Marriott vs. Hilton Credit Card

Hilton cards will give you a leg-up on elite status and earnings, while Marriott cards offer more flexibility.
Jul 29, 2022

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence 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.

Whether you’re a frequent traveler or you only hit the road a few times per year, signing up for a hotel loyalty program always makes sense. The same can be said of co-branded hotel credit cards. Companies such as Marriott and Hilton offer a variety of credit cards — including those with no annual fee — that can elevate your travel experience.

But which of these is a better option? Here's a look at Marriott versus Hilton credit cards, situations where they’d make sense and which card option will be right for you.

When to choose a Hilton credit card

You want top-tier elite status

Hilton has four co-branded credit cards from which to choose, but its premium card, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, offers a variety of high-end perks. One of these includes complimentary Diamond elite status as long as you hold the card. Terms apply.

To date, Hilton is the only hotel chain willing to award credit card holders with its most exclusive elite status.

In contrast, Marriott’s premium credit card option, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, grants mid-level Gold elite status to cardholders. Terms apply.

Along with Diamond status, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card also offers hundreds of dollars in annual credits plus a number of other benefits:

Terms apply.

Although the annual fee is $450, the cash credits you’ll receive total up to $500, making the card much more worth it. You’ll also want to take into account the uncapped annual weekend night certificate, which can be used at hotels costing upward of $1,000 per night. Terms apply.

You spend a lot on groceries, gas and dining

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is Hilton’s mid-tier credit card, charging a $95 annual fee but providing some solid benefits in return.

This is evident when reviewing earnings on groceries, gas and dining purchases — especially when compared with Marriott’s mid-tier option, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card.

Here’s how the rewards rates on these two cards stack up.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card

  • 12 points per dollar spent at Hilton hotels.

  • 6 points per dollar spent on dining at U.S. restaurants.

  • 6 points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets.

  • 6 points per dollar spent at U.S. gas stations.

  • 3 points per dollar spent everywhere else.

  • 6 points per dollar spent at Marriott hotels.

  • 3 points per dollar spent for the first $6,000 in combined purchases on gas, groceries and dining.

  • 2 points per dollar spent everywhere else.

Terms apply.

When to choose a Marriott credit card

You travel to remote locations

Where do you like to travel? If you travel primarily for leisure, you may not face issues with finding accommodation. But if you’re a business traveler heading to smaller towns, a Hilton property may be missing.

As the largest hotel chain in the world, Marriott has a global footprint covering more than 8,000 properties in 139 countries.

In this case, opting for a Marriott credit card over a Hilton credit card will allow you to earn more points overall.

A key feature of the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card also involves the ability to spend your way to top-tier elite status. Although you’re granted Silver elite status as a cardholder, you’ll receive 15 elite nights credits each year toward the next status level. You’ll also be able to earn one elite night credit for every $5,000 you spend on the card, with no cap.

You want a flexible point currency

Transferable point currencies are an excellent option for those who want some more flexibility in their travel. Card issuers such as American Express, Chase, Citi and Capital One are the major players when it comes to earning these types of points.

However, Marriott Bonvoy points are a bit of a unicorn when it comes to transferable point currencies.

Marriott maintains an extensive list of airline transfer partners where you can convert Bonvoy points. There are more than 35 airlines to choose from, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.

For the most part, Marriott Bonvoy points transfer to airlines at a 3:1 ratio, meaning that 3 Marriott points become 1 airline mile. However, you’ll also receive a 5,000 miles bonus for every 60,000 points you transfer, making the ratio more lucrative.

Finally, Marriott and United have a preferred partnership, allowing you to get a 10% bonus on all points you transfer to the airline.

Since all of Marriott’s credit cards earn Marriott Bonvoy points, this is one way to earn and transfer for airline miles, especially if you’re using your Marriott Bonvoy card to pay for Marriott stays.

Consider the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, which earns 6 points per dollar spent on eligible Marriott stays in addition to conferring Gold elite status to the cardholder. Gold members earn 12.5 points per dollar spent on most Marriott stays. If you pay with your Marriott card, you’d earn a combined total of 18.5 Bonvoy points per dollar spent.

That 18.5 points would convert to a little over 6 airline miles per dollar spent, making this card a fairly decent way to rack up miles for travel.

Which card is right for you?

The card and the program you choose will depend on your needs. Both Marriott and Hilton provide multiple types of credit cards, including no-annual-fee cards, mid-level options and high-end offerings.

If you’re looking for top-tier elite status with little effort, Hilton has the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. In addition to Diamond elite status, you’ll receive travel credits for airlines and Hilton resorts, more than making up for the card’s high annual fee. Terms apply.

Marriott cards, meanwhile, can be a good option for those looking to stick to Marriott properties. Its range of airline transfer partners provides greater flexibility for using Bonvoy points than Hilton, allowing cardholders to choose if they’d like to redeem for hotel stays or flights.

In the end, both hotel chains offer solid options for credit card choices — and if you’re not sure which brand to choose, you could get one of each.


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 2022, including those best for:

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.