I recently received an email from American Express asking me to “start my morning with 80,000 (Hilton) Points!”. It was a promotion for the Hilton Honors Amex card. As Hilton and Amex’s entry-level card, it has no annual fee and comes with Hilton Silver status.
I have never had a Hilton co-branded card before and I am not a Hilton loyalist. But there are many people who love Hilton properties and would also love a card like this.
I looked at the email upon receiving it and I asked myself “Should I take this offer?”. This review answers that question.
This card earns 7x Hilton Honors (HH) points on Hilton hotel purchases. It also earns 5x HH points for Dining, Groceries, and Gas. All other purchases earn 3x HH points. Each point is worth about 0.5 cents, making this card a decent earner for every day spend.
The email I received promoted a sign-up bonus of 80,000 HH points after spending $1,000 in 3 months. The normal bonus for this card is 75,000 points for $1,000. And the highest bonus that I have seen is 100,000 points for $1,000. Therefore, this bonus is only decent. I would wait until the bonus is at least six figures before applying.
Hotel redemptions are the only way to redeem HH points. Nights start at 5,000 points, but most locations will cost a lot more points per night. Unlike competitors Marriott and Hyatt, Hilton does not have a rewards chart publicly posted. How many points a night costs depends on your location and date. Your mileage may vary.
Hilton HH points are transferrable to 43 airline partners and three car rental agencies (Enterprise, Alamo, and National). Because of the low value of HH points, transferring them is not recommended. This is also the reason why transfer partners are not often marketed by Hilton or American Express. You’re only receiving a value of 0.1 cents per point (CPP).
Complimentary Silver Status
Hilton Silver Status is a step up from having no status. Silver Status gets you a 20% points bonus for Hilton purchases including room rates and gift shop purchases.
You also receive a fifth night for free when you use points to pay. The free fifth night could save you some money if you stay at Hiltons often for at least five nights. This perk is a huge incentive to make this card a keeper.
Hilton Gold Status can be obtained by spending $20,000 per year on the card.
Even though this card has no annual fee, Amex’s standard benefits can to make life easier when you’re on the road.
Secondary Car Rental Insurance
This benefit covers the entire loss, damage, or theft of your car rental after your regular insurance’s policy kicks in. American Express cards only provide secondary coverage. Secondary coverage means that you must go through your own car insurance company first before calling Amex to activate this benefit.
No Foreign Exchange Fees
You will save 3% on all purchases made outside the United States with the card.
Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption Insurance
If you must cancel your trip because of an unexpected event, this benefit gives you up to $10,000 per trip for non-refundable expenses. Plane tickets, hotel rooms, and tours are included.
If you’re unhappy with a purchase, this benefit enables you to get your money back with the backing of Amex. American Express is the best in the credit card industry in helping cardholders with returns. This card comes standard with all American Express cards.
Rules & Regulations
Like all American Express cards, this card is subject to Amex’s Once Per Lifetime Rule. This rule states that you can only receive a sign-up bonus on any card once. The key is to apply for this card when a balance is struck between maximum points and minimum spend. If you cannot afford the spend to hit the bonus, apply when the threshold is lower.
For this card, apply when the sign-up bonus is as high as possible. The minimum spend is relatively low, so make sure the points are high.
This is Hilton and Amex’s mid-tier card. It offers complimentary Gold Status, Priority Pass airport lounge access, and a free weekend night.
The Hilton Ascend earns 12x HH points on Hilton hotel purchases. It also earns 6x HH points for Dining, Groceries, and Gas. All other purchases earn 3x HH points. The first two categories have elevated earnings to help offset the card’s $95 annual fee.
Most people will get more value from the Hilton Ascend. However, the Hilton Honors card is the better option for those who are annual fee averse.
This card from Chase and Hyatt offers an annual free night and complimentary Discoverist Status.
This card has a $95 annual fee. But it also has a two-part sign-up bonus. First you can earn 25,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. Then, you can earn 25,000 more points after spending $6,000 total in the first 6 months.
For earning, you get 4x Hyatt points per dollar spent at Hyatt hotels. You also earn 2x points on Dining, airline tickets purchased directly from the airline, local transit and commuting, and gym memberships.
Hyatt loyalists and those who spend within the card’s categories are better off with this card.
The Hilton Honors card is a fantastic no annual fee card for infrequent Hilton visitors. It can also be a great downgrading option for Hilton Ascend or Hilton Aspire card-members. While this card lacks in benefits, Silver Status and the fifth night free are awesome for a no annual fee card.
Hilton loyalists are definitely better off with either the Hilton Ascend or Hilton Aspire. Both cards have more benefits and higher statuses.