Underrated Reasons Why You Need a Hilton Honors American Express Card

Sep 7, 2021

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Hilton is one of the world’s largest hotel chains, so you’re bound to find yourself checking in to one of their properties at some point. When you do, you might want to consider having a Hilton credit card in your wallet so you can earn even more points (and elite status perks) for your stay. And while the best Hilton credit cards have an annual fee (the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card will run $450, in fact), you don't have to pay an annual fee just to get some extra special treatment during your stay.

Especially for people who want to earn credit card points for everyday spending, the Hilton Honors American Express Card turns out to be a pretty underrated credit card. Even better, it has a $0 annual fee.

$0 annual fee

The $0 annual fee makes this a perfect card for the traveler who is not loyal to Hilton but finds themselves staying at Hilton brand hotels from time to time. With this card in your lineup, you’ll be ready to earn extra points and get a few extra perks during your stay — without paying a dime in annual fees. Terms apply.

Of course, because it’s a $0-annual-fee card, it doesn’t check all the boxes when it comes to top-tier benefits and perks. Still, for the occasional traveler, it’s hard not to love this card. Terms apply.

Welcome bonus

What’s not to like about earning a hefty welcome offer, especially when you don’t have to pay anything out of pocket to keep the card? 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. Terms Apply.

The welcome bonus is an excellent way to jump-start your Hilton Honors points balance. The bonus points are worth up to 16 free nights when you optimize the fifth free night perk at one of Hilton’s least-expensive properties, like the Hilton Garden Inn Bali Ngurah Rai Airport in Bali, or at least three free nights at a mid-range option like the Hilton Garden Inn Sevilla in Spain.

Powerful points earnings

The earning rates on this card are impressive. Here is what you’ll earn when you make purchases with your card:

  • 7 Hilton Honors bonus points per $1 spent on eligible purchases at a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio.

  • 5 points per $1 spent on purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations.

  • 3 points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.

Terms apply.

NerdWallet currently values Hilton points at 0.5 cent each, which means you’ll be earning approximately 3 cents per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations. Although you can do better on some of the most premium travel credit cards, it's impressive to see a no-annual-fee card contend with some of the highest-earning cards in those categories.

When you pay for Hilton stays with your card, you will earn 19 points per $1 spent. It breaks down like this:

  • 10 points per $1 as a Hilton Honors member.

  • 2 points per $1 for holding Silver status (which you’ll get complimentary with the card).

  • 7 points per $1 when you pay for Hilton stays with your card.

Terms apply.

Extra perks with Silver status

Don’t expect the complimentary Silver status that comes with the card to get you major VIP treatment. Terms apply. But the benefits are still better than a poke in the eye. The ho-hum perks include complimentary Wi-Fi and water bottles (which is hardly a reason on its own to apply for a new credit card).

However, the real MVP perk of Hilton Honors Silver status is getting a fifth night free on reward stays. Assuming you're someone who typically stays five nights in hotels, rather than bops around from night to night at different locations, you could get an entire night free after you've stayed for four.

Even better, the benefit applies to all stays of five night increments (up to 20 nights). Thus, a 20-night stay would entail four free nights.

So should you hold a Hilton Honors American Express Card ahead of your next stay?

All Hilton cards have their merits, and there’s one for every price tier. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is likely going to net out the best for Hilton regulars given not just the perks that comes with automatic Diamond status, but the myriad of statement credits and even airline lounge access. But if you're turned off by the $450 annual fee (or any annual fee for that matter), you'll find that even the Hilton Honors American Express Card can go a long way in making your trip more rewarding.

Terms apply.

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.


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 2021, including those best for:

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