Hilton Credit Card Comparisons and Options For 2021

If you frequently travel for work or pleasure, you can multiply your benefits by carrying a hotel-branded credit card. Among major hotel chains, Hilton offers perhaps the broadest range of property types and price points—including DoubleTree, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites and Hampton Inn—and more than 5,000 properties in 100 countries.

Its popular loyalty program, Hilton Honors, makes it easy for guests to earn points and redeem them for rewards like free room nights while enjoying other benefits. This makes a Hilton credit card a wonderful option for those looking to get into credit card churning.

Our Hilton Credit Card Comparison

Through an exclusive partnership with American Express, Hilton offers three consumer-focused card options and a business card, each with distinct benefits and fees. Read on to learn more and determine which card will earn you the greatest rewards based on your lifestyle and spending habits.

Hilton Honors Card from American Express

The Basics

  • Bonus: Spend $1,000 in the first three months after opening your account and earn 75,000 bonus points.
  • Earning rate: You’ll rack up seven points per dollar spent at Hilton hotels, five points per dollar spent at restaurants, grocery stores and gas stations and three points per dollar on all other purchases.
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR):24 percent to 26.24 percent

The biggest draw of the Hilton Honors Card from American Express is that it doesn’t charge an annual fee, yet offers significant value for travelers. Cardholders also automatically acquire elite Silver Status in the Hilton Honors program, which confers benefits like free Wi-Fi, no resort fees on rewards stays, late checkout, complimentary bottled water and a free fifth night on reward stays.

And a Hilton Honors member, your spending will elevate you to higher levels of the rewards program with even more lucrative rewards.

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Other Benefits

  • ShopRunner subscription: Cardholders receive a free subscription to ShopRunner, a service that provides free two-day shipping from more than 100 online retailers.
  • Waived foreign transaction fees: When you pay with your Hilton Honors American Express, you won’t be charged a fee for transactions in foreign currencies.
  • Rental car insurance: Reserving and paying for a rental car with your Hilton Honors American Express provides you with secondary coverage if the car is damaged or stolen.
  • Extended warranties: American Express will add as much as two years to eligible manufacturers’ warranties of five years or less.

Who Benefits Most?

The Hilton Honors Card from American Express is best for travelers who stay at Hilton-branded hotels just a few times a year. With no annual fee, you won’t have any pressure to spend to justify the cost of owning it; if you’re able to earn the welcome bonus, you’ll instantly have enough points for a short reward stay.

However, if you spend a lot on your card or travel frequently, you may want to consider one of the other Hilton cards.

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Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card

The Basics

  • Bonus: Spend $2,000 in the first three months after opening your account and earn 125,000 bonus points.
  • Earning rate: Earn 12 points per dollar spent at Hilton hotels, six points per dollar spent at restaurants, grocery stores and gas stations and three points per dollar when using it anywhere else.
  • Annual fee: $95
  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR):24 percent to 26.24 percent

For a modest annual fee of $95, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card offers several benefits not available with the basic Hilton Honors Card. Instead of automatic Hilton Silver status, Surpass cardholders are upgraded to Gold status, which comes with all Silver benefits plus an 80 percent points bonus on paid stays, milestone bonuses, space-available room upgrades at certain properties, free breakfast and other amenities.

These benefits are estimated to be worth more than $1,200 per year and easily outweigh the cost of the annual fee.

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Other Benefits

  • Free weekend rewards night: Spend at least $15,000 on your Surpass card and you’ll score a free weekend rewards night at nearly any Hilton property.
  • Diamond status upgrade: Spend $40,000 on eligible purchases within a year and you’ll move to elite Hilton Honors Diamond status, which includes privileges like Executive Lounge access, complimentary premium internet, a 48-hour room guarantee and 100 percent points bonus. In total, Diamond perks add up to about $3,000 over the course of a year.
  • Airport lounge passes: The Surpass card includes 10 free airport lounge visits per year via Priority Pass Select.

Who Benefits Most?

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card is perfect for occasional travelers who want access to high-end benefits without high annual fees. With just the upgrade from Hilton Honors Silver to Gold status, cardholders will reap more than $1,000 in additional perks for a mere $95 per year, including the ability to earn points at a much higher rate on many purchases.

It is worth noting that the American Express Platinum Card (which isn’t affiliated with Hilton) does provide many of the same benefits as the Surpass card, including automatic Hilton Gold status and Priority Pass membership, so if you already have the Platinum Card, Surpass may not be the most valuable option for you.

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Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

The Basics

  • Bonus: Spend $4,000 in the first three months after opening your account and earn 150,000 bonus points.
  • Earning rate: When you use your Aspire card, you’ll net 14 points per dollar at Hilton hotels, seven points per dollar spent at restaurants, grocery stores and gas stations and three points per dollar on all other purchases.
  • Annual fee: $450
  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR):24 percent to 26.24 percent

If you can get past the hefty $450 annual fee, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card delivers the greatest bang for the buck for most travelers. It comes with $500 in annual travel incentives: $250 toward incidental airline fees like checked baggage, flight change fees and in-flight refreshments with a single qualifying airline and another $250 to spend on indulgences like spa treatments, activities and dining at Hilton resorts.

Additionally, it comes with $100 in credits at Conrad and Waldorf-Astoria properties. Most importantly, the Aspire Card vaults you to Diamond status and the long list of perks that come with it.

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Other Benefits

  • Free weekend night: The Aspire card gifts you one free weekend night per year at virtually any Hilton property, and you’ll earn a second one if you spend $60,000 with the card in a calendar year.
  • Unlimited Priority Pass lounge access: The cardholder and two guests will enjoy unlimited access to the Priority Pass network, which includes more than 1,300 airport lounges, mini-suites and airport restaurants around the globe (and more than three dozen in the U.S.).
  • Supplemental travel coverage: When you use the Aspire card, you’ll get a complimentary secondary collision/damage waiver with rental cars and lost baggage insurance. New in 2020, cardholders will also receive trip cancellation/interruption coverage: If a round-trip flight bought with your Aspire Card is canceled due to weather, terrorist action, or sudden illness or injury to you or an eligible traveler, you can get reimbursed for non-refundable expenses of up to $10,000 per trip.

Who Benefits Most?

For frequent travelers who consistently stay at Hilton properties, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card delivers outstanding value. The free weekend night alone almost justifies the annual fee, and the instant Diamond status and other luxury perks are worth thousands more each year. With the Aspire Card, you can treat yourself to room upgrades, spa pampering and other indulgences without a hint of guilt.

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Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

The Basics

  • Bonus: Spend $3,000 in the first three months after opening your account and earn 125,000 bonus points.
  • Earning rate: This card earns 12 points per dollar spent at Hilton properties; six points per dollar on U.S.-based wireless services, flights booked directly through airlines or American Express Travel, car rentals booked directly through specific companies; six points per dollar at U.S. restaurants and three points per dollar on all other purchases.
  • Annual fee: $95
  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR):24 percent to 26.24 percent

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card offers many of the same benefits as the Surpass Card, with an identical annual fee of $95 per year. However, Business cardholders may find it easier to spend the $40,000 annually needed to achieve the Diamond status upgrade. With $15,000 in annual spending, you’ll earn a free weekend night at any Hilton property along with 10 Priority Pass visits per year.

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Other Benefits

  • No foreign transaction fees: Like the other Hilton Honors American Express cards, the Business Card doesn’t charge an additional fee for transactions in foreign currencies.
  • Welcome bonus: Make a purchase within three months of opening your Hilton Honors American Express Business Card account and earn a $100 statement credit.

Who Benefits Most?

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card is a good choice for business owners who spend substantial amounts each year on flights, stays at Hilton properties and other business-related expenses.

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Maximizing Your Points with Hilton Credit Card Options

If your primary goal is to rack up as many Hilton Honors points as possible, you might consider carrying more than one of these co-branded American Express cards.

While standard American Express cards cap welcome bonuses at one per lifetime for each card type, that rule doesn’t apply to the Hilton Honors cards, meaning you could apply for all three personal cards and score 350,000 points (and an additional 125,000 if you add the business card as well).

Just keep in mind that American Express limits individuals to five open credit accounts at any given time (including non-Hilton cards).

Final Thoughts on Hilton Credit Card Choices

If your hospitality brand loyalty lies with Hilton, holding at least one of these Hilton Honors American Express cards is a no-brainer. For corporate cardholders, the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card delivers serious value with business expenses.

If you don’t mind covering the $450 annual fee, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card offers the highest level of benefits per dollar spent and includes lucrative perks that the other cards don’t. Even the Surpass Card and basic Hilton Honors card can help you earn great rewards for the money you’re already spending with low or no annual fees.

No matter which card you choose, you’ll get the outstanding customer service and standard cardholder perks for which American Express is known.