Hilton credit cards: Which one is right for you?

Woman enjoying breakfast that earns her Hilton Honors points Image:

In a Nutshell

If you love the Hilton hotel brand, a Hilton credit card could help you score some free nights and other perks. Of the three consumer cards, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card offers the best value, despite its $450 annual fee. But if you’d prefer to avoid an annual fee, the Hilton Honors Card from American Express may be a better fit.

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Compare Hilton credit cards

Hilton Honors Card from American Express Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card Hilton Honors American Express

Aspire Card

Highest possible rewards rate 7 points/$1 12 points/$1 14 points/$1
Annual fee None $95 $450
Hilton Honors status Silver Gold Diamond
Free request rewards night No Yes, but has spending requirement Yes
Annual free weekend rewards night No No Yes
Annual travel credits None None Up to $500
Foreign transaction fee None None None

  1. Hilton Honors Card from American Express
  2. Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
  3. Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

What you need to know about each card

There are three consumer-focused Hilton Honors credit cards. They’re designed for people who love to travel (so overseas travelers will appreciate that each card has no foreign transaction fee) and stay at Hilton hotels. But be careful when making your choice. Each card has its pros and cons. Here’s what you need to know about each Hilton credit card before choosing one.

Hilton Honors Card from American Express

One of the standout features of the Hilton Honors Card from American Express is that it’s the only one of the three that doesn’t have an annual fee.

Here’s how many Hilton Honors Bonus Points you’ll earn for every $1 spent with this card.

  • Eligible Hilton purchases: 7 points
  • U.S. restaurants: 5 points
  • U.S. supermarkets: 5 points
  • U.S. gas stations: 5 points
  • All other eligible purchases: 3 points

You’ll also receive instant Hilton Honors Silver status if you’re approved for this card. Finally, Hilton is currently offering 75,000 Bonus Points as a welcome bonus to new cardholders who spend $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of card ownership.

From our partner

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card does have an annual fee ($95), but it also adds a few additional benefits.

First of all, this card comes with complimentary Hilton Gold status, as opposed to Silver. Also, if you spend $40,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year, you can earn an upgrade to Hilton Honors Diamond status. And your upgrade will last until the end of the next calendar year.

Spending at least $15,000 on your Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card earns you a free weekend rewards night. Rewards nights can be used at dozens of Hilton locations. Depending on which hotel you choose, a rewards night could save you hundreds of dollars.

And this card also comes with better rewards rates.

  • Eligible Hilton purchases: 12 points
  • U.S. restaurants: 6 points
  • U.S. supermarkets: 6 points
  • U.S. gas stations: 6 points
  • All other eligible purchases: 3 points

Finally, you get 10 free airport lounge visits each year with this card through Priority Pass Select, and new cardholders can earn 125,000 Bonus Points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months of card ownership.

From our partner

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Of the three consumer Hilton credit cards, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card offers the most perks … and is also by far the most expensive. If you’re not a fan of annual fees, this card’s $450 annual fee might make you break out in a sweat.

And we don’t blame you. That’s a lot of money to pay for the privilege of using a credit card. But don’t dismiss the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card too quickly. Believe it or not, this is the only one of the three Hilton cards that can pay for itself each year before you even make one purchase. Here’s how.

Each year that you own this card, Hilton will give you up to $250 in Hilton resort credit and up to $250 in incidentals credit for one airline. So before you’ve even earned one point with this card, you can earn as much as $500 worth of rewards.

But this card’s best feature may be that it gives cardholders a free weekend rewards night every year without any spending requirement. And you can earn an additional rewards night through spending, though you’d have to spend at least $60,000 in a calendar year to qualify.

And while you get 10 complimentary airport lounge visits with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, you’ll get unlimited Priority Pass Select lounge access with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.

When it comes to rewards, this card offers the most points per $1 on Hilton purchases and restaurants. But it’s important to note that supermarkets and gas stations are not bonus categories for this card. Instead, you’ll earn extra on flights and car rentals. Here’s how it breaks down.

  • Eligible Hilton purchases: 14 points
  • U.S. restaurants: 7 points
  • Flights booked directly with airlines or Amex Travel: 7 points
  • Car rentals booked directly with select car rental companies: 7 points
  • All other eligible purchases: 3 points

Finally, this card offers the best welcome offer for new customers at 150,000 Bonus Points. But you’ll need to spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of your account opening in order to qualify for those points.

How to pick the right card for you

If you can take full advantage of its perks, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card offers the best value. Across the board, it gives stellar benefits, and the free weekend rewards night that you’ll get each year is the ultimate cherry on the top. But if you don’t fly often, you may not be able to take advantage of the $250 airline incidentals credit. Also, the $4,000 spending requirement for the welcome bonus may be difficult to reach, depending on your spending habits.

In these cases, you may want to consider the basic Hilton Honors Card from American Express instead. It has no annual fee and you only need to spend $1,000 in the first three months of ownership to qualify for the welcome bonus. Plus, it gives a generous five points per $1 spent on restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations in the U.S.

Finally, we have the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card. This card seems to exist in a strange twilight zone between the other two Hilton cards and struggles to validate its $95 annual fee.

Yes, you can earn a free rewards night with this card, but you’ll have to spend $15,000 in a calendar year in order to do so. And, yes, it gives five more points on eligible Hilton purchases than the Hilton Honors card, but only one extra point for U.S. restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations.

Finally, the 10 Priority Pass lounge visits are a nice perk, but there are several high-end credit cards that offer unlimited Priority Pass membership.

If you spend at least $15,000 annually, it could be worth getting the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card to earn the free weekend rewards night. Otherwise, you’ll probably want to choose between the economical Hilton Honors Card from American Express and the luxurious Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.

Not sure any of these cards are for you? Consider these alternatives.