Hotel credit cards can be incredibly valuable. Typically the cards have reasonable annual fees, and offer outsized value, ranging from annual free nights to status. What’s rare is to see a hotel credit card that offers perks in spite of not having an annual fee, though in this post I wanted to look at one such card.
Is this card worth having, or is it worth getting a card with an annual fee instead? After all, you have several Hilton cards to choose from.
Hilton Honors Card From American Express Basics
The Hilton Honors Card from American Express is Hilton’s entry-level personal credit card. The card has an increased welcome bonus at the moment, and has no annual fee. So is this a card that should be in your wallet?
Let’s look at a few aspects of this card, including the points earning potential, the welcome bonus, and the perks.
90K Point Welcome Bonus
The Hilton Honors Card from American Express has an increased limited time welcome bonus at the moment, valid through August 28, 2019.
The card is offering a new member bonus of 90,000 Hilton Honors points after spending $2,000 within the first three months. That’s a really reasonable spend requirement, as some other cards require $4,000+ of spending to get the bonus.
I value Hilton Honors points at ~0.5 cents each, meaning that I value the 90,000 points at ~$450. That’s really good when you consider that this is a no annual fee card.
Redeem Hilton Honors points at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives
Eligibility For Bonus
The welcome offer on this card is not available to those who currently have or who have had this card.
You are eligible for the bonus if you have had any other Hilton card, though, including any of the personal cards with an annual fee, or the business card.
Amex Application Restrictions
I find that Amex cards are fairly easy to be approved for, for those with excellent credit. Just make sure you know that:
- You can be approved for at most two Amex cards in a 90 day period
- You can have at most five American Express credit cards at any point (this doesn’t include charge cards)
See this post for all major credit card application restrictions to be aware of.
The Hilton Honors Card from American Express has no annual fee, and you can even add additional cardmembers with no annual fee.
You can’t beat holding onto a no annual fee card long term. Holding onto credit cards long term helps your credit score, as it helps you increase your average account age. If you’re going to hold onto cards long term, you might as well make them no annual fee cards whenever possible to minimize your out of pocket.
Earning Points With The Hilton Honors Card From American Express
The Hilton Honors Card from American Express offers some bonus categories for spending, though they’re not quite as robust as you might find on other cards.
The card offers anywhere from 3-7x Honors points per dollar spent, depending on the category you’re spending in.
The card also offers some status perks, and you can earn even more status perks if you spend money on the card.
7x Points At Hilton Hotels
The card offers 7x Hilton Honors points for spending at Hilton properties globally. This includes all Hilton brands, from Hampton Inn to Waldorf Astoria.
I value Hilton points at ~0.5 cents each, so to me, that’s like a 3.5% return on hotel spending. That’s pretty good for a no annual fee card.
5x Points Bonus Categories
The Hilton Honors Card offers 5x points per eligible dollar spent at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
That’s the equivalent of a 2.5% return on spending in those categories, which is also fairly good for a no annual fee card.
Earn 5x points on supermarket purchases
3x Points On Other Purchases
The card offers 3x points on all other eligible purchases, which I value at a return of ~1.5%. There are definitely better cards for everyday spending.
No Foreign Transaction Fees
The Hilton Honors Card has no foreign transaction fees, which is pretty good for a no annual fee card.
Hilton Honors Card Benefits
Despite having no annual fee, the Hilton Honors Card from American Express offers some potentially valuable benefits. You get status just for having the card, and can receive elevated status if you spend enough on the card.
Let’s look at the details of those benefits.
Hilton Honors Silver Status
Just for having the Honors Card you get complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status. This is Hilton’s entry-level status, and while the perks are limited, it’s nice that they give it to you on a no annual fee card.
The benefits of Hilton Honors Silver status include the following:
- Fifth night free on award stays
- 20% points bonus
- Two bottles of water
Hilton Honors Gold Status With Spending
You can earn Hilton’s mid-tier Gold status for spending on this card. If you spend $20,000 on the card in a calendar year you’ll earn Hilton Honors Gold status, which comes with the following perks:
- Free breakfast and/or executive lounge access
- Late check-out, subject to availability
- Preferred rooms
- 80% points bonus
- Fifth night free on award stays
Hilton Honors Gold members receive executive lounge access
Purchase, Return, And Warranty Protection
The Hilton Honors Card from American Express offers some potentially valuable purchase protection, return protection, and extended warranty. While you’ll want to check your cardmember agreement for all the details, you can potentially expect:
- Purchase protection, offering protection on eligible purchases that are accidentally damaged, stolen, or lost; valid for up to 120 days, and $1,000 per occurrence, and $50,000 per calendar year
- Return protection, where Amex may refund a purchase in full when you try to return an item within 90 days and the merchant won’t take it back; valid for up to $300 per item, up to a maximum of $1,000 per calendar year
- Extended warranty, where you can get up to two extra years added to the original manufacturer’s warranty, for warranties of five years or less
One of my favorite features of Amex cards is access to Amex Offers, which offers savings on purchases with all kinds of retailers. There’s huge value to be had in getting as many Amex cards as possible, so that you can get these offers on multiple cards.
Amex Offers could save you hundreds of dollars per year. You can access these offers by logging into your account and scrolling down to the bottom of your account summary page.
What’s especially awesome is that this card has no annual fee, so Amex is basically paying you to have this card when you consider the savings opportunities.
Is The Hilton Honors Card From American Express Worth It?
For a no annual fee card, I think the Hilton Honors Card from American Express is pretty awesome. The card has a very good welcome bonus, it gives you access to Amex Offers (which can save you a lot of money), it offers Hilton Honors Silver status (which gets you a fifth night free on awards), and more.
The bonus categories are pretty good too for a no annual fee card, like being able to earn 7x points on Hilton stays, and 5x points on supermarket, gas station, and restaurant purchases.
For someone who absolutely doesn’t want to pay an annual fee, I think this is a great card to consider.
Why You Should Consider The Surpass Card Instead
Why would I instead apply for this card?
- It offers a much better welcome bonus of 130,000 points plus a weekend night reward upon completing minimum spend
- You get Gold status for as long as you have the card, which offers perks like upgraded rooms, free breakfast, and more
Redeem the weekend night reward at the Conrad Bora Bora
There are other reasons, but I think those are the two primary reasons that should put this into perspective.
Here’s the other thing. Say you really want a no annual fee card long term. After 12 months you could downgrade the $95 annual fee card to the no annual fee card by phoning up Amex.
So I really do think the Surpass Card is worth trying. If you don’t like it you can always downgrade it after a year, and you’ll maintain your credit line, etc.
Best No Annual Fee Card?
If you’re just looking for the simplest cash back credit card, it’s tough to go wrong with the Citi® Double Cash Card, which offers 1% cash back when you make a purchase, and 1% cash back when you pay for that purchase.
Amex Hilton Honors Card Summary
The Hilton Honors Card from American Express is a good no annual fee card. The card has a solid welcome bonus, offers 3-7x points per dollar spent, gets you Honors Silver status, and gives you access to Amex Offers.
For someone looking for a no annual fee card, this is a great option.
However, personally, I would apply for the Hilton Honors Surpass Card. The card has a much better welcome bonus, offers bigger bonus categories on spending, and gives you Hilton Gold status.
If you find the card isn’t worthwhile, you can choose to downgrade it after a year.
The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: Hilton Honors American Express Card (Rates & Fees), and Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card (Rates & Fees).