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- The Hilton Honors American Express Card is the only no-annual-fee option among co-branded Hilton credit cards
- With the card, you could earn up to 19X bonus points when using it to book hotel stays at Hilton properties, thanks to its automatic Silver elite status
- Silver elite status also grants you Hilton's fifth award night for free
There are several factors to consider before you choose a hotel credit card, the most important of which is the hotel loyalty program you want to earn points in. Some hotel rewards programs let you access a lot more properties than others, and some have better perks than others.
The Hilton Honors program is where I focus most of my time and energy. It has more than 6,500 properties you can book with points in 119 countries around the globe, and I like the hotel and resort options in places I travel.
In fact, some of the best hotels I have ever stayed in are bookable with Hilton Honors points, ranging from Zemi Beach House in Anguilla to the Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik in Croatia. No matter which Hilton property I have chosen to spend time in, I have rarely been disappointed.
What to love about the Hilton Honors American Express Card
While I had the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Credit Card* for several years, I ultimately downgraded that card to the Hilton Honors American Express Card in 2020. I made this decision because I was traveling less often during the pandemic. I was also trying to reduce redundant credit card benefits I had across all my travel credit cards.
Either way, I have grown to love the Hilton Honors American Express Card, and I plan to keep it for the long haul. Here’s why.
No annual fee
First off, the Hilton Honors American Express Card does not charge an annual fee. In fact, it’s the only Hilton credit card that doesn’t. That makes the Hilton Honors American Express Card easy to keep around even during periods when I’m traveling less.
Complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status benefits
The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire gave me automatic Hilton Diamond status, and, while I definitely miss it, the Hilton Honors American Express gives cardholders automatic Silver status.
While the perks aren’t as robust as what you get with Diamond status, 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 rewards you a fifth award night for free 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 started at 67,000 points per night) for 335,000 Hilton Honors points instead of 402,000.
The Hilton Honors American Express Card also lets me take advantage of Amex Offers, which I use to earn cash back or score special savings on eligible purchases. While Amex Offers change over time, I frequently earn $5 to $25 in cash back on items I would normally buy anyway.
Some example offers shown in my Hilton Honors American Express Card account right now, at the time of writing, include:
- Spend $75 or more at hivebrands.com, get $25 back.
- Spend $500 or more at Avocado Green Mattress, get $100 back.
- Spend $30 or more at stumptowncoffee.com, get $6 back.
The best part about Amex Offers is that the program’s rewards supplement the rewards you earn for using your credit card. These offers are also easy to use. All you have to do is log in to your account at Amex.com or the American Express mobile app, find an Amex Offer you want and click “Add to Card.” Once you’ve made the qualifying purchase, the rewards will automatically appear on your account.
No foreign transaction fees
The Hilton Honors American Express Card also comes with no foreign transaction fees, which makes it a good option for use abroad. This is particularly important for me since most of the Hilton properties I stay in tend to be outside the U.S.
It’s best to use a Hilton credit card when you stay with the hotel brand because of the increased earning rate on Hilton purchases, if you’re both a Hilton Honors member and a Hilton Honors American Express cardholder. Good thing the card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, or else these fees could eat what you earn in bonus points by staying at a Hilton hotel.
Generous rewards at Hilton properties
Speaking of rewards, the Hilton Honors American Express Card offers 7X points on paid stays with the Hilton brand. In addition, the Silver elite status lets you earn 20 percent more on the base-points rate (10X points), making your rate 12X points by participating in Hilton Honors. Combining the Silver status rate with the card’s rate, you can earn up to 19X points. With Hilton Honors points worth around 0.6 cents each, the rewards will save you a lot of money when you book your next hotel stay using points.
The card’s rewards don’t stop at hotel properties though. The card also earns 5X points at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and U.S. restaurants, plus 3X points on all other purchases.
The bottom line
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?
Before you sign up for this card, however, it makes sense to take a closer look at all the best cards out there, including American Express credit cards, other Hilton credit cards and cards from other hotel loyalty brands. There are quite a few options to consider, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages. With some research and planning, you’re bound to find the right hotel credit card for your needs and budget.
*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.