Credit Cards Credit Card Reviews

Hilton Honors American Express Card Review

overall rating
4.4

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The Hilton Honors card from American Express is a rewarding option for Hilton hotel devotees who want a card with no annual fee that still offers a generous rewards program and sizable one-time offer. This card also offers an excellent rewards rate on non-Hilton purchases, along with complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status, with no annual fee.

Hilton Honors American Express Card

overall rating
4.4
Hilton Honors American Express Card
On American Express' Secured Site.

Current Offer:

Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.74% - 24.74% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate 7 points per $1 for eligible Hilton purchases. 5 points per $1 for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations. 3 points per $1 for all other eligible purchases.
Balance Transfer Fee If eligible, either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
how this card stacks up
When compared among all rewards cards in our database:
Rewards
Benefits
Low Fees
Security/Customer Experience
Low Interest
worst best

Full Review of Hilton Honors American Express Card

Pros
  • Rewards are competitive

  • Easy to stack rewards as a Hilton Honors loyalty program member

  • Fast track your way to Hilton Honors Gold status

Cons
  • Short on premium travel perks

  • No introductory APR for purchases or balance transfers

Pros Explained

  • Rewards Are Competitive: The Hilton Honors American Express card lets you earn Hilton Honors points on every purchase. You'll earn the most points on Hilton purchases, receiving 7 points for every dollar you spend with the chain. You also earn 5 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations, and 3 points per dollar on all other purchases.
  • Bonus Rewards as a Hilton Honors Silver Member: The card comes with automatic membership in the Hilton Honors program at the Silver tier. While you can earn that status in as few as four Hilton stays, receiving it automatically allows you to immediately begin earning a 20% bonus on your Hilton spending, and receive 12 points per dollar spent, rather than the 10 points that entry-level Honors members earn. You also receive additional Silver perks, such as getting the fifth night of a five-night stay as an award night. Starting at the Silver Honors level allows you to use the points you earn to get more quickly to the next Honors level, Gold. Spending $20,000 in a calendar year with your card allows you to reach Gold status. That allows you to enjoy an even-greater bonus—of 80% over the regular 10-points-per-dollar Honors rate—along with additional perks such as complimentary breakfast at all hotels.
  • Generous One-Time Offer: The introductory bonus is one of the highest you'll come across with a hotel co-branded card. You receive 75,000 points if you spend $1,000 with the card within the first three months you own it. Investopedia values Hilton points at 0.43 cents each, which puts the relative value of the bonus at $322.50. With 20,000 to 40,000 points typically required to earn a night at a Hilton property, the bonus allows you to easily earn two or three nights of lodging—and possibly more, since some properties require as little as 5,000 or 10,000 points per night.

Cons Explained

  • No Premium Travel Benefits: Some hotel and travel rewards cards offer elite benefits, such as complimentary room upgrades, spa and resort credits or welcome gifts. The Hilton Honors American Express card doesn't come with any such premium features. Even the Silver status with Honors doesn’t really offer such perks, although achieving Gold status will provide you with room upgrades, and the Diamond level provides that and access to executive lounges. 
  • No Introductory APR for Purchases or Balance Transfers: If you're planning an expensive trip that includes a lengthy hotel stay, you may be looking for a card that offers a 0% APR on purchases. This card, however, offers no such promotional rate. All purchases and balance transfers are subject to the same regular variable APR range of 15.74% to 24.74%.

This Card is Best For

  • Avatar for Annual Fee Averse Persona
    Resists or refuses an annual fee on principle or due to cost
    Annual Fee Averse
  • Avatar for Rewards Strategist Persona
    Seeks to maximize points or miles earnings across spending categories
    Rewards Strategist
  • Avatar for Loyalty Status Seeker Persona
    Seeks the recognition and perks of branded travel partner status
    Loyalty Status Seeker

The Hilton Honors American Express Card is good for travelers who want to earn Hilton Honors rewards points without paying an annual fee. For comparison, the Hilton Honors Surpass and Hilton Honors Aspire cards feature annual fees of $95 and $450, respectively. While this card earns the lowest number of points compared to its two sister cards, the 7 points per dollar you can earn is still higher than what you'd get with a card like Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Capital One Venture Rewards card. A caveat, though: Hilton rewards are not as lucrative per point earned as those of some other loyalty programs.    

Hilton Honors American Express Card Bonus

This card currently offers an introductory points bonus worth 75,000 points. To qualify for it, you need to spend $1,000 in purchases in the first three months. For such a generous bonus, that's a relatively low requirement, averaging $333 per month. You should easily be able to reach the $1,000 threshold through booking a trip, including a couple of nights at a Hilton property, with the card or by charging your everyday expenses to it if you have no travel plans in the works. 

Rewards Earning Details

There are three tiers for earning rewards with this card, with the highest being the 7 points per dollar spent you earn on eligible Hilton purchases. That means every $1,000 you book with Hilton earns you 7,000 Honors points for using the card. You also receive a further 12,000 points from the automatic Silver Honors status the card confers, since that earns you 12 points per dollar spent at Hilton properties. 

You can also earn 5 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations. If you charge $1,000 per month on those purchases, that's another 5,000 points per month or 60,000 points per year in earnings. Rounding things out, this card offers 3 points per dollar on all other purchases. There are no caps or limits on the number of points you can earn each year and these points can be earned on the same purchases you use to qualify for the 75,000-point bonus. 

Rewards Redemption Details

There are multiple ways to redeem points earned with your Hilton Honors American Express Card, including:

  • Booking award nights at Hilton hotels and resorts, with no blackout dates
  • Redeeming points for exclusive experiences, such as private concerts and wine tastings
  • Booking car rentals, cruises and flights with Hilton travel partners
  • Paying with points when you shop Amazon or the International Hilton Honors Shopping Mall
  • Redeeming points for gift cards to partner merchants
  • Donating points to charitable organizations

The number of points needed for each redemption option varies. For hotel bookings at Hilton properties, redemption starts with as little as 5,000 points, although the biggest groups of properties require 20,000 to 50,000 points per night. Room rates and the number of points required to book depends not only on the particular property but on whether you're booking a standard or premium room at a peak or off-peak rate. 

You can book with a combination of points and cash if you don't have enough points to cover the entire stay. If you have Silver status or higher in the Hilton Honors program, every 5th night is free when you redeem points for standard reward stays of five or more consecutive nights. 

Transferring Points

Hilton allows you to transfer Honors points to partner travel programs. You can exchange your points for air or rail miles with over 30 partner brands, including American Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Delta, United and Amtrak. The points transfer rate varies by the travel partner. For example, you can swap 10,000 Hilton Honors points for 1,500 AAdvantage miles, but if you're transferring to Delta, the same 10,000 points would be worth 1,000 SkyMiles. 

Hilton also allows for points exchanges with other credit card partners. You can convert American Express Membership Rewards points and points earned through Diners Club International into Hilton Honors points. Every 1,000 Membership Rewards points exchanged is worth 2,000 Hilton Honors points, while every 1,250 Club Rewards points is worth 2,000 Hilton Honors points. 

How to Maximize Your Rewards

The first way to maximize rewards with this card is to spend the $1,000 minimum required to earn the 75,000 points for the bonus. The next is to charge all of your purchases, Hilton hotel bookings or otherwise, to the card to amass the most points you can in the year. 

Here's an average spending scenario. Say that in your first three months of card membership, you spend $1,000 on hotels booked with Hilton, $1,000 on gas and supermarkets and $1,000 on other miscellaneous purchases. Including the points bonus, you'd have 90,000 points (7,000 from the travel spending, along with 5,000 for the gas and groceries and 3,000 for the miscellany, plus the 75,000 bonus points). 

From there, you should redeem rewards strategically to squeeze the most value out of your points. As a rule, you’ll get the most from your rewards by using them to redeem for stays at Hilton properties. Unfortunately, Hilton doesn't publish an award chart breaking down different reward categories for hotel properties. But say you wanted to book a Friday to Sunday trip to Las Vegas, a city that can require a relatively high number of points per hotel stay. Your 90,000 points may be enough to redeem for two nights at the Embassy Suites by Hilton. If you wanted to book at the more upscale Waldorf Astoria, on the other hand, you may be able to use 80,000 points for one night, then use cash and points to book the second. 

Now, let's assume that you're instead an above-average spender, charging $3,000 in Hilton purchases, $3,000 for gas and supermarkets and $3,000 on everything else in the first three months. Including the bonus, you'd rack up 120,000 points (21,000 from the travel spending, along with 15,000 for the gas and groceries and 9,000 for the miscellany, plus the 75,000 bonus points). Depending on when you book, you may be able to split the difference between the lower-end and higher-end hotels and book a room at the Hilton Grand Vacations at the Flamingo property. 

Bottom line, the more you spend with the card, the more points you can earn which can make it easier to afford stays at upper-tier hotels. 

Standard Benefits

  • Secondary car rental loss and damage insurance
  • Global Assist hotline
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Extended warranty protection
  • Return protection
  • Cell phone insurance
  • Exclusive entertainment access
  • Free 2-day shipping with ShopRunner

Cardholder Experience

American Express received an 838 rating in J.D. Power's 2019 Credit Card Satisfaction Survey. That put it second only to Discover for consumer satisfaction. 

You can manage your account online or through the American Express mobile app. When you log in, customer service help is available through live chat. If you need to talk to a human, you can reach customer service by phone at 1-800-528-4800.

Security Features

Like other American Express cards, the Hilton Honors card comes with standard security features, such as EMV chip technology, secure online and mobile account access, the ability to set up account alerts and notifications, and continuous fraud monitoring. American Express also offers a temporary freeze feature that allows you to lock down your card and prevent new purchases if it's lost or stolen. American Express will notify you of suspicious account activity and if fraudulent charges occur, you won't be held responsible.

Fees to Watch Out For

This card is relatively light on fees, which is good if you'd rather avoid an annual fee or foreign transaction fees on travel outside the U.S. The only fee to really worry about is the balance transfer fee or the cash advance fee if you're considering making either type of transaction. 

Our Verdict

The Hilton Honors American Express Card may catch your eye if you're looking for a co-branded hotel rewards card, especially if you’re a fan of Hilton, and you don't want to pay an annual fee. If you're already a Hilton Honors loyalty program member, this card can easily help you to multiply your points earnings, even if you don't book hotel stays with Hilton all that often. With so many redemption options to choose from, including transferring your points for rental cars, train travel or flights, it offers flexibility for saving on travel expenses beyond just hotel stays.

Where this card tends to fall short is in the "extras," since it offers none of the luxury benefits of some other, albeit pricier, travel cards. But the primary reason to consider another card over this one is hotel preference. If you don't book exclusively with Hilton, having a card that’s branded to it probably doesn’t make sense. You may be better off with a general travel-rewards card, such as Chase Sapphire Preferred or Discover it Miles, both of which offer a flat rewards rate on travel spending.

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on American Express' Secured Site.
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CURRENT CARD
Hilton Honors American Express Card
overall rating
4.4
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.74% - 24.74% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate 7 points per $1 for eligible Hilton purchases. 5 points per $1 for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations. 3 points per $1 for all other eligible purchases.
Investopedia Credit Card Rating Methodology
Investopedia is committed to delivering the best credit card recommendations in the industry. We’ll tell you when a card is good, we’ll tell you when a card is bad, and we’ll only call a card the best if we would recommend it to our friends or family members.
Overall Star Rating Explained
To rate credit cards we objectively assess, score and weight nearly 100 individual card features which roll up into five major feature sets: fees, interest, rewards, benefits and security/customer service. Here’s how we weighted those feature sets for the overall star rating of a card:
We have applied our proprietary rating methodology to every generally-accepted credit card in the U.S. domestic market to allow consumers to make fully informed choices. It’s important to note that for our overall score that we make a number of assumptions about how you would be using your credit card:
  1. While we make no assumption as to whether balances are carried on a given card we do assign varying weights to all credit cards’ introductory APR (if present) in addition to the regular, long term purchase and balance transfer interest rates.
  2. We utilize BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) income and average category spending data to calculate annual earnings rates for rewards cards that offer cash back, points or miles rewards at a set rate on all spending or in consideration of bonus rewards for certain spending categories, like gasoline, groceries, restaurants or travel.
  3. We determine the maximum points value of rewards cards by dividing the points, cash back or miles required to exchange for the retail price of the most valuable redemption option (for example, in the case of a card that offers a domestic roundtrip airline ticket as a redemption option vs. another redemption option of lesser value that requires the same amount of points or miles to acquire, we would base the rewards value on the airline ticket).
  • Cards that are selected best overall in their respective categories generally feature most if not all of the following attributes:
  • Low or Reasonable Fees Credit card fees come in many forms but the primary ones involve those for annual card membership and balance transfer. There are a myriad of reward and non-reward card options that charge no annual fee but for the many that do assess an annual fee the cost is often justified by their lucrative ongoing rewards and initial signup bonuses. Balance transfer fees are occasionally waived during introductory periods with certain cards, a factor which is heavily and positively weighted in our scoring model for cards offering this benefit. When charged, balance transfer fees range between 3% - 5%, which we grade accordingly. Other standard fees can generally be avoided, such as those for paying late or taking cash advances but we rate those relative to other cards in the market for reference, though with less weight assigned
  • Competitive Interest Many cards offer 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for varying lengths and then revert to a permanent or regular APR (based on a variable rate tied to the prime rate) that applies to any balances not paid in full. We rate both introductory APR percentage and length (in months) along with the midpoint of the variable regular APR interest rate range.
  • Valuable Rewards Credit card reward programs can be based on cash back, points or travel rewards (which can be generic or travel partner-specific, as with airline and hotel co-brand card programs). For cards that offer rewards we determine the value per dollar spent along with average redemption values and assign more favorable ratings to cards that offer superior consumer value. We also assign value to sign-up bonus offers and their initial spending requirements, when present.
  • Excellent Benefits Credit card benefits cover a range of offerings like concierge service, TSA Pre-check, auto rental coverage, travel accident insurance, lost luggage assistance and free credit scores. We rate cards on the number and level of over a dozen standard and upscale benefits and provide extra weighting emphasis for those travel-related perks that apply to premium travel cards when present.
  • Solid Security/Customer Service Security and customer service features like lost or stolen card replacement, being able to lock one’s card from an issuer app and 24 hour customer support are becoming more standard across the card market and we provide a significant amount of weighting to features in this area.
  • You can also read the full version of our methodology for a more in-depth look at how we assess cards and award them the best in various categories.