Editorial Review

Hilton AmEx Review: Solid Rewards for No Annual Fee

This $0-annual-fee card is all about Hilton perks. It features automatic Silver status and high ongoing rewards on Hilton purchases, along with other benefits.

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Our Take

4.5

NerdWallet rating 

The Bottom Line: If you want Hilton benefits but don't want to pay an annual fee, this card is a perfect fit. The perks are modest compared with what you'd get on other Hilton cards with annual fees, though.

American Express Hilton HonorsTM Card from American Express Credit Card

on American Express's website, or call (866) 512-6673

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

17.24% - 26.24% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

Quick FactsView rates and fees

Annual Fee
$0
Annual Fee
$0
Intro APR
N/A

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • High rewards rate

  • No annual fee

  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons
  • Few premium travel perks

Alternate Pick: 2 miles back on everything

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Flat-rate rewards, no loyalty required

This card offers 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases. Miles are worth 1 cent apiece when redeemed for travel and can be used toward any travel purchase.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

Annual Fee

$0

Annual Fee

$95

Annual Fee

$95

Regular APR

17.24% - 26.24% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Regular APR

17.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

Regular APR

17.24% - 26.24% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

Full Review

The $0-annual-fee Hilton Honors American Express Card is a compelling option for travelers looking for more Hilton perks at no additional cost.

The card features automatic Silver status, which comes with a bonus on points earned from qualifying Hilton stays, complimentary breakfasts at select hotels and other benefits. And in addition to rich ongoing rewards on purchases at Hilton, the card also earns high ongoing rewards at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations.

While the card lacks the fancy perks of its $95-annual-fee sibling, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card — namely, it doesn't offer passes to airport lounges — it's a solid choice for an annual fee of $0.

Benefits of the Hilton Honors American Express Card

Card type: Hotel.

Welcome offer: Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

Annual fee: $0.

APR: The ongoing APR is 17.24% - 26.24% Variable APR.

Ongoing rewards:

  • 7 Hilton Honors bonus points per dollar spent on eligible purchases with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio. Terms apply.

  • 5 points per dollar spent on purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations. Terms apply.

  • 3 points per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.

Points are worth 0.4 cent each on average when redeemed for hotel stays, according to NerdWallet valuations. Redemption options include transferring points to Hilton's airline partner programs and redeeming for car rentals or credit at Amazon.com, among others. For more analysis about the best and worst redemption choices, see NerdWallet's review of the Hilton Honors loyalty program.

Foreign transaction fee: None.

Other benefits:

  • Automatic Silver status, which gives you a 20% bonus on Hilton Honors base points as well as a fifth night free whenever you use points to book five or more nights at a Hilton property.

  • A path to Gold status. You can upgrade to Hilton Honors Gold status if you spend $20,000 or more on your card in a calendar year. That gives you an 80% points bonus, as well as complimentary breakfasts at select hotels and room upgrades at select properties where available.

Why you might want the Hilton Honors American Express Card

No annual fee

Because the Hilton Honors American Express Card comes with an annual fee of $0, you don't have to worry about whether you'll earn enough rewards on it to make up for its cost. Even if you don't use the card very often, you'll still come out ahead. That could make it a keeper for Hilton fans who may book stays infrequently, but still want extra hotel perks during their visits.

Automatic elite status

The Hilton Honors American Express Card comes with Silver status, the lowest tier of elite status in Hilton's loyalty program. Normally, you'd have to earn this status by racking up multiple stays at Hilton properties. This status gets you a bundle of perks, including:

  • A 20% bonus on all Hilton Honors base points earned.

  • Complimentary internet access at select locations.

  • Late checkout.

  • Two complimentary bottles of water per stay at select locations.

  • Fifth night free when you book a stay of five or more nights using only points.

  • Terms apply.

The 20% bonus on Hilton base points, in particular, can really juice your effective rewards rate on Hilton purchases. Say, for example, you booked a $100 room with Hilton, and earned 700 bonus points on the purchase through the Hilton Honors American Express Card, and 1,000 base points directly through the Hilton Honors loyalty program. (Hilton Honors members generally earn 10 base points per dollar spent on eligible Hilton charges, with some exceptions.) The 20% bonus on those base points would add 200 points to your total, meaning you'd earn a respectable 1,900 points on this purchase. That's worth $7.60, based on NerdWallet valuations, a solid return on a $100 purchase.

High ongoing rewards

Some co-branded cards are one-trick ponies, earning bonus rewards only on purchases made with their respective brands. Not so with the Hilton Honors American Express Card. Aside from earning points on eligible Hilton purchases, it also earns generous bonus rewards on purchases made at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations. Terms apply.

How it compares to other Hilton cards

The Hilton Honors American Express Card is the only Hilton-branded credit card with an annual fee of $0. Of all the cards in the Hilton family, its benefits are the most basic. The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, which has an annual fee of $95, comes with Gold status and Priority Pass Select visit passes. And the premium Hilton Honors American Express Aspire card, which carries an annual fee of $450, comes with travel credits, lounge access and several other goodies. For more analysis, read NerdWallet's full comparison of Hilton cards. Here's how the cards stack up.

Why you might want a different card

Locked into Hilton loyalty program

The Hilton Honors American Express Card earns points in the Hilton Honors loyalty program. And while the program allows you to redeem points for things other than Hilton stays — say, by transferring points to partner airlines or using them to make purchases on Amazon.com — those more-flexible options generally offer poor value. If you want a broader range of similarly valuable redemption options, go with a general travel card.

The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card could be a good option. This $0-annual-fee card offers 3 points per dollar spent on eating out and ordering in, gas, rideshares, transit, flights, hotels, homestays, car rentals and popular streaming services. Points are generally worth 1 cent each and can be redeemed for travel, cash back or gift cards.

You want a free automatic award night

Neither the Hilton Honors American Express Card nor the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, its $95-annual-fee counterpart, will grant you a free automatic award night each year, an otherwise common benefit among co-branded hotel cards.

If you're looking for such a perk, and if you don't mind straying from the Hilton brand, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card may be worth a look. The Marriott chain is virtually ubiquitious, and the card's annual fee is $95.

Is the Hilton Honors American Express Card right for you?

The Hilton Honors American Express Card doesn't offer the richest Hilton benefits around. But it's an excellent option for travelers who want more Hilton perks without having to pay an annual fee.

To view rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Card, please visit this page.

To view rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, please visit this page.