CREDIT CARDSCREDIT CARDSHILTON AMEX REVIEW: SOLID REWARDS FOR NO ANNUAL FEE

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.
Claire Tsosie Author AvatarKimberly Palmer Author Avatar
Feb 1, 2024 9:20 a.m. PST
Edited by
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4.1

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.

Pros
  • No annual fee
  • High rewards rate
  • Automatic elite status
Cons
  • No free anniversary night
Hilton Honors American Express Card Image
Hilton Honors American Express Card
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

20.99%-29.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Rec. credit score


Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

20.99%-29.99% Variable APR

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Rewards rate

    3x-7x

  • Bonus offer

    Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

  • Intro APR

    N/A

  • Ongoing APR

    APR: 20.99%-29.99% Variable APR

    Cash Advance APR: 29.99%, Variable

    Penalty APR: 29.99%, Variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

More details from American Express
View Rates and Fees
  • Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio.
  • Earn 5X Points per dollar on purchases at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets, and at U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status with your Card. Plus, spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn an upgrade to Hilton Honors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees. Enjoy international travel without additional fees on purchases made abroad.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Compare to Other Cards

ANNUAL FEE
$0
REGULAR APR
20.99%-29.99% Variable APR
Rates & Fees
INTRO APR
N/A
RECOMMENDED CREDIT SCORE
ANNUAL FEE
$150
REGULAR APR
20.99%-29.99% Variable APR
Rates & Fees
INTRO APR
N/A
RECOMMENDED CREDIT SCORE
ANNUAL FEE
$95
REGULAR APR
20.99%-29.99% Variable APR
Rates & Fees
INTRO APR
N/A
RECOMMENDED CREDIT SCORE
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Detailed review: Hilton Honors American Express Card

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 $150-annual-fee sibling, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, it's a solid choice for an annual fee of $0.

Hilton Honors American Express Card: Basics

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 $2,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

Annual fee: $0.

APR: The ongoing APR is 20.99%-29.99% 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.

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.

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.

Benefits and perks

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.

  • 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.

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 $150, 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.

  • 7 points per $1 spent on eligible purchases at Hilton hotels or resorts.

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

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

  • Automatic Silver status.

  • Terms apply.

  • 12 points per $1 spent on eligible purchases at Hilton hotels or resorts.

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

  • 4 points per $1 spent on U.S. online retail purchases.

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

  • Automatic Gold status.

  • Up to $200 back each year on eligible Hilton purchases.

  • Free night reward after spending $15,000 on card purchases in a calendar year.

  • Terms apply.

  • 14 points per $1 spent on eligible purchases at Hilton hotels and resorts.

  • 7 points on qualifying flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies and U.S. restaurants.

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

  • Automatic Diamond status.

  • Get one free night reward with your card every year after renewal. Also, get an additional free night reward after spending $30,000 on card purchases in a calendar year and another after spending $60,000 in a calendar year.

  • $400 Hilton resort statement credit.

  • $200 flight credit.

  • $100 Hilton on-property credit when you book a 2-night minimum stay at HiltonHonors.com/aspirecard with participating hotels.

  • Terms apply.

Drawbacks and considerations

No free automatic award night

The Hilton Honors American Express Card won't 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.

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 Autograph℠ Card could be a good fit. This card offers 3 points per dollar on a variety of useful categories:

  • Restaurants.

  • Travel and transit.

  • Gas and EV stations.

  • Popular streaming services.

  • Select phone plans.

Points are worth 1 cent each and can be redeemed for travel, gift cards, statement credits or on purchases when you pay with PayPal.

You can also browse NerdWallet's roundup to see if this is the best credit card to apply for based on your goals.

Alternate Pick: Flexibility
Flat-rate rewards, no loyalty required

This card offers 1.5 miles per dollar spent on all purchases. Miles are worth 1 cent apiece can be used toward any travel purchase — any airline, any hotel, and more.

How to decide if it's 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.

Methodology

NerdWallet reviews credit cards with an eye toward both the quantitative and qualitative features of a card. Quantitative features are those that boil down to dollars and cents, such as fees, interest rates, rewards (including earning rates and redemption values) and the cash value of benefits and perks. Qualitative factors are those that affect how easy or difficult it is for a typical cardholder to get good value from the card. They include such things as the ease of application, simplicity of the rewards structure, the likelihood of using certain features, and whether a card is well-suited to everyday use or is best reserved for specific purchases. Our star ratings serve as a general gauge of how each card compares with others in its class, but star ratings are intended to be just one consideration when a consumer is choosing a credit card. Learn how NerdWallet rates credit cards.

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