Amex Hilton Honors Credit Cards: Comparing the Benefits and Perks

Conrad Koh Samui

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With 14 hotel brands and over 5,100 hotels worldwide, it’s no wonder so many travelers are Hilton fans. You’re sure to find a property that fits your style and budget no matter where you travel.

The Hilton Honors loyalty program, one of the industry’s best, focuses successfully on rewarding Hilton loyalists and is complimented nicely by the collection of Hilton Honors credit card offerings that also support brand loyalty.

And just as the Hilton brand has a property for every type of traveler, its branded credit cards follow suit with several varied card options. American Express has created Hilton Honors-branded cards that match your spending patterns, the frequency with which you stay at Hilton, the level of benefits you prefer, and whether you want to pay an annual fee.

If you stay at Hilton properties, even occasionally, you can benefit from free hotel nights, elite status perks, and even worldwide lounge access simply by having a Hilton Honors-branded credit card.

With several Hilton Honors cards to choose from, which is the best Hilton Honors credit card for you?

The Best Hilton Honors Credit Cards

Hilton Honors-branded credit cards have it all — a welcome offer worth several free hotel nights, accelerated Hilton Honors points earnings, and complimentary elite status. But that’s not all! You’ll find cards with worldwide airport lounge access, statement credits for specific purchases, and additional travel benefits.

Let’s take a look at what you can expect from each Hilton Honors-branded card.

The Hilton Honors American Express Card

If you’re seeking a no annual fee card that offers elite benefits, accelerated earnings when staying at Hilton properties, and additional earnings on everyday spending, the Hilton Honors card may work well for you.

Top Reasons to Get the Hilton Honors Card

  • Complimentary Silver elite status
  • Ability to earn Gold elite status after spending $20,000 in a calendar year
  • 7 points/$1 spent at Hilton properties
  • 5 points/$1 spent at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations, and U.S. restaurants
  • 3 points/$1 spent on all other purchases
  • $5 back per month at U.S. restaurants (through December 31, 2021; enroll through Amex Offers)

The Perfect Cardholder

The perfect cardholder will value the exceptional earning power of the Hilton Honors card and use it for everyday purchases such as groceries, gas, and dining out, so points will add up fast.

They may also have a family who looks forward to an annual vacation. Hilton Honors members receive the fifth consecutive award night free, making those points you’ve earned on your Hilton Honors Card go much further.

Bottom Line: If Hilton is your brand of choice, you want accelerated earnings, and you value base-level elite benefits but don’t want to pay an annual fee, the Hilton Honors card could be a solid fit.

Arctic Club Seattle - a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel
Earning free nights is easy with a Hilton Honors-branded credit card. Image Credit: Hilton

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

The Hilton Surpass card (formally the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card), is a popular card because it kicks things up a notch over the Hilton Honors card with several additional benefits and greater earnings — and all without a high annual fee.

Top Reasons to Get the Surpass Card

  • Free weekend hotel night certificate after spending $15,000 in a calendar year
  • 10 single-visit passes per year to Priority Pass lounges
  • Hilton Honors Gold elite status
  • Ability to earn Diamond elite status after spending $40,000 in a calendar year
  • 12x points at Hilton
  • 6x points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations
  • 3x points on all other purchases
  • $10 back per month at U.S. restaurants (through December 31, 2021; enroll through Amex Offers)

The Perfect Cardholder

The perfect cardholder is comfortable paying a low annual fee to reap the associated benefits of higher earnings, complimentary airport lounge access, and Hilton Honors Gold elite status.

The cardholder is a traveler but not necessarily a frequent one as they can maximize the value of the card with just a few trips each year. Using the complimentary lounge access passes even 2 times with a guest will deliver enough value to offset the annual fee.

Add the value of 12x earnings at Hilton properties, plus 6x earning on everyday spending, and the card becomes worthy for the traveler who stays, even occasionally, at Hilton.

Bottom Line: The Hilton Surpass card delivers great value for a low annual fee. The complimentary elite status, worldwide airport lounge access, and higher earnings all create value worth more than the annual fee.

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

Own a business and stay at Hilton properties? The Hilton Business Amex card ensures you’ll be enjoying airport lounge access, free hotel nights, and complimentary elite status while you travel.

Top Reasons to Get the Hilton Business Card

  • Free hotel weekend night certificate after spending $15,000 on the card in a calendar year, and a second free night after spending $45,000 more
  • 10 free airport lounge visits each year once enrolled in complementary Priority Pass Select membership
  • Hilton Honors Gold elite status
  • Ability to earn Diamond elite status after spending $40,000 in a calendar year
  • 12x points at Hilton hotels and resorts
  • 6x points on select business and travel purchases
  • 3x points all other eligible purchases
  • $10 back per month on U.S. wireless services (through December 31, 2021; enroll through Amex Offers)

The Perfect Cardholder

The frequent business traveler who appreciates luxury travel benefits, spends a lot on travel, and chooses Hilton as their brand is the perfect cardholder. They’re also savvy and understand the value they’ll receive for such a low annual fee.

If you’re a small business owner or head of a much larger enterprise, you’ll experience elevated earnings on purchases business travelers make most often and accumulate points quickly.

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

The Hilton Aspire card offers great benefits and shines as a premium travel rewards card, offering extraordinary earnings, complimentary top-level Hilton Honors elite status, worldwide airport lounge access, statement credits, and free hotel nights.

Top Reasons to Get the Aspire Card

  • Complimentary top Hilton Honors Diamond elite status
  • Priority Pass Select worldwide lounge membership
  • $250 airline incidentals credit
  • $250 Hilton resort credit
  • $100 hotel credit at Waldorf Astoria and Conrad properties
  • $20 back per month at U.S. restaurants (through December 31, 2021; enroll through Amex Offers)

The Perfect Cardholder

The perfect cardholder is a frequent traveler. In addition to staying frequently at Hilton properties, they also value luxury travel perks such as airport lounge access, hotel/airline statement credits, and the benefits of top elite status.

The cardholder who may realize the most value might already be paying for an airline lounge membership and could save money by having the card.

Hot Tip: Curious how this card stacks up to other premium travel rewards credit cards? Check out our head to head comparison of the Hilton Aspire card vs. The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Conrad Hong Kong
Enjoy complimentary lounge access with Hilton Honors top elite status. Image Credit: Hilton

Complimentary Elite Status With Hilton Honors Credit Cards

The Value of Hilton Honors Elite Status

Prior to securing a Hilton Honors card, you’ll want to sign up for the Hilton Honors rewards program. Just for signing up you’ll receive perks such as member discounts, free Wi-Fi, and late checkout.

The benefits of elite status are many and grow increasingly more valuable the higher the level of status you achieve.

Hilton Honors Elite Benefits Chart
Each level of Hilton Honors elite status offers more valuable benefits. Image Credit: Hilton Honors

Hilton Honors-Branded Cards Create a Faster Path to Elite Status

Normally you’d need to have 4 stays or 10 nights per year to reach Silver elite status, 20 stays or 40 nights for Gold, and 30 stays or 60 nights for Diamond. You can also reach these elite status levels when earning base points of 10,000, 75,000, and 120,000 respectively by spending at Hilton properties.

update: See how Hilton Honors has adjusted 2021 points and status expiration, elite qualification, free night awards, and more in our article: Coronavirus (COVID-19): Hotel Elite Status Extensions, Changes, and Updates.

If you want complimentary Hilton Honors elite status without having to worry about the number of stays, nights, or amount you spend at Hilton each year, holding a Hilton Honors credit card can solve that dilemma.

Hilton Honors CardComes With:Spend Your Way to:
  • Hilton Honors card
  • Silver
  • Gold after spending $20,000 in a calendar year
  • Hilton Surpass card
  • Hilton Business Amex card
  • Gold
  • Platinum after spending $40,000 in a calendar year
  • Hilton Aspire card
  • Diamond
  • N/A

To learn more about Hilton Honors elite status, the associated benefits, and how to qualify, explore our comprehensive guide to Hilton status.

Bottom Line: For complimentary Hilton Honors elite status, there’s no faster or easier way to acquire it than having a Hilton Honors-branded credit card. 

Where Your Hilton Honors Points Can Take You

A welcome offer on a Hilton Honors-branded card can exceed 100,000 Hilton Honors points. A free hotel night can range from 5,000 points per night at the very low end, however, you’re likely to spend as much as 95,000 for a luxury property.

Here are just a couple of redemption options:

Conrad Bali, Indonesia — 40,000 Hilton Honors Points per Night

Conrad Bali
If you’re looking for a luxurious free hotel night, the Conrad Bali has it. Image Credit: Hilton

The DoubleTree Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — 20,000 Hilton Honors Points per Night

DoubleTree Kuala Lumpur
The DoubleTree Kuala Lumpur can be booked for just 20,000 Hilton Honors points. Image Credit: Hilton

Hot Tip: If you want more ideas for properties you can book with your Hilton Honors points, here are the best ways to redeem Hilton points for maximum value and the best Hilton luxury hotels you can book with points.

Additional Card Benefits

All Hilton Honors-branded cards come with additional travel/shopping benefits and protections.

Travel Benefits and Protections

  • Car rental loss and damage insurance: pay for your rental car in full with your eligible card and receive secondary rental car coverage if the car is damaged or stolen.
  • Baggage insurance plan: receive up to $3,000 for eligible lost, damaged, or stolen baggage with the Hilton Aspire card and up to $1,250 with all other Hilton Honors cards.
  • Premium Global Assist: 24/7 worldwide assistance for legal, financial, and medical emergency referral services.

Shopping Benefits and Protections

  • Purchase protection: receive coverage for up to 90 days from the date of purchase for eligible items purchased with your card. The maximum limit for coverage is $1,000 per incident on all Hilton Honors cards with the exception of the Hilton Aspire card which has a $10,000 limit.
  • Extended warranty: eligible items purchased with your card that have manufacturer’s warranties of 5 years or less receive an additional 1 years. Coverage is limited to $10,000 per item.

Please note that this is not a complete list of card benefits and that the coverage descriptions are abbreviated. You can find a list of all associated benefits by accessing the specific card’s Guide to Benefits.

Final Thoughts

Just as there is a Hilton property suited for every type of traveler, there is a Hilton Honors card that matches up with the needs of every type of Hilton traveler.

  • The Hilton Honors card offers good earning potential, complimentary elite status, and has no annual fee.
  • The Hilton Surpass card has a low annual fee but comes with accelerated earnings, 10 airport lounge passes, and Gold elite status.
  • For the business owner, the Hilton Business Amex card delivers elevated earnings, luxury benefits, and the ability to earn additional free hotel nights through spending.
  • For the frequent traveler who wants it all, the premium Hilton Aspire card wraps up top elite status, airport lounge membership, high earning potential, free hotel nights, and hundreds of dollars in statement credits.

There truly is a Hilton Honors card for every type of Hilton traveler.

The information regarding the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card and Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer. 

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Card, click here.
For rates and fees of The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, click here.

Frequently asked questions

Do the points I earn on Hilton Honors credit cards count towards elite status?

The points you earn by spending on your Hilton Honors-branded card do not count toward elite status.

Base points that count toward elite status are earned by staying at Hilton properties.

You will, however, earn bonus points by using your Hilton branded card to pay for your stay.

Do Hilton Honors points expire?

Hilton Honors points expire after 1 year of account inactivity. Activity is defined as either earning or redeeming points.

How does the Hilton Honors free night work?

The Hilton Aspire, Hilton Surpass, and Hilton Business American Express cards all offer free weekend hotel night certificates. You can earn these free weekend hotel nights as part of a promotional welcome bonus, as a benefit at account anniversary renewal,  or after meeting certain spending thresholds on your card.

The free weekend night certificate will be deposited in your account once it is earned and will then be ready to use.

The free night is good for Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night and can be used at any Hilton property with the exclusion of some high-end hotels or resorts.

Once you have earned your certificate, just call in to use it.

Certificates do have an expiration date but you will not lose a certificate if you cancel your credit card as long as the certificate is in your account.

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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  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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