Best Hilton credit cards: Improved weekend night certificates, earning rates and more
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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 want to discuss the four Hilton credit card offers — and which might be right for you. My wife and I have loved our stays at Hilton hotels around the world, and I’m a Hilton loyalist through and through!
Our picks for the best Hilton credit cards
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card: Best overall Hilton card for points travelers
- Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card: Best mid-tier card with great spending bonuses
- The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card: Best business credit cards for earning Hilton points
- Hilton Honors American Express Card: Best for no annual fee (see rates & fees)
|Card||Annual fee||Current offer||Offer value*||Top Perk|
|Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express||$450 (see rates & fees)||150,000 Hilton points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Terms Apply.||$750 (150,000 points at .5 cents per point)||Hilton Diamond Status. $250 annual HIlton Resort Credit and $250 annual airline fee reimbursement|
|Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card||$95 (see rates & fees)||130,000 Hilton points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Terms Apply.||$650 (130,000 points at .5 cents per point)||Hilton Gold StatusFree Weekend Night Certificate after spending $15,000 per cardmember year|
|The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card||$95 (see rates & fees)||130,000 Hilton points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Terms Apply.||$650 (130,000 points at .5 cents per point)||Hilton Gold StatusFree Weekend Night Certificate after spending $15,000 per cardmember year|
|Hilton Honors American Express Card||$0 (see rates & fees)||80,000 Hilton points after spending $1,000 on purchases with the first three months of account opening. Terms Apply.||$400 (80,000 points at .5 cents per point)||Hilton Silver elite status.|
*Offer value based on MMS valuation.
The Hilton Honors Aspire card is my favorite in the Hilton lineup because it comes with a slew of perks and credits that make the value proposition undeniable. The current bonus for the Hilton Aspire is 150,000 Hilton points after spending $4,000 within the first three months. You also get a free weekend night certificate annually (including immediately upon account opening) that can be redeemed at nearly any Hilton hotel worldwide.
The card offers automatic Hilton Diamond status as well as an annual airline fee credit worth $250 (reimbursed annually based on calendar year) and a Hilton resort credit for $250 each year (based on account anniversary). Finally, you’ll earn 14x points on all purchases at Hilton hotels and resorts, 7x points on dining purchases, and 3x points on all general spending. 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, but you can still come out ahead if you maximize the two annual statement credits. Plus, you get complimentary Hilton Diamond status and 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 $1,400+.
Hilton doesn’t have an official award chart, but you can book a free night for 5,000 to 95,000 Hilton points. Here’s our complete review of the Hilton Aspire.
The information for the Hilton Aspire card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
The Hilton Honors Surpass card is a mid-tier card offering with a $95 annual fee and a welcome bonus of 130,000 Hilton points after spending $2,000 within three months. The Hilton Surpass doesn’t include any annual credits, but it does grant automatic Hilton Gold status (great for free breakfast and some upgrades!) and fantastic earning rates. When making purchases at grocery stores or restaurants, you’ll earn 6x Hilton points per dollar spent.
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 $650 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.
For small businesses, Amex offers the Hilton Honors business card. This card closely mirrors the Hilton Surpass card with regards to the welcome bonus (130,000 Hilton points after spending slightly more–$3,000 within three months), Hilton Gold status, and $95 annual fee. Instead of the Surpass’s 6x earnings categories, the Hilton Business card earns 6x points at restaurants, gas stations, shipping purchases, and a few other valuable business categories.
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 $650 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.
Last but not least, Amex offers the Hilton Honors card with no annual fee. This card carries a welcome bonus of 80,000 points after spending just $1,000 within the first three months.
This card offers beginners a great value proposition with an earnings rate of 7x on Hilton hotels and resorts, 5x points at restaurants, gas stations, and supermarkets; 3x points on all other eligible purchases. You’ll also enjoy complimentary Hilton Silver elite status for as long as you keep the card open.
Why it’s worth it
This is a great introductory card with a nice welcome bonus. I love being able to pick up 80,000 points with just $1,000 in spending within the first three months, so this is also a great offer for people who spend less money on credit cards each month.
The intro bonus alone is worth ~$400 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.
Other Cards to consider if you stay in Hilton Hotels
Instead of the Hilton credit cards discussed above, you may be best served using an all-in-one fantastic credit card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred. This card offers 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within the first three months.
The Amex Platinum card also offers the ability to earn Membership Rewards points which can be transferred to Hilton honors points. The Amex Platinum also offers complimentary Hilton Gold status for as long as you hold the card and comes with a welcome bonus of 75,000 Membership Rewards after spending $5,000 on purchases within six months of account opening.
Similar to the Amex Platinum, the Amex Business Platinum offers a massive welcome bonus and the ability to earn points which can be transferred to Hilton. The Amex Business Platinum rewards new applicants with 85,000 Membership Rewards after spending $15,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of account opening. These points can similarly be transferred to Hilton or held in Membership Rewards to increase their overall flexibility and value.
Other cards to consider
If you prefer overall simplicity, you might prefer the Citi® Double Cash Card which earns 2% cash back on all purchases (1% when you buy and 1% when you pay). You could then save up your cash back and pay for Hilton hotel stays out of pocket — though this may not be the best value.
How to select the best Hilton credit card offer
Deciding which Hilton credit card offer is best for you depends on a number of factors. If you’re willing to pay a (rather large) annual fee, the Hilton Aspire is a tremendous card with a slew of benefits and a massive welcome bonus. I signed up for the Hilton Aspire shortly after it was released and I have renewed each year since. For folks looking to accrue Hilton points with their spending, the Hilton Surpass has great bonus categories and offers the 6x Hilton points for all dining and grocery store purchases.
The right card for you might also depend on how frequently you stay at Hilton hotels and whether you care about hotel elite status. I love keeping Hilton Diamond status year after year for the upgrades, free breakfast, and lounge access.
How to maximize Hilton Honor points
You can maximize your Hilton points by paying attention to limited-time offers (such as bonuses or promotions), paying for select purchases with your Hilton card (such as stays at Hilton hotels), and being strategic about how you redeem your Hilton points.
For example, start saving your points early if you have a specific Hilton hotel stay in mind. You can then be intentional about using your Hilton Surpass card for all supermarket purchases (for example) to help you accrue the points needed for your stay!
Use points for otherwise expensive stays
Last year 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.
How much are Hilton Points worth?
There is no definite answer to the value of Hilton points, but most of us on the MMS team agree that Hilton points are typically worth about half a cent each. You can, however, get outsized value from your points if you use them at certain hotels or during special events when hotel rates are especially high.
Why you should apply for a Hilton Honors Card?
Regardless of which card you choose, Hilton credit cards are a great addition to your wallet because they give you some Hilton elite status just for being a cardholder. Depending on how frequently you travel, you can also find a Hilton hotel nearly anywhere which makes Hilton a phenomenal hotel chain to have elite status with–even as a backup.
Can you have multiple Hilton cards?
Absolutely, you can have multiple Hilton cards! Many folks will hold on to the Hilton Aspire card for the elite benefits, airline credit, and resort credit while using the Hilton Surpass card for a majority of ongoing spending (such as at supermarkets and dining to earn the increased 6x Hilton points).
What’s the credit required for Hilton credit cards?
Aim for a credit score of at least 700 to be approved for the Hilton Aspire card, the Hilton Surpass card or the Hilton Honors business credit card. Some folks report being approved for the no annual fee Hilton credit card with a score as low as ~670.
Can you get elite status with Hilton Cards?
Each Hilton credit card discussed above comes with automatic Hilton elite status. The Hilton Aspire card offers Hilton diamond status, while the Hilton Surpass and Hilton Business card both come with Hilton gold status. Even the no annual fee Hilton Amex gives you Hilton Silver elite status for as long as you hold the credit card.
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
Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)