American Express Hilton Honors Ascend Credit Card: Is It Worth Applying For?

American Express Hilton Honors Ascend Credit Card: Is It Worth Applying For?

A great hotel rewards credit card for those who spend big at grocery stores, restaurants and gas stations. Great for earning free nights at Hilton hotels.
Editor's Rating: 4.5

Editor's Rating

4.5

Credit Cards
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Disclaimer: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone. For a full list of our advertisers, see our disclosure page.

Opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the issuer. We may be compensated through the issuer’s Affiliate Program. For a full list of our advertisers see our disclosure page.

The Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express has replaced the old Hilton Surpass credit card—and most things have changed for the better. The annual fee has inceased by $20 (from $75 to $95), but the card now features new benefits, like a free weekend night award after your first anniversary of Card Membership. This single benefit is worth hundreds of dollars and makes paying $20 extra per year insignificant. As a credit card, the Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express is worth the consideration of any frequent Hilton guest.

Review: Is the Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express Worth It?

The Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express is a great hotel credit card for those who spend between $15,000 and $60,000 annually. Anyone below that range should consider the no-annual-fee version, while high spenders should go with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card—a card with a $450 annual fee and a suite of benefits worth much more.

Good For...Bad For...
Anyone spending over $15,000 per year.Consumers who want rewards with more flexibility and freedom.
People who want to earn free stays at Hilton hotels.

The defining characteristic of the Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express is the free weekend night award after your first anniversary of Card Membership. On average, we think this perk is worth about $143—more than enough to cover the $95 annual fee. However, if you're a deal hunter, you can score an even better bargain. For example, we were able to find a room at the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam where a single night can cost $700. You can read about the other perks of this credit card in the section below.

Consumers who aren't loyal to the Hilton brand can get better rewards and perks through other credit cards. If you're the type of credit card user who values flexibility and the ability to find the best rates—no matter the hotel—then the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a better choice. The Ultimate Rewards points you earn through this card can be traded in for points with 11 different loyalty programs, including both airlines and hotels. You can read more about this, and other credit card options, in the comparison section of our review.

Bottom Line: For frequent Hilton customers, the Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express can be a very good deal. The card offers enough to make its $95 annual fee worthwhile. However, we recommend checking out some alternatives (listed at the bottom of this article) before you apply.

Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express Benefits & Features

With every swipe of the Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express, users earn points that can be redeemed for stays at the affiliated hotel chain. You can get 12 Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar spent at a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio. When using this card within the United States at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations, you will earn 6 points per $1. Every other purchase gets you 3 points per $1.

The points you earn from this card at Hilton Properties are added to the "base points" that you would earn anyway from booking a stay with Hilton. You ordinarily earn 10 points per dollar with each stay. When you factor in the 25 percent bonus from the automatic Gold Status, plus the credit card bonus, that comes out to 24.5 points per dollar.

Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express
Annual Fee
$95
Purchase APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Credit Needed Good, Excellent
Foreign Transaction Fee None
Details
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Plus, earn a free weekend night award after your first anniversary of Card Membership. Offer ends 06/27/2018.
  • Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio.
  • Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Spend $40,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn Hilton Honors Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

Unlike its predecessor, the Surpass card, the Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express has no foreign transaction fees. That means you can use it abroad without incurring extra charges. The old version of this card used to charge 2.7 percent per international swipe.

What Are Hilton Honors Points Worth?

We consider a single Honors point to be worth approximately $0.006. You may have noticed that this card tends to be a lot more generous with the number of points it awards than most other credit cards. But these points, individually, are a lot less valuable than the typical reward point. The end rewards rate still ends up being favorable for this card, though not quite as impressive as the inflated points make it out to be.

To obtain the average value of a Hilton point, we sampled more than 15 different itineraries, including stays in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City–all across different dates. We divided the cost of a one-night stay in U.S. dollars by the cost in Honors points, to arrive at a value per point.

The value of your points also depends on the Hilton hotel category with which you book your stay. The higher the category, the nicer the hotel. Unfortunately, higher categories also give you a lesser value overall.

Category  # Number of Points Needed Value (cents)
1 5,000 1.83
2 10,000 1.17
3 20,000 0.59
4 30,000 0.53
5 30,000-40,000 0.46
6 30,000-50,000 0.42
7 30,000-60,000 0.46
8 40,000-70,000 0.40
9 50,000-80,000 0.43
10 70,000-95,000 0.43

You can read more about the Hilton Rewards program in our guide.

Priority Pass Membership (Lounge Access)

Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express cardholders are automatically granted membership to Priority Pass – a value of $249 per year. This membership grants people access to more than 900 participating airport lounges worldwide, which may make your next long layover slightly more enjoyable. Amenities include free WiFi, snacks, beverages, and in some cases showers. If you're frequently traveling through airports, you might find a lot of value in this kind of benefit.

You get 10 free passes each year. Each subsequent visit will cost you $27.

Hilton Gold/Diamond Status

The Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express comes with complimentary Gold status at Hilton Hotels. Without this perk, you could only get Gold status by booking 20 stays or 40 nights at Hilton properties per year. The benefits include:

  • A 25 percent boost to Honors base points earned
  • Every standard-rate fifth night free on stays of five nights or more
  • Late checkout
  • Digital check-in

Cardholders who spend at least $40,000 on purchases on their Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express inside of one calendar year will be awarded Diamond status–the highest loyalty status with the hotel. Normally, to get this benefit you would need to have 30 stays, 60 qualifying nights, or earn 120,000 base points. The benefits of Diamond status include a 50 percent point bonus on Hilton stays, room upgrades, and access to executive floor lounges at select properties (when available). Diamond card holders also receive all the benefits of Gold, Silver, and Blue membership.

How Does the Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express Compare Against Other Credit Cards?

To determine the value of the Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express, you should compare it against other available options. Below are some of this card's top competitors, and our thoughts on how this card performs when matched up against them.

Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express vs Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

There are two benefits that can make the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card a better pick than the Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express:

  • The second free weekend night benefit available to cardholders who spend at least $60,000 per year
  • The annual $250 credit toward airline incidentals (such as baggage fees, Wifi, and in-flight food.)

If you like at least one of these perks, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is likely a better choice, despite its high annual fee. The fee difference between these two credit cards is huge— $95 vs. $450. However, so long as you use at least one of the above-mentioned perks, the difference is canceled out. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card's other big perk is the $250 annual credit toward Hilton hotel purchases. So long as you use it every year, it effectively knocks down your annual fee to $200.

Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express vs Hilton Honors Card from American Express

The Hilton Honors Card from American Express is a much better option for people charging less than $15,000 to their credit card each year. The card doesn't come with as many benefits as any of the other credit cards affiliated with Hilton. There is no free weekend night available or any statement credit. In return, however, the Hilton Honors Card from American Express has no annual fee. If you're spending below that $15,000 threshold, it doesn't make sense to get any of the annual fee options. You'll be paying more for the card than you get out of it.

Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express vs Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is better-suited for travel aficionados who don't want to be tied to a single hotel chain. The rewards you earn through this card, so-called Ultimate Rewards, can be transferred to one of four hotel and seven airline loyalty programs. The list includes:

  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Korean AIr SKYPASS
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • The Ritz-Carlton Rewards
  • Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • United MileagePlus
  • Hyatt Gold Passport
  • Marriott Rewards

If you choose the Chase card, you'll be giving up that free weekend night perk. You have to decide whether the added flexibility the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card provides is worth the tradeoff. For readers who stay at Hilton Hotels multiple nights per year, the Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express will be undoubtedly better. On the other hand, if you're starting to use Airbnb or other services more frequently, you'll benefit more from the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

Comparison Tool

To arrive at a more comprehensive credit card suggestion, it may be worthwhile to play around with our tool, below. It will customize the net rewards you can expect out of each credit card by taking into account your spending.

Assumptions Based On Monthly Spend of: $1,430 Edit
General:
U.S. Gas Stations:
U.S. Supermarkets:
Airlines:
Hotel:
U.S. Restaurants:
Office:
Utilities:
Computing:
Card Annual Fee 2-yr Net Rewards Rate

The Net Rewards Rate is equal to the Rewards Value over two years divided by the total spending. The total spending is equal to the values entered into the tool and multiplied by 24 months. See the rewards Value note to see details on how it is calculated.

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. All estimates are based on the spend assumptions entered above (which you can edit).

Bonus Value

The bonus field shows our estimate for the value of the card’s welcome bonus. If the bonus is point or mile based, we multiply the total bonus points/miles by our estimate for their value to arrive at a dollar equivalent. We display $0 if there is no bonus or if the user doesn’t qualify for the bonus based on the current spending entered into the tool. All estimates are based on the spend assumptions entered above (which you can edit).

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

2-yr Rewards Value

The Rewards value is calculated by adding together the rewards earned from charging purchases to the card over two years and any welcome bonuses (if applicable). They are then multiplied by our estimated point/mile value, with any annual fees (if applicable) subtracted. All values are based on our own estimates for the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using a card and on the spend assumptions entered above (which you can edit).

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Hilton Honors Card from American Express
$0 3.12%
$375
Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors™ after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months.
$1,072
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Terms and Limitations Apply

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Point Value Rewards Value
Spending Rewards 139,440 x $0.005 = $697
Bonuses
75,000 x $0.005 = $375
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 1,072

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $0
APR 17.24%-26.24% Variable

Card Details

  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer ends 06/27/2018.
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Honors portfolio of brands.
  • Earn 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees. Enjoy international travel without additional fees on purchases made abroad.
  • Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status with your Card. Plus, spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn an upgrade to Hilton Honors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express
$95 3.20%
$500
$1,098
Graph Card More Details and Value Calculation

Terms and Limitations Apply

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Point Value Rewards Value
Spending Rewards 157,680 x $0.005 = $788
Bonuses
100,000 x $0.005 = $500
Less Annual Fees -$190
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 1,098

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $95
APR 17.24%-26.24% Variable
*Rates and Fees

Card Details

  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Plus, earn a free weekend night award after your first anniversary of Card Membership. Offer ends 06/27/2018.
  • Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio.
  • Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Spend $40,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn Hilton Honors Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card
$95 2.40%
$500
Earn 2 weekend nights after spending $2,500 in the first four months
$825
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 102,960 x $0.005 = $515
Bonuses
0 x $0.005 = $500
Less Annual Fees -$190
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 825

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $95
APR 15.99%

Card Details

  • Earn 2 weekend nights after spending $2,500 in the first four months
  • 10 HHonors Bonus Points for every $1 spent with a participating hotel or resort
  • 5 HHonors Bonus points for every $1 spent on airfare or car rentals
  • 3 points for every $1 spent otherwise
  • Get Hilton Honors Gold Status as a cardmember
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No caps and expiration on points if you use your card at least once a year
  • Earn an anniversary bonus for one weekend night at select hotels
  • No points cap

Comments and Questions

* See the online credit card application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button, you can review the credit card terms and conditions on the issuer's website.

Info about the following cards: American Express® Gold Card, Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card, Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, Hilton Honors Surpass® Credit Card, American Express® Blue Sky, American Express® Green Card, The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, The Plenti® Credit Card from Amex, Blue from American Express®, Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz, Bluebird, Centurion® Card from American Express, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, and Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card has been collected independently by ValuePenguin. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program. 

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Advertiser Disclosure: Some of the offers that appear on this website are from companies which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). The site does not review or include all companies or all available products. For more information please see our Advertiser Disclosure.