Hilton Honors American Express Card review

Published: August 22, 2019

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Published: August 22, 2019

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Ratings Policy
Rewards Rating:
3.9 rating
3.9 rating
3.9 / 5
Rewards Value: 3.8
Annual Percentage Rate: 1.2
Rewards Flexibility: 4.3
Features: 3.0
Customer Experience 4.6

In a Nutshell:

The Hilton Honors card offers a generous number of bonus points on hotel and everyday purchases; but because Hilton’s Honors aren’t worth as much as the average credit card rewards point, cardholders need a larger number of points to purchase rewards-funded travel.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 7:1 Hilton hotel stays
  • 5:1 U.S. restaurant, U.S. supermarket and U.S. gas station purchases
  • 3:1 general purchases
  • Terms apply

Introductory Bonus

  • 90,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months
  • Terms apply

Annual Bonus
None

Annual Fee
$0 (See rates and fees)

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$477

APR
17.74-26.74% (See rates and fees)

Rewards Redemption
Pros:

  • Points don’t expire as long as you use card at least once every 12 months
  • No limit on number of points you can earn
  • No blackout dates or capacity controls
  • Redeem points for hotel stays, airfare, car rentals, cruises, shopping, dining or charity
  • Use partial points to book rewards
  • Use points to upgrade a reservation
  • Can transfer points to 41 airline partners

Cons:

  • Can only redeem points for travel through loyalty program
  • Can only use free night’s stay certificate if a standard room is available
  • Transfer rate for airline partners is poor

Customer Experience

Other Notable Features: Automatic silver status, 5th night free for every consecutive hotel stay, 15 percent bonus on Honors points, 500 point bonus when you reserve and pay with Hilton Honors card, 2nd guest stays free, express checkout, late checkout, no foreign transaction fee (See rates and fees), car rental insurance, baggage insurance, free roadside assistance, extended warranty, purchase and return protection, VIP access to select events

Hilton Honors American Express Card Review: More Details

One of the largest and most well-known hotel chains in the world, Hilton is a fan-favorite of frequent travelers. It’s loyalty program – Hilton Honors – offers numerous ways to earn and spend points and some of the best elite status benefits on the market. On the downside, the value of Hilton Honors points is inflated, so it’ll take you a bit more to reach your dream trip.

Enter co-branded Hilton Honors credit cards, which can help you earn more Hilton points by racking up rewards on your everyday purchases. The Hilton Honors American Express card is one of these, allowing cardholders to earn points on Hilton hotel stays as well as restaurant, U.S. supermarket, U.S. gas station and other general purchases – all for no annual fee. If you are trying to fast-track your way to your next reward night or inch a bit farther up the elite status tiers, the Hilton Honors American Express is a great choice.

Elevated introductory bonus

The Hilton Honors card is currently offering 90,000 points to new cardholders who spend $2,000 in the first three months. If you look at the recent history of the card’s bonus, this is the highest the bonus has ever been, so it’s a great to time to apply for the card.

It is important to note that Hilton Honors points are worth around half what the average rewards point is worth – so the bonus is not as lucrative as it may seem. Nevertheless, for a relatively low spend threshold, you can earn enough to score a free night in a higher tier Hilton hotel, or a few at a more moderately priced property. The bonus is one of the many features that make the Hilton Honors card an exceptional deal for a no-annual-fee card.

What are Hilton Honors points worth?

While racking up points with the Hilton Honors Amex is easy, you might not get quite as much value out of those points as you do with other rewards programs. We value Hilton Honors points at an average of 0.5 cents per point – one of the lowest values among any hotel or airline loyalty program.

Earning points

The Hilton Honors Amex has a great rewards rate for a hotel card, allowing cardholders to rack up points on a wide variety of common purchases. Users earn 7 points per dollar on Hilton hotel stays, 5 points per dollar on U.S. restaurant, U.S. supermarket and U.S. gas station purchases and 3 points per dollar on general purchases. Despite the inflated point value, most cardholders should be able to stockpile rewards easily with such a generous rate.

 

However, the card’s low point value takes a big toll on the overall value of your rewards, despite the card’s high earning rate. Here’s a quick look at what we estimate each dollar of spending gets you in rewards value among major hotel cards, factoring in the earning rate and estimated point value:

Hilton Honors American Express Card comparison

As you can see, the generous earning rate on the Hilton Honors Amex still helps it rate high among hotel rewards cards, but cards from loyalty programs with a higher point value – like World of Hyatt – can outpace the Hilton Honors Amex.

See Related: What are Hilton Honors points worth?

Hilton hotel network

The Hilton hotel network is widespread, with more than 5,000 properties in more than 100 countries – ranging from midlevel hotels to luxury resorts. Brands include the Waldorf Astoria, DoubleTree, Embassy Suites, Hampton and much more. No matter what kind of traveler you are, you can likely find a Hilton property for you wherever you are vacationing.

Redeeming points

Like many hotel cards, the redemption options on the Hilton Honors Amex are limited. You won’t be able to redeem your points for any cash value. Plus, the redemption value for non-reward night options is poor.

Hilton Honors redemption options

Redemption option Point value (cents)
Average standard room reward 0.5
Average premium room reward 0.3
Points & Money 0.5
Car rentals 0.2
Cruise certificate 0.2
On-property rewards 0.2
Experiences Varies
Amazon merchandise 0.2
Donations (PointWorthy.com) 0.25

To get the most out of your points, you’ll want to save them for reward night stays. On the plus side, Hilton is fairly flexible on using your points for free nights – as long a standard room is available, you can book it with points.

However, since Hilton doesn’t use a fixed rewards chart, the value of your points can fluctuate a lot, depending on your desired location and dates.

How many Hilton points do you need for a free night?

The amount of points required for a free night depends on the property and dates that you want to stay. Different property tiers come with a different range of points and eke a different value out of your points. Hilton reward night stays in a standard room start as low as 5,000 points and can cost 95,000 points or more. We found the best values among the lower-tiered properties.

Hilton standard room rewards

Minimum points required Average point value (cents)
5,000 1.22
10,000 0.99
20,000 0.57
30,000 0.39
40,000 0.36
50,000 0.35
60,000 0.30
70,000 0.35
80,000 0.36
95,000 0.44

Unfortunately, reward nights in the 5,000 to 10,000-point range are limited. To stretch your points, we recommend using them for stays at properties in the 20,000-point range.

To find out exactly how much your desired stay will cost you in points, check out Hilton’s website.

Elite status

One of the best perks of the Hilton Honors American Express card is automatic silver elite status in the loyalty program – a rare perk for a card with no annual fee. This benefit comes with a slew of bonuses that can make your hotel stays more luxurious. Here are a few of the most valuable offerings:

  • Free Wi-Fi – Though it might not seem like much, saving a few dollars on Wi-Fi each night can make a huge difference in your overall savings.
  • No resort fees on rewards stays – At some properties, Hilton charges daily resort fees that can add quite a bit to your bill. On any reward stay, however, those will be waived.
  • Late checkout – Enjoy a little extra snooze time with the late checkout perk.
  • Two water bottles per stay – Another small benefit, complimentary water bottles still add an additional level of luxury to your stay.
  • 5th night free on reward bookings – Card members are eligible for a free fifth night on any rewards booking. This is one of the most valuable perks offered for elite status members, saving savvy spenders hundreds of dollars on pricier vacations.

As a member of the Hilton Honors program, you’ll be able to continue to advance to higher tiers of elite status and earn even better perks.

See related: The benefits of elite status with Hilton Honors

Other benefits

In addition to all the perks that come with being a Hilton Honors silver elite status member, the Hilton Honors Amex comes with additional perks that can save you money while you shop and travel.

  • Free ShopRunner subscription – With your Hilton Honors Amex, you’ll automatically receive a subscription to ShopRunner, which offers free, two-day shipping from dozens of online retailers.
  • No foreign transaction fee – When you travel in another country, you won’t have to pay a surcharge on your transactions in another currency.
  • Car rental insurance – If you use your Hilton Honors Amex to book and pay for a car rental, you can receive secondary coverage in the case of damage or theft.
  • Travel accident insurance – In the case of accidental death or dismemberment while traveling on a common carrier, you can be covered for the fare charged to your card.
  • Extended warranty – Add up to two years to the original manufacturers warranty on eligible warranties of five years or less.

Keep in mind that while the card doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee, American Express cards are not accepted as widely abroad as they are in the U.S.

Customer experience

The Hilton Honors card is issued by American Express, which has one of the best customer service reputations among major credit card issuers. In J.D. Power’s 2018 customer satisfaction survey, American Express scored 830, ranking second out of 11 major issuers. The Amex app also rates well among users, rating 4.3 out of 5 in the Google Play Store and 4.9 out of 5 in the Apple App Store.

Approval odds

The Hilton Honors American Express Card is designed for users with good to excellent credit, so you’ll want to ensure you meet those qualifications before you apply. While American Express doesn’t have a hard and fast rule about how many cards you can have open with the issuer, it is also a good idea to stay under five open cards a time.

How does the Hilton Honors Amex compare to other Hilton cards?

While the Hilton Honors Amex offers a generous rewards rate for no annual fee, there are several Hilton Honors cards. Don’t forget to consider additional perks like elite status when considering which makes the most sense for you.


Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card 

Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
Rewards rate

  • 12 points per dollar on Hilton stays
  • 6 points per dollar on U.S. restaurant, U.S. supermarket and U.S. gas station purchases
  • 3 points per dollar on other purchases
Rewards rate

  • 14 points per dollar on Hilton stays
  • 7 points per dollar on airfare, car rentals and restaurants
  • 3 points per dollar on other purchases
Rewards rate

  • 12 points per dollar on Hilton hotel purchases
  • 6 points per dollar on select business and travel purchases
  • 3 points per dollar on other purchases
Welcome bonus

130,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 4 months

Welcome bonus

150,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months

Welcome bonus

125,000 points if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months

Annual fee

$95

Annual fee

$450

Annual fee

$95

Other things to know

  • Free weekend night each year you spend $15,000
  • Automatic gold elite status, plus automatic diamond status any year you spend $40,000
  • 10 free Priority Pass lounge passes
  • Terms apply
Other things to know

  • One free weekend night each year on your account anniversary
  • Additional weekend night reward each year you spend $60,000
  • Priority pass lounge access
  • $250 airline fee credit
  • $250 Hilton Resorts credit
  • $100 luxury on-property credit
  • Automatic diamond elite status
  • Terms apply
Other things to know

  • Free weekend night each year you spend $15,000
  • Automatic gold elite status, plus automatic diamond status any year you spend $40,000
  • 10 free Priority Pass lounge passes
  • Free employee cards with ability to set spend limits
  • Year-end summaries and Quickbooks downloads
  • Terms apply

Hilton Honors Surpass

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass card is a more midlevel option for Hilton enthusiasts, offering several perks at a modest $95 annual fee. It comes with a few more benefits than the Hilton Honors American Express card to offset the extra cost, including a free weekend night each year you spend $15,000, 10 free Priority Pass lounge passes and automatic gold elite status. Gold elite status comes with a few valuable perks not offered to silver members – such as space-available room upgrades and free continental breakfast.

Hilton Honors Aspire

For frequent travelers who enjoy luxury perks, American Express also offers the Hilton Honors Aspire card. It comes with a steep $450 annual fee, but it is packed to the brim with plush perks. Cardholders can enjoy unlimited Priority Pass access (more than 1,000 locations) for themselves and two complimentary guests, a free weekend night at a Hilton property each year on their account anniversary, a $250 airline fee credit for incidental charges with a designated airline, up to $250 in Hilton Resort credits for incidentals on qualifying stays and much more. If you already spend money on these kinds of charges, you can more than offset the annual fee with these benefits.

On top of these credits and perks, Aspire cardholders are automatically granted Hilton Honors diamond elite status. This comes with executive lounge access at participating locations and a 48-hour room guarantee.

Hilton Honors Business

Similar to the Hilton Honors Ascend, the Hilton Honors Business card charges a $95 annual fee and offers comparable perks. It also comes with some extras for small business owners, including free employee cards with the ability to set spend limits and year-end summaries.

Who should apply for the Hilton Honors card?

  • Hilton loyalists who want to earn points toward free stays on everyday purchases.
  • More infrequent travelers who want to earn more Hilton Honors points without paying an annual fee.
  • Cardholders who want automatic elite status.

How to use the Hilton Honors card:

  • Spend at least $2,000 in the first three months to earn the introductory bonus.
  • Stay at a Hilton hotel when you travel to rack up points.
  • Use your card for all Hilton, U.S. restaurant, U.S. supermarket and U.S. gas station purchases.
  • Take advantage of the Hilton Honors Shop-to-Earn Mall shopping portal and dining program to earn a few extra points.
  • Book your rewards stays in five-night increments to earn a free fifth night.

Is the Hilton Honors card worth it?

The Hilton Honors Amex offers some of the best hotel benefits available for a hotel card with no annual fee. If you frequent Hilton properties, it is a great way to rack up a few extra points on the spending you already do – and fast-track your way to your next reward night. Plus, you’ll enjoy a few elite status benefits on your next stay.

For more frequent travelers who don’t mind paying an annual fee for additional perks, check out the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card and Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.

See Related: 5 tips for choosing the right hotel credit card, Is it worth it to transfer Hilton hotel points to American Airlines?

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, please click here

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