CreditDonkey is a credit card comparison and financial education website. This website is made possible through financial relationships with card issuers and some of the products and services mentioned on this site. Advertiser Disclosure†

Updated May 5, 2016

Hilton Credit Card Review: $0 Annual Fee Worth It?

Read more about Hilton HHonors™ Card from American Express, a CreditDonkey advertiser
Editorial Note: This content is not provided by the card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer.
This article contains references to products from our partners. We receive compensation if you apply or shop through links in our content. You help support CreditDonkey by reading our website and using our links. (read more)

The Hilton HHonors™ Card from American Express is a hotel credit card with no annual fee, so what's the catch? Read on to see if the Hilton AMEX is worth applying for.

American Express Hilton
Apply Now

Overall Score

4.3

Rewards

4.5

Fees

4.5

Benefits

4.0
5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • Bonus points
  • No annual fee
  • HHonors Silver status
  • Foreign transaction fee

Bottom Line

Good secondary credit card with no annual fee to earn points for hotel stays.

We have to say: it’s rare to find a travel credit card with no annual fee. It's nice to see that the Hilton HHonors card from American Express goes against the grain with no annual fee.

What it does have: the promise of 50,000 bonus points as long as you charge $750 worth of purchases on the card within the first 3 months of card membership.

That’s a straightforward way to save money on your next hotel stay, but is this card worth the space it will take up in your wallet? Keep reading to see what we like (and dislike) about this card.

We'll also discuss below how this offer compares to other hotel credit cards including the Hilton HHonors credit card from Citi.

Is Hilton American Express Worth It?

In our opinion: the Hilton HHonors Card from American Express could be a smart addition to your wallet if you tend to stay at a Hilton property when you travel and you want a way to save up for future hotel stays.

However, if you want your next new credit card to be an all-around, good-for-everything purchasing tool, you may want to think twice.

We feel the Hilton HHonors AMEX is best suited as a secondary card — view it as a supporting actor to the star of your wallet, which should be a credit card that offers a broad set of reward options and a variety of redemption opportunities.

Let’s dig into the details about why you should consider packing this card for your next trip and why you may want to leave it at home.

10 Reasons to Get the Hilton HHonors Credit Card

Hilton Cancún
Hilton Cancún © Christian Van Der Henst S. (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

We’ve broken down the card’s benefits and features that impress us.

  1. You can get a bonus without spending thousands. This card offers new cardmembers 50,000 bonus points just for charging $750 in purchases within the first three months. That’s a much lower threshold than many other travel cards.

  2. You won’t pay an annual fee. A lot of travel credit cards charge an annual fee, but not in this case. With this card, you don’t have to worry about using it often enough to justify an annual fee.

  3. You’ll score points on hotel stays. You can rack up significant rewards if you’re an habitual Hilton user. You’ll get 7 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases at a participating Hilton hotel or resort.

  4. You’ll earn Hilton HHonors points on everyday purchases. You’ll earn 5 points for each dollar you charge on eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.

  5. And you get points elsewhere. The card will give you 3 points per dollar on other purchases.

  6. You can usually find a place to stay with your rewards. You don't have to worry about blackout dates when it comes time to redeem your Hilton HHonors points. As long as there's a standard room available, you can redeem your points for it.

    If you’re willing to stay at what may be viewed as a lesser hotel (considered a category 1 by Hilton), your points can go further. A category 1 hotel costs 5,000 points a night while a category 2 hotel costs 10,000 points a night. The highest category rated hotels will eat up 70,000 to 95,000 points per night.

  7. You’ll get points when you book online. Aside from the points you’ll earn when you pay for your hotel stay, you also get a 500-point bonus when you use your card to reserve a room through a Hilton website.

  8. You get travel benefits. This card comes with several features that are designed to make your trip run a little more smoothly, including travel accident insurance, baggage insurance, roadside assistance, and access to the 24-hour global assistance hotline.

  9. You get hotel perks. New cardholders automatically reach Silver Status for their Hilton HHonors membership. This means you can get the 5th night free if you redeem your rewards to stay in a standard room for at least 5 nights. Another plus with this status: complimentary access to fitness centers and health clubs during stays (this may not apply for properties with a resort charge). And if you charge $20,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year, you’ll get Gold Status through the end of the next calendar year.

  10. Your purchases are protected. Members get complimentary purchase protection on eligible purchases against theft or damage for the first 90 days as well as an additional one-year extended warranty. You also get up to $1,000 per year in return protection in case you need to return an eligible item but the merchant won’t take it back.

3 REASONS TO LOOK ELSEWHERE

Intrigued by the Hilton HHonors card but not sure how much you will benefit? There are three big reasons the card is a turnoff for some travelers:

  • Foreign transactions will cost extra. This card comes with a 2.7% foreign transaction fee for international purchases. If you regularly travel outside the U.S., you’ll have to always remind yourself to take another card with you on trips.

    Related: Credit Cards with No Foreign Transaction Fees

  • Your choice of hotels is limited. While you can earn points with this card at places other than Hilton hotels, it’s really designed for travelers who prefer Hilton to other brands. If you don’t want to be tied to a particular brand, take a look at other cards on the market.

    Related: Hotel Credit Cards

  • There’s no introductory rate. A big reason consumers sign up for new cards is to get a 0% interest deal for a limited time. You won’t find that with this card. Depending on your creditworthiness, the regular variable APR is currently 15.74% to 19.74%, depending on your creditworthiness and other factors.

    Related: Credit Cards with 0% APR Promotions

HOW IT COMPARES

It’s always smart to shop around. These a few popular alternatives to the Hilton HHonors card that also offer the potential for free hotel stays.

Citi Hilton HHonors Visa: This card is similar to the American Express Hilton HHonors card, but in our opinion, you’ll probably earn more points over time with the Amex card. Here's why: with the Citi Hilton, you get 6X bonus points per $1 when you charge the card when you’re at a Hilton property and 3X bonus points per $1 at gas stations and grocery stores (versus the 7X and 5X bonus points you get in those categories with the Amex card). Unlike the Amex card, you do not earn extra bonus points when you use the card at restaurants.

Another difference is the introductory promotion and the minimum spending threshold required to earn the signup bonus. We'll compare the two sign up bonuses below.

So, why bother with the Citi card? In our opinion, it could come down to whether you want a Visa, MasterCard, or an Amex as your next card.

 

American Express Hilton

Citi Hilton HHonors Visa

 

Interest Rates and Fees

Purchase APR15.74% to 19.74% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors15.74% to 19.74%* (Variable) based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Balance Transfers APR15.74% to 19.74% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors15.74% to 19.74%* (Variable) based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Annual Fee$0 annual fee$0 annual fee
See Rates & Fees 
 

Benefits and Features

Hotel DealIntroductory Bonus Hotel Rewards: Earn 50,000 Hilton HHonors(TM) Bonus Points after you spend $750 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.Introductory Bonus Hotel Rewards: Make $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening and earn 75,000 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points
HotelHotel Rewards: Get 7X Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio.Hotel Rewards: Earn 6 HHonors Bonus Points for each $1 spent at a participating hotel within the Hilton portfolio.*
Hotel StatusHotel Status: Enjoy complimentary Silver status with your Hilton HHonors™ Card. Spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn HHonors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.Hotel Status: Enjoy HHonors Silver status as long as you are a cardmember
GasGas Rewards: Get 5X Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. gas stations.Gas Rewards: Earn 3 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations
GroceryGrocery Rewards: Get 5X Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. supermarkets.Grocery Rewards: Earn 3 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on purchases at supermarkets
RestaurantDining Rewards: Get 5X Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants. 

Citi Hilton HHonors Visa: Pricing information including interest rates, rewards, benefits and fees were obtained on February 14, 2017 from published websites and are believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Disclaimer: The information for the Citi® Hilton HHonors Visa Signature® Card has been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express: The Starwood Preferred Guest card is one of our favorite hotel rewards credit card. If you prefer Starwood properties when you’re spending the night away from home and you do get the chance to travel at least a couple of times a year, in our opinion, it’s a solid choice.

Plus, your points can potentially go further because you have the option of transferring your Starpoints to more than 30 partner airlines. The card also stands out for not having a foreign transaction fee.

It has a promotional offer, but it’s harder to achieve than the Hilton card. You need to spend $3,000 within the first 3 months of signing up for the card to get 25,000 bonus Starpoints. Those points are enough for a 2-night stay in some of the lower to middle category ranked hotels.

What could stop you from signing up? The SPG card has a $95 annual fee. However, it is waived for the first year.

 

American Express Hilton

Starwood Preferred Guest

 

Interest Rates and Fees

Purchase APR15.74% to 19.74% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors15.74% to 19.74% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Balance Transfers APR15.74% to 19.74% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors15.74% to 19.74% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Annual Fee$0 annual fee$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
See Rates & FeesSee Rates & Fees
 

Benefits and Features

Hotel DealIntroductory Bonus Hotel Rewards: Earn 50,000 Hilton HHonors(TM) Bonus Points after you spend $750 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.Introductory Bonus Hotel Rewards: Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
Limited Time Offer- Earn an extra 10,000 bonus Starpoints® after you make an additional $2,000 in purchases within the first 6 months. Offer ends 4/5.
Travel 
Airline Airline Rewards: Transfer Starpoints to more than 30 airline frequent flyer programs, mostly on a one-to-one basis.
Redeem Starpoints® for flights on more than 150 airlines with SPG flights, with no blackout dates.
Bonus Airline Rewards Bonus Airline Rewards: Get 5,000 bonus Starpoints after you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to a frequent flyer program with more than 30 airlines
HotelHotel Rewards: Get 7X Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio.Hotel Rewards: Earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases spent on the Card at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
Redeem Starpoints® at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in over 100 countries, with no blackout dates.
Hotel StatusHotel Status: Enjoy complimentary Silver status with your Hilton HHonors™ Card. Spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn HHonors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.Hotel Status: Premium on-property Internet Access. Booking requirements apply.
Earn SPG Gold Status by spending $30,000 or more on your Card in a calendar year. Receive credit for 5 nights toward SPG elite status each year.
GasGas Rewards: Get 5X Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. gas stations. 
GroceryGrocery Rewards: Get 5X Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. supermarkets. 
RestaurantDining Rewards: Get 5X Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants. 
Airline Transfer Partners Airline Transfer Partners: Airline transfer partners include American Airlines, Delta, Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, British Airways, Aeromexico, Air Canada, Air France (Flying Blue), Emirates, Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles), Virgin Atlantic, Avianca, Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, Etihad, Asiana Airlines, Air China, Alitalia, Air Berlin, Jet Airways, China Southern Airlines, Japan Airlines, Hainan Airlines, Thai Airways, Virgin Australia, Aegean Airlines, Miles and More, All Nippon Airways, China Eastern, and more.

BOTTOM LINE

Hilton Hotel In Belfast
Hilton Hotel In Belfast © William Murphy (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

A obvious prerequisite for wanting the Hilton HHonors card is that you’re a fan and, secondly, that you’ll have opportunities to stay at Hilton properties in the months and years ahead (the bonus offer will help with that).

When you use your rewards credit cards strategically (by always using this card for Hilton charges as well as charges at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations while using another rewards card for your other purchases), you can rack up a significant number of rewards that can be redeemed for a future vacation.

Another note to self: you’ll need to remember that this card has a foreign transaction fee.

Terms and limitations apply.

Next Step: View the issuer's official application, terms, and details

Rebecca Lake is a journalist at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and financial education website. Write to Rebecca Lake at rebecca@creditdonkey.com. Our data-driven analysis has been recognized by major news outlets across the country and has helped travelers make savvy financial and lifestyle decisions. (read more)

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. 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 American Express. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

Disclaimer: This content was first published on November 13, 2015. This content may have been updated on May 5, 2016. Information including APR, terms and benefits may vary, be out of date, or not applicable to you. Information is provided without warranty. Please check American Express website for updated information.

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. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

Disclaimer: The information for the Citi® Hilton HHonors Visa Signature® Card has been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

More from CreditDonkey:


Hotel Credit Cards for Free Nights


Travel Credit Card Deals


5 Credit Cards with Annual Fees Under $100

More Articles in Reviews

Hilton HHonors Card from American Express
Apply for Hilton HHonors Card from American Express
At American Express' Secure Site
  • Earn 50,000 Hilton HHonors(TM) Bonus Points after you spend $750 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 7X Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio.
  • Get 5X Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Get 3X Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card. Terms and limitations apply.
  • Enjoy complimentary Silver status with your Hilton HHonors™ Card.
  • Spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn HHonors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • Terms and Conditions apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
  • Go to issuer's official application, terms, and details
Introductory Bonus Hotel RewardsHotel RewardsGas RewardsGrocery RewardsDining RewardsCar Rental InsuranceExtended WarrantyPurchase ProtectionReturn Protection Baggage InsuranceTravel Accident Insurance$0 Fraud Liability
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
N/AN/A
15.74% - 19.74% Variable
$0

Compare American Express Hilton to:

Compare American Express Hilton vs Starwood Preferred Guest
Apply for Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express
At American Express' Secure Site
  • Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Limited Time Offer- Earn an extra 10,000 bonus Starpoints® after you make an additional $2,000 in purchases within the first 6 months. Offer ends 4/5.
  • Earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases spent on the Card at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.
  • Redeem Starpoints® at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in over 100 countries and for flights on more than 150 airlines with SPG flights, all with no blackout dates.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Introductory Bonus Hotel RewardsTravel RewardsAirline RewardsBonus Airline RewardsHotel RewardsNo Limits on RewardsCar Rental InsuranceExtended WarrantyPurchase Protection Return ProtectionTravel Accident Insurance$0 Fraud Liability
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
N/AN/A
15.74% - 19.74% Variable
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95

Leave a comment about Hilton Credit Card Review: $0 Annual Fee Worth It?

Name (required)
Email (required; won't be published)
Website (optional)


Blue Cash Everyday Review

If you want a cash back credit card with the same rewards categories year-round and no annual fee, then consider the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. Read on for the pros and cons.

    Credit Card Deals with No Annual Fees

    For your next credit card, you want a lucrative deal. What you don’t want is to pay for the privilege with an annoying and pricey annual fee. We canvassed current offerings by credit card companies on CreditDonkey for the cash back, reward points, balance transfers, low interest, and small business offers you should consider.

    Hotel Rewards

    The sign-up bonuses for hotel rewards credit cards can be tempting, but is a hotel card right for you?

    Travel Rewards

    Looking for a new travel credit card?

    Credit Card Deals

    Signing up for a card with a sign-up bonus or an introductory offer can be a great way to get a head start on earning rewards or to get a handle on your debt.

    Hot Deals: Latest Credit Card Offers

    Signing up for a new credit card is easy. Choosing the right one - the one that fits your spending habits - is the challenge. The experts at CreditDonkey are here to help you find the right choice, starting with the best deals from our partners.

    Study: Hotel Credit Cards for Free Nights

    Must-read list of hotel credit card promotions. Check out this essential list of credit card offers before your next hotel stay.
    Credit Card Promotions

    American Express Credit Card Offers

    American Express now offer promotions for new credit card applicants. But how do you pick which deal is right for you? Read this in-depth 2016 guide.

    These Credit Cards Now Offer 50,000 Bonus Points

    This would be unheard of years ago. But now, banks and credit card companies are looking to get new customers. And they are enticing them with jaw-dropping rewards.
More Articles in Reviews

Learn more about Hotel, Gas and Grocery cards:

Hotel


How to Save Money on Gas


Grocery









About CreditDonkey®
CreditDonkey is a credit card comparison website. We publish data-driven analysis to help you save money & make savvy financial decisions.

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

†Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which CreditDonkey receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CreditDonkey does not include all companies or all offers that may be available in the marketplace.

*See the card issuer's online application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However, all information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button you can review the terms and conditions on the card issuer's website.

CreditDonkey does not know your individual circumstances and provides information for general educational purposes only. CreditDonkey is not a substitute for, and should not be used as, professional legal, credit or financial advice. You should consult your own professional advisors for such advice.