Hilton Honors American Express Card Benefits & Review 2021
The Hilton Honors American Express Card is a robust hotel credit card without an annual fee or foreign transaction fee. In addition, you can earn Hilton Honors points on all purchases and complimentary Hilton Honors Silver loyalty status.
Here is what you need to know about the Hilton Honors Credit Card.
This card is the best fit for travelers that infrequently stay at Hilton properties but want to enjoy enhanced Hilton Honors loyalty benefits and avoid an annual fee.
You should also consider this card to earn Hilton Honors points on purchases and prevent your hotel points from expiring if you don’t book Hilton award nights at least once per year. Hilton Honors points expire after 15 months of account inactivity.
As this card doesn’t have an annual fee, it can also be a good option if you want a travel rewards card with no annual fee. However, travelers that currently pay an annual fee may feel this card lacks excitement as it offers minimal benefits. Travel credit cards with no annual fee are best for earning points.
Regular Hilton guests should consider another cobranded Hilton Honors credit that charges an annual fee but provides more travel benefits. You should also avoid this rewards card if you don’t want to redeem your purchase rewards for Hilton hotel nights.
|Benefits at a Glance|
|– Annual Fee: $0|
– Current Bonus: Earn up to 130,000 bonus points. Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend a total of $5,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months.
– APR: 15.74% to 24.74% variable APR
– 7x Hilton Honors Points on eligible Hilton hotel and resort purchases
– 5x points at U.S. gas stations, restaurants, and supermarkets
– 3x points on all non-bonus purchases
– Hilton Honors Silver status
– No foreign transaction fee
– Free secondary user cards
– Secondary Car Rental Loss and Damage Waiver
– Pay It Plan It flexible payment options for single purchases
– Good credit score required (670+)
Featured Hilton Honors Credit Card Benefits
The Hilton Honors American Express Card has several travel perks.
Up to 130,000 Hilton Honors Points Welcome Offer
The current welcome offer is worth up to 130,000 Hilton Honors points. Standard award nights start at 5,000 points making this bonus potentially worth 26 free nights.
Here are details on how to earn the full bonus.
- Spend $1,000 in the first 3 months to earn 80,000 points.
- Spend a total of $5,000 in the first 6 months to earn an additional 50,000 points.
American Express states this bonus is not available to applicants “who have or have had this card.” The institution may also consider the current number of American Express cards to determine your eligibility for this welcome offer.
It’s possible to qualify for this bonus if you currently have one of the other co-brand Hilton Honors American Express consumer or small business credit cards.
These eligibility guidelines are similar to the other cards in the American Express portfolio.
7x Hilton Points on Hilton Purchases
This card earns the most purchase rewards for Hilton portfolio spending. Hotel or resort reservations and on-property purchases earn 7 Hilton Honors points per $1.
5x Hilton Points Bonus Categories
Certain “lifestyle purchases” can earn 5 points per $1 instead of the 3x points base rate.
The 5x bonus categories are:
- Gas stations
- Restaurants (includes takeout and delivery)
Only United States purchases for these bonus categories will earn bonus points. International purchases for these three categories will earn the standard payout of 3 points per $1 and won’t incur a foreign transaction fee.
All non-bonus purchases earn unlimited 3 points per $1.
Hilton Honors Silver Status
The primary cardholder automatically receives Hilton Honors Silver loyalty status. This is the second of four tiers in the Hilton Honors loyalty chart and requires non-cardholders to either have five nights, two stays, or 12,500 points to upgrade from the entry-level Member to Silver.
Some of the Silver status benefits include:
- Earn 20% bonus on base points for each stay
- 5th night is free when you book 5+ night award stays with 100% points
- Two complimentary bottles of water (at participating properties)
These loyalty benefits are sufficient for periodic guests to get more value from the points.
Making at least $20,000 in calendar year purchases upgrades your loyalty status to Gold through the following year. You can also jump to the Gold tier after completing 20 nights or 10 stays.
Gold level benefits include daily food and beverage credits along with space-available room upgrades.
The Hilton Honors credit cards with an annual fee provide complimentary Gold status. If this loyalty level is vital to you, the upfront investment can be worth it.
Other Hilton Honors Credit Card Benefits
These additional benefits add more value to carrying this card in your wallet as you make everyday purchases and book travel.
Rental Car Insurance
Secondary car rental loss and damage insurance is standard on most United States and international rentals. You will need to decline the rental agency’s collision damage waiver to be eligible for this coverage.
This coverage level is standard for most rewards credit cards and activates after submitting a damage claim with your primary auto insurance provider.
The Vacationer Tip
While secondary rental car insurance is helpful, primary insurance is significantly better. With primary rental car insurance, you file with the credit card company before your personal auto insurer. The Hilton Honors American Express card, or any American Express card for that matter, does not include primary rental car insurance without an additional fee.
No Foreign Transaction Fee
This card is a friendly option for international travel as it has a 0% foreign transaction fee. Non-Hilton purchases will earn an unlimited 3 points per $1. Qualifying Hilton purchases will continue to earn 7 points per $1.
Pay It Plan It
You can make customized payment plans with the American Express Pay It Plan It feature. Your payment options depend on the purchase amount.
- Purchases under $100 (Pay It Tap): Make mini-payments during the current month. The balance will need to be paid by the statement balance due date to avoid potential interest charges.
- Purchases above $100 (Pay It Select): Split a purchase into equal monthly payments with a fixed fee and no interest.
The fees for this payment option can be lower than paying the variable purchase APR.
American Express will extend the manufacturer’s warranty by one year on eligible items.
Qualifying purchases that are accidentally lost, damaged, or stolen can qualify for up to $1,000 in purchase protection (up to $50,000 per calendar year). The protection window is up to 90 days from the original purchase date.
Free Additional Cards
Secondary user cards are free and available for your spouse, children at least 13 years old, and other acquaintances you trust.
Purchases for additional cards earn Hilton Honors points. However, the primary account holder is responsible for paying the balance in full each month.
Free ShopRunner Membership
Cardholders can enroll and receive free ShopRunner 2-day shipping at participating online stores that sell clothing, beauty items, and electronics, for instance.
A ShopRunner membership also includes free return shipping for over 100 stores.
Global Assist Hotline
An American Express agent will provide free assistance if you need emergency assistance as you travel or run errands around town. For example, you may need Amex to dispatch a tow truck or roadside assistance.
You will still need to pay third-party service charges for any services they perform.
Redeeming Hilton Honors Points
There are several ways to redeem the Hilton Honors points you earn from card purchases. All earnings deposit in the linked Hilton Honors account for the basic cardmember.
Hilton Rewards Nights
Like any hotel credit card, the most valuable redemption option is rewards nights with the co-brand loyalty program. Hilton Honors points can be worth at least 0.5 cents each when staying at hotels and resorts.
Rewards nights start at 5,000 points for entry-level properties. However, luxury properties along with hotels in popular destinations are likely to require more points. The most expensive nights can require as many as 120,000 points.
You can extend the value of your Hilton points by redeeming them for a minimum stay of five consecutive nights. The fifth night is free when you pay for the stay completely with points.
Paying completely with points also waives those annoying resort fees.
While the redemption value most likely won’t be as high, you can redeem points for flight, car rentals, Lyft rideshares, and vacation packages.
It’s also possible to transfer points to participating airline loyalty programs and Amtrak. The redemption ratio is approximately 10,000 Hilton points become 1,000 airline miles (10:1).
You can also convert them to American Express Membership Rewards if you want to use them for non-Hilton award travel or cash rewards.
You won’t pay an annual fee or any foreign transaction fee but some fees still apply.
- Annual Fee: $0
- Foreign Transaction Fee: 0%
- Purchase APR: 15.74% to 24.75% variable APR
- Pay It Plan It Plan Fee: Up to 1.33% of the purchase amount
- Overlimit Fee: $0
- Late Payments: Up to $40
- Returned Payments: Up to $40
There isn’t an introductory APR for new purchases or balance transfers. Instead, the standard variable purchase APR applies to all outstanding balances 25 days after the billing period closes.
Hilton Honors Credit Card Compared to Similar Cards
You might find more value from these other rewards cards. For example, some do not charge an annual fee just like the Hilton Honors American Express Card.
Chase Freedom Flex℠:
The Chase Freedom Flex is a hybrid travel and cash rewards credit card with no annual fee. This card earns up to 5% back on purchases with each point worth 1 cent each for travel and cash redemptions.
You can earn bonus points on a variety of purchases:
- 5% back on rotating quarterly bonus categories (on the first $1,500 per quarter)
- 5% back on travel purchased through Chase
- 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases
- 1% back on remaining purchases
The signup bonus is $200 cash back after spending $500 in the first 3 months. The introductory APR is 0% on purchases for the first 15 months with a 14.99%-23.74% variable APR after that. The annual fee is $0. Unfortunately, it has a 3% foreign transaction fee.
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card:
The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card is the mid-level consumer option. It has a $95 annual fee, no foreign transaction fee, and offers more benefits.
- Earn 12x points on Hilton purchases
- Earn 6x points on gas, dining, and supermarkets (U.S. purchases only)
- Hilton Honors Gold status
- Free Weekend Night Reward after 15,000 in purchases during a calendar year
- 10 free Priority Pass Select visits per year
The current welcome offer is worth up to 180,000 Hilton points, potentially worth up to 36 reward nights. Earn the first 130,000 points by spending $2,000 in the first 3 months. Then, spending a total of $10,000 in the first 6 months to earn another 50,000 points.
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card:
Frequent Hilton guests and travelers who prefer luxury experiences should consider the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.
- 14x points on Hilton hotels and resorts purchases
- 7x points on qualifying flight and rental car bookings
- 7x points at U.S. restaurants
- Hilton Honors Diamond status
- 1 Weekend Night Reward at account opening and another each card anniversary
- Annual $250 Hilton Resort statement credit
- Up to $250 airline fee credit per year
- Up to $100 Hilton on-property credit
- Priority Pass Select airport lounge access
The annual fee $450 for the primary card and there is no foreign transaction fee.
Another premium hotel credit card to consider is the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card. The card benefits are similar to the Hilton Honors Aspire and worth considering if you also stay at Marriott Bonvoy properties.
Capital One Venture:
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card earns unlimited 2x miles on every purchase. You can redeem miles on recent travel purchases as a travel statement credit at 1 cent per mile (1,000 miles equals $10) with no redemption minimum. The annual fee is $95 and there is no foreign transaction fee.
Consider this card if you want to redeem your credit card points for Hilton and non-Hilton travel expenses.
If you prefer a no-annual-fee travel credit card there is also the Capital One VentureOne. However, it only earns 1.25 miles per $1 and doesn’t offer the Global Entry fee credit.
There is no annual fee or foreign transaction fee for the Hilton Honors American Express Card.
Qualifying Hilton hotels and resorts purchases, including online reservations, earn 7 Hilton Honors points per $1.
Purchases within the United States at restaurants, gas stations, and supermarkets earn unlimited 5x points. All non-bonus purchases earn 3 points per $1.
Purchases at restaurants in the United States earn 5x points, including takeout and food delivery. All purchases made outside the United States only earn the 3x points base rate.
Purchases at U.S. supermarkets earn 5 points per $1. Grocery purchases at discount stores like Walmart and Target do not qualify for the purchase rewards bonus.
The Hilton Honors Card earns 5x points on gasoline purchases at U.S. gas stations.
The entry-level Hilton Honors American Express Card provides complimentary Hilton Honors Silver loyalty status and the ability to earn up to 7x points on Hilton portfolio purchases.
The $0 annual fee Hilton Honors American Express Card does not currently provide an opportunity to earn a Hilton Weekend Night Certificate. Only the co-brand Hilton Honors credit cards with an annual fee offer the award travel opportunity.
Applicants will need a minimum 670 credit score to qualify for the Hilton Honors American Express Card. A score above 700 can have higher approval odds and is more likely to have an instant approval decision.
New cardmembers can earn up to 130,000 bonus Hilton Honors points.
Hilton Honors points typically expire after 15 months of loyalty account inactivity. Earning or redeeming Hilton points is one way to renew the entire point balance.
Theoretically, Hilton points won’t expire as long as you have a Hilton Honors credit card and make an occasional purchase to earn points.
Due to the pandemic, Hilton is postponing all point expirations through December 31, 2021.
The Vacationer’s Final Thoughts
Infrequent Hilton Honors guests and casual travelers should consider the Hilton Honors American Express Card. You might consider this card as it’s a fee-free and effortless way to prevent your Hilton Honors points balance from expiring due to account inactivity.
However, regular Hilton guests should consider one of the other Hilton Honors credit cards with an annual fee to access more travel benefits. These perks can easily offset the annual fee in as little as one or two stays in most instances.
Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
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