The American Express Hilton Honors Card is Hilton and Amex’s entry-level credit card. It has no annual fee and comes with Hilton Silver status as its primary benefit. This makes it an excellent option for people who like Hilton hotels but do not travel very often. Plus, this card is the only co-branded hotel credit card in the industry that comes with any level of status but not an annual fee.
Furthermore, the Hilton Honors Card is a great option for those who want a sign-up bonus that’s both valuable and easy to earn. This card is also great for those who eventually want to get the Hilton Surpass or Hilton Aspire credit cards in the future. That’s because American Express offers excellent upgrade bonuses for this card’s “bigger siblings”. But you must keep the Hilton Honors Card for at least 12 months before you are eligible for an upgrade bonus.
The Hilton Honors Card earns 5x HH points on Dining, at Grocery Stores, and at Gas Stations. All other purchases earn 3x HH points. But do not be fooled by this card’s high multipliers. Many people value HH points at 0.5 cents apiece, which makes them much less valuable than transferrable points. Nonetheless, the Surpass Card a decent earner for everyday expenses and an amazing earner at Hilton hotels.
By itself, the Hilton Honors Card earns 7x HH points per dollar for Hilton hotel purchases. But the earning does not stop there. Those with membership in the Hilton Honors program earn another 10x HH points per dollar spent at Hilton hotels. And having Silver Elite status provides an 20% points bonus on top of the 10x points from membership for a total of 12x HH points. In total, using the Hilton Surpass will net you a whopping 19x HH points per dollar at Hilton hotels!
Furthermore, the sign-up bonus for this card is worth 75,000 HH points. It can be earned by spending $1,000 within the first three months. What I like about this bonus is that it is easy to hit. And it can be a great starting point for those who are new to the Hilton Honors program. However, there are better bonuses out there for Hilton loyalists and more serious travelers.
You can earn up to three total bonuses with the Hilton Honors Card. The first bonus is the traditional sign-up bonus. And the other two are upgrade bonuses. You can upgrade your Hilton Honors Card to the mid-tier Hilton Surpass Card and receive an upgrade bonus. But you must keep the no annual fee card for at least 12 months before you are eligible to upgrade. And after another year, you can upgrade your Surpass Card to a Hilton Aspire Card and receive another upgrade bonus.
Hotel redemptions are the only valuable way to redeem HH points. Nights start at 5,000 points, but most locations will cost a lot more points per night. Unlike most competitors, Hilton does not have a rewards chart publicly posted. How many points a night costs depends on your location and when you are traveling.
Hilton HH points are transferrable to 43 airline partners and three car rental agencies (Enterprise, Alamo, and National). Because of the low value of HH points, transferring them is not recommended. This is also the reason why transfer partners are not often marketed by Hilton or American Express. You’re only receiving a value of 0.1 cents per point (CPP).
Complimentary Silver Elite Status
Hilton Silver Elite Status is a step up from having no status at all, especially for a no annual fee credit card. Most no annual fee hotel credit cards do not offer any status. Fortunately, Hilton does. And having Silver Elite Status can be the first step for some travelers.
Silver Elite Status earns you a 20% points bonus for Hilton purchases including room rates and gift shop purchases. Plus, you will receive a fifth night for free when you use points to pay. The free fifth night could save you some money if you stay at Hilton hotels often for at least five nights. This perk is nice considering that it’s on a no annual fee card. However, it comes from having Silver Status, a larger perk.
Plus, you can earn Gold Elite Status by spending $20,000 per year on the Hilton Honors Card. But spending $20,000 for Gold Status is not recommended. An easier and cheaper way to get Gold Status is to upgrade to (or apply for) the Hilton Surpass Card.
Secondary Car Rental Insurance
This benefit covers the entire loss, damage, or theft of your car rental after your regular insurance’s policy kicks in. In other words, you must go through your own car insurance company first before calling Amex to activate this benefit.
No Foreign Exchange Fees
You will save 2.7% on all purchases made outside the United States with the card.
Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption Insurance
If you must cancel your trip because of an unexpected event, this benefit gives you up to $10,000 per trip for non-refundable expenses. Plane tickets, hotel rooms, and tours are included.
Rules & Regulations
Like all American Express cards, this card is subject to Amex’s Once Per Lifetime Rule. This rule states that you can only receive a sign-up bonus on any card once. The key is to apply for this card when a balance is struck between maximum points and minimum spend. If you cannot afford the spend to hit the bonus, apply when the threshold is lower. Apply when the sign-up bonus is as high as possible. The minimum spend is relatively low, so make sure the points are high.
American Express Hilton Surpass Card
The Hilton Surpass Card is Hilton and Amex’s mid-tier card. It offers complimentary Gold Status and 10 Priority Pass airport lounge passes per year. You can also get a free weekend night after spending $15,000 per year on the card.
This card has a better earning structure that includes the same categories as the Hilton Honors card. The Surpass earns 12x HH points on Hilton hotel purchases. It also earns 6x HH points for Dining, Groceries, and Gas. All other purchases earn 3x HH points. The first two categories have elevated earnings to help offset the card’s $95 annual fee. Plus, the Surpass offers a sign-up bonus worth 130,000 HH points. New cardholders must spend $2,000 within the first three months to earn the bonus points.
Most people will get more value from the Hilton Surpass Card. However, the Hilton Honors Card is the better option for those who are averse to annual fees or do not stay at Hilton hotels often.
Chase World of Hyatt Card
This card from Chase and Hyatt offers an annual free night and complimentary Discoverist Status. The Chase World of Hyatt Card has a $95 annual fee. But it also has a two-part sign-up bonus. First you can earn 25,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. Then, you can earn 25,000 more points after spending $6,000 total in the first 6 months.
For earning, you get 4x Hyatt points per dollar spent at Hyatt hotels. You also earn 2x points on Dining, airline tickets purchased directly from the airline, local transit and commuting, and gym memberships.
Hyatt loyalists and those who spend within the card’s categories are better off with this card than any of the Hilton cards. However, both cards can be complements if you split your hotel stays between Hyatt and Hilton. After all, the Hilton card has no annual fee.
The American Express Hilton Honors Card is a fantastic no annual fee card for infrequent Hilton visitors. It can also be a great downgrade option for Hilton Surpass or Hilton Aspire cardholders. While, the Hilton Honors Card does not have the best earning structure or benefits, Silver Status and a fifth night free can compensate.
However, Hilton loyalists are definitely better off with either the Hilton Surpass or Hilton Aspire Cards. Both options have more benefits, higher sign-up bonuses, and better earning structures.
Apply Today: American Express Hilton Honors Card