|Rewards Rating:||4.2 / 5|
|Annual Percentage Rate:||1.2|
In a Nutshell:
A good value for Hilton hotel fans, the Honors Ascend card makes it easy to quickly earn free night’s stays by offering a substantial introductory bonus and an ample point bonus on gas, restaurant, airfare and hotel purchases. (Terms apply)
Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
Other Notable Features: Automatic gold status, Diamond status each year you spend $40,000, 25% bonus on Honors base points, free weekend night each year you spend $15,000, 5th night free, free room upgrades, 10 free Priority Pass lounge passes, no foreign transaction fee (See rates and fees), baggage insurance, return protection, purchase protection, entertainment access
Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card Review: More Details
With a generous introductory bonus, great earning rate and plenty of additional perks, the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend card is a rewarding option for any Hilton loyalist. For a modest $95 annual fee, the Ascend card is packed with value.
The intro bonus on the Hilton Honors Ascend card is one of the largest available among any rewards card – a whopping 125,000 points if you spend $2,000 in the first three months. Despite the fact that Hilton Honors points are inflated and worth around half of the average rewards point, this is still an incredibly valuable offer. If you use all these points at the lowest tier of Hilton hotel, you can get up to 25 free nights.
Unfortunately, the bonus is only available to new Hilton Honors Ascend cardholders. If you have ever had the card (or the now retired Hilton Honors Surpass card), you won’t qualify for the offer.
On top of a generous introductory bonus the Hilton Honors Ascend includes a free weekend night any year you spend $15,000. This is within our estimated spend level for the average cardholder and can save you a lot on a rewards night stay – especially when you pair it with other rewards or a fifth night free (read on for more information on this perk).
Unlike many hotel rewards cards, racking up points on the Hilton Honors Ascend is easy. Cardholders not only earn a generous rate on Hilton stays, but also on a variety of everyday charges. Users earn 12 points per dollar on select Hilton properties, 6 points per dollar on U.S. restaurant, U.S. supermarket and U.S. gas station purchases and 3 points per dollar on general purchases. This makes it simple to stockpile rewards for your next free night, even if you don’t have a Hilton stay planned in the near future.
This is a very lucrative earning rate, but keep in mind that Hilton points don’t stretch quite as far as the average rewards point.
What are Hilton Honors points worth?
One major drawback to this card is the fact that Hilton Honors points are one of the lowest-valued rewards program currencies. We estimate Hilton points are worth around 0.5 cents per point when redeemed for a free night reward.
This low value makes a big impact on the overall value of the rewards you earn, knocking down what seems like a very high earning rate. Nevertheless, the Hilton Honors Ascend card is very lucrative. 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 hotel network
The Hilton hotel network is very widespread, with more than 5,000 properties in more than 100 countries around the globe. Hilton brands include everything from luxury resorts like the Waldorf Astoria to midlevel hotels like DoubleTree or Embassy Suites. Whether you are a budget or luxury traveler, you can likely find a Hilton property for you wherever you vacation.
Once you’ve racked up Hilton Honors points, you have a few different ways to redeem them. Unfortunately, like many hotel cards, you won’t be able to redeem your points for cash back or a statement credit. However, there are plenty of different purchases you can make with rewards.
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|
As you can see, non-reward night redemptions don’t get very much value out of your points. To ensure you get the most out of your rewards, you’ll want to save them for hotel stays. Hilton doesn’t impose any blackout dates, so if a standard room is available, you can book it with points. Just keep in mind that Hilton doesn’t use a fixed rewards chart, so more popular dates and locations might be a bit pricier.
See Related: Best ways to use Hilton Honors points
How many Hilton points do you need for a free night?
The amount of Hilton Honors points you’ll need to save for a free night depends on the property and dates that you want to stay. Each property tier comes with a range of costs and gets a different average value out of your points. Stays in lower-tiered properties start as low as 5,000 points, but higher tiers can cost 95,000 points or more. We found the best point values among the lower-tiered properties.
Hilton standard room rewards
|Minimum points required||Average point value (cents)|
Unfortunately, eligible reward night rooms in the 5,000 to 10,000-point range are limited. To stretch your points, we recommend using rewards for stays at properties in the 20,000-point range. You can find out exactly how much your desired stay will cost by searching on Hilton’s website.
With the Ascend card, you’ll be granted automatic gold status within Hilton Honors. The benefit comes with several perks that can make your next stay much more relaxed. Here are a few of the most valuable perks that come with gold status:
- Free Wi-Fi – Though it might not seem like the most valuable benefit, saving a few dollar on Wi-Fi each night can add to your overall savings.
- No resort fees on rewards stays – Hilton charges daily resort fees at some properties, but as a gold member these are waived.
- Late checkout – Sleep in a bit on your next stay with late checkout.
- Two water bottles per stay – A small perk, complimentary water bottles add a bit of extra luxury to your stay.
- Space-available room upgrades – As long as there is a room available, you can get an upgraded room for free at select Hilton brands.
- Continental breakfast – Enjoy a complimentary breakfast at most Hilton hotels.
- 5th night free on reward bookings – One of the most valuable Hilton Honors perks, elite status members enjoy the fifth night free on rewards stays. This can save hundreds on pricier vacations.
Additionally, you can be bumped up to diamond status any year you spend at least $40,000 on your Hilton Ascend card. This is a pretty high spend threshold to reach, but if you can meet it, you’ll enjoy even plusher perks – including executive lounge access at participating properties.
See Related: The benefits of elite status with Hilton Honors,
On top of elite status perks, Hilton Honors Ascend cardholders get 10 free Priority Pass lounge passes each year. There are more than 1,200 of these plush lounges around the globe, so you can enjoy a bit of extra comfort wherever you are travelling.
See Related: Guide to Priority Pass lounges
Unfortunately, the Priority Pass lounge passes that come with the Ascend card don’t include any guest access. If you want to bring a fellow traveler into the lounge, you will either need to use one of your 10 passes or purchase their individual entrance.
If unlimited lounge access – including the ability to bring guests – is an important perk for your travels, the luxury Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card allows you to visit Priority Pass lounges as many times as you’d like with two complimentary guests.
The Hilton Honors Ascend card also comes with several extra perks that make it a valuable card for frequent travelers – beyond benefits at Hilton properties.
- Free ShopRunner subscription – As an American Express card, the Ascend offers a free ShopRunner subscription, which provides free, two-day shipping from dozens of online retailers.
- No foreign transaction fee – You won’t be charged anything extra on foreign transactions.
- Car rental insurance – If you use your Ascend to book and pay for a rental car, you can receive secondary coverage in the case of damage or theft.
- Travel accident insurance – For fares charged to your card, you can be covered in the case of accidental death or dismemberment while traveling by common carrier.
- Extended warranty – On eligible warranties of five years or less, you can add up to two years to the original manufacturer’s warranty.
Keep in mind that while the Hilton Honors Ascend doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee, American Express cards are not accepted as widely abroad as they are in the U.S.
Another plus for the Ascend card – it is offered by American Express, who has one of the best customer service reputations among credit card issuers. In J.D. Power’s 2018 customer satisfaction survey, Amex scored 830, ranking second among 11 issuers. Their app also rates well among users, rating 4.3 out of 5 in the Google Play Store and 4.9 of out 5 in the Apple App Store.
The Hilton Honors Ascend is recommended for users with good to excellent credit (above 670), so make sure you meet those qualifications before you apply. Additionally, American Express reserves the right to consider how many cards you have open at a time when reviewing your application. Though there is no hard-and-fast rule on how many accounts you can have open, we recommend you stay under five open cards at a time.
How does the Hilton Honors Ascend compare to other Hilton cards?
The Hilton Honors Ascend card has a great earning rate, sign-up bonus and perks for a card with a relatively low annual fee. However, some travelers might be better off opting for a no annual fee card or a luxury card, depending on how frequently you travel and take advantage of extra perks.
Hilton Honors American Express Card
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
75,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
150,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months
125,000 points if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months
|Other things to know
||Other things to know
||Other things to know
The Hilton Honors American Express Card is a great choice for less frequent travelers, as it comes with a great earning rate and doesn’t charge an annual fee. Like the Ascend, you can earn points on everyday purchases such as those at U.S. supermarkets and gas stations. Plus, you’ll still enjoy silver elite status.
The Hilton Honors Aspire is the most luxury Hilton card, and it comes with a hefty price tag of $450. To offset this, it is packed with plush travel perks and credits. On top of a generous rewards rate on travel purchases, Aspire cardholders can enjoy unlimited Priority Pass lounge access, a free weekend night at a Hilton property every year and up to $250 in credits for incidental purchases with their favorite airline – among much more.
Similar to the Ascend card, the Hilton Honors Business charges a $95 annual fee and offers similar perks. However, it is designed with small business owners in mind – tailoring rewards to business purchases and offering extras like free employee cards and year-end summaries.
Who should apply for the Hilton Honors Ascend card?
- Hilton loyalists who want to earn points on everyday purchases.
- Cardholders looking to score a generous intro bonus.
- Frequent travelers looking for a loyalty program with a wide network.
- Cardholders looking for perks like lounge access and elite status who don’t want to pay for a luxury card.
How to use the Hilton Honors Ascend card:
- Spend at least $2,000 in the first three months to earn the introductory bonus.
- Use your card for all Hilton, U.S. supermarket, U.S. restaurant and U.S. gas station purchases to rack up the most points.
- Save points for stays of five nights or longer to take advantage of the fifth night free perk.
- Take advantage of the Hilton Honors Shop-to-Earn mall online shopping portal and Hilton Honors Dining program to earn a few extra points.
Is the Hilton Honors Ascend card worth it?
If you are a Hilton hotel loyalist, the Hilton Honors Ascend is a great way to rack up plenty of extra points toward your next reward stay. You’ll earn a generous rate on everyday purchases and be able to take advantage of a few extra perks along the way.
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 Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, please click here.
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