Hilton Honors Card from American Express review: Hotel rewards with no annual fee

A group of smiling women cheers at a restaurant they're paying for with one of the American Express Hilton cards. A group of smiling women cheers at a restaurant they're paying for with one of the American Express Hilton cards. Image:

In a Nutshell

The Hilton Honors Card from American Express offers solid rewards with no annual fee, making it a decent option for the occasional traveler. But if you travel frequently, you’ll likely get more bang for your buck with a different card.

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These offers are no longer available on our site: Hilton Honors Card from American Express, Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express, Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card, The Hyatt Credit Card

The Hilton Honors Card from American Express offers multiple ways to earn points without paying an annual fee.

One way to earn a lot of points right off the bat is by receiving the card’s welcome offer. You’ll earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points when you spend at least $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of card membership.

This welcome offer isn’t as high as some other hotel rewards cards, but it’s still a pretty good deal. And you’ll continue to earn points by using your card on eligible everyday purchases, such as at U.S. gas stations and U.S. restaurants.

With no annual fee and the chance to earn extra points on certain purchases (including at participating Hilton hotels and resorts), this card could be a good choice for loyal Hilton fans. To help you consider if it’s the right card for you, here’s a quick overview.

What we like Heads up
  • Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend at least $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of card membership.
  • No annual fee
  • Limited flexibility to redeem rewards for goods and services
  • Lower reward potential than some other hotel loyalty cards

  1. The rundown: Everything we like about the Hilton Honors Card from American Express
  2. Heads up: What you should consider before applying for the Hilton Honors Card from American Express
  3. Do the math: How to get the most out of the Hilton Honors Card from American Express
  4. The competition: How the Hilton Honors Card from American Express stacks up against similar cards
  5. Bottom line: Is the Hilton Honors Card from American Express right for you?

The rundown: Everything we like about the Hilton Honors Card from American Express

If you don’t want to pay an annual fee but still want to earn hotel rewards you can use when traveling, there’s a lot to like about the Hilton Honors Card from American Express. Here are a few highlights.

Big spending not required to get the welcome bonus

You’ll earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points when you spend at least $1,000 on purchases within 3 months of opening your card. This is one of the lower minimum-purchase amounts required to earn a welcome bonus for a hotel rewards card.

Earn points on everyday purchases

Get five Hilton Honors Bonus Points for every dollar you spend on eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations. And earn three Hilton Honors Bonus Points for every dollar you spend on all other eligible purchases.

Maximize your rewards when you stay with Hilton

Earn seven Hilton Honors Bonus Points for every dollar you spend on eligible purchases made directly with participating Hilton hotels and resorts.

You’ll automatically enjoy Silver status …

With Hilton Honors Silver status, you get a 15% bonus on all the Hilton Honors Base Points you earn, and you receive your fifth standard-room night free when you cash in your points for a five-night (or longer) rewards stay.

… And have a chance to go for the Gold

If you spend at least $20,000 on eligible purchases in a single calendar year, you may be upgraded to Gold status. Gold status benefits include a 25% bonus on all Hilton Honors Base Points you earn, a free night when you redeem your points for a five-night (or longer) rewards stay, and additional perks at Hilton properties around the world.

There’s no foreign transaction fee

Travel anywhere in the world without paying additional fees for purchases you make abroad.

There’s no annual fee

The Hilton Honors Card from American Express is one of the few hotel rewards cards that doesn’t charge an annual fee.

The best hotel credit cards with no annual fee

Heads up: What you should consider before applying for the Hilton Honors Card from American Express

Still not sure if the Hilton Honors Card from American Express is right for you? Here are some things to look at before you make your decision.

Other Hilton cards offer higher rewards

If you’re willing to pay an annual fee, you’ll have an opportunity to earn more points and enjoy additional benefits with the Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express or the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.

If you’re a loyal Hilton customer and travel often, the additional perks you get with these more-premium cards — including bigger welcome bonuses, greater reward potentials and opportunities to earn free nights — may offset the annual fees.

Read More: What's the best Hilton Honors card?

Other travel reward cards offer more flexibility

Hilton has partnered with airlines, railways, car rental companies and more to give you additional ways to use your points when you travel. If you like these companies and they offer what you need, this card could work well for you. If you don’t, a travel rewards card that offers greater flexibility for redeeming your points may be a better fit.   

Do the math: How to get the most out of the Hilton Honors Card from American Express

The rewards structure for the Hilton Honors Card from American Express is straightforward. And with no annual fee, you don’t have to worry about earning enough points to make up for the cost. More benefits are expected for Hilton Honors members in 2018, but there are a few things you can do to maximize the points you’d earn with the card now. Here’s how.

Use your card at Hilton properties

You get the most bang for your buck when you use your card at participating Hilton hotels or resorts. So consider using your card to pay for all purchases you make at a Hilton — including those at lounges, restaurants, spas and more — to maximize the rewards you earn.

Use your card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations

Even if this won’t be your main credit card, consider using it to pay for purchases at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations to boost your rewards. You’ll get five points for every dollar you spend instead of the card’s standard three.

The best credit cards for gas

The competition: How the Hilton Honors Card from American Express stacks up against similar cards

Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express Get more bonus points and a weekend night reward after spending at least $15,000 on purchases with your card in a calendar year. But be prepared to pay a $95 annual fee.
Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending at least $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, plus a free night each year after your account anniversary. This card has an annual fee of $0 intro, $85 after first year.
The Hyatt Credit Card Get 40,000 Bonus Points after spending at least $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening and earn a free night each year after your card member anniversary. This card has a $75 annual fee.

Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express

This card is similar to the Hilton Honors Card from American Express but has a few added perks and a $95 annual fee. And there are additional benefits.

  • Earn a welcome offer of 125,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of card membership. Plus, earn a free weekend night award after your first anniversary of card membership.
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status, with the chance to upgrade to Diamond status
  • Higher rewards (12 points per dollar on purchases made directly with Hilton hotels or resorts and six points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations)

Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card

From our partner

Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card

From cardholders in the last year

If you’re a Marriott loyalist, this may be the card for you. Get a 75,000-point sign-up bonus (enough for a three-night stay at a Category 5 Marriott hotel) and a free night stay after every account anniversary. You’ll earn points on all of your purchases, but you get the most bang for your buck when you use your card at a participating Marriott Rewards® or Starwood Preferred Guest® hotel. This card has an annual fee of $0 intro, $85 after first year.

The Hyatt Credit Card

From our partner

The Hyatt Credit Card

From cardholders in the last year

The Hyatt Credit Card comes with a 40,000-point sign-up bonus after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. You also get a free night each year after your card member anniversary. And you can earn another 5,000 bonus points by adding an authorized user to the account and making a purchase with your card within the first three months as a card member.

You’ll earn points on all of your purchases, but at a lower rate than with the other cards here. But this card may still be worth a look. Just note that it comes with a $75 annual fee.


Bottom line: Is the Hilton Honors Card from American Express right for you?

This card provides the most bang for your buck when you stay at a Hilton hotel or resort, without having the cost of an annual fee. So it’s a decent option for Hilton fans who don’t travel often enough to make paying an annual fee worth it.

If you travel frequently or prefer another hotel chain, a different card with greater rewards may be a better bet. If you want the flexibility to redeem your points for a variety of travel-related expenses, you may want to consider another card.

The essential guide to the best travel rewards cards