The 8 Best Credit Cards for Hilton Honors Loyalists [2020]

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With over 5,700 properties in 113 countries, Hilton has established itself as a premier hotel brand that is accessible to every type of traveler. Plus, it doesn’t matter if you’re just an occasional guest at Hilton properties or Hilton hotel rooms have become your second home — you’re sure to appreciate the value of having a the right credit card.

Whether it’s the special treatment you receive during your stay due to having Hilton Honors elite status, or enjoying the free hotel nights you’ve earned, there are benefits to be realized by a Hilton card in your wallet.

If you’ve chosen Hilton as your preferred brand and still haven’t made the plunge to secure a Hilton-branded card, it’s your lucky day.

Our article today is focused on you, the Hilton loyalist, and contains information that can help you with selecting the right card to enhance and maximize your existing Hilton relationship. We’ll also talk about the value a general travel rewards card could offer a Hilton fan.

Best Personal Hotel Branded Credit Cards for Hilton Loyalists

American Express offers 3 personal Hilton Honors-branded cards, all of which offer complimentary elite status, elevated earnings at Hilton properties, and bonus earning categories that help your points bank add up quickly.

Each card also offers a generous welcome bonus that is worth several free hotel nights.

Hilton Honors American Express Card

If you prefer not to pay an annual credit card fee but are still interested in elevated earnings and elite status with Hilton Honors, the entry-level Hilton Honors card might deserve your attention.

Why We Like the Card for Hilton Loyalists

  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status with an opportunity to earn Gold status by spending $20,000 on the card in a calendar year
  • 7x earnings at Hilton
  • 5x earnings at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations, and U.S. restaurants
  • 3x earnings on all other purchases
  • Secondary car rental insurance

We like that the card earns well at Hilton properties but also offers 5x rewards on everyday purchases. Earning points on purchases you’re already making and securing free Hilton hotel nights in the process is a win-win.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

We’ll kick the earnings up a notch, enjoy complimentary airport lounge access, Hilton Honors elite status, and the opportunity to earn free hotel nights with the Hilton Surpass card.

Why We Like the Card for Hilton Loyalists

  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold Elite status
  • Hilton Honors Diamond elite status after spending $40,000 on the card in a calendar year
  • Free weekend hotel night certificate after spending $15,000 on the card in a calendar year
  • 10 single-visit passes to Priority Pass lounges worldwide each year
  • 12x earnings at Hilton
  • 6x earnings at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations, and U.S. restaurants
  • 3x earnings all other purchases

The Hilton Surpass card strikes a nice balance between annual fee outlay and corresponding benefits. It also provides strong bonus category earnings that make it easy to accumulate Hilton Honors points that can be redeemed for additional free hotel nights.

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

The Hilton Aspire card packs a load of value for the traveler who favors the Hilton brand. With complimentary top elite status, hundreds of dollars in statement credits, free hotel nights, worldwide airport lounge access, and elevated earnings, it’s a card that pays for itself in value delivered.

Why We Like the Card for Hilton Loyalists

  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond top elite status
  • Priority Pass Select membership which grants access to over 1,200 airport lounges worldwide
  • Free weekend hotel night certificate after opening the card and at subsequent card anniversary
  • Additional free hotel night certificate after spending a total of $60,000 in a calendar year
  • $250 Hilton Resort statement credit
  • $100 Ritz-Carlton or Waldorf Astoria property credit
  • $250 airline incidental fees statement credit
  • 14x earnings at Hilton
  • 7x earnings on flights purchased directly with the airlines and Amex Travel, select car rentals, and U.S. restaurants
  • 3x earnings on all other purchases
  • Travel and shopping benefits/protections

Learn more about earning Hilton Honors points and maximizing your points at redemption time by accessing our articles on these topics.

Bottom Line: There’s a Hilton-branded card for every level of Hilton guest. Plus, each card comes with elevated earnings at Hilton brands, additional bonus spending categories, complimentary Hilton Honors elite status, and travel/shopping benefits. 

Best Alternative Personal Cards for Hilton Loyalists

American Express Centurion Lounge Hong Kong - Tendered Bar
Travel rewards credit cards come with additional premium benefits such as earning flexible rewards points and worldwide lounge access. Hong Kong Centurion Lounge. Image Credit: Greg Stone

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Amex Platinum card currently reigns as king of travel rewards cards. The card is built for the frequent traveler who values premium travel perks such as worldwide airport lounge access, earning on flight purchases, and complimentary elite status.

Why We Like the Card for Hilton Loyalists

American Express® Gold Card

The Amex Gold card earns valuable Membership Rewards points on everyday purchases and you’ll find it easy to turn those rewards into free Hilton hotel nights.

You’ll also find that Membership Rewards points earned on the card can be transferred to airline partners where you can receive even greater potential value by booking award flight tickets.

Why We Like the Card for Hilton Loyalists

  • The card earns Membership Rewards points that transfer to Hilton Honors points at a 1:2 ratio
  • 4x earnings at restaurants worldwide and  U.S. supermarkets, up to $25,000 spent in a calendar year
  • 3x earnings on flights purchased directly with the airlines or on Amex Travel
  • $100 statement credit for airline incidental fees
  • $10 monthly dining credit
  • Baggage insurance plan and secondary car rental insurance

Hot Tip: Spending $25,000 on the Amex Gold card in 4x earning categories translates into earning 100,000 Membership Rewards points

Summary: The Best Personal Credit Cards for Hilton Loyalists

Hilton Northholme
Use your free weekend hotel night certificate for the Hilton Northolme in the Seychelles. Image Credit: Hilton

Here’s how Hilton-branded cards and our selected travel rewards cards compare when focusing on earnings and Hilton benefits.

Card EarningsHilton Benefits
Hilton Honors card
  • 7x earnings at Hilton
  • 5x earnings at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations, and U.S. restaurants
  • 3x earnings all other purchases
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status
  • Spend $20,000 in a calendar year to receive Hilton Honors Gold status
Hilton Surpass card
  • 12x earnings at Hilton
  • 6x earnings at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations, and U.S. restaurants
  • 3x earnings all other purchases
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status
  • Top Diamond elite status after spending $40,000 on the card in a calendar year
  • Free weekend hotel night certificate after spending $15,000 on the card in a calendar year
Hilton Aspire card
  • 14x earnings at Hilton
  • 7x earnings on flights purchased directly from the airline
  • 3x earnings all other purchases
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status
  • Free weekend hotel night certificate each card anniversary year
  • Additional free weekend hotel night after spending $60,000 on the card in a calendar year
  • $250 credit each card anniversary year at Hilton Resorts
  • $100 credit each card anniversary at Ritz-Carlton and Waldorf Astoria properties
Amex Platinum card
  • 5x earnings on flights purchased directly with the airline or Amex Travel
  • 2x earnings on eligible travel via Amex Travel
  • 1x earnings all other purchases
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status
  • Membership Rewards points transfer to Hilton Honors points at 1:2 ratio
Amex Gold card
  • 4x earnings at U.S. supermarkets and dining worldwide
  • 3x earnings on flights purchased directly with the airline
  • 1x earnings on all other purchases
  • Membership Rewards points transfer to Hilton Honors points at 1:2 ratio

It’s clear that a Hilton-branded credit card adds significant value in the form of accelerated earnings, perks and benefits, and earning free hotel nights. Supplementing a Hilton card with the right travel rewards card, however, could round out your earning potential and add additional premium travel benefits.

Hilton Honors Elite Status

Every Hilton-branded card, the Amex Platinum card, and the Business Platinum Card® from American Express comes with complimentary Hilton Honors elite status. With all this conversation about elite status, however, it’s fair to wonder what the actual value of having status might be.

We’ve written several articles that describe the value of Hilton Honors elite status but here’s a snapshot of what you can expect at each level.

Benefits start when you join the Hilton Honors loyalty program and increase as you make your way to top Diamond Elite status (which comes complimentary with the Hilton Aspire card).

Here are a few of the benefits compared:

BenefitsMember

0-9 nights/year

Silver Elite

10-39 nights/year

Gold Elite

40-59 nights/year

Diamond Elite

50-74 nights/year

Points Towards Free NightsX20%80%100%
No Resort Fees on Award StaysXXXX
Late CheckoutXXXX
Fifth Standard Rewards Night FreeXXX
2 Bottles of WaterXXX
Elite Tier Rollover NightsXX
Space Available Room UpgradeUp to Executive Room TypeUp to 1-Bedroom Suite Room Type
Complimentary Breakfast at all hotelsXX
Unlimited Milestone BonusesXX
Executive Lounge AccessX
Diamond Status ExtensionX
48-Hour Room GuaranteeX
Elite Status GiftingX

Bottom Line: Every Hilton-branded card, the Amex Platinum card, and the Amex Business Platinum card, all offer complimentary Hilton Honors elite status

Best Business Credit Cards for Hilton Loyalists

Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa
Hilton Honors points earned on your business credit card can be used for a special luxury getaway. Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa. Image Credit: Hilton

A business traveler who frequents Hilton properties will want to take a closer look at a Hilton-branded business card. You’ll receive complimentary elite status, elevated earnings, free hotel nights, and much more.

If you’re a business traveler who stays at a variety of hotel properties and spends a lot on travel in general, a business travel rewards card could be an additional or alternative option.

Here are our choices for the best business credit cards for Hilton fans.

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

The frequent business traveler who stays at Hilton properties will appreciate the perks of the Hilton Business Amex card. Paying your business expenses with the card can result in elevated elite status and additional free hotel night certificates.

The card also has a much lower annual fee than comparable business credit cards with similar benefits.

Why We Like the Card for Hilton Loyalists

  • Lower annual fee
  • 10 complimentary single-use Priority Pass lounge passes that give access to over 1,200 airport lounges worldwide
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status
  • Opportunity to earn top Hilton Honors Diamond elite status after spending $40,000 on the card in a calendar year
  • Free weekend hotel night certificate after spending $15,000 on the card
  • An additional free night after spending a total of $60,000 in a calendar year
  • 12x earnings at Hilton
  • 6x earnings on flights booked directly with the airlines, select car rentals, U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, U.S wireless services, and U.S. shipping
  • 3x earnings on all other purchases

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

The Amex Business Platinum card heavily rewards the business owner who spends a lot on flights, wants the extra perks of elite status, and values worldwide lounge access.

Why We Like the Card for Hilton Loyalists

American Express® Business Gold Card

The Amex Business Gold card rewards your 2 highest business spending categories each statement period with 4x earnings.

Why We Like the Card for Hilton Loyalists

  • Membership Rewards points earned on the card can be transferred to Hilton Honors at 1:2 ratio
  • Your highest qualifying business expenses receive 4x earnings, up to $150,000 in purchases each calendar year
  • 4x bonus earning categories include flights purchased directly from the airline, U.S. advertising purchases in select media, U.S. computer hardware/software purchases, U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, and U.S. shipping
  • Use points to redeem for flights and receive 25% of your points back as a rebate
  • Transfer points to airline frequent flyer programs
  • Baggage insurance plan and secondary car rental insurance

If you’re a business owner and spend a lot on flights, the earnings and redemption structure of the Amex Business Gold card could prove beneficial. Additionally, your highest expense in any of the remaining bonus categories will also receive 4x earnings.

A Hilton Hotel In Budapest Hungary
Business travelers will enjoy the earnings and perks that come with a Hilton-branded business credit card. Budapest Hilton. Image Credit: Dace Kundrate via Shutterstock

Summary: The Best Business Credit Cards for Hilton Loyalists

If you own a business, it makes sense to earn rewards on every purchase you make. If you’re a business owner who frequents Hilton properties, a Hilton-branded card supplemented by a general travel rewards card could be a wise combination.

Focusing on earnings and Hilton-related benefits, here’s how the 3 cards we mentioned previously compare.

CardAnnual FeeEarningsHilton Benefits
Hilton Business Amex Card$95 (see rates & fees)
  • 12x earnings at Hilton
  • 6x earnings on flights booked directly with the airline, select car rentals, U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, U.S. wireless services, U.S. shipping
  • 3x earnings all other purchases
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status
  • Free weekend hotel night after spending $15,000 in a calendar year on the card
  • An additional free weekend hotel night after spending a total of $60,000 on the card in a calendar year
Amex Business Platinum Card$595

(see rates & fees)

  • 5x earnings on flights and prepaid hotels purchased with Amex Travel
  • 1.5x earnings on purchases $5,000 or more
  • 1x earnings all other purchases
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status
  • Membership Rewards points transfer to Hilton Honors at 1:2 ratio
Amex Business Gold Card$295 (see rates & fees)
  • 4x earnings on your highest 2 qualifying business expenses each statement period, up to $150,000 in purchases each calendar year
  • 1x earnings all other purchases
  • Membership Rewards points transfer to Hilton Honors at 1:2 ratio

Bottom Line: A wise business owner can benefit greatly from a business credit card that earns rewards on every purchase. While we’ve mentioned a few cards that may be appropriate for Hilton loyalists, check out our article on additional business credit cards that would pair up quite nicely with a Hilton card. 

Final Thoughts

If you frequent Hilton properties, by all means, consider a Hilton-branded card for the elevated rewards earnings, Hilton Honors elite status, free hotel nights, and related benefits. If you’re also a frequent traveler, adding a general travel rewards card to supplement a Hilton card can be a smart move.

As always, you’ll want to match reward structures with your spending mix, select a card with benefits you can use, and make sure the card offers redemption options that you find valuable.

Also worth noting is that we haven’t included any Chase personal or Chase business credit cards in this article due to the fact that Hilton is not a Chase transfer partner. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® card, Chase Sapphire Reserve® card, and the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, however, are some of the best travel rewards cards available and worthy of consideration as a partner card for a Hilton-branded card.

To learn more about Hilton-branded cards and our picks for the best travel rewards cards, check out our related articles.


Frequently asked questions

Is a Hilton Honors credit card worth it?

Yes, if you stay even a few times a year at Hilton properties, having a Hilton-branded credit card is worth it. With elevated earnings at Hilton properties, complimentary elite status, and free hotel nights, there is plenty of value to be realized for anyone who stays with Hilton.

There’s also a card to match every Hilton fan, from a no annual fee card to a premium card with top elite status and airport lounge membership.

Is Hilton Honors elite status worth it?

If you stay frequently at Hilton properties, elite status is worth it.

Even at entry-level Silver elite status, you will receive bonus points, the fifth award night free, no resort fees on award stays, late checkout, and complimentary bottled water.

Gold elite status members enjoy additional benefits such as free breakfast and room upgrades when available.

When you reach Diamond elite status (it also comes with the Hilton Aspire card), you’ll receive several additional benefits including executive lounge access and suite upgrades when available.

Can I transfer my Hilton points to airlines?

Yes, it is possible to transfer your Hilton Honors points to dozens of airline transfer partners. However, it is not the best value for your points.

For example, 10,000 Hilton Honors points transferred to United Airlines results in just 1,000 United MileagePlan miles.

Hilton Honors points generally receive the best value when they are used for free hotel nights.

How many Hilton points do I need for a free hotel night?

While you can secure a free hotel night starting at just 5,000 Hilton Honors points, you can pay much more depending on the category of the hotel and whether it is peak or off-peak season.

Additionally, Silver, Gold, and Diamond elite members qualify to receive the fifth consecutive award night free. For example, if you book 5 consecutive award nights at 20,000 points each night, you will pay just 80,000 points for the entire 5-night stay versus the 100,000 point full price.

Christine Krzyszton

About Christine Krzyszton

Christine, who lives in Northern Michigan, travels about 300,000 miles a year despite her remote location. Her expertise is traveling the world on a weekend with no pre-determined destination in mind, letting the cost of the airfare determine where she will go. She has over four million flown miles and elite status on all three major domestic carriers.

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