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Updated September 1, 2017

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

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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.

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
  • No intro APR

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.

What it does have: the promise of 50,000 bonus points as long as you charge $1,000 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 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.

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 can get a bonus. This card offers new cardmembers 50,000 bonus points just for charging $1,000 in purchases within the first three months. That’s a 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 Honors Bonus Points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases at a participating Hilton hotel or resort.

  4. 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.

  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 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.

  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 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.

  10. No foreign transaction fees. This card comes with no foreign transaction fees for international purchases. If you regularly travel outside the U.S., this is a nice benefit.

  11. 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.

REASONS TO LOOK ELSEWHERE

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

  • 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 apply 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

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.

Terms and limitations apply.

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.

Disclaimer: This content was first published on November 13, 2015. This content may have been updated on September 1, 2017. 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.

Disclaimer: The information for the Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express 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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