A Beginner’s Guide to Hilton Credit Cards

Hilton offers co-branded cards that cater to a variety of travel priorities and spending habits.
Carissa Rawson
By Carissa Rawson 
Updated

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

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.

Hilton Honors American Express Card
NerdWallet rating 

The Hilton Honors American Express Card comes with few ongoing benefits, but does include a generous welcome offer: Earn 70,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points plus a Free Night Reward after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership. Offer Ends 7/31/2024. Terms apply.

The card also gives you complimentary Hilton Honors™ Silver 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.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
NerdWallet rating 

The second of Hitlon’s consumer credit cards, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, charges a $150 annual fee. Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points plus a Free Night Reward after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership. Offer Ends 7/31/2024. Terms apply.

Not only will you earn 12 points per $1 spent at Hilton, 6 points per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations and 4 points per $1 spent on U.S. online retail, you’ll also be granted Hilton Honors™ Gold 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. Note that existing cardholders who enrolled in Priority Pass on or before Jan. 31, 2023, will no longer have a membership as of Feb. 1, 2024. Cardholders who enroll between Feb. 1, 2023 and Jan. 31, 2024, will continue to have membership through Oct. 31, 2024. Terms apply.

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 $550 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 180,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $6,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership. Offer Ends 1/17/2024. Terms apply.

But that’s not all. Cardholders also enjoy:

Terms apply.

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 Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
NerdWallet rating 

The only small-business card that Hilton offers, The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card charges a $195 annual fee.

The benefits that come with this $195 annual fee mimic many of those from the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card. Those benefits include:

  • Hilton Honors™ Gold 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 175,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $8,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors Business Card within the first six months of Card Membership. Offer Ends 6/5. Terms Apply.

Comparing Hilton credit cards

Here's the CliffsNotes version of the personal Hilton credit cards available.

Annual fee

$0.

$150.

$550.

Free night certificate

N/A

Certificate can be earned after spending $15,000 in a calendar year.

Initial certificate distributed when you are approved for the card and every year on your cardmember anniversary. Earn a second night when you spend $30,000 and a third night when you spend $60,000 on the card in a calendar year.

Elite status

Hilton Honors™ Silver.

Hilton Honors™ Gold.

Hilton Honors™ Diamond.

Welcome offer

Earn 70,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points plus a Free Night Reward after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership. Offer Ends 7/31/2024. Terms apply.

Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points plus a Free Night Reward after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership. Offer Ends 7/31/2024. Terms apply.

Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $6,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

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.

🤓Nerdy Tip

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 $400 resort credit and $200 flight 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.

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 $550 annual fee comes with more than that 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 2024, including those best for:

Travel Cards from Our Partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x-5x

5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.

Points

Intro offer

75,000

Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's over $900 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Points
Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1.5%-5%

Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Cashback

Intro offer

Up to $300

Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
4.7
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

2x-5x

Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.

Miles

Intro offer

75,000

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

Miles
See more travel cards
Get more smart money moves – straight to your inbox
Sign up and we’ll send you Nerdy articles about the money topics that matter most to you along with other ways to help you get more from your money.