Amex Hilton Honors Credit Cards: Comparing the Benefits and Perks

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American Express provides 2 co-branded credit cards in conjunction with the Hilton Honors program. Both of these cards can help you earn tons of Hilton Honors points that can be used for some amazing award stays at Hilton brands like Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, and Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts.

Each of these cards also comes with bonus categories to make earning Hilton points easier, plus tons of perks to make your Hilton stays even better.

American Express Hilton Honors Credit Cards

With several credit cards that can earn Hilton Honors points directly, you can decide which Hilton Honors credit card has the benefits that will be best for your future hotel stays at Hilton brands.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is the premium Hilton credit card option that can help you earn tons of points and comes with a number of benefits.

With this credit card in hand, you will earn 12X Hilton Honors points per dollar at all Hilton hotels and resorts brands. As a cardholder, you will also earn 500 bonus Hilton points with every cash booking at Hilton properties.

While many co-branded cards don’t have bonus categories beyond a particular hotel or airline, that’s not the case with either Hilton Honors credit card. You’ll earn 6X Hilton Honors points for every dollar you spend at U.S. gas stations, U.S. restaurants, and U.S. supermarkets.

These bonus categories are really where this co-branded card shines as it allows just about anyone to earn a ton of points. Even if you aren’t using this card at one of its many bonus categories, you will still earn 3X points per dollar spent.

To top things off, this card often comes with a hefty welcome bonus that can give your Hilton Honors account a big boost. Check the details of the current offer to see how many Hilton points you can earn after hitting the minimum spending requirement in the requisite time period.

Since this is an American Express card, you will also have access to Amex Offers, which can help you save money on your purchases.

In the past year, we have seen several Amex Offers that provided statement credits for spending at Hilton properties too. Those with this Amex Offer were able to earn tons of Hilton Honors points and save on their paid Hilton stays.

Gold Elite Status

Hilton Gold Elite Status
Take advantage of Gold elite status to make your Hilton stays even better!

Rather than needing 20 stays, 40 nights, or 75,000 Hilton Honors Base Points in a calendar year, you will receive complimentary Gold elite status just for being a cardholder. This is one of the best benefits offered by this card simply due to the perks that Gold elite status members receive.

One of the most popular benefits is the complimentary breakfast provided at a number of Hilton brands, including Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Curio – A Collection by Hilton, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton, Tapestry by Hilton, and Hilton Garden Inn. This makes it easy to travel, whether you’re on the road for work or just need a meal before a day exploring a new city.

Gold members also receive their 5th night free on award bookings of at least 5 nights, which is a great way to stretch your Hilton points even further.

There are several other perks that vary depending on what Hilton brand you are staying at. You can read more about these benefits on the Hilton status benefits page.

Hilton Honors American Express Card

The Hilton Honors American Express Card is the entry-level version of the credit card above. As you might imagine, this card doesn’t pack quite as big of a punch as the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card, but it’s still a solid choice.

The bonus categories are the same, but they have reduced earning rates. All purchases at Hilton brands will earn 7X Hilton points per dollar spent. You will also earn 5X points per dollar spent at U.S. gas stations, U.S. restaurants, and U.S. supermarkets. Finally, just like the premium Hilton card offered, other eligible purchases will earn 3X points per dollar spent.

The introductory bonus offered on this card varies, but has often reached as high as 90,000 Hilton Honors points. Make sure you hit the minimum spending requirement so you don’t miss out on an easy way to earn a ton of points.

You will also have access to Amex Offers, which can be used to save money at a number of merchants.

Silver Elite Status

As a cardholder, you will receive complimentary Silver elite status, which provides the same 5th night free benefit on award stays as well as several other benefits.

Boost Your Hilton Honors Elite Status With Spending

Hilton Garden Inn Krakow Restaurant
Enjoy a hot, cooked-to-order breakfast offered to Gold and Diamond elite members at Hilton Garden Inn properties. Image courtesy of Hilton.

Both of these cards also provide an opportunity to use your everyday spending to help you reach the next elite status level.

With the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card, you can earn Diamond elite status by spending $40,000 in a calendar year. Your new elite status level will take effect shortly thereafter and continue through the following year.

With Diamond elite status, you receive a 48-hour room guarantee, which means that you are guaranteed a room if you book at least 48 hours prior to your stay. You can also extend your status for a year beyond its expiration 1 time. If you enjoy hotel club lounges, Diamond elite members receive Executive Lounge access where available — even if the room booked is not an Executive room.

The Hilton Honors American Express Card also gives cardholders the opportunity to spend $20,000 to earn Gold elite status. This might be even more important, since the difference between Silver and Gold elite status levels is significant.

Earn Tons of Points With Your Friends and Family

The Hilton Honors program allows you combine points from up to 11 accounts so you can work with your friends or family to earn tons of points. With you and your friends earning Hilton Honors points using one of these cards, you’ll be able to book some amazing trips together in no time.

What Can You Do With Hilton Honors Points?

Conrad Bali
Enjoy a luxury stay at the Conrad Bali, where you can relax in style. Image courtesy of Hilton.

Hilton Honors points can be used to book award stays at any Hilton brand. With a massive international footprint, there are plenty of opportunities to book award stays at luxury hotels, high-end hotels, and limited-service hotels.

Hilton removed its award chart in early 2017, so it isn’t easy to know exactly when an award booking is a good use of points. Hilton has at least provided an online tool that will show you the maximum points that could be required for award stays at each hotel.

If you are looking for a once in a lifetime experience, consider booking award stays at Conrad or Waldorf Astoria properties.

Hot Tip: If you want some inspiration for your next award booking, check out some of the best ways to redeem Hilton Honors points.

Which Hilton Honors Card Should You Get?

If you have a lot of paid Hilton stays thanks to work travel, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card will earn the most points for each stay. This card can also be a great choice for those who want to focus on earning tons of Hilton points to spend on award stays.

Those who value the benefits of Gold elite status should choose this card as well. For just the $95 annual fee, you can get these benefits.

If staying at Hilton brands is not as much of a priority (or you want to test out what you can do with Hilton points before committing to a card with an annual fee), consider the Hilton Honors American Express Card.

You can also earn Hilton points by transferring American Express Membership Rewards. However, using the co-branded Hilton cards will still help you earn Hilton points at a faster rate thanks to their bonus categories.

Additionally, you can get a much better value for your Membership Rewards by transferring to airlines to book award flights.

Final Thoughts

With so many Hilton brands around the world, earning Hilton Honors points is a great way to ensure you have points available to book award stays almost anywhere you go.

The elite status benefits you’ll receive with either of these cards will not only make your points go further, but ensure you have the best experience possible whenever you stay at a Hilton property.

With a simple strategy to earn Hilton points, you’ll be on your way to some amazing travel!

*Featured image courtesy of Hilton


Do points earned with Hilton Honors cards count toward elite status?

No, the points you earn with Hilton Honors cards are redeemable points, not Base Points that help you earn status.

Can you transfer Hilton Honors points to airlines or other hotels?

You cannot transfer Hilton Honors points to other hotel points currencies. While you are able to transfer Hilton points to some airlines, the transfer rates are terrible so avoid this if at all possible.

Can you have more than 1 Hilton co-branded credit card?

Yes, technically you could get both Hilton cards…but the benefits overlap, so it is unnecessary.

What points can be transferred to Hilton Honors points?

You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards to Hilton Honors. The transfer rate is 1 point to 1.5 points. While this looks like a good deal on the surface, there are much better ways to use these transferable points to book award travel.

Spencer Howard

About Spencer Howard

Always a fan of flying, it was only natural that Spencer was drawn to finding a way to improve the travel experience. Like many, he started this journey searching for cheap flights to take him around the world. This was fun for a while, but Spencer was intrigued by the idea of flying in business and first class! Throwing himself into what became an extensive research project, Spencer spent 3-4 hours per night learning everything he could about frequent flyer miles over the course of several months (he thinks this is normal).

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  1. Why no mention of the Aspire Card? It is well above the Ascend card that you call the “Premium” Amex card.

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