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Hilton loyalists can get plenty of value from a co-branded card. Yet even travelers who stay in hotels at least a few times a year should consider the benefits of carrying one.
The greater portfolio of Hilton hotels and resorts spans eighteen brands, from Waldorf Astoria to Hampton by Hilton, totaling over 6,700 properties across 122 countries. So, chances are that if you travel just a few times a year, you may end up staying at a property under the Hilton umbrella.
The brand’s loyalty program, Hilton Honors, makes it easy to earn points during hotel stays, but a co-branded Hilton credit card makes it easy to earn points all the time. With solid welcome offers, good earnings rates on everyday purchases and bonus points on hotel stays, even occasional travelers may want to consider a Hilton Honors credit card.
We'll go over what Hilton Honors credit cards are available and give some tips for helping you answer the question, “Is a Hilton Honors credit card worth it?”
Available Hilton Honors credit cards
American Express and Hilton have partnered to offer several Hilton Honors credit cards, including three personal cards and one for business owners. Welcome offers for these cards change periodically throughout the year.
Here’s a summary of which cards are available, plus their current intro offers.
Personal Hilton Honors credit cards
Hilton Honors American Express Card (annual fee of $0): 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.
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card (annual fee of $95): 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.
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card (annual fee of $450): 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.
Hilton Honors business credit cards
The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card (annual fee of $95): 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.
With four strong options, choosing the right card for you is dependent on the benefits that meet your needs, your budget and your future travel plans.
» Learn more: The best Hilton credit card strategy
How Hilton Honors credit cards work
When you apply for a Hilton Honors credit card, your card will be attached to your Hilton Honors loyalty number. If you aren't already one of the 118 million existing members, a new member number will be created for you when applying for a Hilton Honors credit card.
Once you meet the minimum spending requirements as a new cardholder, you'll earn the bonus specified in the welcome offer. All of your purchases earn points as well, with a minimum of three points per dollar spent, regardless of which Hilton Honors credit card you choose. That said, each card has its own structure for receiving bonus points for spending in certain categories, like dining at U.S. restaurants or filling up at U.S. gas stations.
Hilton Honors uses a dynamic award calendar, so the exact number of points required to book a hotel stay varies based on the hotel or resort, your desired room category, time of booking and the dates of stay. However, there are some general parameters. For most standard rooms, free nights begin for as few as 5,000 points per night and go up to 95,000 points per night. However, at select properties, nights for a standard room can cost as much as 150,000 points per night. To help, Hilton Honors provides a search tool to figure out the lowest and maximum number of points required per night for each hotel.
Hilton Honors points expire after more than 24 months of inactivity in your loyalty account. If you close your credit card, all points already transferred to Hilton Honors are yours to keep.
» Learn more: Your guide to booking award nights with Hilton Honors
How to determine if a Hilton Honors card is worth it
Each Hilton Honors credit card offers useful benefits, even the one without an annual fee.
Understand the value of the welcome bonus
Do the math, or use this calculator, to determine the relative value of a given welcome offer.
To put these numbers in perspective, we looked at some award night pricing for May 2022 and found the following deals:
Two nights at the Conrad New York Downtown for 160,000 points total.
Four nights at Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista - Disney Springs Area for 160,000 points total.
Three nights at Canopy by Hilton Chicago Central Loop for 150,000 points total.
Two nights at Rome Cavalieri, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel for 160,000 points total.
Suffice to say, hefty welcome bonuses will accelerate your path toward award stays in a variety of destinations.
» Learn more: Hilton Honors: The complete guide
Predict your annual spend in bonus categories
Each Hilton Honors credit card pays Hilton Honors points on your regular spending, and you can earn bonus points for certain other types of spending. Purchases at Hilton hotels or resorts can earn up to 14 points per dollar, while purchases at U.S. gas stations, U.S. restaurants and U.S. supermarkets also get you bonus points — as do purchases of airline tickets. So even if you don’t frequent Hilton properties, you can earn lots of points with these cards.
Get elite status and lounge access
Every Hilton Honors credit card with an annual fee grants elite status automatically and offers some form of complimentary membership to Priority Pass, the largest airport lounge network in the world.
The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card and The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card give Gold status while the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card comes with top-tier Diamond status. Both Gold and Diamond statuses can get you room upgrades (when available), on-property dining credits (which vary by property), and bonus points per dollar on paid stays at most Hilton brands.
These three cards also all come with some form of Priority Pass membership. The tier offered through the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card gives unlimited access to the network’s 1,300+ lounges for the cardmember and two guests per visit, while membership through the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card and The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card grant ten complimentary visits total per year. A 10-pack of lounge visits would cost $299 if purchased directly from Priority Pass.
» Learn more: How to maximize your Priority Pass Select membership
Who should skip a Hilton Honors credit card?
While a Hilton Honors credit card makes sense for Hilton loyalists and even casual travelers, not everyone is necessarily a candidate for these cards. Look for another card if:
You prefer vacation rentals to hotels. If you're the type of traveler who prefers home stays or vacation rentals, and you don't expect to find yourself staying at a hotel anytime soon, keep shopping for another travel credit card.
You have no plans to travel in the next few years. It’s smart to rack up points for your next trip. However, Hilton Honors points do expire. If you simply get the card for the welcome bonus and then hang on to the points and the card for too long without using either, you may lose the points.
You prefer cash back to points. Points are enticing, but they're not useful to everyone. If you like to keep things simple with a credit card that rewards with cash back rather than points, look at these cash back cards.
If you're considering a Hilton Honors credit card
For Hilton loyalists and those who travel often, it’s worth getting a Hilton Honors credit card. You’ll earn valuable points aplenty thanks to great welcome offers and bonuses on everyday purchases. Even the casual traveler should consider a Hilton Honors card to start saving points now for that dream trip later.
To view rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Card, see this page. To view rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, see this page. All information about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is no longer available through NerdWallet. To view rates and fees of The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, see this page.
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