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Hilton Credit Cards

Which Hilton Honors Credit Card is Right for You?

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Getting started with miles and points is all about picking the right cards that fit your budget and travel plans. And picking from the suite of Hilton co-branded credit cards from American Express is no exception.

Let's start at the beginning: Hilton Honors is among our favorite hotel loyalty programs for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, they offer free breakfast for you and a guest at any hotel if you hold their Gold status. That's a very valuable benefit and a great way to significantly reduce the cost of your travels.

Because Hilton and American Express offer a variety of card options, it's time for an important question: Which Hilton credit card is right for you? Read on for a full breakdown.

 

The Basics of Hilton's Co-Branded Credit Cards

Hilton and American Express offer four different co-branded credit cards. And generally speaking, the bigger the annual fee, the more you are going to get out of the card in terms of benefits.

And just because you decide on one card over the other doesn't mean you are locked into that decision. American Express lets you earn the welcome offer bonus on each of their credit cards once per lifetime.

That means over time, if you can be financially responsible with credit, you could open each of these cards and earn the welcome offer bonus on all of them. It's by far the quickest way to earn a pile of Hilton points.

Thrifty Tip: Want to see if you are eligible for the welcome offer bonus from American Express? See our post on the Amex welcome offer eligibility tool.

See below for a full breakdown of each American Express Hilton credit card.

 

Hilton Honors American Express Card

  • Welcome Offer: *Hilton Honors Bonus*
  • Earn Hilton Honors Silver Status for as long as you have the card.
  • Get Hilton Gold Status if you spend $20,000 or more in a calendar year.
  • 7x Hilton Honors Points: At participating hotels in the Hilton portfolio.
  • 5x Hilton Honors Points: At U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • 3x Hilton Honors Points: on all other eligible purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • No Annual Fee (see rates & fees)

 

*Hilton Honors*

 

Learn more about the *Hilton Honors*.

 

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

  • Welcome Offer: bonus_miles_full
  • Earn a free night certificate after you spend $15,000 on the card in a calendar year, valid at almost any Hilton property.
  • Get up to $200 back each year for purchases made directly with Hilton. You'll get $50 in statement credits to use at Hilton properties each quarter, up to $200 per calendar year.
  • Get Hilton Honors Gold Status for as long as you have the card. This will get you free breakfast at almost any Hilton hotel abroad or a daily food and beverage credit at U.S. properties.
  • Work up to Hilton Diamond Status if you spend $40,000 or more in a calendar year.
  • Earn 12x Hilton Honors Points at participating hotels in the Hilton portfolio.
  • Earn 6x Hilton Honors Points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 4x Hilton Honors Points on U.S. online retail purchases.
  • Earn 3x Hilton Honors Points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Get complimentary National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive Status – easily our favorite car rental elite status.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • $150 annual fee (see rates & fees), up from the previous $95 fee

 

*Hilton Surpass*

 

Learn more about the *Hilton Surpass*.

 

Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

  • Welcome Offer: Earn 175,000 Hilton Honors points after spending $8,000 within the first six months.
  • Annual $240 Hilton Credit: $60 statement credit per quarter after eligible to use at any Hilton property worldwide.
  • Get Hilton Honors Gold Status: For as long as you have the card. This will get you free breakfast at almost any Hilton hotel abroad, or a daily food and beverage credit at U.S. properties.
  • National Car Emerald Club Executive Status.
  • Get Hilton Diamond Status: If you spend $60,000 or more in a calendar year, you will earn Hilton's top-tier Diamond status.
  • 12x Hilton Honors points: At participating hotels in the Hilton portfolio.
  • 5x Hilton Honors points: On every dollar spent up to $100,000 annually, earning 3x thereafter.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • $195 Annual Fee (see rates & fees)

 

*hilton honors business*

 

Learn more about the *Hilton Honors Business*.

 

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

  • Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after spending $6,000 in the first six months of card membership.
  • Get Hilton Honors Diamond Status: As long as your card account is open, you'll have Hilton's top-tier Diamond status
  • Up to $400 in Hilton Resorts statement credits: Each calendar year, you’ll receive up to $400 in statement credits for incidentals charged to your card at participating Hilton resorts – a category that includes many Hilton properties. Cardholders get one $200 credit from January through June and another credit July through December.
  • Free night certificate: After opening your account and each year on your cardmember anniversary, you will receive a certificate for a free night at almost any property in Hilton's portfolio.
  • Additional free night certificates: Earn an additional free night certificate after making $30,000 in purchases in a calendar year, plus another after spending $60,000 in the same year (for up to three free nights total).
  • Up to $200 in annual airline credit: Get up to $50 in statement credits each quarter on purchases made directly with an airline (including airfare) or through amextravel.com.
  • Earn 14x Hilton Honors points per dollar for each eligible purchase on your Card made directly with a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio.
  • Earn 7x Hilton Honors points per dollar for eligible purchases on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com; on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies; & at U.S. restaurants.
  • Earn 3x Hilton Honors points bonus points on all other purchases.
  • Get complimentary National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive Status – easily our favorite status with a rental car chain.
  • $189 CLEAR® Plus Credit: Get up to $189 per calendar year in statement credits, when you pay for a CLEAR® Plus Membership with the Aspire Card.
  • $550 annual fee (see rates & fees), up from the previous $450 fee

All information about the Hilton Aspire Card has been collected independently by Thrifty Traveler and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

We consider the Hilton Aspire Card the best hotel credit card, period – read our guide to see why!

 

hilton aspire card

 

Learn more about the Hilton Honors Aspire Card. (for full disclosure, this is our personal referral link)

 

Get Started with the Hilton Honors Card

We recommend this card for those just getting up to speed with points and miles.

But the card won't offer you much in terms of ongoing benefits – typical of most no-annual-fee cards.

It offers Hilton Honors Silver status for as long as you have the card which will provide room upgrades when available during your stay. But those will be few and far between, as you will be battling with Hilton Gold and Diamond elite members.

It will also earn 7x Hilton Honors points per dollar spent at Hilton hotels, 5x Hilton Honors points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations, and 3x points per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.

At the end of the day, the card is worth it for the welcome offer bonus. But if you spend more than a few nights a year at Hilton Hotels, you can do much better.

 

*Hilton Honors*

 

Learn more about the *Hilton Honors*.

 

Pile Up Points and Free Breakfast with Surpass

Think of the Hilton Surpass Card as the no-annual-fee Hilton credit card on steroids.

But perhaps the biggest and most important benefit of the Hilton Surpass card is the automatic Gold elite status you will receive just for holding the card. Hilton's Gold status offers something you won't find from any other hotel chain's mid-tier elite status: Free breakfast for you and a guest at almost any Hilton Hotel in the world (generally speaking the Hilton Grand Vacations properties are excluded).

We've written extensively about why we think Hilton's Gold status is the best mid-tier hotel status. The free breakfast benefit alone can save you hundreds depending on where and how often you travel; easily justifying the card's $150 annual fee.

The card also offers a free weekend night that's valid at almost any Hilton property worldwide after you spend $15,000 on the card in a calendar year.

In short, get this card for the welcome offer bonus it provides, and keep it for the free breakfast benefit offered to Hilton Gold Elite members.

 

*Hilton Surpass*

 

Learn more about the *Hilton Surpass*.

 

Aspire: The Best Hotel Card

The Aspire is Hilton's premier card and saying it's fantastic is an understatement. We've named it the best hotel credit card out there and I honestly can't believe how many benefits it offers. But with an annual fee of $550, it certainly isn't for everybody. 

Just for holding the card, you will receive Hilton's top-tier Diamond status. It's the only hotel chain that lets you earn their top elite status just for holding a certain credit card. Like Gold status, Diamond will unlock free breakfast and complimentary upgrades to the best room available.

The card also offers up to $200 each year in airline credits ($50 every quarter) that can be used to offset any airline purchase, including airfare, checked baggage fees, seat assignments, and more.

You will also get up to $400 each year in Hilton resort credit ($200 every six months, January – June and July – December) that can be used for incidental charges at participating Hilton resorts. And after opening your account and each year on your cardmember anniversary, you will receive a certificate for a free weekend night at almost any property in Hilton's portfolio.

 

hilton honors credit card

 

The Aspire card is the quintessential example of why we always recommend doing the math before ruling out cards with large annual fees. I opened the card earlier this year and have already been able to get at least $800 in value out of the benefits.

So while the upfront annual fee might be a bit of a shock, The Aspire card is worth a look if you travel and stay in hotels even semi-regularly.

 

hilton aspire card

 

Learn more about the Hilton Honors Aspire Card. (for full disclosure, this is our personal referral link)

 

Bottom Line

American Express and Hilton offer quite a few choices when it comes to their co-branded credit cards. And as mentioned above, you can hold them all because of the American Express application rules.

Use this guide to pick the Hilton Honors credit card that makes the most sense for your personal financial situation and your travel plans.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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