Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card review

Published: February 15, 2019

Partner Offer

Apply Now
Published: February 15, 2019

Partner Offer

Apply Now
Ratings Policy
Rewards Rating:
4.2 rating
4.2 rating
4.2 / 5
Rewards Value: 4.3
Annual Percentage Rate: 1.2
Rewards Flexibility: 4.3
Features: 3.0
Customer Experience 4.6

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)

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 12:1 select Hilton properties
  • 6:1 U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations
  • 3:1 general
  • Terms apply

Introductory Bonus
125,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months

Annual Bonus
Free weekend night each year you spend $15,000

Annual Fee
$95 (See rates and fees)

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

17.99-26.99% (variable) (See rates and fees)

Rewards Redemption

  • Points don’t expire as long as card is active every 12 months
  • Redeem for hotel stays, experiences, on-property rewards, airfare, car rentals, cruises, shopping and dining, charity
  • Use points plus cash to book rewards
  • Use points to upgrade a reservation
  • No blackout dates or capacity controls except for points plus cash rewards


  • No good uses outside of hotel redemptions
  • Expensive and confusing seasonal chart
  • While there is no official capacity control, hotels often “rebrand” a regular room into a premium room and charge an outrageous amount of points

Customer Experience

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

There are several Hilton credit cards that can help you collect coveted Honors points, but the Ascend card is one of the best. With a record-high introductory bonus, outstanding earning scheme, and benefits that enhance your experience and help you save money at the same time, there is no better card for collecting Honors points – whether you’re using the card at a Hilton property or not.

Elevated introductory bonus

The Ascend card, which premiered with a 100,000-point introductory bonus, recently boosted that bonus even higher. At the moment, you can get 125,000 points for spending $2,000 on eligible purchases with the card in the first three months of card membership. This is the highest the bonus has ever been on the card, and it seems like an exceptionally large number, though you’ll need to keep in mind that Hilton Honors points are inflated and worth half the value of the average rewards point. The card’s bonus is more on par with a 75,000-point bonus, which is still impressive. The introductory bonus alone can get you up to 25 nights at a Category 1 hotel (up to 31 nights if you include the “fifth night free” elite benefit).

If you plan to apply for the card, now’s the time to act — the offer likely will not be around for long.

Excellent earning scheme

The earning scheme is where the Hilton Honors Ascend card from American Express really shines. You get 12 points for each dollar spent at a participating Hilton property; six points for each dollar at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations; and three points for all other purchases. This is one of the higher rewards rates among the hotel cards that we’ve reviewed.

Free weekend night each year

As an annual bonus, the Ascend card offers a free weekend night to cardholders who spend at least $15,000 with the card. This is a very manageable spending requirement and – along with the free fifth night benefit – should help you well along the way toward earning a free stay at a Hilton hotel each year.

Large network of hotels

Hilton is among the behemoths of hotel loyalty programs. With a portfolio that contains 5,100 properties across 103 countries, you can find a rewards room in most places that you want to travel, including some very nice properties. The program also offers a wide range of brands and levels of hotels, giving you many options for spending points.

Flexible redemption options

The card offers fairly flexible terms for rewards redemption. Hilton Honors is one of the few rewards programs to guarantee no capacity controls on its rooms in addition to no blackout dates. Also, the program includes the option for “points plus cash” at any Hilton property. That means you can pay for a room with a low number of points and cover the rest of the cost with cash. This may come in handy if you don’t have sufficient points for a rewards night.

You also have a large number of alternate redemption options, including redeeming for airfare or using points to upgrade a reservation.

Automatic elite status

The card grants you automatic gold status in the Hilton Honors program. Elite perks differ greatly among hotel loyalty programs. Gold elite status in the Honors program is excellent because it makes you eligible for the biggest elite hotel perks: free upgrades, free breakfast and lounge access where available. Other benefits include an additional 25-percent bonus points, free internet, late checkout, elite-only rates, a free fifth night on every rewards stay and more. The best part is that you get to keep gold status for as long as you carry the card.

If you spend $40,000 a year on the card, you can earn the top diamond status, which affords you additional perks. This is a rare benefit for a hotel co-branded credit card, since most programs won’t grant the top elite status without stay requirements.

Why get the Hilton Honors Ascend card?

  • You are a Hilton Honors member and want to earn a high number of Honors points on everyday credit card spending.
  • You want a card with a very generous introductory bonus.
  • You seek a hotel rewards program with a large number of options.
  • You value the gold elite status that comes with the card.

How to use the Hilton Honors Ascend card:

  • Spend $2,000 on eligible purchases in the first three months to earn the full 125,000 bonus points.
  • Always book your Hilton stays with the Hilton Honors Ascend card for 12 bonus points and use it for other purchases too, unless you have a higher-earning cash back card.
  • For rewards stays of 10 days or more, make two or more five-day bookings in order to apply the “fifth night free” benefit. This way, you can have 10 days for the price of eight, or 15 days for the price of 12.
  • Since you have gold status, choose a property with a lounge for free drinks and snacks throughout the day.

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

Our reviews and best card recommendations are based on an objective rating process and are 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

All reviews are prepared by CreditCards.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank’s website for the most current information.

Responses to comments in the discussion section below are not provided, reviewed, approved, endorsed or commissioned by our financial partners. It is not our partner’s responsibility to ensure all posts or questions are answered.

Partner Offer

Apply Now