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Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express Review

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by Lauren Perez Updated
Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express

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A Solid Loyalty Card for No Annual Fee

One of two Hilton Honors™ loyalty cards, the Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express offers a pretty great return of extra points.  If you are already a Hilton Honors member, whenever you book a room with Hilton you already earn 10 base points per dollar spent. So with a Hilton Honors™ loyalty credit card, you’re earning extra points when you make qualifying Hilton purchases.

When you make eligible purchases at participating hotels or resorts within the Hilton Portfolio, you can earn seven Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points per dollar. You earn five Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points per dollar on purchases at restaurants, gas stations and supermarkets in the U.S. Finally every other eligible purchase will earn you triple the Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points per dollar.  

You can even start off with a huge bonus after signing. For a limited time, after spending $1,000 within the first three months of getting your card, you’ll earn 50,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points. Plus, if you make an additional $1,000 in purchases within your first 6 months, you will earn an additional 25,000 Bonus Points. This offer ends on 10/4/2017.

The card also comes with a complimentary Hilton Honors™ Silver status. Silver status provides you with a 15% bonus on Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points earned through a Hilton Honors™ stay. You can also receive the fifth night free on Standard Room Rewards stays of five consecutive nights or more when you book with your points. However, if you spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express in a calendar year, you’ll bump yourself up to Honors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.

Another great plus of the card is that there is no annual fee. And once you’re traveling from destination to destination, AmEx offers more benefits and protections. The Global Assist® Hotline becomes available when you’re at least 100 miles away from home. This gives you access to medical, legal and financial assistance. Card membership also includes insurance for car rental loss and damage. Amex’s Travel Accident Insurance covers you and your family while traveling on a Common Carrier like a plane, ship or bus when your entire fare was charged to the Hilton Honors™ Card.

The card comes with an APR for purchases and balance transfers of 16.24%-20.24% Variable, depending on your credit score. Balance transfers must be requested within 60 days of opening the account. Cash advances carry an APR of 26.24% Variable and a fee of either $5 or 3% of the transaction amount, whichever is greater. Balance transfers also carry a fee of $5 or 3% of the transaction amount, whichever is greater. Unfortunately, the card also charges a foreign transaction fee of 2.7% of the amount after the conversion to US dollars.

Should you make one or more late payments or make a payment that gets returned, you’ll be subjected to a penalty APR of 29.99% variable. That penalty APR will apply for at least six months and is variable, meaning it can change with the Prime Rate. But if you make your payments in full and on time, you will not be charged any interest on purchase charges. This does not apply to balance transfers and cash advances.

Smart Features

No annual fee - This is Amex’s Hilton Honors™ card with no annual fee. That way you can focus on earning your points and paying off your purchases, rather than another fee to maintain the card.

Travel benefits - With this card, American Express offers a number of travel benefits like the Global Assist® Hotline and insurance for car rental loss and damage. Amex will also provide Travel Accident Insurance for you and your family while traveling.

Extended warranties - Amex can add up to one additional year to a warranty on purchases made with the card. The purchases must already come with a U.S. manufacturer’s warranty of five years or less.

Purchase Protection - Purchase Protection can help protect eligible purchases you make on the card when they’re accidentally damaged, lost or stolen.

Purchase refunds - If you want to return a purchase you made on the card within 90 days of the original purchase, but the merchant won’t take it back, Amex may refund the full purchase price. This won’t include shipping and handling and limits up to $300 per item and up to a maximum of $1,000 per calendar year per card.

Fraud protection - If any fraudulent purchases come up on your card, all you have to do is contact AmEx about it, and you won’t be responsible for those charges. There is no deductible either. 

Who It Benefits

This card stands to mostly benefit travelers who frequently use and stay at participating Hilton Honors™ properties. Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points can only be used for hotel and resort stays that fall under the Hilton Portfolio or for merchandise within the Hilton Honors™ mall. So if you’re looking for a credit card that can provide a wide array of rewards, then this card won’t be great for you.

However if you travel often and will be staying at qualifying properties, you stand to earn a lot of bonus points. Furthermore, the five points per dollar at supermarkets, gas stations and restaurants in the U.S. means your everyday spending can still earn you points. So whether you’re traveling or still at home, those purchases will really benefit your Hilton Honors™ earnings. 

How It Works

The Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express is a loyalty card for Hilton. This means that any points you earn with the card are Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points. These points can only be used when staying at a Hilton property or when purchasing merchandise through the Hilton Honors™ mall.

There are three categories of purchases that can earn you Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points on this card. First, you can earn seven points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at participating hotels or resorts within the Hilton Portfolio. You can earn five Hilton Honors Bonus Points™ per dollar spent on purchases at restaurants, gas stations and supermarkets in the U.S. Then every other eligible purchase earns you three Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points per dollar.

The card also provides you with a complimentary Hilton Honors™ Silver status. This earns an extra 15% on Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points earned through a Hilton Honors™ stay, among other benefits. Plus, spending $20,000 on the card in a calendar year bumps you to Gold status for a whole year.

Luckily, the card does not come with an annual fee. However, it does charge a fee of 2.7% of the amount for foreign transactions. There will also be a fee of $5 or 3% of the transaction amount, whichever is greater, for both cash advances and balance transfers.

The card’s APR for purchases and balance transfers requested within 60 days of opening the account is 16.24%-20.24% Variable. Cash advances carry an APR of 26.24% Variable. There is also a variable penalty APR of 29.99% that activates when you make one or more late payments or make a payment that is returned. The penalty rate lasts for six months.

What’s the Catch

Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points can only be used for hotel and resort stays that fall under the Hilton Portfolio. Luckily, the Portfolio does include properties in about 100 countries. However, there is the other catch in the form of a foreign transaction fee. So even though you can use your card for abroad travel, you will have to pay extra. This may be a big drawback for some customers.

Your other redemption option for your Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points is through the Hilton Honors™ mall. There, you can redeem your points for merchandise ranging from electronics to gift cards.

Just the Math Please

Rewards

For a limited time, you can begin your rewards earnings by spending $1,000 within the first three months to earn 50,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points. Plus, if you spend an additional $1,000 in your first 6 months, you will earn an additional 25,000 Bonus Points. This offer expires 10/4/2017.

Balance Transfers

Balance transfers trigger a transaction fee of either $5 or 3% of the transfer amount, whichever amount is greater. The APR for balance transfers made within the first 60 days of opening the account is the same for regular purchases at 16.24%-20.24% Variable and may change with the prime rate.

Rates and Fees

Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for Purchases

16.24%-20.24% Variable, depending on your credit score and other factors.

APR for Balance Transfers  

16.24%-20.24% Variable, depending on your credit score. Balance transfers must be requested within 60 days of opening the account. This APR is variable, meaning it may change with the Prime Rate.

APR for Cash Advances  

26.24% Variable.

Penalty APR and When It Applies 

29.99% Variable.

It will apply if you make one or more late payments or make a payment that is returned. The penalty APR will apply for at least six months.

How to Avoid Paying Interest on Purchases  

Your due date is at least 25 days after the close of each billing cycle.

Amex will not charge you interest on purchases if you pay your entire balance by the due date each month. It will begin charging interest on cash advances and balance transfers on the transaction date.

Annual Fee  

None    

Transaction Fees    

  • Balance Transfer $5 or 3% of the transfer, whichever is greater

  • Cash Advance $5 or 3% of the cash advance, whichever is greater

  • Foreign Purchase Transaction 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars

Penatly Fees

  • Late Payment Up to $38

  • Returned Payment Up to $38

How It Stacks Up

If you’re checking out the Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express, you should probably learn about the other Hilton card from American Express.

The Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express comes with a $75 annual fee and most of the same rates and fees as the regular version of the card. Surpass® earns you a whopping 12 bonus points for each dollar spent at a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio, six points at restaurants, gas stations and supermarkets in the U.S. and three points for all other eligible purchases. Already these bonus point returns outshine the returns from two categories with the regular Hilton Honors™ card from American Express.

The Surpass® card provides automatic Hilton Honors™ Gold status, with the opportunity to upgrade to Diamond status. The card also comes with a limited time sign-up bonus of 100,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points for spending $3,000 within the first three months. Plus, earn a free weekend night award after your first cardmember anniversary. This offer ends on 10/04/2017. The Surpass® Card comes with Priority Pass membership, allowing you entry to hundreds of luxury airport lounges. The benefits may outweigh the cost of the annual fee. 

Bottom Line

All in all, the Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express offers a pretty good deal for those loyal to Hilton. The card offers high amounts of bonus points to add onto your Hilton expenses, especially for no annual fee. While earning five points per dollar on purchases at gas stations, restaurants and supermarkets in the U.S. may seem pretty standard, it’s actually a good deal. It means that your everyday purchases can still earn you rewards, whether you’re at home or traveling around the country. 

If you’re looking to further your standing within the Hilton loyalty program, this card can get you there. You’re automatically given Hilton Honors™ Silver status, with the opportunity to upgrade to Gold status, depending on your spending habits.

You should make sure to be careful with your transactions on this card. You won’t want to incur high fees from foreign transactions, cash advances or balance transfers. So as long as you avoid those pesky fees as well as overspending, this card would benefit you well as a Hilton loyalty card.

 

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer.

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