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.
Quick FactsView rates and fees
Pros & Cons
- No annual fee
- High rewards rate
- Automatic elite status
- No free anniversary night
Compare to Other Cards
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
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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
To view rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Card, see this page.
Card type: Hotel.
Welcome offer: 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.
Annual fee: $0.
APR: The ongoing APR is 15.74%-24.74% Variable APR.
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.
NerdWallet values Hilton points at 0.5 cent each. This is a baseline value, drawn from real-world data, not a maximized value. In other words, you should aim for award redemptions that offer 0.5 cent or more in value from your Hilton points.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (you'll need to enroll before you can use this lounge access). 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. Terms apply. 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 Discover it® Miles could be a good option. This card offers 1.5 miles per $1 spent on all purchases. Miles are worth 1 cent each and can be redeemed for credit on your statement against a variety of eligible travel purchases made within the past 180 days. You can also redeem for cash back at the same rate.
You want a free automatic award night
Neither the Hilton Honors American Express Card nor the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, its 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.
You can also browse NerdWallet's roundup to see if this is the best credit card to apply for based on your goals.
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, 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.
on American Express's website