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The Hilton Honors program covers more than 5,600 hotels in more than 100 different countries, providing plenty of chances to earn and redeem points. The program also offers Hilton’s most loyal customers American Express-branded consumer and business credit cards that cover a wide range of cardholder needs. If you’re a beginner looking for a card that comes with some Hilton perks, you may want to take a look at the Hilton Honors American Express Card. For a no-annual-fee card (see rates & fees), it comes with a pretty lucrative welcome offer, reasonable points per dollar spent in the top categories and travel and purchase protections.

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Who Is This Card For?

This card works for you if you’ve just become a member of Hilton Honors but haven’t racked up enough miles to get the benefits that come with elite status. Or you want a Hilton-branded credit card and you’re not quite ready to take on one that comes with an annual fee, but you still want some perks and benefits.

Welcome Offer

The welcome offer on the Hilton Honors American Express card gives cardmembers 90,000 bonus miles after spending only $2,000 on the card in the first three months. Those points can get you a variety of hotel redemptions — a three-night stay at the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Phoenix, for example.

The latest TPG valuations put the Hilton Honors Amex at 0.6 cents per points, making this welcome offer worth $540. As noted earlier, the card has no annual fee nor do  you have to pay foreign transaction fees when traveling outside of the US (see rates & fees).

Earning

With the Hilton Honors Amex, you’ll earn 7 Hilton Honors points per dollar spent on eligible Hilton portfolio purchases, including hotel stays, on-site restaurants and spas. You’ll also earn 5x points at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations, and 3 points per dollar on everything else. If you’re looking for higher points that cover travel, including flights and rental cars, you won’t get that with this card. You’d be better off with a different choice, and keep in mind that if you use this card outside of the US on dining, supermarkets or gas, you’ll only earn the lowest points per dollar spent.

Redeeming

The truth is you’ll get the best value for your Hilton Honors points when using them for hotel and resort stays, even with the chain’s dynamic award charts. You’ll have to do some digging on the Hilton Honors website for deals (Hilton’s Points Explorer tool is quite helpful with searches) and be ready to book when you find an award room you want. And unlike the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card (formerly known as the Ascend Card) and the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, this one doesn’t come with a free weekend night.

But the Hilton Honors Amex gives you plenty of options to redeem your points, including airfare, rail travel, car rentals, unique experiences, all-inclusive resorts, vacation packages, golf, shopping, dining and donations to charity. You can also transfer your Hilton Honors points to 40 global airline loyalty programs, along with Amtrak. However, unless you need to transfer Honors points to top off an airline account, using them for this purpose isn’t really a good idea since the transfer ratio is terrible. Not only do you have to transfer points in increments of 10,000, you’re only getting between 1,000 and 1,500 airline miles for them, depending on the carrier. Stick to award redemption for hotel rooms to get the best points value.

Perks

For a card with no annual fee, the Hilton Honors Amex actually features a few notable benefits.

Elite status. The card comes with automatic Hilton Honors Silver elite status, which nabs you guaranteed member discounts, a 20% points bonus, no resort fees on award stays, late checkout, a fifth standard reward night free and two bottles of water daily. If you spend $20,000 on the card in a calendar year, you can upgrade to Hilton Honors Gold status through the end of the following calendar year.

Travel Accident Insurance. You’ll get up to $100,000 in accidental death and dismemberment coverage while traveling, when your airfare is charged to the card.

Baggage Insurance Plan. You’re covered if your luggage is lost, damaged, or stolen baggage when you use the card to pay for travel, up to $1,250 for a carry-on and up to $500 for a checked bag. The card also comes with a high-risk-items benefit that pays up to $250 if you lose items such as jewelry, sporting equipment, photographic or electronic equipment computers, audio/visual equipment, wearable technology and furs.

Car-Rental Loss and Damage Insurance. You’re covered if your eligible rental car is damaged or stolen, when you use the card to reserve and pay for it and decline company insurance. This benefit is secondary coverage to your own auto insurance and doesn’t include liability.

Protections. The card comes with an extended warranty that adds up to two years on an original manufacturer’s warranty that runs five years or less. Purchase protection covers items accidentally damaged, stolen or lost, if you paid for them with the card, for up to 120 days after the date of purchase. If you want to take back an item and the merchant declines, you’re covered for up to $300 per item, up to a maximum of $1,000 per calendar year.

Dedicated help. The Global Assist hotline helps with medical, legal, financial or other emergency services when traveling more than 100 miles from home.

Entertainment. Get exclusive access to ticket presales and cardmember-only events, along with  Broadway shows and concert tours, family and sporting events and more.

Free shipping. ShopRunner gives you free two-day shipping on eligible items at a network of more than 100 online stores after enrolling at shoprunner.com/americanexpress.

Which Cards Compete With the Hilton Honors Amex?

It depends on what’s more important to you in a credit card. If you prefer to spread the hotel love among different brands, then the no-fee Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card is a great alternative, as it earns points that can be converted to cash back. But if you’re attached to Hilton Honors, want a few more benefits and perks — and don’t mind paying an annual fee — then you may want to upgrade to the Hilton Honors Amex Ascend.

The Propel Amex’s current welcome offer of 30,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months is only slightly lower than the Hilton Amex, at a value of $300. The card appeals to those who don’t want to pay annual fees and don’t want to worry about keeping track of spending categories. Cardholders earn 3 points per dollar spent on travel, hotels, dining, gas stations and select streaming services, which is equal to or better than what’s offered by the Hilton Honors Amex, except for room stays.

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

Points earned on the card are redeemed in Wells Fargo’s Go Far Rewards portal for things such as travel, merchandise, gift cards, digital downloads or statement credits. While you’ll only get 1 cent each for redemptions, you won’t have to hunt for room or airline availability. Instead, you use points to book travel directly. The Propel Amex also comes with strong travel and purchase protections, including cell phones (when you use the card to pay your monthly bill), travel-accident insurance, lost-baggage coverage, car-rental insurance and other coverages.

But if you want to stick with Hilton Honors and are comfortable paying a $95 annual fee (see rates & fees), then the Amex Surpass is a strong contender. With this card, you’ll earn 12x per dollar spent on eligible Hilton purchases, 6x at US restaurants, US. supermarkets and US gas stations and 3x on everything else. Like the Hilton Honors Amex, this card doesn’t offer higher points per dollar spent on flights and rental cars. But the Surpass comes with a free-weekend-night award after spending $15,000 on the card in a calendar year, 10 free Priority Pass lounge passes, travel accident insurance, car rental loss and damage insurance, access to the Global Assist hotline and no foreign transaction fees (see rates & fees).

The card also comes with free Hilton Honors Gold status that has the same benefits as Silver, along with an 80% points bonus, space-available room upgrades and free breakfast. If you spend $40,000 on the card in a calendar year, you can earn Hilton Honors Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.

Bottom Line

If you want to earn higher points per dollar spent, Hilton Honors Gold status and a few more card perks — and you don’t mind paying a $95 annual fee — then the Hilton Honors Surpass is worth a look. If you prefer to be a hotel free agent and have the flexibility to earn and redeem points in broader spending categories, plus have solid perks, then the Wells Fargo Propel Amex may be the best card for you.

But the Hilton Honors American Express Card is a good starter card for those who are already members and are looking to maximize the loyalty program’s benefits without paying an annual fee. They’ll also get plenty of ways to earn and redeem points, automatic Silver elite status and reasonable travel and purchase protections.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Amex Surpass Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Amex Card, click here.

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Hilton Honors American Express Card

 

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 90,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio.
  • Earn 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees. Enjoy international travel without additional fees on purchases made abroad.
  • Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status with your Card. Plus, spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn an upgrade to Hilton Honors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.74%-26.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$0
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below 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.