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Perhaps you already have a travel credit card or two. Maybe your cards, like the Chase Ultimate Rewards® card, earn flexible point currencies. Or maybe you have a card that earns airline miles. Whatever the case, now you’re considering adding a Hilton credit card to the mix.
The only problem? You’re not familiar with Hilton cards — and there are a lot of them. So, let’s take a beginner-friendly look at Hilton credit cards so you can find the card that best suits your needs.
An overview of Hilton credit cards
Like many other hotel chains, Hilton features a handful of co-branded credit cards. These cards, issued by American Express, offer benefits when staying at Hilton properties. There are a total of four Hilton credit cards, including one small-business option. Annual fees and perks vary from one card to the next.
As the annual fee increases, you’ll find correspondingly better benefits. Your situation will dictate which card you can afford.
The Hilton Honors American Express Card comes with few ongoing benefits, but does include a generous welcome offer: Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
The card also gives you complimentary Silver elite status, which entitles you to additional bonus points, your fifth night free on award redemptions, and free bottled water.
You’ll earn 7 points per $1 spent at Hilton and 5 points per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations. All other eligible purchases earn 3 points per $1 spent.
All this for a $0 annual fee. Terms apply.
The second of Hitlon’s consumer credit cards, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, charges a $95 annual fee. Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
Not only will you earn 12 points per $1 spent at Hilton and 6 points per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations, you’ll also be granted Gold elite status as long as you hold the card. Terms apply.
Hilton’s Gold status is substantially more rewarding than Silver, entitling you to room upgrades and daily food and beverage credits for you and a guest.
The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card also comes with 10 complimentary visits per year to Priority Pass airport lounges around the world.
Finally, if you’re a heavy spender, you also have the ability to earn a free night certificate when you use the card for $15,000 in spending in a calendar year.
With Hilton’s premium credit card offering, you’ll be on the hook for a $450 annual fee. Don’t rule it out, though. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card includes a bevy of benefits that can more than make up for the annual fee if you're a savvy traveler.
First off, there's the welcome bonus: Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card after you use your new Card to make $4,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
But that’s not all. Cardholders also enjoy:
These benefits are industry-leading; no other credit card offers top-tier elite status to its cardholders.
You’ll also receive 14 points per $1 spent on eligible Hilton purchases, 7 points per $1 spent on select airfare and rental cars and at U.S. restaurants, and 3 points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases. Terms apply.
The only small-business card that Hilton offers, The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card charges a $95 annual fee.
The benefits that come with this $95 annual fee mimic many of those from the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card. Those benefits include:
Gold elite status.
Priority Pass visits.
Free night rewards with qualifying spend.
The ability to spend your way to higher status.
Like the other cards on this list, The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card comes with a welcome bonus. Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors Business Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
» Learn more: The pros and cons of the Hilton loyalty program
Comparing Hilton credit cards
Here's the CliffsNotes version of the personal Hilton credit cards available.
Free night certificate
Certificate can be earned after spending $15,000 in a calendar year.
Initial certificate received when you are approved for the card; second certificate can be earned after spending $60,000 in a calendar year.
Hilton Honors status
Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card after you use your new Card to make $4,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
Value of welcome offer*
*This value is calculated based on NerdWallet's recent valuations. After looking at hundreds of real-world redemptions, we determined the baseline value of Hilton Honors points to be 0.6 cent each. Learn more about the value of Hilton Honors points.
How many points are needed for a free night?
Hilton has done away with its award chart in favor of dynamic pricing. The minimum number of Hilton points you’ll need to book a standard room is 5,000, but the cost to book a room at a high-end property can reach upward of 120,000.
If you only book award stays at the 5,000-points-per-night redemption level, the welcome offer on the $0-annual-fee Hilton Honors American Express Card can net you up to 16 nights for free. Terms apply.
You can use the Hilton Points Explorer Tool to search hotels by redemption rates, and if you have a specific destination in mind, it’s also simple to search by location. One of the most useful features Hilton offers is the ability to search using flexible pricing, allowing members to scan award rates a month at a time. In order to do this, you’ll need to check “My Dates are Flexible” in the date-selection tool.
Hilton Honors members earn 10 points for every $1 spent at most Hilton properties, and 5 points per $1 spent at Home2 Suites and Tru hotels. Hilton Honors elite members earn additional bonus points that vary from 20% (Silver) to 100% (Diamond) on top of these rates.
Read more about redeeming Hilton points: The Guide to Booking Award Nights With Hilton.
Is a Hilton credit card worth it?
If you're a Hilton loyalist, a co-branded card is worth it. If you're not a Hilton loyalist, a co-branded card may still make sense if you stay in hotels a few times a year.
The key to knowing if getting a Hilton credit card is a smart money move is understanding the value of the welcome bonus, having a semi-established plan for redeeming your hotel points, and knowing whether or not you're going to chase elite status.
Read more in our full guide: Is a Hilton Honors Credit Card Worth It?
How to choose a Hilton credit card
We’ve gone through all of the different credit cards, but how do you choose which Hilton credit card is right for you? Let’s break it down.
How often do you travel?
This is arguably the most important question. If you’re often on the road, it’s much easier to extract value from these credit cards. The $250 resort credit and $250 airline fee credit that comes with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card are of no use to you if you never leave your city.
How much do you value elite status?
Do you like to luxuriate in your hotel, or are you simply looking for somewhere to rest your head? Hotel elite status can morph a cheap night into a high-end hotel stay with benefits such as room upgrades, early check-in, late checkout and daily food credits.
Perks like these start when you have Gold status, which is conferred by the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, making the card worth it even if you’re only traveling twice per year.
» Learn more: How to become a Hilton Honors member
How much are you willing to pay?
This may be a hard one for those unfamiliar with travel credit cards. Often, in order to get the best benefits, you’ve got to be willing to shell out the big bucks. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card’s $450 annual fee comes with a minimum of $500 in credits, but having cash in your bank may be more valuable to you.
If you’re simply looking for a co-braned credit card and a way to earn a few extra Hilton points, you may want to consider the Hilton Honors American Express Card and its $0 annual fee. Although it offers the fewest perks, it’s also the cheapest to have in your wallet.
If you’re considering a Hilton credit card ...
Hilton has more than a few credit cards that will appeal to travelers of all types. Whether you’re a newbie looking for an easy way in or a battle-hardened reward card veteran searching for top-tier benefits, Hilton has you covered.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card