The 3 Hilton Honors Credit Cards, Compared

Sign up for a Hilton Honors credit card and get benefits like bonuses, free stays, and airport lounge access.
Last updated July 29, 2022 | By Kat Tretina
Couple walking in a hotel hallway with their luggage

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If you love to travel but you’re on a budget, you’re likely looking for the best travel credit card that can help you snag benefits and free hotel stays. For Hilton hotel devotees, signing up for a branded credit card can be a smart strategy. But which Hilton credit card is best for you? Find out below.

The 3 Hilton cards, compared

If you frequently stay at Hilton hotels or resorts, it makes sense to become a Hilton Honors member. Joining this free program can earn you perks like a guaranteed member discount, no resort fees, and complimentary late check-out. If you progress to Silver, Gold, or Diamond status, you can even earn extra hotel benefits like a complimentary breakfast (people’s favorite free benefit!) and free hotel stays.

You can achieve a higher membership status faster by signing up for a Hilton-branded credit card. There are three credit cards available to consumers:

Hilton Honors American Express Card

Hilton Honors American Express Card

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Annual fee $0 (See rates and fees)
Terms apply
$95 (See rates and fees)
Terms apply
$450 (See rates and fees)
Terms apply
Bonus Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
Earning rate 7X points at participating hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio; 5X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; and 3X points on all other eligible purchases 12X points when spending directly with an eligible Hilton hotel or resort; 6X points on purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; and 3X points on all other eligible purchases 14X points on eligible purchases within the Hilton portfolio, 7X points on qualifying travel purchases made directly with airlines/select car rental companies or Amextravel.com, 7X points at U.S. restaurants, and 3X points on all other purchases
Travel credits None None
  • $250 Hilton Resort statement credit
  • $100 Hilton property credit
  • $250 airline incidental credit
Honors status Silver Gold Diamond
Free nights None Free weekend night reward with spend
  • Annual free weekend night rewards
  • Free weekend night reward with spend
Airport lounge access None 10 Priority Pass Select Lounge visits per year (enrollment required) Unlimited Priority Pass Select Lounge visits (enrollment required)
Other perks
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Baggage insurance
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance (secondary coverage)
  • Extended warranty
  • Purchase protection
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Baggage insurance
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance (secondary coverage)
  • Extended warranty
  • Purchase protection
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Return protection
  • Baggage insurance
  • Car rental and damage insurance (secondary coverage)
  • Extended warranty
  • Purchase protection

When to get the Hilton Honors American Express card

The Hilton Honors American Express Card could be a good choice for someone who wants to get the most out of their Hilton Honors points and boost their status level but who doesn’t want to pay an annual fee.

The welcome bonus is relatively generous: Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months. Depending on where you want to stay, that bonus could be enough to get you a few free nights at a hotel. It would cover nearly all of a two-night stay at the Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace, for example, which would cost 76,000 points or $244.

When it comes to earning points on Hilton hotel stays, you’ll earn them twice: Once from your credit card rewards and then again from your Silver Hilton Honors status, which you automatically receive regardless of how many stays you’ve booked.

As a Silver member, you earn 12 points per $1 spent at Hilton properties. Use your credit card to book your stay, and you’ll get an additional seven points per $1 spent. That means you can get 19 points per $1 spent at Hilton properties, helping you earn points nearly as twice as fast as someone who is just a Hilton Honors club member.

The card offers some nice travel benefits, too. You’ll get perks like baggage insurance, car rental and damage insurance, extended warranty protection, and purchase protection.

However, there are some downsides to keep in mind. Compared to the other Hilton-branded credit cards, the rewards are fairly low. If you stay at a Hilton-branded hotel more than a few times a year, upgrading to one of the other premium cards could give you a higher rate of return and more benefits.

Generous Rewards and Lucrative Welcome Bonus

Intro Offer

Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

7X points at participating hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio; 5X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; and 3X points on all other eligible purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • High rewards rates
  • Complimentary Silver status
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee. Terms apply.

Drawbacks

  • Minimum premium travel benefits
Card Details
  • Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • 7X points at participating hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio; 5X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; and 3X points on all other eligible purchases
  • Terms apply

When to get the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card

If you’re looking for a step up from the Hilton Honors Card, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card may be the best hotel credit card for you. With a small annual fee — $95 — it offers a bigger welcome bonus, higher rewards, and more perks.

Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening an account. That’s nearly enough to cover the 126,000 points needed for three nights at the Tropicana Las Vegas — a $330 value.

You’ll be automatically upgraded to Hilton Honors Gold status. That means you can earn 30 points per $1 spent at Hilton properties: 12X points per $1 spent from your credit card and 18X points per $1 spent from the Hilton Honors Gold status. That’s three times as many points you’d earn as just a Hilton Honors member.

The card also has added benefits that enhance its value. If you spend at least $15,000 with your card, you’ll qualify for a free weekend night reward. You’ll also get 10 free Priority Pass Select passes each year, giving you access to airport lounges across the country (enrollment required). The card offers other benefits as well, including travel insurance and purchase protections.

While the card has value, its annual fee means it might not be right for you if you only travel occasionally. To offset its cost, you’d have to spend enough to earn a free hotel night or two. If you spend less than that a year, you may be better off with a general rewards credit card.

Robust Welcome Offer

Intro Offer

Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months

Annual Fee

$95

Rewards Rate

12X points when spending directly with an eligible Hilton hotel or resort; 6X points on purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; and 3X points on all other eligible purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 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
  • $95 annual fee. Terms apply.

Drawbacks

  • Has annual fee
  • No intro APR
  • No free anniversary night
Card Details
  • Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 12X points when spending directly with an eligible Hilton hotel or resort; 6X points on purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; and 3X points on all other eligible purchases
  • Terms apply

When to get the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

If you travel and stay at Hilton-branded hotels multiple times a year, opting for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card likely makes sense. Offering elite membership status and premium rewards, you can earn valuable perks quickly.

Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. That’s enough to cover the cost of a four-night stay — 148,000 points — at the Hilton Garden Inn Center City in Philadelphia, a $584 value.

You’ll also get Hilton Honors Diamond status. You’ll earn 14 points per $1 spent at Hilton properties with your card and 20 points per $1 spent with your Diamond status, giving you a total of 34 points per $1 spent. That’s nearly double what a Hilton Honors cardmember earns and more than three times what someone earns with just membership status.

The card does have a relatively high annual fee of $450. To offset the cost, you’ll probably need to travel several times a year and take advantage of the card’s other perks. If used wisely, you can get more benefits from the card that justify its annual fee:

  • Free weekend night reward: You can choose from most Hilton-branded properties to redeem your free weekend night. Depending on where you stay, this benefit could be worth up to $500. For example, a night at the Boca Beach Club Waldorf Astoria, a luxury resort, is $498.
  • $100 property credit: Use your card to book an eligible property through HiltonHonors.com/AspireCard, and you’ll receive a property credit of $100, which will be applied to your hotel bill at checkout.
  • $250 airline fee credit: Select a qualifying airline at AmericanExpress.com/AirlineCreditChoice and then use your card to pay for incidental airline fees, such as checked baggage fees, inflight entertainment, or seat assignment fees. You’ll get up to $250 as a statement credit to cover those costs.
  • $250 Hilton Resort credit: Each year, you’ll receive up to $250 as a statement credit for eligible purchases made directly with Hilton Honors to cover charges like spa visits or restaurant bills.
  • Priority Pass Select membership: As a Hilton Honors American Express Aspire cardmember, you get free Priority Pass Select membership, giving you unlimited access to Priority Pass airport lounges — a $429 value. You will need to enroll to receive this benefit.

All told, those benefits could give you a value of $1,529. However, to take advantage of all of those credits, you’d have to travel often. If you only travel once or twice a year, you may only be able to use a fraction of them.

Fabulous Rewards for Hilton Fans

Intro Offer

Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months

Annual Fee

$450

Rewards Rate

14X points on eligible purchases within the Hilton portfolio, 7X points on qualifying travel purchases made directly with airlines/select car rental companies or Amextravel.com, 7X points at U.S. restaurants, and 3X points on all other purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Earn 150,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
  • 14X points on eligible Hilton purchases
  • $250 in annual Hilton Resort credits
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $450 annual fee. Terms apply.

Drawbacks

  • High annual fee
  • Best for frequent Hilton travelers
Card Details
  • Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
  • 14X points on eligible purchases within the Hilton portfolio, 7X points on qualifying travel purchases made directly with airlines/select car rental companies or Amextravel.com, 7X points at U.S. restaurants, and 3X points on all other purchases
  • Terms apply

Applying for a card

If you’re a fan of Hilton-branded hotels and travel often, signing up for one of its credit cards could be wise. Figuring out which Hilton credit card is best is dependent on your travel and spending habits. Occasional travelers would probably enjoy the Hilton Honors American Express Card, while frequent travelers who indulge in luxury amenities will likely prefer the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.

Robust Welcome Offer

Intro Offer

Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months

Annual Fee

$95

Rewards Rate

12X points when spending directly with an eligible Hilton hotel or resort; 6X points on purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; and 3X points on all other eligible purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 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
  • $95 annual fee. Terms apply.

Drawbacks

  • Has annual fee
  • No intro APR
  • No free anniversary night
Card Details
  • Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 12X points when spending directly with an eligible Hilton hotel or resort; 6X points on purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; and 3X points on all other eligible purchases
  • Terms apply

Author Details

Kat Tretina Kat Tretina is a freelance writer based in Orlando, Florida. Her work has been published by publications like The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, MarketWatch, and more. She specializes in producing content around paying down debt, increasing income, and maximizing credit cards. You can view her work at www.KTretina.com, or contact her on Twitter @KatTretina.