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Hilton Honors American Express Card Review

At a Glance
American Express Hilton Honors Card
4.2 / 5
Rating

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Hilton Honors American Express Card

  • Welcome Offer: 90,000 Honors points after spending $2,000 within the first 3 months
  • Rewards: 7x Honors points per $1 spent at Hilton hotels & resorts; 5x points at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets & gas stations; 3x points on all other purchases
  • Benefits: Complimentary Silver status (15% points redemption boost, 5th night free); Spend $20,000 in a calendar year to earn Honors Gold status for 1 year (25% points redemption boost, free WiFi & room upgrades)
  • Intro APR: None
  • Fees: $0 foreign transaction fee
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Credit Needed: Good, excellent

Advertiser Disclosure: This post includes references to offers from our partners. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. However, the opinions expressed here are ours alone and at no time has the editorial content been provided, reviewed, or approved by any issuer.

Learn more about this card and find out how you can apply here.

The Hilton Honors American Express Card is a travel rewards credit card with no annual fee and an attractive hotel rewards program. The Honors card’s rewards are enticing, especially on spending at Hilton hotels and partner properties, of which there are more than 4,000 total worldwide.

Hilton Honors from American Express is comparable to other popular hotel, airline, and general travel rewards credit cards. Its closest competitors include American Express cards such as Gold Delta SkyMiles and the the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card.

Key Features

Welcome Offer

When you spend at least $2,000 within the first 3 months of account ownership, you get 90,000 bonus Hilton Honors points. That’s worth up to 18 free nights at the lowest-tier Hilton properties.

Earning Hotel Rewards

Every $1 you spend at Hilton properties or partner hotels and resorts earns an unlimited 7 Hilton Honors points. Every $1 you spend at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants earns an unlimited 5 points. All other purchases earn an unlimited 3 points per $1 spent.

You also receive 500 bonus points whenever you use your Hilton Honors Card to reserve a room during the booking process, provided you use the same card to pay for your room when you arrive at the Hilton property.

Redeeming Rewards

You can redeem your points for free hotel nights, starting at a minimum of 5,000 points for Category 1 hotels, or 2,000 points plus $30 when you redeem a Category 1 hotel night with a combination of points and cash (known as Points & Money Rewards).

Per-night redemption rates vary with demand, seasonality, and other factors. The number of points required for redemption increases with hotel category, up to a minimum of 70,000 points for Category 10 hotels – sometimes as high as 95,000, depending on the property and season.

Although point value varies according to many factors, points are generally worth $0.005 to $0.01 at redemption. You can also use points for room upgrades, if available, at the same general point-to-dollar conversion rate.

Silver & Gold Status

As long as you remain a cardholder in good standing, you’re automatically granted Silver status in Hilton’s loyalty program. Silver status boosts your point earnings on Hilton and partner property stays by 15%, plus it awards a 5th night free on stays of 5 nights or longer.

If you spend at least $20,000 in a calendar year, you are upgraded to Gold status. Gold status boosts your point earnings by 25% for all Hilton and partner stays, plus it entitles you to complimentary in-room WiFi and free room upgrades when and where available.

Important Fees

There is no annual fee or foreign transaction fee. Balance transfers and cash advances both cost the greater of $5 or 3%.

Travel Benefits

The Hilton Honors Card’s travel-related benefits include:

  • Carry-on baggage insurance worth up to $1,250 per piece and $10,000 per trip
  • 24/7 roadside assistance
  • A 24/7 global assistance hotline for travelers more than 100 miles from home
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance for vehicles paid in full with this card

Shopping Benefits

This card’s shopping benefits include:

  • A complimentary 12-month extended warranty on purchased items with original warranties of five years or less
  • Reimbursement up to $300 per item and $1,000 per calendar year for rejected returns
  • Purchase protection coverage (reimbursement) for items stolen or damaged within 90 days of their purchase

Credit Required

This card requires good to excellent credit. Any notable credit dings are likely to be disqualifying.

Advantages

  1. No Annual Fee. The Hilton Honors Card from American Express is one of the few hotel rewards cards without an annual fee.
  2. Attainable Welcome Offer. This card’s 90,000-point welcome offer is yours when you spend at least $2,000 within 3 months of opening your account. That’s a fairly attainable goal for most card users.
  3. Broad, Generous Rewards Categories. The Hilton Honors Card’s 5x points categories are quite broad: gas stations, restaurants, and grocery stores. They all fall under the rubric of “everyday purchases,” and the first two are particularly useful for frequent travelers. By contrast, the Citi Hilton Honors Reserve Card is more restrictive, as it pays 5x points only for airfare and car rentals.
  4. Faster Time to Redemption. Coupled with the Hilton Honors program’s relatively low minimum redemption threshold for free nights, the Hilton Honors Card’s accelerated point-earning power translates to quicker redemptions. You need to spend less than $750 at a Hilton hotel or partner property, or exactly $1,000 in the 5x categories, to earn the 5,000 points required for a free night at a Category 1 hotel. If you pay with a mixture of points and cash, you need just 2,000 points, or less than $300 in the 7x category. By contrast, IHG Rewards Club’s minimum redemption threshold for points-only redemptions is 10,000 points, requiring you to spend $2,000 at IHG hotels (which earn 5x points) to redeem for points-only free nights.
  5. Extra Points for Making Room Reservations. When you reserve a Hilton room with your Hilton Honors Card, and then charge the full amount of the room’s cost to your card when you actually stay, you receive 500 bonus points. Few (if any) other hotel rewards credit cards have similar reservation bonuses. Plus, as an automatic Silver status holder, you get an extra 15% points bonus on all Hilton stays. When you graduate to Gold, you get a 25% bonus.
  6. Points Don’t Expire. Hilton Honors points don’t expire as long as you have some sort of account activity, such as earning points through card transactions or redeeming points for stays, during any 12-month period.

Disadvantages

  1. Inflexible Redemption Options. You can’t redeem your earned Honors points for anything other than free hotel nights. While Hilton has more than 4,000 properties to choose from, this is still considerably more restrictive than some other hotel and travel rewards cards. For example, Chase Sapphire Preferred allows you to redeem for any travel purchase and cash equivalents, and Capital One Venture Rewards allows redemption for any travel purchase.
  2. No Anniversary Freebies. This card does not come with a free night’s stay or point bonus on your card membership anniversary. That’s a drawback relative to some other popular hotel cards, including the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card from Chase.
  3. Reaching Gold Elite Status Is Tough for Moderate and Low Spenders. Although this card comes with complimentary Silver status for as long as your account remains open and in good standing, Gold status benefits (such as a 25% points bonus on all Hilton stays and free room upgrades, when available) are considerably more attractive. However, you have to spend at least $20,000 in a calendar year to qualify for Gold status, which is difficult for many cardholders. By contrast, the IHG Rewards Club card automatically comes with Platinum Elite status, IHG’S second-highest status level.

Final Word

Hilton is one of the largest and most recognizable hotel families around. If you’re traveling to a major U.S. or international city, chances are good that there’s a Hilton property within an easy drive, cab ride, or transit hop from your destination.

Unless you have a bias against Hilton hotels, it’s hard to argue that the Hilton Honors American Express Card isn’t convenient or useful. Of course, one could make the same argument for other major hotel credit cards too. As long as you use them responsibly and don’t damage your credit by applying for too many at once, perhaps your wallet has room for multiple hotel-based rewards credit cards.

Learn more about this card and find out how you can apply here.

Verdict
American Express Hilton Honors Card
4.2 / 5
Rating

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Hilton Honors American Express Card

The Hilton Honors American Express Card is great for frequent domestic travelers who enjoy staying at Hilton properties and prefer travel credit cards without hefty annual fees. Thanks to a generous rewards program that covers several expansive staple categories, it can easily be used as a primary or “everyday spending” card. If you’re looking for automatic super-elite status or lots of luxury perks, look elsewhere.

The generous rewards categories, rapid time to redemption, great reservation bonuses and welcome offers, and no annual fee are all pluses. The inflexible redemptions and a lack of automatic top elite status.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Brian Martucci
Brian Martucci writes about frugal living, entrepreneurship, and innovative ideas. When he’s not interviewing small business owners or investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, he’s probably out exploring a new trail or sampling a novel cuisine. Find him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

Comments Disclosure: The below responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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