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Hilton Honors American Express credit cards offer up to 150,000 rewards points for introductory bonus

Summary

Whether you’re a hotel loyalty member, a world traveler, or just interested in weekend getaways, the Hilton Honors cards offer a great opportunity to earn an influx of rewards to use toward free night stays and elite membership statuses.

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American Express has upped the welcome bonuses for some Hilton Honors cards. New cardholders can now earn 150,000 bonus points with the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express, 130,000 points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card, 125,000 points with the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card and 90,000 points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card when they reach the required spend thresholds.

Comparing Hilton Honors cards

The four American Express Hilton cards share many similarities – each offers 3 points per dollar on general purchases, exclusive Hilton benefits and no foreign transaction fees. Where they differ is in introductory bonuses, annual fees, rewards rates and perks. Check out the table below to see how the cards compare:

Hilton Honors American Express
Hilton Honors American Express Card
Hilton Honors American Express Ascend
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card
Hilton Honors American Express Business
Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire
Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express
Rewards rate
  • 7 points per dollar at Hilton properties
  • 5 points per dollar on everyday spend (U.S. groceries, U.S. restaurants and U.S. gas stations)
  • 3 points per dollar on all other purchases
  • 12 points per dollar at Hilton properties
  • 6 points per dollar on everyday spend (U.S. groceries, U.S. restaurants and U.S. gas stations)
  • 3 points per dollar on all other purchases
  • 12 points per dollar at Hilton properties
  • 6 points per dollar on travel (air, car rental and U.S. restaurants)
  • 6 points per dollar on business spend (U.S. gas stations, U.S. shipping and U.S. wireless services)
  • 3 points per dollar on all other purchases
  • 14 points per dollar at Hilton properties
  • 7 points per dollar on travel (air, car rental and U.S. restaurants)
  • 3 points per dollar on all other purchases
Introductory bonus
  • 90,000 point when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months
  • Terms apply
  • 130,000 points when you spend $4,000 in the first 4 months
  • Terms apply
  • 125,000 points when you spend $3,000 in first 3 months
  • Terms apply
  • 150,000 points when you spend $4,000 in first 3 months
  • Terms apply
Annual fee$0$95$95$450
Estimated earnings in first year ($15,900 spend)$744$932$834$620

Which Hilton Honors card is better in the first year?

We value Hilton Honors points at approximately 0.5 cent per point – a fairly modest amount compared to many other travel rewards cards. However, once you factor in the large number of points you can earn from each card in the first year – thanks to generous introductory bonuses – you have the potential to get a lot of value out of the Hilton cards.

For example, the average consumer who spends $15,900 annually can earn approximately $294 worth of rewards each year from the Hilton Honors American Express card. Once you factor in the 90,000-point introductory bonus, that equals out to approximately $744 in the first year – not bad for a card that doesn’t charge an annual fee!

The Aspire card, by contrast, offers a whopping 150,000-point introductory bonus – bringing the value of the first year spend to approximately $1,070. However, once you subtract the card’s hefty $450 annual fee, you’ll earn close to $620 worth of rewards during the first year.

That said, the Aspire card offers a plethora of premium travel benefits that easily take the card’s value to another level for frequent travelers. See how the cards’ benefits compare:

Hilton Honors card benefits

Hilton HonorsHilton Honors SurpassHilton Honors BusinessHilton Honors Aspire
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status
  • Gold status after $20,000 spend in a calendar year
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status
  • Diamond status after $40,000 spend in a calendar year
  • 1 weekend night reward at Hilton property after $15,000 spend in calendar year
  • 10 free Priority Pass lounge passes
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status
  • Diamond status after $40,000 spend in a calendar year
  • 1 weekend night reward at Hilton property after $15,000 spend in calendar year
  • 2nd weekend night reward at Hilton property after an additional $45,000 spend in the same calendar year
  • 10 free Priority Pass Lounge passes
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status
  • 1 weekend night reward at Hilton property each year of card membership
  • 2nd weekend night reward at Hilton property after $60,000 spend in calendar year
  • Unlimited free Priority Pass Lounge passes
  • $250 airline fee credit
  • $250 Hilton Resorts credit
  • $100 luxury on-property credit
  • 24/7 concierge

While a few extra bonus points on travel and Hilton hotel purchases may seem nominal compared to the Aspire card’s $450 price tag, the card’s perks are worth a closer look. Frequent travelers and loyal Hilton customers can benefit from the 14 points per dollar earned at Hilton properties and the 7 points per dollar earned on travel. Combined with the airline and hotel credits, a cardholder will easily earn more than enough to cover the $450 fee – and then some. Not to mention, the card qualifies you for top-tier status in Hilton’s loyalty program, which comes with a host of additional benefits, including a 50 percent bonus on Hilton Honors base points.

Still, if you won’t be able to take advantage of all the perks the Aspire card has to offer, the Surpass card is a great alternative. At $95 per year, it offers complimentary Gold status, 10 complimentary Priority Pass lounge passes and 12 points per dollar at Hilton properties.

For business owners, the Hilton Honors Business card offers a nearly identical rewards structure and introductory bonus as the Aspire card – however, the spend threshold required to earn the bonus is $1,000 higher. But since the card also offers bonus points on travel and business purchases in lieu of grocery spending, it’s a better choice for business owners who focus most of their spending in those two categories.

Recent changes to the Hilton cards’ introductory bonuses

While, historically, introductory bonuses for the Hilton Honors cards have ranged from 50,000 to 125,000 points, the bonuses for the Aspire and Surpass cards are currently at their highest: The Aspire card offers 150,000 points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months, and the Surpass card offers 130,000 points when you spend $4,000 points in the first four months.

See the recent bonus changes below:

Hilton Honors American Express card bonus history

Change dateIntroductory bonus
July 18, 2019
  • 90,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months
  • Terms apply
Sept. 6, 2018
  • 75,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
  • Terms apply
June 28, 2018
  • 50,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
  • Terms apply
May 17, 2018
  • 75,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
  • Terms apply
Jan. 18, 201850,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
Aug. 31, 2017
  • 50,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
  • 25,000 additional points if you spend an additional $1,000 in first 6 months
June 1, 201750,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
March 23, 201780,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months

Hilton Honors Surpass card (formerly Hilton Honors Ascend) bonus history

Change dateIntroductory bonus
July 18, 2019
  • 130,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 4 months
  • Terms apply
Sept. 6, 2018
  • 125,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months
  • Terms apply
June 28, 2018
  • 100,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months
  • Terms apply
May 17, 2018
  • 100,000 points if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months
  • Offer ends June 27, 2018
  • Terms apply
Jan. 18, 2018
  • 75,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months
  • 25,000 additional points if you spend an additional $1,000 in first 6 months
Oct. 5, 201775,000 points if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months
Aug. 31, 2017100,000 points if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months
June 1, 201775,000 points if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months
March 23, 2017100,000 points if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months
Feb. 10, 201775,000 points if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months

Hilton Honors American Express Business card bonus history

Change dateIntroductory bonus
Sept. 6, 2018
  • 125,000 points if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months
  • Terms apply
June 28, 2018
  • 100,000 points if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months
  • Terms apply
May 17, 2018
  • 125,000 points if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months
  • Offer ends June 27, 2018
  • Terms apply
Jan. 18, 2018
  • 75,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months
  • 25,000 additional points if you spend $1,000 in first 6 months

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire card bonus history

Change dateIntroductory bonus
Sept. 6, 2018
  • 150,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months
  • Terms apply
Jan.18, 2018
  • 100,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months
  • Terms apply

Who is eligible to apply for a welcome bonus

American Express has one of the strictest introductory bonus policies in the industry, restricting cardholders to earning the bonus on a particular card only once in a lifetime. Applicants who currently own or who have previously owned the American Express Hilton or Hilton Surpass cards are not eligible for the bonuses on those cards.    

Best ways to use Hilton Honors bonus points

Hilton gives you a few different options for redeeming Hilton Honors points, but – as you can see from the chart below – you’re best off redeeming your points for either standard room rewards or Points & Money rewards and foregoing the other options. While Hilton Honors points are worth about 0.5 cent on average when redeemed for a standard room night, the remaining options return about half that value:

Hilton Honors redemption options

Point value (cents)Value of 150,000-point bonus
Average standard room rewards0.5$750
Average premium room rewards0.3$450
Points & Money0.5$750
Car rentals0.2$300
Cruise certificate0.2$300
On-property rewards0.2$300
Redemption experiencesVariesVaries
Amazon merchandise0.2$300
Donations (PointWorthy.com)0.25$375

Here are a few additional tips for stretching a 150,000-point bonus even further:

Look for standard rooms in the 5,000- to 20,000-point range

Unlike most hotel loyalty programs, Hilton doesn’t use a redemption chart with hotel tiers and required points for each tier. Instead, point values are dynamic, and can vary by hotel and by the day. However, each hotel is assigned a maximum number that points can range to. If you search for hotels by their point maximum, you will discover that some of the best values are to be found in the lower ranges (between 5,000 and 20,000 points). Not only can you really stretch your 150,000 bonus points and score anywhere from 5 to 20 free hotel nights, but the value of your points is much higher than average for this level of redemption – more than 1 cent per point for hotels in the 5,000-point range.

Average point value of a standard Hilton room by number of points required

Point value (cents)Value of 150,000-point bonus
5,000 points1.22$1,830
10,000 points0.99$1,485
20,000 points0.57$855
30,000 points0.39$585
40,000 points0.36$540
50,000 points0.35$525
60,000 points0.3$450
70,000 points0.35$525
80,000 points0.36$540
95,000 points0.44$660

Use the Points & Money option

Though Points & Money rewards are limited to participating hotels, the value on your points is good with the Points & Money option – around 0.5 cent per point on average and possibly more, depending on the hotel and time of year. Not only can you shave money off the cost of the room, but you can reduce taxes and resort fees when you use this option.

Book a five-night rewards stay and get the fifth night free

All the Hilton cards include a fifth night free benefit, which grants you a free night any time you book a standard rewards stay of five nights or longer. In other words, you can stretch your bonus even further if you book a stay of at least five nights.

Should you apply now?

Given American Express’ once-in-a-lifetime limit on welcome bonuses, you should carefully consider the history of each card’s bonuses before applying. That said, with the current elevated bonuses, now is the perfect time to apply for Hilton Honors cards.

One additional consideration: Earning as many rewards as possible in the beginning of the year is important if you want to take advantage of certain perks for the longest time possible. For example, the Hilton Honors, Surpass and Business cards let you upgrade your status after spending a certain amount within a calendar year. Similarly, the Surpass, Business and Aspire cards let you earn free weekend nights after reaching a certain spend threshold during a calendar year. A calendar year is from January 1 to December 31, regardless of when you open your card account.

See related: American Express Platinum card offers 100,000 bonus points through CardMatchEarn 75,000 bonus points with the American Express Business Platinum card

The editorial content below is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. However, we do receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners. Learn more about our advertising policy

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Published: July 18, 2019

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