Full Review of Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
Very rewarding for Hilton loyalists, with no spending caps
Strong one-time offer
Rich Hilton benefits
Valuable lounge access
Poor returns on non-Hilton rewards redemptions
- Very Rewarding for Hilton Loyalists, With No Spending Caps: If Hilton is among your preferred brands, earning 12 Hilton Honors points per dollar spent with the chain is a strong incentive to consider this card. With each point worth an average of 0.43 cents when used for further Hilton stays, by our valuation, these rewards deliver about 5% in return per dollar of spending. That return probably exceeds the rewards you'd receive on these purchases from any other business card. A further plus: Unlike business cards that cap the rewards you can earn at their best rate, Hilton Honors American Express Business allows unlimited earnings on these and all other purchases.
- Strong One-Time Offer: The Hilton Honors American Express Business offers a tempting bonus offer in the form of 125,000 points when you spend $3,000 within the first three months. With an estimated value of more than $538 when used for Hilton stays, these points could easily earn you up to four award nights at Hiltons, depending on the properties and dates you choose.
- Rich Hilton Benefits: This card includes several other Hilton extras. Cardholders enjoy automatic Gold status in the Hilton Honors program, which adds to rewards an additional 8 points per dollar spent at Hilton compared with the earnings of regular members of the program. There’s the further opportunity to upgrade to Diamond status if you spend $40,000 in a calendar year. You also get award stays at Hilton properties: a complimentary weekend night if you spend $15,000 in a year, and a second if your spending hits $45,000 annually.
- Valuable Lounge Access: This card comes with 10 passes per year that can be used at 1,300 Priority Pass lounges around the world. Each location offers free food and drink and other conveniences, such as the ability to take a shower and to read free newspapers and magazines. This is a valuable perk, as includes lounge membership ($79 the first year, $99 thereafter) and the standard Priority Pass Plus package provides 10 lounge visits for $299 and then unlimited visits for $32 each.
- Poor Returns on Non-Hilton Rewards Redemptions: It’s all but standard for the points earned on cards affiliated with airlines and hotels to be worth less when redeemed for anything except flights and hotel stays. And this card compensates somewhat for the low value of Hilton points—less than half a cent each—by giving more of them per dollar spent than do many cards. Still, despite those caveats, the returns when redeeming this card's points for anything but hotel stays with Hilton are unusually low. That’s especially the case when points are redeemed for shopping and merchandise, for example, are typically worth only a quarter of a cent or so. Points transfers to other loyalty programs are equally unrewarding. Where many programs offer 1:1 transfers, a single Hilton Honors point is worth one-tenth of a Delta mile if transferred to the carrier’s SkyMiles program.
This Card is Best For
Seeks to maximize points or miles earnings across spending categories
Seeks the recognition and perks of branded travel partner status
Flies often for business or leisure
Earning a primary or side income from a small business
The Hilton Honors American Express Business is first and foremost a card for business travelers who routinely stay at Hilton properties. Such travelers will be hard-pressed to earn better rewards for Hilton stays with any other card. The extra weekend night you earn with a very achievable $15,000 a year in total card spending is another welcome incentive.
While the card offers no better than half the rewards of Hilton purchases on other transactions, it's also worth considering for airfare, dining, gas, shipping and wireless telephone services.
To receive optimal returns, though, travelers must be prepared to use the rewards they earn for more Hilton stays, since other redemption options with this card offer poor value. Then there are the Priority Pass lounge passes included with the Hilton Honors American Express Business. These alone arguably make the card worth considering by those who travel at least every month or so and lack a lounge option. Paying the card's $95 annual fee automatically earns you 10 annual passes worth about $400, which means you’re essentially getting passes at a quarter of their regular price.
Hilton Honors American Express Business Card One-Time Offer
When you use this card to make $3,000 in purchases in the first three months of card membership, you earn 125,000 Hilton Honors points. Based on our valuation of these (of 0.43 cents each), we estimate the value of that bonus at about $537. That valuation seems to align well enough with some examples of the buying power of those points that we researched. We did so by using the chain's Points Explorer Tool, which can help you estimate how far points can take you.
For example, the maximum number of points required for a single night at the Waldorf Astoria in Cabo San Lucas is 120,000, meaning the one-time offer could cover only a single night. On the other hand, the maximum number of points needed to book a room 30 minutes away at the Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Los Cabos is just 30,000. If you qualify for the one-time offer, your points could be worth up to five nights at that location (as the fifth night would require no points when you book five consecutive nights with points). At some locations on some nights, however, stays may cost as little as 5,000 points per night.
Rewards Earning Details
Here’s a detailed breakdown of the points you earn with the Hilton Honors American Express Business card. The following breaks down how points are earned. Remember, terms and limitations apply.
- Earn 12 Hilton Honors bonus points per dollar for purchases made directly with Hilton hotels and resorts
- Earn 6 Hilton Honors bonus points per dollar at:
- U.S. gas stations
- U.S. wireless telephone-service providers
- U.S. shipping purchases
- U.S. restaurants
- Flights booked with Amex Travel
- Rental cars booked directly with select rental car companies
- 3 Hilton Honors bonus points per dollar on all other purchases
This card actually boosts your earning potential for Hilton Honors points still more through automatically granting the cardholder Gold Status in the Hilton Honors Loyalty program. That status increases by 80% the number of points Honors members earn for their purchases—from 10 points per dollar spent to 18 points for Gold members. In effect, then, the 12 points per dollar earned with this card is actually 20 points once that Gold bonus is factored in.
Rewards Redemption Details
Once you've begun earning points with the Hilton Honors American Express Business card you'll naturally want to redeem them at some point. Rewards earned with this card can be redeemed through the Hilton Honors program for:
- Award nights in Standard and Premium rooms at Hilton properties
- Unique experiences, such as concerts and travel tours
- On-property rewards, including resort and vacation packages
- Car rentals, rail miles, airline miles and Lyft credits
- Shopping and dining
- Charitable donations
In terms of what Hilton Honors points are worth, generally they're valued at 0.43 cents each. Depending on the redemption option you choose, you may be able to stretch that value. Compared to other hotel loyalty programs, that puts Hilton points on the lower end of the scale. If you're hoping to get the most value for your points, your best chance of doing that is to stick to using points for Hilton stays first, followed by travel benefits, with shopping, dining and donations coming in last, as the least lucrative options.
Through the Hilton Honors program, it's possible to exchange points earned with your card for points or miles in other travel programs. Current travel partners include:
- American Airlines
- Alaska Airlines
- British Airways
- Hawaiian Airlines
- National Car Rental
- Qantas Airways
- Virgin Atlantic
The number of points or miles you get in return depends on the travel partner. As a rule, however, the transfer ratios are paltry compared with other programs, some of which offer 1:1 points exchanges.
For example, 10,000 Hilton Honors points is worth 1,000 Delta Miles and 1,500 Hawaiian AirMiles—representing ratios of just 10:1 and 7.5:1 respectively. The majority of travel partners allow you to exchange points starting at 10,000, though some raise the minimum to 25,000.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
Maximizing rewards with this card hinges on your typical spending patterns. Here are two scenarios for maxing out rewards earnings.
Let's assume you own a business but don't have employees, making you responsible for all spending on the card. Your typical annual spending in this scenario includes $5,000 at Hilton hotels; $10,000 collectively on gas, restaurants, shipping, flights and car rentals; along with $5,000 on miscellaneous purchases. Altogether, you'd earn 175,000 points, beginning with 100,000 for the Hilton purchases. That’s based on 12 points per dollar spent from using the card, for a total of 60,000, plus the additional 8 points-per-dollar-spent afforded by this card automatically conferring Gold status in the Hilton Honors program, which (at 8 points extra per dollar spent, compared with regular membership) would add 40,000 more points to your earnings. Then there are the 60,000 points for the spending on gas, restaurants, shipping, flights and car rentals (all of which earns 6 points/dollar), and a final 15,000 for the miscellaneous purchases (which earns 3 points/dollar).
Based on using Hilton’s Points Explorer Tool, which includes rooms that book for as little as 5,000 points and as much as 120,000 points per night, those rewards could be worth anywhere from about 1.5 to 35 nights at Hilton hotels and resorts.
In dollar terms, using our valuation of Hilton Honors points, we estimate they'd be worth $752.
This scenario assumes business travel is a regular part of your routine, and that you have five employees, each of whom has a card on the account. Your total annual spending for Hilton purchases comes to $15,000; you spend $25,000 on gas, restaurants, shipping, flights and car rentals; along with $10,000 on miscellaneous purchases.
Such spending would earn 480,000 points: 300,000 for the Hilton purchases (using the same formula as above, which includes both card earnings and extra earnings from the Gold Honors status it confers, and totals 20 points per dollar spent), 150,000 more on the gas, restaurants, shipping, flights and car rentals (all of which earn 6 points/dollar), and a final 30,000 for the miscellaneous purchases (which earn 3 points/dollar).
In dollar terms, using our valuation of Hilton Honors points, we estimate they’d be worth a whopping $2,064.
Hilton Honors American Express Business Card's Outstanding Benefits
- Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status
- Annual upgrade to Diamond status with sufficient spending: Spend $40,000 in eligible purchases with your card each calendar year to qualify.
- Free weekend-night reward with sufficient spending: Spend $15,000 in eligible purchases each calendar year to qualify.
- Second free weekend-night reward with sufficient spending: When you spend $60,000 in eligible purchases with your card in a single calendar year.
- 10 free Priority Pass visits annually: Get access to more than 1,000 Priority Pass lounges worldwide.
- Baggage insurance
- Global Assist hotline
- Car rental loss and damage insurance
- Amex Offers
- Year-end account summary
- Employee spending controls
- Expense tracking tools
American Express ranked second in J.D. Power's 2019 Small Business Credit Card Satisfaction Study. Its score of 838 out of a possible 1,000 was just below that of Discover, and well above the industry average of 849.
Customers can get in touch with American Express 24/7 by calling 800-528-4800. You can also log into your account and live chat with a representative, or send questions and comments to @AskAmex on Twitter.
The Hilton Honors American Express Business card is equipped with the security features you'd expect from a business travel card. That includes chip protection, the ability to set up account alerts and notifications, and dispute resolution should a fraudulent transaction occur.
Like most co-branded cards, the Hilton Honors American Express Business is squarely aimed at frequent customers of its branded partner. That’s reflected in a rewards structure that awards two to four times the number of points to Hilton purchases than to any other transactions. And also through redemption arrangements that make using those rewards for still-more Hilton stays dramatically more lucrative than any other option. Those factors help make the card's $95 annual fee relatively easy to justify through rewards, especially if you both earn them through Hilton purchases and redeem them for Hilton stays.
Specifically, you need spend only about $1,000 a year (or less than $100 a month) at Hilton to justify the cost of the annual fee in points you’d use with Hilton. (That $1,000 would earn 12 points per dollar spent, for a total of 12,000, from the card alone. The automatic Gold status the card grants to the cardholder would add an incremental 8 points per dollar spent, for 8,000 more points than a member without status would earn. With each point worth an estimated $0.0043, or less than half a cent, those points would be worth about $77 when redeemed with Hilton.) That relatively low bar of 20,000 or so points would also be achievable through a manageable spend of $300 a month or so on other business spending, such as on flights, shipping, and cell-phone service.
Finally, this card's lounge-access benefit is one of the best we’ve seen for a card with a relatively low annual fee. Even if you derive no other benefits or rewards from the card, its 10 free passes to Priority Pass lounges essentially provide free food, drinks, and other perks for less than $10 a visit, which is a serious bargain.