worth about 0.6 cents apiece. With only a $95 annual fee and a $3,000 spending requirement, a welcome bonus weighing in at approximately $780 value is pretty hefty compared to other travel cards. But considering the previous offer also tacked on a Free Night Reward for the same spending requirement, the current bonus is a clear downgrade.
While this bonus still offers solid value, the card’s history has shown the potential for a better deal down the line if you’re in no rush to apply now.
Like other hotels’ co-branded credit cards, the Hilton Honors Amex Business card earns loyalty points mainly from direct Hilton property purchases. But the card stands out from the competition with multiple ways to earn Hilton Honors points and complimentary elite status benefits.
How you earn
The card’s 12X points on direct purchases at any of the 7,000+ Hilton portfolio hotels and resorts is hands-down the best way to rack up rewards. But if your business travel is limited, taking advantage of the 6X points categories might be easier. You can earn 6X points on select business expenses, including U.S. gas station purchases, U.S. wireless telephone service provider purchases and U.S. shipping purchases. You’ll also receive 6X points on select travel for U.S. restaurant purchases, flights booked through airlines or Amex Travel and car rentals with eligible companies.
For other spending outside typical bonus categories, you’ll earn 3X points on all other purchases.
These already provide excellent category coverage and consistent reward opportunities compared to typical co-branded cards. However, there are even more ways to earn bonus points outside your base categories as a Hilton Honors program member:
- 3X points on Lyft rides by linking your Hilton Honors account
- 2X to 8X points at restaurants (and occasional intro bonuses) with the Hilton Honors Dining program
- Up to 5,000 points and extra discounts per car rental with Alamo, Enterprise or National Rental Car
- 10,000 points every 10 nights with your Hilton stay milestone after you’ve stayed 30 nights in a calendar year (40 nights after 2022) as a Gold Status member. Then, 30,000 points every 10 nights after staying 60 nights in a calendar year.
How to redeem
One of the upsides to the Hilton Honors program is the redemption option variety, especially when compared to similar programs like Marriott Bonvoy.
You can use the points you earn alongside the 130,000 earned from the welcome offer to book free nights, experiences (like dining and concerts), rental cars and Lyft rides. Alternatively, you can shop with points through the Hilton portal and Amazon.com, or transfer points to other accounts or partner travel programs.
As a hotel credit card, your best value will probably be from booking complimentary nights. Points can either cover the entire stay, or you can use cash to pay the remainder.
How much are the rewards worth?
Hilton uses a dynamic pricing model with point redemption ranges instead of a cut-and-dry rewards chart, so your point value could vary depending on the property, time and location that you book for. However, our latest point valuation gauges Hilton Honors points’ average value at 0.6 cents. This puts them at just a little more than half the value of many other travel cards.
In order to maximize these inflated points, your best bet is to redeem for rooms well in advance and outside peak travel season. Stronger point values aren’t guaranteed, but we’ve found using your points at mid-tier and luxury properties and booking your stay 11 months ahead provide a better chance at receiving more value than 0.6 cents per point.
Further, your point value dips if you redeem for anything other than reward nights. For example, points normally transfer to other partner programs at a 10:1 ratio, and it takes 500 points to equal a dollar (reducing them to 0.2 cents each) toward eligible Amazon purchases.
Other cardholder perks
Although the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card carries a few helpful shopping and travel protections like baggage insurance, the main attractions are the loyalty program benefits that save you money and grant luxury perks.
Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold Status and Diamond Status upgrade
All Hilton Honors American Express Business cardholders receive complimentary Gold Status, which opens the door to loyalty benefits such as bonus amenity privileges, room upgrades and new reward-earning opportunities.
For example, you can earn 10,000 bonus points every 10 nights after you’ve stayed 30 nights within a calendar year (40 nights after 2022). Staying 60 nights in a calendar year will earn you 30,000 milestone bonus points every 10 nights.
Thanks to your complimentary Hilton Honors Gold Status, you’ll also earn 80 percent more “base points” per dollar spent on your Hilton stay as an elite member. Base points are essentially extra points earned on your stay solely through the Hilton Honors loyalty program (not your card spend) but also count toward your next elite status tier.
All Hilton Honors members earn 10X base points on most Hilton stays, but your Gold Status base-point boost (18X base points) adds up to a whopping 30X points on Hilton stays when using your card. Here’s an example based on a $250 one-night stay and our 0.6-cent average point value:
- Points from card spending: 12 points per dollar X $250 stay = 3,000 points ($18 rewards value)
- Points from Hilton Honors Gold Status: 10 points per dollar + 80 percent Gold Status boost = 18 points per dollar; 18 points per dollar X $250 stay = 4,500 points ($27 rewards value)
- Total points earned: 3,000 points from card spending + 4,500 points from Hilton Honors Gold Status = 7,500 points ($45 rewards value)
Hilton Honors Free Weekend Night Rewards
You’ll already earn every fifth night free on reward stays with your complimentary Gold Status, but you can also obtain a “Free Weekend Night Reward” after spending $15,000 on purchases within a calendar year. A second Weekend Night Reward is up for grabs after spending $60,000 within a calendar year.
This benefit is extremely valuable, especially for individuals that can devote that level of spending on business expenses. If you’re able to book your rewards nights in five-night increments or longer, you can combine a free fifth night with your regular rewards earnings and the free weekend night certificates, meaning it’s feasible to receive a free week-long stay at a Hilton property on an annual basis.
Complimentary Priority Pass visits
If you need an airport haven during your business trip, the Hilton Honors Amex Business card provides you with 10 complimentary visits each year to any of Priority Pass Select’s 1,200+ airport lounges around the world once your card is enrolled into the Priority Pass Select program.
This isn’t the best card for airport lounge access, however, since you’re charged the normal lounge admission if you run out before your account anniversary date and there are no guest passes.
Rates and fees
The $95 annual fee makes the Hilton Honors American Express Business card a good option for startups and small businesses, but make sure you can offset the $95. If the loyalty privileges aren’t valuable enough to you or you won’t spend enough to obtain the Free Weekend Night Reward, you only need to spend $1,320 a year in your 12X-point bonus category to cover the annual fee with rewards (or, about $528 per year on Hilton stays combined with your Gold Status’ base point boost). Otherwise, you might do better with a no-annual-fee business card.
You also won’t be charged foreign transaction fees in case your business takes you overseas. The downside is that there aren’t any 0 percent intro APR offers to shield you from the 18.74 percent to 27.74 percent variable ongoing APR — though this isn’t uncommon on a business card.
How the Hilton Honors American Express Business card compares to other hotel cards
Ultimately, the Hilton Honors Amex Business card offers decent benefits and reward-earning power with its well-rounded list of bonus categories and loyalty perks. But compared to the higher-priced Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card, which charges a $125 annual fee, the Hilton Amex Business card’s rewards are less valuable and the card doesn’t guarantee free nights every year like Marriott’s business card can.
Either way, those two cards will tie your rewards to specific hotel chains. The best option for the price may be to get a general-purpose travel card instead. If you’re less picky about where you stay, you’ll get much more say about where to apply your rewards across each leg of your journey.
For no annual fee, The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express provides flat-rate 2X Membership Rewards points on your first $50,000 in purchases, then 1X points. These Amex points are more valuable and flexible, but you can also convert those rewards to Hilton Honors points if you’d like.
Hilton Honors American Express Business Card vs. Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card
When it comes to picking the best hotel-branded business card for you, the largest factor to consider is what chain you prefer. Because both Hilton and Marriott have significant global hotel networks, the next aspect to focus on is value. The Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card has a higher annual fee of $125, but the card’s annual Free Night Award — worth up to 35,000 points — more than recoups your yearly fee. Meanwhile, Hilton’s business card requires you to spend $15,000 each year for a similar Free Weekend Night Reward, which makes the Marriott business card’s annual fee a bit easier to recoup without eating into your hard-earned rewards.
Speaking of rewards, our latest point valuation estimates Hilton points (0.6 cents each) are worth slightly less than Marriott points (0.7 cents each) on average. Both cards even reward similar bonus categories, but the Marriott Bonvoy Business card’s up to 18.5X points on Marriott purchases (6X points plus its 12.5X Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status boost) can’t catch up to the Hilton business card’s up to 30X points on Hilton stays (thanks to its Gold Status base point boost) if you’re focused on hotel purchases.
However, whether either card is the right fit for you is easily determined by which brand (and loyalty program features) you prefer and which card’s benefits better fit your spending. If you don’t have a preferred hotel brand, weigh these differences or apply for a general travel card that rewards hotel stays.
Hilton Honors American Express Business Card vs. The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express
The Blue Business Plus is another interesting choice if you’re in the market for an American Express business card. While its flat-rate rewards program doesn’t seem as lucrative as the Hilton Amex Business card’s on paper, it’s a great choice for business owners with startup expenses or without a specialized budget yet. This card does not charge an annual fee and is much more flexible, earning 2X Membership Rewards points on all purchases (up to $50,000 per year, then 1X points). Your points can be redeemed for travel outside hotels as well, and can be worth 2.1 cents each with the right Amex transfer partner (Hilton being one of them, although a less valuable option). However, the Blue Business Plus may not be the best fit for businesses that spend over the annual $50,000 spending cap on rewards.
When deciding between these two cards, it’s important to evaluate your spending habits and goals. If your company is relatively new and you want to earn rewards on startup expenses, the Blue Business Plus is a great option that allows the cardmember to redeem rewards in a variety of categories or transfer them to one of Amex’s many hotel and airline partners. If business travel is a large expense for your company and you value elite status benefits, the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card is a more prudent choice.
Best cards to pair with the Hilton Honors American Express Business card
The Hilton Honors Amex Business card pairs particularly well with other American Express credit cards, since Membership Rewards can be exchanged for Hilton Honors points. The Blue Business Plus card can provide better rewards on any kind of business expense, for example. (Keep in mind that you might want to hold onto your Amex rewards instead of transferring them to Hilton since they’re more versatile.)
Similarly, you might want to look into a card that can earn you rewards on other travel expenses at a higher rate, like a general travel card. For the same $95 annual fee, the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card earns 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on the first $150,000 you spend each account anniversary year on travel, shipping purchases, internet/cable/phone services and select advertising purchases.
If you’re a Hilton loyalist and want to maximize your stays with free nights and additional rewards, the consumer Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card could support the Hilton Honors Amex Business card since it offers a multitude of hotel and travel credits, complimentary Diamond Status along with 7X Hilton points on flights booked directly with airlines or via American Express Travel. However, its $450 annual fee and better 14X-point starting rewards rate on Hilton purchases steps on the Hilton Business card’s toes unless you can justify this sizable additional fee.
Bankrate’s Take: Is the Hilton Honors American Express Business card worth it?
Despite being Hilton’s only business card, the Hilton Honors American Express Business card still holds its own as one of the best Hilton cards. “Hilton properties can be found in big cities and small towns all over the U.S. and across the world, which makes Hilton one of the top hotel chains for business travelers,” says credit card expert Stephanie Zito. Business owners that are loyal Hilton guests will find a lot of value in the elite status benefits and reward bonus categories for everyday business expenses.
The reward redemption options are also more diverse than several other hotel cards, but the inflated points system and niche card features could make a general-purpose travel card a better deal for many small business owners.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Business card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus card from American Express, please click here.
All information about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Credit Card has been collected independently by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.