Hilton Honors American Express Review: Excellent Rewards With No Annual Fee

The Hilton Honors American Express Card offers a great way to dip your toe into hotel rewards, but you could still get more value elsewhere.
5 minute read | 10/3/19Oct. 3, 2019

Travel credit cards provide a lot of valuable features, but many of the best options charge annual fees. If you want to dip your toe into the world of travel rewards but aren’t yet sure how you feel about annual fees, the Hilton Honors American Express Card may be a good fit.

In this Hilton Honors Amex review, you’ll learn about the pros and cons of the card, who it’s good for, how to use it, and some potential alternatives.

Generous Rewards

Hilton Honors American Express Card

Hilton Honors American Express Card

Hilton Honors American Express Card

Benefits

  • 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points welcome offer
  • High rewards rate
  • Complimentary Silver status
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee
  • Terms apply

Drawbacks

  • Minimum premium travel benefits

The Hilton Honors American Express Card is worth considering if you’re loyal to Hilton and don’t want the pressure of an annual fee. The card offers potentially valuable rewards on purchases made with the hotel brand and select everyday spending categories.

If you’re looking for more value, however, a hotel credit card with an annual fee may be able to provide enough benefits to outweigh the yearly cost. Be sure to carefully consider all your options and run the numbers for each one to ensure you get the right fit.

Card basics

Annual Fee $0
Welcome Bonus Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months
Recommended Credit Score Excellent, Good
Foreign Transaction Fee None

Top card benefits

  • Generous welcome offer: Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. Depending on where you look, Hilton Honors points are worth 0.5 to 0.6 cents apiece on average.
  • No annual fee: Annual fees aren’t inherently bad, but they do require you to get enough value out of cards to make up for them. With no annual fee, you can use your card without wondering whether it’s worth it.
  • Silver elite status: The card offers automatic Silver elite status, which comes with extra benefits regular members don’t have. Examples include a fifth night free, two bottles of water in your room, and elite tier rollover nights.
  • Path to Gold elite status: If you spend at least $20,000 on your card in a calendar year, you’ll be bumped up to Gold elite status. This level provides more perks beyond Silver, including room upgrades, complimentary breakfast, and unlimited milestone bonuses.
  • Trip protections: The card doesn’t offer a lot in the way of travel protections, but you will get rental car insurance (secondary coverage), travel accident insurance, and access to a Global Assist Hotline. There are also no foreign transaction fees, which can save you money when you travel abroad.

Earning & redeeming

Depending on how you spend your money, it’s possible to get a good amount of value out of the card’s rewards program. And because Hilton has a dynamic rewards program, the value of your points can vary based on how and where you book, so it’s feasible to maximize your points that way, too.

Best ways to earn

Category Rewards rate
Hotel and resort purchases at eligible properties in the Hilton portfolio 7X
U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations 5X
All other purchases 3X

Like virtually all hotel credit cards, the Hilton Honors American Express Card offers bonus rewards on purchases made with its co-branded hotel partner. You’ll earn 7X points per dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with a hotel or resort in the Hilton portfolio.

The card also offers 5X points per dollar on purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations, as well as 3X points per dollar on everything else. The more you spend at Hilton and in other bonus categories, the easier it will be to rack up rewards.

Maximizing your redemptions

As previously mentioned, Hilton Honors points are worth 0.5 cents to 0.6 cents apiece on average, depending on where you look. The important thing to understand with that range is that it’s an average rather than a set value.

This means that depending on how you redeem your points, they could be worth more or less than that average. As a result, it’s important to be mindful when redeeming rewards to avoid losing value on a bad redemption. Look at the price of the stay with and without points to understand how much value you’re getting per point, then compare that to the average.

For example, if a hotel is charging $120 per night or 30,000 points, the redemption value is 0.4 cents per point and may not be worth it. If, however, the cost is $200 per night or 30,000 points, you’re getting 0.67 cents per point, which could be worth it.

Also, keep in mind that Hilton offers other redemption options, including experiences, on-property rewards, shopping and dining, travel and transportation, and more. In general, though, you’ll get the best value when you use your points to book hotel stays.

Common questions

As we’ve researched the Hilton Honors American Express Card, we’ve come across some questions that might help you decide if the card is right for you. Here are some of the more popular ones, along with their answers.

How does the Hilton Honors Amex compare to other Hilton Honors cards?

The Hilton Honors American Express Card is the only Hilton credit card with no annual fee, but with that perk comes with less value overall. The other two consumer options include the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card and the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.

Both of the other cards charge annual fees — with the Hilton Honors Aspire Card charging $450 — but also offer bigger welcome offers and more valuable benefits. Take the time to compare each to determine which one will give you the best net value overall.

What’s the difference between Hilton Honors base points and bonus points?

Hilton Honors base points are earned when you stay at a Hilton resort or hotel — every Hilton member, regardless of whether you have a credit card, earns 10 base points per dollar on eligible hotel stays.

Hilton bonus points, on the other hand, are earned through Hilton Honors credit cards and when you sign up for Hilton Honors bonus promotions. If you have a stay coming up, check out the latest promotion to see if you can earn more rewards.

What credit score do I need to increase my chances of being approved for the Hilton Honors Amex?

American Express doesn’t list a specific credit score you need to get approved for the card. However, you’ll typically need good or excellent credit to have a solid chance of getting it. Good credit typically starts at a FICO credit score of 670 and a VantageScore of 700.

Other cards to consider

The Hilton Honors American Express Card is a solid choice for fee-averse consumers who want to earn rewards with Hilton. However, if you want more flexibility with your travel rewards or more Hilton-specific perks, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card or the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card may be a better fit.

Generous Rewards

Hilton Honors American Express Card

Hilton Honors American Express Card

Hilton Honors American Express Card

Special Offer

Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months

See how these cards compare:

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
  • 50,000 bonus miles welcome offer
  • 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit
  • No foreign transaction fees
Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express
Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express
  • 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points welcome offer
  • 12X points at participating Hilton hotels and resorts
  • Free weekend night reward stay after spending $15,000 in a calendar year
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Terms apply

Advertising Policy

FinanceBuzz.com is an independent, advertising-supported website. Some of the offers that appear on this page are from third party advertisers from which FinanceBuzz.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear).

FinanceBuzz.com does not include all financial or credit offers that might be available to consumers in the marketplace. FinanceBuzz.com does not include all companies or all available products.

FinanceBuzz has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. FinanceBuzz and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone.