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Hilton Honors American Express Card: Fund Your Hilton Stays for No Annual Fee

The Hilton Honors Card offers plenty of perks and rewards for travelers who prefer to stay at Hilton properties.

The Hilton Honors American Express Card offers an inexpensive and easy way to earn rewards to fund stays at Hilton properties. However, Hilton points aren't worth very much and can't be used for statement credits, so this hotel credit card is not a great option for earning cash back.

While rewards can be earned at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations, the only viable use is to redeem the rewards for free nights at Hilton properties. So this card should only be considered by travelers who make it a point to stay with Hilton. Otherwise, general travel credit cards not associated with a specific brand will offer you more versatile rewards.

The other card perks stem from Hilton's loyalty program. Cardholders will get automatic Hilton Honors Silver Status, which includes a fifth night free when redeeming points for five nights or more, and be put on a fast track toward Gold Status. Gold Status includes complimentary room upgrades when available and a 80% point bonus. For a hotel credit card with no annual fee (see rates and fees), these perks do provide good additional value to travelers who frequent Hilton properties. 

In this article

Hilton Honors American Express Card

5.5/10 CNET Rating
See Rates and Fees Terms Apply
Card Highlights
Intro OfferEarn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership.
APR19.49%-28.49% Variable
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Recommended Credit Excellent/Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio.
  • Earn 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets, and at U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Balance Transfer Fee N/A
Late Payment Fee Up to $40
Foreign Transaction Fees None
Penalty APR 29.99% Variable
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio.
  • Earn 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets, and at U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.

Rewards and redemption

The Hilton Honors Card has a good nominal rewards rate for a no annual fee credit card, but the actual point values for Hilton are relatively low, meaning it's not as rewarding as it may seem. It earns 7x points per dollar on hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio, 5x points at U.S. gas stations, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. restaurants, and 3x points per dollar for all other eligible purchases. The final category may look like a higher rate than most cards, but again, the actual value of Hilton points makes it less impressive.

Once cardholders have accrued rewards, they can use their Hilton Honors points for:

  • Hilton stays: This is the best use of points. Redeem them for free stays at Hilton properties. 
  • Airfare: Transfer Hilton points to airline miles with Hilton's airline partners, including United and Delta, though this may not yield the highest rewards value.
  • Car rentals: Use your points to pay for rental cars.
  • Hilton Experiences: Hilton Experiences include VIP access to concerts, sporting events or dining events, according to its site.
  • Shop with Points at Amazon: Use your Hilton points with Amazon to pay for new purchases.
  • Lyft: Cardholders can earn Hilton points by connecting their Hilton and Lyft accounts, and then use the points for Lyft credits.

Cardholders can pool points with other members, gift them, transfer them or buy more points. 

How much are Hilton Honors points worth?

Below are examples of point redemptions that illustrate what your points might be worth for a one-night stay at Hilton properties across the country:

Hilton Honors Card point values

Hotel Location Dollar cost Point cost Per-point value
Homewood Suites Washington D.C. Convention Center $242 60,000 0.40 cent
Hilton Chicago Chicago $250 60,000 0.42 cent
Embassy Suites Downtown Orlando $165 48,000 0.34 cent
DoubleTree by Hilton Downtown Los Angeles $179 47,000 0.38 cent
Hampton Inn and Suites Downtown Denver $179 44,000 0.36 cent

Keep in mind that hotel rates fluctuate often and will change depending on the seasons and when travelers plan to stay. So, if you plan well in advance, it's possible to wait for better per-point values. To find out the per-point value, divide the dollar cost of the stay by the point cost, then multiply by 100. Currently, we estimate that one Hilton point is worth about 0.4 cent, but again point values are subject to change.

At that rate, the Hilton Honors Card would earn a return of 2.8% at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio (7 points x 0.4 cent), which is likely the strongest rate you'll be able to find on your Hilton bookings. It would earn 2% back for U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets, and 1.2% for all other eligible purchases. But remember, you can only use points with Hilton or its partners, making the Hilton Honors Card much less versatile. And again, point values may fluctuate, so that might not always be the case.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Hilton points are usually worth a little less than competing hotel brands. Marriott Bonvoy points, for example, we estimate are usually worth around 0.7 cent -- so it will take a bit more spending on the card to accrue enough Hilton points to cover vacations when compared to other hotel credit cards.

Welcome offer

The Hilton Honors Card comes with a lucrative welcome offer, especially when you consider the card's lack of an annual fee. Earn 80,000 points for spending $1,000 in purchases in the first three months with the card. So, if Hilton points are worth about 0.4 cent each, that means cardholders can expect a value of around $320 if redeemed for a Hilton stay. That could be worth at least a night or two at a Hilton property. 

Hilton Honors hotel rewards program

Hotel brands like Hilton usually offer a membership program for guests to progress through. While you don't need a hotel credit card to advance, they will certainly help expedite the process. Each rank (in this case, Member, Silver, Gold and Diamond Statuses) includes better benefits than the previous rank. Hilton's membership program, Hilton Honors, is no different.

The Hilton Honors Card includes complimentary Silver Status, which jumps cardholders ahead a bit by eliminating the required seven nights, three stays or 17,500 Base Points, to move up from Member Status. It also provides cardholders with a Free Fifth Night award when redeeming rewards points for five nights or more. Base Points are the points earned from your Hilton membership, as opposed to Bonus Points, which are earned via a credit card or from another source.

Silver Status grants a 20% bonus to points earned with Hilton. The Hilton Honors Card will also get you to Gold Status faster, and Gold Status offers an increased 80% bonus to points. 

Usually you'd need to either stay at Hilton properties enough or earn a certain number of points to qualify for Gold Status, but with the Hilton Honors Card, cardholders can advance by spending $20,000 in a calendar year with the card. Once you've earned Gold Status, cardholders maintain it through the next calendar year. Otherwise, you'll need to re-qualify for elite status every calendar year. 

Here are the requirements for attaining each membership tier in the Hilton Honors program:

  • Member Status: Member Status is the entry-level status and is free to maintain. You earn points for every stay, and can take advantage of digital check-out and check-in. You'll also get free Wi-Fi in your room.
  • Silver Status: Without the Hilton Honors Card, Hilton members will either need to spend seven nights at Hilton properties, have three separate stays or accumulate 17,500 Base Points to qualify for Silver Status. It includes a 20% point bonus on Hilton stays and a fifth night free when redeeming points for five nights or more.
  • Gold Status: For Gold Status, Silver members would need to stay 28 nights, have a total of 14 stays, or earn 52,500 Base Points to qualify. Or you can spend $20,000 in a calendar year with the Hilton Honors Card. Gold Status comes with a 80% point bonus on Hilton stays, room upgrades when available, and a daily food and beverage credit.
  • Diamond Status: The highest tier with the best perks requires staying 42 nights, for 21 stays or collecting 84,000 Base Points to qualify. It gives members a 100% point bonus on Hilton stays, Executive lounge access, and a one-time, full-year Diamond perk extension (available when you have been a Diamond member for three years and stayed 250 lifetime nights or earned 500,000 Base Points). Hilton Executive lounges vary from property to property, but most offer guests complimentary breakfast, extra room to work with Wi-Fi and beverages. However, not every Hilton has one. 

Each tier after Member Status features Elite rollover nights. Elite rollover nights make it easier to progress through the Hilton Honors statuses. At the end of the year, any qualifying nights earned in excess of what it takes to move up (for example, from Silver to Gold) is added toward the next tier (Gold to Diamond) for the next qualifying period. Because cardmembers need to re-qualify each calendar year, rollover nights help expedite the advancement through the Elite Status tiers. 

Other card benefits

The Hilton Honors Card offers a few other benefits that may be valuable to the right cardholders.

  • No foreign transaction fees: These fees can add up quickly on your overseas charges. Most credit cards charge a 3% foreign transaction fee, so you can book a hotel overseas and use this card at no additional cost abroad, as long as you pay the statement balance in full each month.
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance*: You can opt to decline the rental car provider's insurance offer and charge the full amount of the rental to your Hilton Honors card. Your rental car will be covered against damage and theft, but only after your primary car insurance policy pays out.
  • Purchase protection*: Your new purchases are covered for 90 days against damage or theft. Each item is covered by up to $1,000, up to a maximum of $50,000 per account.
  • Extended warranty*: If an item purchased on your card has a manufacturer's warranty of five years or less, it could be extended for an additional year.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Comparable cards

If you're interested in a more general travel card or looking for something with better perks, consider these alternatives.

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

If you prefer flexibility in where you stay, a general travel credit card would likely suit your needs better. The Capital One VentureOne has no annual fee, and cardholders can earn 5x miles per dollar for hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One, plus 1.25x miles for everything else.

You can redeem your miles for past travel purchases made within 90 days at a value of 1 cent per mile, which is more than double the value of Hilton Honors points. Use the card for any travel purchase, and then redeem miles to cover that purchase. The VentureOne also comes with travel accident insurance**, rental car insurance** and an easy-to-reach welcome bonus.

The card even comes with an intro 0% APR for purchases and balance transfers for 15 months (then 17.99% to 27.99% variable). If you want to stretch out the payments on your trip accommodations or to save capacity in case emergency expenses come up while you're abroad, you can use this introductory APR to give yourself more breathing room. But be sure to make all of your minimum payments on time, and to pay off the balance in full by the end of the promotion to avoid interest charges.

**Terms, conditions, and exclusions apply. Refer to your Guide to Benefits for more details.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card

Here's a credit card for those who prefer Marriott Bonvoy properties over Hilton. Similar to how the Hilton Honors Card operates at Hilton properties, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card is designed to give Marriott Bonvoy guests rewards and perks to make their stay better.

It earns up to 17x points per dollar (6x points from the card, up to 10x points from being a Marriott Bonvoy member, up to 1x for its Silver Elite Status) at Marriott Bonvoy locations, and it's also worth noting that Marriott Bonvoy points are typically worth more than Hilton points -- we estimate Marriott Bonvoy points are usually worth around 0.7 cents toward stays, while we found that Hilton Honors points currently hover around 0.4 cents.

However, the Hilton Honors Card doesn't have any earnings cap on its bonus categories, unlike the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless, which earns 3x points per dollar for grocery stores, gas stations and dining on the first $6,000 spent on combined purchases yearly. So, while Hilton points are worth a little less, it would be possible to earn more with the Hilton card given enough spending.

The card has an annual fee of $95, but includes more travel protections including baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, and provides a Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after your account anniversary.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

This is an upgraded version of the Hilton Honors Card. It comes with greater rewards (12x points per dollar on eligible purchases charged directly with hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio, 6x for U.S. restaurants, and 6x at U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations), and complimentary Hilton Honors Gold Status as well as some airport lounge access. It comes, however, with a $95 annual fee.

The complimentary Gold Status saves you the trouble of spending $20,000 in a calendar year to reach it with the Hilton Honors Card. For people who travel more often, 10 Priority Pass visits each year will mitigate some of the stress of traveling by letting you relax in one of 1,200-plus airport lounges around the world. It also adds an extra travel protection, a baggage insurance plan*, for added security while traveling.

Basically, if you travel more than a handful of times per year and stay with Hilton, you can get more comfort and value from the Surpass version of the card than the Honors, despite the annual fee.

FAQs

How much are Hilton points worth?

We found that one Hilton point is worth around 0.4 cent. However, hotel rates fluctuate depending on factors such as seasons and when you're trying to book reservations.

What's the difference between the Hilton Honors Card, Hilton Honors Surpass and Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card?

The Hilton Honors Card is the no annual fee version offered by Hilton and American Express. Surpass carries an annual fee of $95, but offers greater rewards and more perks including a free Weekend Night Reward after spending $15,000 on the card in a calendar year. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card carries an annual fee of $450 and offers rewards and benefits to match, including complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond Status and an annual up to $250 Hilton Resorts credit.

All information about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

Does the Hilton Honors Card come with a Free Night Award?

No, the Hilton Honors Card doesn't offer an annual Free Night Award. However, it does come with complimentary Hilton Honors Silver Status which features a Fifth Night Free Award for redeeming five or more reward nights.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Card, click here.

*Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions, and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.

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