Hitting the road or taking to the skies for a business conference, summer vacation with family, quick weekend getaway or another reason? There’s a good chance there’s a DoubleTree Inn, an Embassy Suites, a Waldorf Astoria or some other Hilton-branded property waiting for you at or near your destination. The potential to use rewards points to pay for hotel visits, combined with $0 annual fee, is one appealing aspect of the Hilton Honors American Express Card. Virginia-based Hilton Worldwide Holdings owns, manages or franchises nearly 5,900 hotels and resorts, including 939,000 rooms in 114 countries and territories, so there are abundant opportunities to use points.
Hilton Honors American Express Card Benefits & Features
Hilton Honors American Express Card
- Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
- 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.
If you have good-to-excellent credit, you have strong odds to get approved for the Hilton Honors American Express Card. However, the card’s annual percentage rate (APR), at 15.74%-24.74% Variable, is comparatively high, even at the low end of that range. For that and a few other reasons, the Hilton Honors American Express Card may be best used as a supplemental, rather than primary, credit card.
Loyalty has its rewards
The Hilton Honors American Express Card is one of a few credit cards tied to the Hilton Honors loyalty program. If you use the card to earn the welcome bonus and stay at a Hilton property, you can tap into any of the other bonus spending categories.
For example, the Silver Status you get with the card gets you a 20% bonus on Hilton Honors Base Points earned from a stay at a Hilton Honors location. Additionally, if you stay five nights or more, the fifth night is free through the card’s Standard Room Rewards (if booked using points).
Spend $20,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year and you gain Gold Status, perks of which include potential room upgrades and complimentary breakfast at all hotels.
Have Hilton, will travel
Which way to the beach? Many of the world’s top vacation destinations are dotted with Hilton properties. Hawaii, for example, has 20 Hilton hotels. Waldorf Astoria hotels can be found in Paris, Rome, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Key West, Fla., Los Cabos, Mexico, among other locations.
Additionally, the Hilton Honors American Express Card does not charge any foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside the U.S. (a common feature among many credit cards, though note that foreign transaction fees can still be charged at some ATMs or by some merchants).
Cardholders also have access to travel accident insurance and can call the card’s Global Assist Hotline before, during or after a trip to help with various matters, such as a lost passport, missing luggage or illness.
Pump up the volume on your points
Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in eligible purchases on your Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Points can be generated and amplified a few different ways. For example, for each dollar of eligible purchases you charge directly with a participating Hilton hotel or resort, you could earn 7x that amount in points. Each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations earns 5X points.
As with any credit card, it’s critical to have a firm grasp of what “eligible” means (the word appears 49 times in Hilton Honors American Express Card’s 7,000-word terms and conditions). Study the terms and conditions carefully to make sure you understand what will and will not generate points for you.
Beware balance transfer fees and high APR
This isn’t a card you’d want to use for balance transfers or revolving a balance on. The Hilton Honors American Express Card charges a 15.74%-24.74% Variable on balance transfers requested within 60 days of account opening based on your creditworthiness and other factors. If you have good-to-excellent credit and rewards aren’t a high priority, you can do better than that with other credit cards that offer 0% APR balance transfer deals for a specified period of time and other more favorable terms. Plus, with the Hilton Honors American Express Card you only have 60 days from account opening to request a balance transfer.
The Hilton Honors American Express Card’s APR, at 15.74%-24.74% Variable, is high enough to warrant always paying your balance in full every month. If you’re a Hilton fan, by all means, enjoy your stay – just be sure to pay off any card balances every month to avoid having interest charges pile up.
Rewards pale versus other cards, plus other drawbacks
Other credit cards for people with good-to-excellent FICO scores are more generous with their rewards programs, including another Hilton-branded American Express offering, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card (details below). And if you aren’t a frequent Hilton guest, you may want to explore other travel rewards cards that allow you to redeem points for a variety of hotel or airline options.
ValuePenguin's Verdict: Not rewarding enough to be an everyday card
Compared to other credit cards, the Hilton Honors American Express Card’s rewards earning potential on non-bonus spending don’t stack up, at least enough to justify placing this card in the front slot of your wallet. Other no-annual-fee cards, such as the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card, offer rewards rates and as well as cash back, which is more valuable than loyalty points. Even if you’re seeking a supplemental card, it may make more sense to consider one of the American Express Hilton cards with annual fees (provided you spend a lot at Hilton properties). The extra rewards you earn will probably be more than worth the fees you pay, as long as you never carry a balance.
Alternatives to the Hilton Honors American Express Card
Is the Hilton Honors American Express Card right for you? To get a sense of a possible answer, it helps to know what other options may be available. Below are a few comparisons against similar cards:
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
A favorite among many travelers, this card generates 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide.. Other features include a generous signup bonus – the card has one of the best welcome offers out there - and Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, which can be transferred to any of 13 partner hotel and airline programs (including Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®, United MileagePlus® and Marriott Bonvoy™).
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has an APR of 15.99% - 22.99% Variable, carries a $95 annual fee and $0 foreign transaction fees, plus offers a slew of travel friendly perks and protections.
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
New cardholders can secure the following welcome bonus equivalent to $500 in travel - earn Earn a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening,equal to $500 in travel. There’s an annual fee of $95.
Points can be redeemed for a variety of travel reservations or used as a statement credit with the card’s Purchase Eraser, a tool where cardholders can apply points against travel charges. Account holders are rewarded with 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day, whatever the vendor and the Venture miles accumulated can be redeemed for travel directly from Capital One or transferred to 14 travel partners.
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
If you’re still set on a Hilton credit card, but want more perks than what’s offered with the basic Hilton Honors American Express Card, you may want to take a look at the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card. There’s a $95 annual fee for this card, but the welcome bonus is much more generous. Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Other perks include a free weekend night award after you spend $15,000 on purchases within a calendar year. The combination of the sign-up bonus and the free weekend night perk more than offsets the reasonable annual fee.
The biggest spenders may want to consider the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, which charges a $450 annual fee but offers a wide array of benefits worth much more. Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases on your Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card also boasts a variety of credits, including a free weekend night every calendar year as well as a $250 Hilton resort statement credit – all of which more than offset the high annual fee if you take advantage of them.
The information related to the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply.