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Updated May 5, 2016

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

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.
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The Hilton Honors™ 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.

5/31/2017 Update: We're sorry, Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express is no longer available on CreditDonkey. This offer may have been discontinued or may no longer be available to new applicants.

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
  • Honors 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 Honors card from American Express goes against the grain with no annual fee.

That’s a straightforward way to save money on your next Hilton 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 credit card from Citi.

Is Hilton American Express Worth It?

In our opinion: the Hilton Honors 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 Honors 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.

Reasons to Get the Hilton Honors 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 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.

  2. 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 Honors Bonus Points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases at a participating Hilton hotel or resort.

  3. You’ll earn Hilton Honors 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.

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

  5. 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 Honors 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. You get hotel perks. New cardholders automatically reach Silver Status for their Hilton Honors 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.

  9. 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 Honors 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.

    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 Honors card that also offer the potential for free hotel stays.

Citi Hilton HHonors Visa: This card is similar to the American Express Hilton Honors 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.

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.

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 Honors 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.

5/31/2017 Update: We're sorry, Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express is no longer available on CreditDonkey. This offer may have been discontinued or may no longer be available to new applicants.

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.

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Compare American Express Hilton to:

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express
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.
  • 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
16.24% - 20.24% Variable
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95

Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express
Apply for Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express
At American Express' Secure Site
  • Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio.
  • Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card. Terms and limitations apply.
  • As a Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card Member you'll receive Hilton Honors Gold status.
  • Spend $40,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn Hilton Honors Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Introductory Bonus Hotel RewardsHotel RewardsGas RewardsGrocery RewardsDining RewardsExtended WarrantyPurchase ProtectionReturn ProtectionBaggage Insurance Travel Accident Insurance$0 Fraud Liability
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
N/AN/A
16.24% - 20.24% Variable
$75

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


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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.

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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.