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Hilton Honors American Express Card Review

Hilton Honors Card Art 11 11 21

Our rating


Hilton Honors American Express Card

  • Welcome Offer: Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Hilton Rewards: 7x Honors points per $1 spent at Hilton hotels & resorts
  • Other Rewards: 5x points at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets & gas stations; 3x points on all other purchases
  • Silver Status: Complimentary Silver status — 15% points redemption boost, 5th night free; terms apply
  • Gold Status With Qualifying Spend: Spend $20,000 in a calendar year to earn Honors Gold status for 1 year — 25% points redemption boost, free WiFi & room upgrades; terms apply
  • Annual Fee: $0 (see rates and fees)
  • Other Fees: $0 foreign transaction fee
  • Credit Needed: Good, excellent
  • Terms and conditions apply: see rates & fees

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 the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card.

What Sets the Hilton Honors American Express Card Apart

The Hilton Honors American Express Card has a few notable selling points worth mentioning right away:

  • No Annual Fee. This isn’t notable in some corners of the credit card world, but it’s a big deal for a hotel credit card. It’s rare to find a card as generous as the Hilton Honors Amex without a hefty annual fee.
  • Complimentary Elite Status. Sure, it’s “only” Silver, but it’s still a nice boost for occasional Hilton guests. Spend $20,000 in qualifying purchases in a year and you’ll qualify for Gold status, which is much more generous. (Terms apply.)
  • Good Returns on Some Non-Hilton Spending. This card has broad non-Hilton bonus rewards categories: U.S. gas stations, U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets. If you’re like most people, you make regular purchases in all three categories.

Is the Hilton Honors American Express Card Legit?

Yes, the Hilton Honors American Express Card is legitimate.

You might be surprised we’re even asking this question about a card backed by American Express, one of the best-known and most “legit” credit card companies in the world.

But some of our readers wonder whether hotel credit cards like this one are, for lack of a better word, gimmicks. Whether they exist mainly to encourage people to take vacations they don’t need or upgrade to fancier, more expensive rooms and properties when they do travel.

That’s emphatically not the case here. If you travel regularly and prefer Hilton properties, this is a great entry-level credit card for you. With no annual fee, the rewards program is all upside as long as you pay off your balance in full each month (otherwise, you’ll pay more in interest than you earn in rewards).
So, rest assured: this card is legit. And so are Hilton’s other fine American Express credit cards.

Key Features of the Hilton Honors American Express Card

These are the key features of the Hilton Honors American Express Card. Note the solid rewards program, the complimentary Silver status benefit, and the potential to earn Gold status with qualifying spend.

Welcome Offer

Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership.

Earning Rewards

The Hilton Honors American Express Card’s rewards program works as follows:

  • Every $1 you spend at Hilton properties or partner hotels and resorts earns 7 Hilton Honors points.
  • Every $1 you spend at U.S. gas stations, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. restaurants earns 5 points.
  • All other purchases earn 3 points per $1 spent. Terms apply.

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.

Complimentary Silver Status (Hilton Honors)

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. Terms apply.

Hilton Honors Gold Status With Qualifying Spend

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. Terms apply.

Important Fees

There is no annual fee or foreign transaction fee.  See rates and fees page.

Credit Required

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

Advantages of the Hilton Honors American Express Card

The Hilton Honors American Express Card has a number of impressive benefits — all the more so for its total lack of an annual fee.

  • No Annual Fee. The Hilton Honors Card from American Express is one of the few hotel rewards cards without an annual fee.
  • Attainable Welcome Offer. This card has a general and very attainable welcome offer, even for modest spenders.
  • Broad, Generous Rewards Categories. The Hilton Honors Card’s 5x points categories are quite broad: U.S. gas stations, U.S. restaurants, and U.S. supermarkets. 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.
  • 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 (not counting base points earned on your stay), or exactly $1,000 in the 5x categories, to earn the 5,000 points required for a free night at a Category 1 hotel.
  • Even Faster Redemption With Points and Cash. 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.
  • 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 of the Hilton Honors American Express Card

The downsides of the Hilton Honors American Express Card include relatively inflexible redemption options, no anniversary freebies, and a challenging path to elite status.

  • 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, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card allows you to redeem for any travel purchase and cash equivalents, and Capital One Venture Rewards allows redemption for any travel purchase.
  • 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.
  • 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. Many other hotel cards offer automatic high-end status benefits, though usually in exchange for an annual fee.

How the Hilton Honors American Express Card Stacks Up

Don’t apply for the Hilton Honors American Express Card without first comparing it against other popular Hilton-branded hotel credit cards. Here’s how it stacks up to a somewhat more generous option: the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card.

Hilton Honors AmexHilton Honors Amex Surpass
Hilton Rewards7x on all eligible purchases12x on all eligible purchases
Other Bonus Rewards5x on U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, U.S. supermarkets6x on U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, U.S. supermarkets
Base Rewards3x on other eligible purchases3x on other eligible purchases
Elite Status BenefitComplimentary Silver statusComplimentary Gold status
Elite Status UpgradeGold status with $20,000 in qualifying annual spendDiamond status with $40,000 in qualifying annual spend
Annual Fee$0 $95

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.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Card, please visit this rates and fees page.

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 writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he's not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

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