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Depending on your personal travel goals, you should focus on earning and accumulating the points, miles or cash back that will be the most valuable for your specific needs.
In this post, I wanted to offer a shameless plug the four credit card offers for earning Hilton points — because I’m a Hilton loyalist and I absolutely love the chain.
Best Hilton credit card offers
- Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express: Best for obtaining Hilton elite status
- Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card: Best mid-range card
- The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card: Best for small business owners
- Hilton Honors card from American Express: Best for those who don’t want to pay a high annual fee
Here’s a breakdown of each card’s bonus:
|Card||Intro bonus||Best for|
|Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express||150,000 Hilton points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Terms Apply.||Best for obtaining Hilton elite status|
|Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card||125,000 Hilton points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Terms Apply.||Best mid-range card|
|Hilton Honors American Express Business Card||125,000 Hilton points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Terms Apply.||Best for small business owners|
|Hilton Honors American Express Card||75,000 Hilton points after spending $1,000 on purchases with the first three months of account opening. Terms Apply.||Best for those who don't want to pay a high annual fee|
Improved benefits in the wake of COVID-19 lockdown
Amex and Hilton are offering you an easier way to earn and use rewards temporarily due to the novel coronavirus that sucker-punched our 2020 travel plans.
From May to July 2020, you’ll earn 12 Hilton points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets with the following cards:
Additionally, bonus points you earn with any Amex Hilton card will count towards Elite tier qualification and lifetime Diamond Hilton status.
We estimate that Hilton points are worth 0.5 cents on average. That means you’ll get a return of 6 cents per dollar at U.S. supermarkets. However, be sure to read our post about the best use of Hilton points to see how you can dramatically increase the value of your points.
Another important note is that the annual Hilton resort credit worth up to $250 that comes with Amex Hilton Aspire can now be redeemed for purchases at U.S. restaurants (takeout and delivery included) from June to August 2020.
The Amex Hilton Aspire comes with 150,000 Hilton points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in your first three months of account opening.
With the Priority Pass Select membership that comes with the card, you have access to 1,200+ airport lounges. Airport lounge access can completely change the way you travel. Complimentary Wi-Fi, snacks, beverages and comfortable seating are invaluable.
Benefits and perks
There’s a reason this card is so great for Hilton stays — you’ll earn a whopping 14 Hilton points per dollar spent at participating Hilton hotels. You’ll also get excellent benefits like:
- Annual weekend-night award (at participating Hilton hotels)
- Automatic Diamond Elite status (100% bonus points on paid stays, upgrades to a suite when available, executive hotel lounge access, etc.)
- Up to $250 Hilton resort credit each cardmember year
- Up to $250 airline fee credit with your selected airline each calendar year
- Terms Apply
COVID-19 benefits enhancement: From June to August 2020, this credit will also reimburse purchases made at U.S. restaurants (takeout and delivery included).
For a full list of perks, check out our Amex Hilton Aspire benefits guide.
Why it’s worth it
This card has a $450 annual fee (See rates and fees). But if you can maximize just the two annual statement credits alone, you’ll be coming out $50 ahead of the Hilton Aspire annual fee. Plus, you’ll earn a second free-weekend-night award at participating Hilton hotels each calendar year when you spend $60,000+ in eligible purchases on your card.
Depending on how you use the points, you should get at least $750 worth of hotel stays from the bonus alone given that you can reliably get a value of at least 0.5 cents per Hilton point. The value of Diamond status, the free weekend night and the airline and resort credit easily is worth $1,200+.
If you’re a Hilton fan, you need to take the Hilton Surpass card seriously. You can earn 125,000 Hilton points after you spend $2,000 in purchases with your new card within the first three months of opening your account.
There are lots of cards that come with unlimited airport lounge access, along with big annual fees. But if you travel only a handful of times every year, you won’t necessarily need unlimited lounge access. This is where the Hilton Surpass card comes in. With the card, you can enroll in Priority Pass and receive 10 lounge visits each card membership year. You can bring guests along, but each person counts as one visit, so that’s five lounge visits for you and a guest each year. You get that with an annual fee that is less than $100.
Benefits and perks
With this card, you’ll earn 12 Hilton points per dollar at Hilton hotels or resorts. You’ll also receive complimentary Hilton Gold status, which comes with bonus points for hotel stays, room upgrades when available, free breakfast and lots more. No other mid-tier credit card offers elite status that guarantees free breakfast.
Hilton’s terms say the free breakfast applies to yourself and one additional guest, but many report getting a free meal for their kids, too. At the very least, breakfasts for kids are usually discounted, so you could use the freebies for the adults in your party and only pay for the additional children’s meals.
Because the card has no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees), it’s also good to use for hotels abroad.
Why it’s worth it
The card has a $95 annual fee (see rates and fees). If you travel often, you could easily save more than the annual fee simply by utilizing the free breakfast you’ll get from Gold elite status. And if you travel as a family, the Amex Hilton Surpass stands above the rest because it comes with family-friendly perks without a high annual fee.
The intro bonus is worth at least $625 in Hilton stays (at 0.5 cents per point), so you can’t go wrong applying for this card. If you can spend $15,000 on the card each year, the free weekend night you’ll earn is easily worth double or triple what the annual fee will cost you. Even if you won’t spend that much on the card, the free breakfast you’ll get with Gold status and the 10 Priority Pass lounge visits are worth more than what you’ll pay to keep it. You can read our review of the Hilton Surpass Card here.
The Hilton Honors Business card offers 125,000 Hilton points after you spend $3,000 in purchases with your new card within the first three months of opening your account. That’s another very large bonus for a small spending threshold, which makes this card a great option.
Depending on your small business needs, you might be better off applying for a card that has spending bonuses in a category central to your small business. Or, you could consider picking up this card for the impressive welcome bonus in addition to your business’s regular spending card.
Benefits and perks
Similar to the Hilton Surpass card, you’ll earn 12x Hilton points per dollar spent at Hilton hotels or resorts. You’ll also receive complimentary Hilton Gold status, which comes with bonus points for hotel stays, room upgrades when available, free breakfast and lots more.
Because the card has no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees), it’s good to use for hotels abroad.
This card offers the same bonuses for spending $15,000 (free weekend night) and $40,000 (Hilton Diamond status) as the Hilton Surpass credit card. These are great, additional bonuses for folks who have large amounts of spend on their business credit cards.
Why it’s worth it
The card has a $95 annual fee (see rates and fees). If you can get approved for this small business credit card, you can quickly rack up Hilton points with the large welcome bonus. You can also benefit tremendously from the spending thresholds, but you might be better off spending on the Surpass card instead.
If you are looking for a regular card to put lots of business spend on, the Hilton Honors Business card is a great option.
The intro bonus is worth $625 in Hilton stays (at .5 cents per point), so you can’t go wrong applying for this card. If you can spend $15,000 on the card each year, the free weekend night you’ll earn is easily worth double or triple what the annual fee will cost you. Even if you won’t spend that much on the card, this gives you a great option to earn Hilton Gold status with a business credit card. You can read our review of the Hilton Honors Business Card here.
The Hilton Honors card offers 75,000 Hilton bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. This card comes with no annual fee so it’s a great option for folks who want to save money or who don’t like paying annual fees.
This is a great card with strong earning potential for beginners or folks who are still trying to establish credit. Although I would recommend one of the other Hilton cards for most applicants, this is a valuable card that can help supercharge your Hilton Honors account balance.
Benefits and perks
You’ll earn 7x points on purchase at Hilton hotels; 5x points at restaurants, gas stations, and supermarkets; 3x points on all other eligible purchases.
This card comes with complimentary Silver status from Hilton Honors, which gives you a few small benefits when staying at Hilton properties. Most notably, it gives you access to Hilton’s fifth award night free on award stays of five nights booked with Hilton points.
Why it’s worth it
This is a great introductory card with a nice welcome bonus. I love being able to pick up 75,000 points with just $1,000 in spending, so this is also a great offer for people who spend less money on credit cards each month.
The intro bonus alone is worth ~$500 in Hilton stays (at 0.5 cents per point), so it’s a steal for no annual fee. When it comes to ongoing spending, there are other cards with stronger earning potential.
Best ways to redeem Hilton points
As a quick refresher, Hilton Honors points are both valuable and versatile because you can redeem them at more than 5,500 Hilton properties around the globe. This means that you can use points in Hawaii or Harlem or from Cancun to California. With Hilton points you can save money on hotels nearly anywhere your travels might take you.
Hilton also offers some truly incredible luxury hotels. Just last month my wife and I visited the newly opened Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos at Pedregal and we had a fantastic, relaxing visit. We’ve also loved visiting some of the world’s best Hilton hotels with incredible views — all of which can be booked with Hilton Honors points!
Even better, you can redeem free anniversary night certificates which you can earn from many of the cards above to stay for free at almost any Hilton around the globe. We chose to redeem three weekend night certificates at the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos instead of paying the hefty 120,000 points per night, saving us a boatload of points (and cash!) for a truly incredible vacation.
If you truly want to maximize your Hilton points, you’re best off using them at a high-end resort like the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills or the Conrad Maldives, where room rates can sometimes go for more than $1,000 a night.
Fifth night free
By holding any Hilton credit card, you’ll automatically obtain elite status with the hotel chain. All elite members are eligible for Hilton’s Fifth Night Free program, which gives you a fifth night free on award stays. This essentially makes your Hilton points 20% more valuable whenever redeeming points in five-night increments, and is one of the best ways to redeem your Hilton points.
Depending on which credit cards you already hold, your travel wishes and spending habits, one or more of these cards might be a fit for you. With Hilton’s huge hotel portfolio and beautiful hotel offerings, earning Hilton points is a respectable strategy for any points and mile enthusiast.
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For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express, please click here
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass, please click here
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, please click here
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Card, please click here