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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
  • Earn 75,000 Points after spending $1,000 in the first three months of card membership.
  • Hilton Honors Silver Status – For as long as you have the card.
  • Hilton Gold Status – If you spend $20,000 or more in a calendar year, you will earn Hilton’s Gold status.
  • 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 purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • No Annual Fee

Note: The offer on this card is typically 75,000 points. This new 90,000 point offer is the highest we have ever seen. With that, the spending requirement has increased as well from $1,000 to $2,000 in the first three months of card membership. 

 

Hilton Increased Offers

 

Click Here to get more information about the Hilton Honors American Express Card

 

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card
  • Earn 125,000 Points after spending $4,000 in the first four months of card membership.
  • Free Weekend night certificate – Valid at almost any Hilton property after you spend $15,000 on the card in a calendar year.
  • Priority Pass Select Membership – 10 free airport lounge visits each year.
  • Hilton Honors Gold Status – For as long as you have the card. This will get you free breakfast at almost any Hilton hotel.
  • Hilton Diamond Status – If you spend $40,000 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.
  • 6x Hilton Honors Points – At U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • 3x Hilton Honors Points – On all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • $95 Annual Fee – Not waived for the first year

Note: This card was previously branded as the Hilton Honors Ascend Card. It’s been re-branded back to the Hilton Honors Surpass name. If you’ve had the Ascend or Surpass card in the past, you are not eligible for this new offer.

 

Hilton Increased Offers

 

Click Here to get more information about the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card

 

Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
  • Earn 125,000 Points after spending $3,000 in the first three months of card membership.
  • Weekend night certificate – Valid at almost any Hilton property after you spend $15,000 on the card in a calendar year. You can earn a second weekend night certificate when you spend an additional $45,000 on the card in the same calendar year.
  • Priority Pass Select Membership – 10 free airport lounge visits each year.
  • Hilton Honors Gold Status – For as long as you have the card. This will get you free breakfast at almost any Hilton hotel.
  • 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.
  • 6x Hilton Honors Points – At U.S. restaurants, flights booked directly with airlines or at amextravel.com and car rentals booked directly from certain car rental companies.
  • 3x Hilton Honors Points – On all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • $95 Annual Fee – Not waived for the first year of card membership.

 

Hilton Increased Offers

 

Click Here to get more information about the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

 

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
  • Earn 150,000 Points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership.
  • Hilton Honors Diamond Status – As long as your card account is open, you will receive Hilton’s top tier Diamond status
  • $250 Hilton Resorts Statement Credit – During each cardmember year, you’ll receive up to a total of $250 in statement credits for incidentals charged to your card at participating Hilton resorts.
  • Free Weekend Night – 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.
  • Additional Free Weekend Night – If you spend $60,000 or more on the card in a calendar year.
  • $250 Annual Airline Fee Credit – Receive $250 in statement credits for incidentals on your selected airline each year.
  • $100 Hilton On-Property Credit – When you book at least a two-night paid stay at Waldorf Astoria and Conrad properties through HiltonHonors.com/aspirecard
  • Priority Pass Membership – Unlimited Priority Pass lounge access for you and up to two guests.
  • 14x Points per dollar for each eligible purchase on your Card made directly with a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio.
  • 7x 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.
  • 3x Bonus Points on all other purchases.
  • $450 Annual Fee: Not waived for the first year of card membership.

We’ve named the Hilton Aspire Card the best hotel credit card. You can read more about why here.

 

 

Click Here to get more information about the Hilton Honors Ascend Card (for full disclosure: this is a 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. And with no annual fee and the ability to earn 75,000 Hilton Honors points after spending $1,000 in the first three months of card membership, it’s an easy way to boost your Hilton Honors account balance. 

But outside of the points infusion, 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 everything else.

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 credit card

 

Click Here to get more information about the Hilton Honors American Express Card

 

Further, the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card offers almost identical benefits to the Surpass card. So if you have a small business or can get approved for an American Express business card, it’s worth a look. You can earn another 125,000 Hilton Honors points after spending $3,000 in the first three months of card membership.

Click Here to get more information about the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

 

Pile Up Points and Free Breakfast with Surpass

Think of the Hilton Surpass Card as the no-annual-fee Hilton credit card on steroids. First, you’ll get 125,000 Hilton Honors points after spending $2,000 in the first four months of card membership.

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 $95 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 honors credit card

 

Click Here to get more information about the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card

 

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 $450, 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 a $250 airline incidental credit that can be used to pay for things like checked bags, seat assignments, change fees, lounge access and more. See our full guide on how to maximize this credit.

You will also get a $250 Hilton resort credit 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

 

And if you don’t already hold a Priority Pass lounge membership, this card will get you access for you and up to two guests at more than 1,000 airport lounges around the world.

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 honors credit card

 

Click Here to get more information about the Hilton Honors Ascend Card (for full disclosure: this is a 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.

 

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Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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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