Is the Hilton Honors Card from American Express worth it? | August 2018

Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express review – August 2018

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A great credit card for Hilton regulars and those who want to save up for occasional hotel stays.

30-second take

  • Get this card if you stay at Hilton often or want to save your points over time and spend them all at once on nights within the Hilton Portfolio.
  • Pick something else if you prefer to stay at other hotels or want cash back.
  • Apply with a good to excellent credit score of 680 or higher.
Product NameHilton Honors™ Card from American Express
Card TypeAmerican Express
Annual Fee$0
APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases17.49% to 26.49% variable
Cash Advance Rate26.99% variable
Cash Advance Fee$5 or 3% of the cash advance amount, whichever is greater
Foreign Transaction FeeNone
Interest Free PeriodUp to 25 days
Minimum Interest$0
Late Payment Fee$38
Returned Payment Fee$38
Additional Cardholder Fee$0
Minimum Age18 years of age
Welcome BonusEarn 50,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
Reward Value per Dollar3 points
Rewards Points ExpiryNever

The basics

The Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express is an excellent choice if you’re a Hilton regular, earning you a valuable 7x points when you spend on hotels and resorts within the Hilton Portfolio.

But it can be a good pick even if you don’t travel much. That’s because you’ll earn 5x points at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations and 3x points on all other eligible purchases. You can quickly accumulate Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points to redeem all at once on a vacation or business trip. Hilton points are typically worth around 0.5 cents apiece — less than the industry average of 1 point for 1 cent — but you can collect a significant number of them through everyday spending.

You can find Hilton properties that cost as little as 5,000 points a night, but you’ll more often pay 40,000 to 50,000 points for a night. Luckily, Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express’ welcome offer is a whopping 50,000 points — to earn it, just spend $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first three months your account is open. That’s likely enough for a stay at the property of your choice.

The perks

    • Annual fee: None.

      A $0 annual fee means it’s easy to keep the card long term. Also, you needn’t worry about earning enough points to make the card worth paying for.

      This is the only Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express that has no annual fee. Other versions come with annual fees that range from $95 to $450.

    • Welcome offer: 50,000 Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express bonus Points.

      After you spend $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months your account is open, you’ll earn 50,000 Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express Bonus Points. Redeem points for hotel stays and rewards in travel, dining, shopping and more.

      Using the industry’s standard redemption value of 1 cent for every point, 50,000 points typically is $750. But Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express Bonus Points tend to be worth much less than that — often around 0.5 cents a point. Given that rate, 50,000 points are worth around $375. That’s still a decent welcome offer, considering it’s easy to earn and the card has no annual fee.

    • Rewards: Earn up to 7x Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express Bonus Points.

      Earn 7x points on eligible purchases within the Hilton Portfolio of hotels and resorts.

      Earn 5x points when you spend at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations. And earn 3x points on all other eligible purchases.

    How good is the welcome offer for Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express?

    For an idea of how far your points will go, here’s a few Hilton properties and their point equivalents:

    • DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Los Angeles Downtown — $228 a night or 50,000 points.
    • The London NYC — $350 a night or 95,000 points.
    • Hampton Inn & Suites Denver Downtown — $260 a night or 50,000 points.
    • Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo, DoubleTree by Hilton — $193 a night or 40,000 points.

    Though points are worth less than the industry’s average, the Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express’ welcome offer is likely enough for you to book a stay at most Hilton properties.

    You’ll also like …

    • Complimentary upgrade to Hilton Honors Silver.

      Silver status rewards you with a 20% bonus on Hilton Honors Base Points you earn, as well as your fifth night free when you book five nights or more in one stay with points.

      The point bonus may be valuable if you’re trying to reach Gold status in the Hilton Honors program. Otherwise, Silver might not offer much of note. Even as a regular member of Hilton Honors — that’s the membership tier below Silver — you’ll get perks like digital check-in, complimentary in-room Wi-Fi and late checkout.

    • No foreign transaction fee.

      You won’t incur fees when you use your card abroad or at foreign websites, making it an excellent card to take on vacation or business trips. Typically, providers charge a 3% fee each time you use your card for an international transaction. It doesn’t sound like much, but it can add up over a trip spanning several days.

    • Travel protection.

      You’ll have access to the American Express Global Assist Hotline, which you can call for legal, medical, financial and other emergency assistance while on vacation.

      Get complimentary car rental insurance, which covers your rental against collision damage or theft. And receive travel accident insurance, which provides coverage against accidental death and dismemberment.

    • Purchase benefits.

      You’ll receive extended warranties on eligible items you buy with your card. You might also qualify for a refund from American Express if a merchant won’t accept a product as a return up to 90 days after your purchase. Finally, your eligible items are covered against theft and accidental damage through Purchase Protection.

    • ShopRunner benefits.

      Get a free ShopRunner membership and enjoy free two-day shipping and returns on purchases from more than 140 online stores in ShopRunner’s network, including Eddie Bauer, Express, Harry & David, Kay Jewelers, NBA Store and Neiman Marcus.

    • Cardmember-only entertainment.

      As a cardholder, you’ll have exclusive access to special events and ticket presales.

    What are Hilton Honors Base Points?

    Of the two kinds of Hilton Honors points, Base Points are what you earn when staying at Hilton properties. They help you reach higher tiers in the Hilton Honors program. For example, to reach Gold, you need 75,000 Hilton Honors Base Points.

    Currently, you’ll earn 10 Base Points per dollar you spend on Hilton Portfolio rooms and eligible room charges, like room service.

    On the other hand, you earn Bonus Points through promotions and by using your Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express. Redeem your Bonus Points for nights at Hilton Portfolio properties and rewards with Hilton’s travel, dining, shopping and entertainment partners.

    What to watch out for

    • Not as widely accepted overseas.

      Because the Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express is an American Express card, you might not have as many opportunities to use it overseas as you would with a Visa or Mastercard.

    • Penalty APR.

      If you make a late or returned payment, American Express may apply a 29.99%variable APR to all of your balances. This is known as a penalty APR, which could apply to your account for six months or more.

    • It hurts to pay late.

      Late and returned payments come with fees as high as $38.

    Consider other cards if …

    Compare travel rewards credit cards

    Updated August 19th, 2018
    Name Product Welcome Bonus Reward Value per Dollar APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases Annual Fee
    1 points
    16.74% variable
    $195
    Enjoy unique excursions, privileged access to exclusive events and insider opportunities.
    1 points
    16.74% variable
    $495
    Mastercard Black Card members receive an annual $100 air travel credit toward flight-related purchases including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more.
    2 points
    16.74% variable
    $995
    Earn points every time you spend. Luxury Card enhances your purchasing power by providing you with one (1) point for every one dollar ($1) you spend. Every purchase gets you closer to the rewards you want.
    Earn 60,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months
    1 points
    None (Charge Card)
    $550
    Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
    Earn 50,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months
    1 points
    $0 annual fee for the first year ($195 thereafter)
    Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® Points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
    Earn 25,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days
    1.5 points
    16.74% to 24.74% variable
    $0
    20,000 online bonus points offer. Ditch the restrictions of typical airline rewards cards. Any airline, any hotel, anytime. No blackout dates.
    Earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
    1 points
    17.74% to 24.74% variable
    $0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
    Earn 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of your account opening, and an additional 30,000 points when you spend a total of $30,000 on purchases within the first year of your account opening.
    Earn 50,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days
    1.5 points
    17.74% to 24.74% variable
    $95
    Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
    Earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
    1 points
    17.74% to 24.74% variable
    $450
    Earn 50,000 BONUS POINTS after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening* — that's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
    Earn 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
    2 miles
    14.74%, 21.24% or 24.74% variable
    $0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
    Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
    Earn 40,000 miles after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months
    2 miles
    17.74% to 24.74% variable
    $0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
    40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.* Plus a $100 statement credit after your first purchase.
    Earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
    1 points
    17.74% to 24.74% variable
    $99
    40,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open

    Compare up to 4 providers

    What should I know before I apply?

    To apply for the Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express, you must be:

    • At least 18 years old.
    • A US citizen or permanent resident.

    What credit score do I need?

    You’ll have a better chance of approval for the Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express if you apply with a good to excellent credit score of 680 or higher.

    What’s my likelihood of being approved?

    If you have a good credit score and a relatively high annual income, you may be the type of customer American Express is looking for.

    Here are a few other factors that might affect your odds of approval:

    • The number of hard pulls on your credit report. If you have several hard inquiries — or hard pulls — on your account, it might make you look desperate for credit. This implies you’re having trouble managing your debt, and American Express may be less likely to take you on as a customer.
    • Factors that tie into your credit score. Credit utilization is a major factor that American Express considers. Providers prefer customers who have low balances relative to their credit limits. Having many new card accounts may be a red flag too, as it may indicate you’re desperate for credit. It may also give the impression that you’re a flighty customer who’s just hunting for signup bonuses.

    What do customers say about the Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express?

    Customers generally say the Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express is a great choice for those who travel often because of its rewards. However, customers expecting cashback rewards are largely disappointed.

    American Express earns a Trustpilot score of 3.1 out of 10 at the time of this writing. Many negative reviews cite unhelpful customer service and inflexible company policies. Positive reviews say the company employs pleasant customer service representatives. Overall, your mileage may vary with American Express customer support.

    American Express earns an overall A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

    How to apply for the Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express

    1. On the American Express website, find the Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express and click Apply now.
    2. Complete the application with information like your Social Security number, home address, income source and total annual income.
    3. Review and submit your application.

    How long will it take to be approved?

    Because conditional credit card approval is automated on the website, you may get a decision on your application within 60 seconds. If there are issues with your application, it may take a few days to a few weeks to hear back.

    How long will it take to get my Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express?

    After you’re approved, you’ll typically receive your card within 7 to 10 business days.

    I got the card. Now what?

    • Make payments on time. Register an account on the American Express website to pay your balance online. You can also enroll in autopay.
    • Avoid interest payments. After the close of each billing cycle, you have a grace period of 25 days to pay your balance. If you do, you won’t pay interest on your purchases.
    • Avoid fees. Late and returned payments come with hefty fees of up to $38. Balance transfers and cash advances also come with fees.
    • Customer service. Help documents aren’t easily accessible on the American Express website. But you can call 1-800-528-4800 for customer service. According to market research company J.D. Power, cardholders give American Express high marks in customer interaction.

    Bottom line

    Its points structure makes the Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express a decent choice for both frequent and occasional Hilton guests. Before deciding on this product, compare other hotel credit cards and travel or airline cards.

    Frequently asked questions

    Kevin Joey Chen

    Kevin Chen is a world-travelin', copy-writin', Game of Thrones-watchin' credit cards writer for finder.com. When he's not crunching the numbers on bonus points and comparing APRs, you can find him flying around the world in search of the perfect beer.

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