Signing-up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.
If you’re interested in booking a few free nights at a Hilton hotel but you’re concerned about being on the hook of a credit card’s annual fee, then the Hilton Honors American Express Card is for you (I’ve had it for years). Not only does it not have an annual fee (See Rates and Fees), it also has perks like:
- Automatic Hilton Silver Status, which gives you access to Hilton’s 5th night free benefit!
- 7X Hilton points at participating Hilton locations
- 5X Hilton points at eligible US restaurants, US supermarkets, and US gas stations
- 3X Hilton points everywhere else
- 75,000 Hilton point bonus, after you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
That’s a rock solid bonus for a card without an annual fee attached. Hilton doesn’t have an award chart, but it isn’t hard to find cheaper Hilton hotels for 25,000 points a night and get 3 free nights out of the deal.
There are even Hilton hotels overseas you can book for as little as 5,000 or 10,000 points per night. So this card gives you the potential to book an even longer free stay.
The Hilton Honors American Express Card Is Worth It…If You Love Free Nights
The Hilton Honors American Express card is the perfect starter card for folks looking to save on upcoming hotel stays. It’s the only Hilton credit card that doesn’t have an annual fee, so you can earn Hilton points and take advantage of perks without having to figure out if it’s worth keeping year after year.
I’ve got this card and I’ve had it for years. You can read our full review here.
One of the most underrated perks you get with the card is Hilton Silver status. On the surface, Silver status doesn’t look like it’s worth much. You’ll get perks like a 20% bonus on base points and 2 free bottles of water. But the real value is having access to Hilton’s 5th-night free benefit.
With the 5th night free perk, you’ll get 1 night free for every 5 nights you book with points. The discount is based on the average cost of all 5 nights, so it ends up being a 20% discount.
And get this, you can use this benefit an unlimited number of times each year! Plus you’ll get every 5th night free on stays of up to 20 nights – that’s 4 free nights on a single reservation.
That means if you managed to find available award nights for 15 days at a 5,000 point per night hotel, the bonus you earn from the Hilton Honors American Express card could get you 18 free nights.
Did I mention you get all this without paying an annual fee?
But You Should Skip the Hilton Honors American Express Card If…
If you prefer to use your Hilton points to stay at expensive luxury hotels, then you’ll want to consider these other AMEX Hilton cards:
- The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
- Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card
- Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express
Each of those cards comes with a bigger bonus, better elite status, and more benefits than the AMEX Hilton Honors card. For example, top-tier Hilton hotels can cost 95,000 points per night. So the AMEX Hilton Honors card’s intro bonus isn’t enough for even 1 free night in the most expensive hotels.
Not only do the other AMEX Hilton card’s have welcome bonuses big enough to book free stays at posh hotels, but they also come with more opportunities to earn free nights. With both the AMEX Hilton Business card and the AMEX Hilton Ascend card you can earn a free weekend night certificate after spending $15,000 in eligible purchases in a calendar year.
And the AMEX Hilton Aspire is even better when it comes to free nights. You can earn the same free weekend night certificate each cardmember year without any spending requirement. And you can earn a second free weekend night with the AMEX Hilton Business or AMEX Hilton Aspire after spending $60,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year.
These free weekend nights are incredibly valuable because they can be used to stay (on Friday, Saturday or Sunday night) at almost any Hilton hotel except for this handful of exclusions.
In addition, with the Hilton Aspire you get up to a $250 resort credit each cardmember year (valid at these resorts), up to $250 airline credit for incidentals (not airfare) each cardmember year for your selected airline, and a $100 credit for each 2+ night stay at participating Waldorf Astoria and Conrad hotels. Just keep in mind that the AMEX Hilton Aspire card does have a $450 annual fee. (See Rates & Fees)
One Final Consideration About the Hilton Honors American Express Card
With AMEX cards you can only earn the welcome bonus once per lifetime per card. So once you get the Hilton Honors American Express Card you won’t be eligible to earn the bonus ever again.
Right now the card’s 75,000 Hilton point bonus (after meeting minimum spending requirements) matches the highest public offer I’ve ever seen. In the past, there have been 100,000-point bonuses offered for this card, but those were targeted deals and not available to everyone. So if you’re interested, now is a good time to apply.
Just remember, AMEX isn’t the only bank with strict application rules. Chase, for example, won’t approve you for any of their credit cards if you’ve opened 5+ cards from any bank in the past 24 months (not including business cards from certain banks like AMEX, Citi, and Chase). So by opening the AMEX Hilton Honors card, you could be limiting yourself from earning lucrative Chase credit card bonuses in the future.
The AMEX Hilton Honors card is a good choice if you’re looking for a no annual fee hotel card that has the potential to get you lots of free nights. And also, if you like earning bonus Hilton points for purchases at US supermarkets, US restaurants, and US gas stations.
But if you like to use Hilton points to splurge on luxury hotels, then you’re better off applying for a card with more benefits and a bigger bonus, such as the AMEX Hilton Aspire. And if you’re trying to stay under the Chase 5/24 rule, then you’ll want to skip the AMEX Hilton Honors card and apply for The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card instead because it won’t add to your 5/24 count.
You can apply for the AMEX Hilton Honors card here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Amex Card, please click here
For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire Amex Card, click here.