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Hotel credit cards can be a great way to rack up free stays with your favorite hotel brand, and many of them also come with special perks like free anniversary night stays and elite status. But most hotel cards charge annual fees, and if you’re relatively new to travel rewards or credit cards in general, you may not be sure about committing to paying a fee every year. Enter the Hilton Honors American Express Card, which offers a solid rewards program and elite status but doesn’t charge an annual fee.
If you’re a frequent traveler, though, you may be leaving money on the table in the form of perks with a better card. Here’s what you need to know.
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Hilton Honors American Express Card Benefits
The Hilton Honors American Express Card has a relatively straightforward value proposition: rack up a ton of rewards with the Hilton Honors program, and get a few extra perks when you stay at Hilton hotels and resorts.
When you first get the card, you’ll earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first three months.
You can redeem your points for many different things, but you’ll get the most value out of them if you use them to book award stays with Hilton. That said, even those redemptions will give you roughly 0.5 cents per point on average, according to The Points Guy.
That means the sign-up bonus is worth roughly $450, and the rewards rates are 4.2%, 3% and 1.8%, respectively. That may not be as valuable as some other hotel rewards programs — World of Hyatt, for instance, offers 1.7 cents per point on average — but it’s still an impressive rewards program for a card with no annual fee.
The card also offers 7x points per dollar on purchases made directly with Hilton hotels and resorts, 5x points per dollar at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations and 3x points per dollar on everything else.
Silver Status Benefits
As a cardholder, you’ll automatically get Silver status with the Hilton Honors program. While that’s the lowest elite status tier the hotel brand offers, the perks are still better than if you’re just a member. Silver benefits include:
- 20% more points on stays booked with cash
- Two complimentary bottles of water with each stay
- A fifth night free when you book with rewards
- Elite tier rollover nights, which allows you to roll over elite nights in excess of those required to qualify for your elite status level toward your elite status qualification for the following calendar year
Earning Gold Status Benefits
What’s more, if you spend $20,000 on the card in a calendar year — that’s just $1,666.67 per month — you’ll get Gold status through the end of the next calendar year. That status level offers 80% more points on stays, space-available room upgrades up to an executive-type room, complimentary breakfast at all hotels and more.
|Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance||Pay for your entire rental car reservation with your card and enjoy loss and damage insurance. Read exclusions, because not all types of rental vehicles are covered. Terms and conditions apply.|
|Dispute Resolution||Protection from fraudulent charges and mediation for incorrect charges.|
|No Foreign Transaction Fees||Enjoy zero fees for making international purchases.|
|ShopRunner membership||Complimentary ShopRunner membership, which offers free two-day shipping at more than 100 online retailers. Enroll at www.shoprunner.com/americanexpress.|
|Entertainment Access||Exclusive access to ticket pre-sales and cardholder-only events|
American Express doesn’t provide any information about what to expect for the card’s credit limit, and you won’t find out what yours is until you apply and get approved for the card.
That said, credit limits are typically determined based on a variety of factors, including your income, credit score, other debts, available credit with American Express and more.
Credit Score Requirement
Like many rewards credit cards, the Hilton Honors American Express Card is available for people with good and excellent credit. In general, this typically means a FICO score of 670 or higher. That said, Amex will consider all aspects of your credit history, as well as your income, to determine whether you qualify for the card.
Redeeming Hilton Honors Bonus Points
The Hilton Honors program isn’t one of the more valuable hotel rewards programs out there, but you can still get decent value with this card, especially considering you’re not paying an annual fee.
One thing to keep in mind is that while the program offers an average value of 0.6 cents per point, that’s not a flat redemption rate. Instead, how much value you get can vary based on how you redeem your points. So as you’re looking for opportunities to use your rewards for free hotel stays, run the numbers to find out how much value you’re getting.
For example, let’s say you want to stay in a major city, and one hotel costs $190 or 30,000 per night, while the other requires $200 or 50,000 points per night. Divide the cash price by the number of points required to find out how much value you’re getting for each point. In this scenario, for instance, you’d get 0.63 cents per point with the first option and 0.4 cents per point with the second, so the first hotel is the better choice.
As you get used to using travel rewards, however, it may be worth looking into other credit cards that can offer you more value, even with an annual fee. For example, the Hilton Honors Surpass® American Express Card charges a $95 annual fee, but offers:
- A much higher sign-up bonus
- More points on bonus spending
- A better elite status level
- A free weekend night award when you meet its annual spending requirement
Bottom Line: Hilton Honors American Express Card Review
Many other travel credit cards offer a lot of value but also flexibility, allowing you to redeem your rewards for a lot more than just free hotel stays.
Before you apply for this or any other credit card, take your time and compare several different credit cards to make sure you pick the right one for you. Consider rewards, benefits, fees and other features, as well as your personal spending habits and preferences, to determine the best credit card for you.