Solid entry point into the Hilton credit card portfolio: Hilton Honors Card Amex review

Jun 17, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest credit card information.


Hilton Honors American Express Card Overview

The Hilton Honors Card from American Express is the brand’s no-annual-fee (see rates and fees), entry-level offering. Featuring 7x points per dollar on Hilton purchases and complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status, the card is a solid option for new cardholders who are loyal to the hotel chain, although there are other travel cards that offer more points flexibility. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐

*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.

The Hilton Honors program covers more than 5,600 hotels in over 100 different countries, providing plenty of chances to earn and redeem points. Of course, right now many are looking for ways to earn points for future redemptions while not traveling. One option? Hilton’s American Express-branded credit cards.

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, it comes with a nice welcome offer, generous category bonuses and travel and purchase protections. There are other Hilton cards that make our list of best hotel credit cards, but the Hilton Honors Amex is a great start for anyone just jumping into the program.

Researching before applying for a new credit card? Sign up for our daily newsletter for more credit card reviews, newest offers and advice.

In This Post

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 stays to get the benefits that come with elite status yet. Or if 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.

There are better options out there for any loyal Hilton customers who stay at Hilton properties constantly throughout the year, but the Hilton Honors Amex does offer an entry point into the Hilton Honors family of credit cards.

Related reading: Choosing the best Hilton credit card for you

Welcome offer

The welcome offer on the Hilton Honors American Express card gives cardmembers 80,000 bonus points after spending only $1,000 on the card in the first three months of account opening.

The points from the welcome offer can get you a variety of hotel redemptions across Hilton’s brands. The latest TPG valuations put the Hilton Honors Amex at 0.6 cents per points, making this welcome offer worth $480. As noted earlier, the card has no annual fee nor do you have to pay foreign transaction fees when traveling outside of the U.S. (see rates and fees).

Use your Hilton Honors welcome offer points to book a room at the DoubleTree by Hilton San Diego Mission-Valley. (Photo © 2020 Hilton)

Perks and protections

For a card with no annual fee (see rates and fees), 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.

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.

Extended warranty

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

Purchase protection covers items accidentally damaged, stolen or lost, if you paid for them with the card. The benefit is valid for up to 90 days after the date of purchase and covers up to $1,000 per item, up to a maximum of $50,000 per calendar year.

Car rental loss and damage Insurance

When you use the card to reserve and pay for a car rental and decline company insurance, you’re covered against damaged and theft. This benefit is secondary coverage to your own auto insurance and doesn’t include liability.

Dedicated help

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

How to earn points

In a major announcement on May 1, American Express announced a slew of changes on its cards. A big one was that bonus points earned on all Hilton Amex cards through Dec. 31, 2020, will be considered base points and count towards elite tier qualification and lifetime Diamond status.

With the Hilton Honors Amex, you’ll earn 7x 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 U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations, and 3x points per dollar on all other eligible purchases.

If you’re looking for higher points that cover travel, including flights and rental cars, you won’t get that with this card. And keep in mind that if you use this card outside of the U.S. on dining, supermarkets or gas stations, you’ll only earn 1x point per dollar spent.

Related reading: Best ways to earn points with the Hilton Honors program

How to Redeem points

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 you want.

(Image courtesy of Hilton)
There are plenty of options for redeeming your Hilton points, but you’ll be better off using your hard-earned points on hotel stays, such as at the Conrad Punta de Mita, pictured here. (Image courtesy of Hilton)

Unlike the other Hilton credit cards, 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 hotel room redemptions to get the best points value.

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-annual-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 American Express Surpass® Card.

The information for the Wells Fargo Propel has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.          

Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card

(Photo by The Points Guy)
(Photo by The Points Guy)

The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card is currently offering welcome bonus of 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first three months. 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 3x 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. The information for the Wells Fargo Amex Propel has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Points earned on the card can be 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 coverage.

Related reading: The best no-annual-fee credit cards for 2020

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card

If you want to stick with Hilton Honors and are comfortable paying a $95 annual fee (see rates and fees), then the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is a strong contender. With this card, you’ll earn 12x per dollar spent on eligible Hilton purchases, 6x at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations and 3x on everything else.

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
At just $95 per year, the Hilton Honors Surpass is a compelling card to consider even for beginners to the hotel brand. (Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

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, car rental loss and damage insurance, access to the Global Assist hotline and no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees).

The card also comes with free Hilton Honors Gold status, which offers the same benefits as Silver status, 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 (see rates and fees) — 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 American Express® card may be the best card for you.

But the Hilton Honors American Express Card is a good starter card for those who 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.

Featured photo courtesy of American Express.

Hilton Honors American Express Card

 

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 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
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$0
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
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.