Hilton Honors Credit Card Showdown – Comparing 3 of Our Favorites Side-by-Side

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It’s easy to earn lots of Hilton points quickly from the American Express Hilton cards.  But each is a little different.

Our favorite 3 cards are the Hilton Honors American Express Card (See Rates & Fees), Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card, and The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card because they each have terrific welcome bonuses with a low (or no!) annual fee.

While they’ve got some similarities, it can be hard to choose which is the perfect fit for you.  So let’s dig a little deeper to see which Hilton card is best for your needs.

Points and Perks Earned From Hilton Credit Cards Can Take You All Around the World Like to the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam Which is Eligible to Stay at for Free With a Free Weekend Night Certificate.
Points and Perks Earned From Hilton Credit Cards Can Take You All Around the World! You Could Visit the Charming and Elegant Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of our 3 favorite Hilton cards!

Our 3 Favorite Hilton Credit Cards

Apply Here:   Hilton Honors American Express Card

Our Review of the Hilton Honors American Express Card

 

Apply Here:   Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card

Our Review of the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card

 

Apply Here:   The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

Our Review of the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

 

Remember, AMEX limits welcome bonuses to once per person, per card, per lifetime.  But because these cards are each considered different products, you can earn the bonus on each (and even multiple, different cards open at a time).

Note:   Folks who’ve had the AMEX Hilton Surpass card (no longer available) are not eligible for the Hilton Ascend welcome bonus

If you’re trying to stay under the Chase 5/24 rule, I recommend the Hilton Honors American Express Business card.  Because opening this card will NOT count towards your 5/24 limit with Chase, while the other (personal) cards will.

Let’s have a look at each card’s welcome bonus and perks!

Earn Hilton Points With These Welcome Bonuses

You can earn a substantial chunk of Hilton points with the welcome bonuses on all 3 cards.  And the minimum spending requirements are easy to reach:

  • Hilton Honors American Express CardEarn 75,000 Hilton points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account
  • Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card  – Earn 125,000 Hilton bonus points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account
  • The Hilton Honors American Express Business CardEarn 125,000 Hilton bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account
The 100,000 Hilton points Welcome Bonus can be for up to 12 Free Nights at Simple Hilton Properties Like This Hampton Inn in Bakersfield, CA Which is only 10,000 Points per Night.
100,000 Hilton Points Are Enough for up to 12 Free Nights (Including the 5th Night Free Perk) at Spots Like the Hampton Inn in Bakersfield, California, Which Costs 10,000 Hilton Points per Night

A welcome bonus of 125,000 Hilton bonus points will earn you up to 12 nights at Hilton hotels with a 10,000 Hilton points per night rate.  Folks can even extend this to 14 nights free when used in combination with the 5th night free perk across 2 different stays (5-night stay for 40,000 Hilton points per stay).

Or you might decide to go all-out at a 5-star Waldorf-Astoria hotel.  These can usually be found for 75,000 to 100,000 Hilton points per night, instead of paying hundreds and hundreds of dollars!

The Hilton Honors American Express Ascend card is the easiest way to earn the most Hilton points, because the spending requirement is $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening, and earns you 100,000 Hilton points.

Bonus Category Spending

Each card has its own bonus categories to help you earn more Hilton points from everyday purchases.  The earning rates and categories are unique for each card.

  • Hilton Honors American Express Card
    • 7X Hilton bonus points per $1 spent at any Hilton portfolio hotel or resort
    • 5X Hilton bonus points per $1 at US restaurants, US supermarkets,  and US gas stations
    • 3X Hilton bonus points per $1 spent on everything else
    • Terms Apply
  • Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card
    • 12X Hilton bonus points per $1 spent at any Hilton portfolio hotel or resort
    • 6X Hilton bonus points per $1 spent at US restaurants, US supermarkets, and US gas stations
    • 3X Hilton bonus points per $1 spent on everything else
    • Terms Apply
  • The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
    • 12X Hilton bonus points per $1 spent at any Hilton portfolio hotel or resort
    • 6X Hilton bonus points per $1 spent on select business & travel purchases (including wireless phone services from US providers, US restaurants, US gas stations, car rentals, and more)
    • 3X Hilton bonus points per $1 spent on everything else
    • Terms Apply

Make sure to look at these categories carefully to see which card is best for you based on your spending habits.  The annual-fee cards earn more points on your bonus category purchases, especially at Hilton.

Annual Fees

It’s always important to consider the annual fee before applying for a new credit card.  All of the Hilton cards featured here have reasonable annual fees, making them affordable to keep in your wallet for a long time.

  • Hilton Honors American Express Card has no annual fee (See Rates & Fees)
  • Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card has a $95 annual fee (not waived the first year) (See Rates & Fees)
  • The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card has a $95 annual fee (not waived the first year) (See Rates & Fees)

Folks looking to get a Hilton card with no annual fee should consider the Hilton Honors American Express card.  But keep in mind, annual-fee cards come with additional benefits and perks that can make them well worth keeping year after year, even with the extra cost.

Complimentary Elite Status

All of the Hilton credit cards offer you elite status at Hilton to improve your stays.  Every level of Hilton elite status (above “Member”) will get you the 5th night free perk, which allows you to book 5 award nights for the price of 4 if reserved as a single stay.

Here’s the elite status you’ll get with each card:

  • Hilton Honors American Express Card – Complimentary Hilton Silver elite status, plus, earn Gold elite status after you spend $20,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year
  • Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card – Complimentary Hilton Gold elite status, plus, earn Diamond elite status after you spend $40,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year
  • The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card – Complimentary Hilton Gold elite status, plus, earn Diamond elite status after you spend $40,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year
Enjoy a Room Upgrade With Gold Elite Status Offered Complimentary With Some of the Hilton Honors Cards.
Enjoy a Room Upgrade With Gold Elite Status Offered Complimentary With Some of the Hilton Honors Cards

You can enjoy Gold elite status with either the Hilton Honors Ascend card or the Hilton Honors Business card as long as you keep the card open.  Gold elite status earns you room upgrades (when available) and free breakfast at most Hilton locations.

Weekend Night Awards

On some of the Hilton cards, you can earn weekend night certificates after meeting a certain spending requirement.  With a weekend night award, you can stay almost any Hilton hotel for free!

  • Hilton Honors American Express Card – Does not offer this perk
  • Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card – Earn one weekend night per year after spending $15,000 on purchases in a calendar year
  • The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card – Earn one weekend night per year after spending $15,000 on purchases in a calendar year, and earn a second free night award after spending a total of $60,000 on purchases in the same calendar year
Hilton Honors Card Comparison
Use Your Free Weekend Night Certificate for a Night at the Conrad Bora Bora Nui Worth ~$950!

The weekend night perk is a valuable benefit to have on these cards because you can redeem it at extremely expensive hotels, like the Conrad Bora Bora Nui (worth ~$950 per night), Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam (worth ~$700 per night), Grand Wailea – A Waldorf Astoria Resort (worth ~$580 per night), and Hilton Key Largo Resort (worth ~$553 per night) just to name a few.

Airport Lounge Access

With the Hilton Honors Ascend and the Hilton Honors Business cards, you’ll get access to Priority Pass airport lounges.  This is a great way to enjoy free snacks, drinks, Wi-Fi, and a quiet place to relax before your flight!

Both cards offer 10 free Priority Pass visits per year at any of the 1,000+ Priority Pass airport lounges around the world.  You can buy additional passes for $27 with your Hilton Honors card after that.  If you travel often, your 10 free visits can more than offset the cost of the annual fee, because airport food and drinks can be very expensive otherwise!

The Hilton Honors American Express card does not offer this benefit.

Bottom Line

The Hilton American Express cards are all excellent cards to consider.  The exact card that is right for you will depend a lot on your spending habits, how you plan to use the card, and which card features are most important to you.

Here are 3 of our favorite Hilton American Express cards:

The best card for each feature:

  • Largest Welcome Bonus:   The Hilton Honors Ascend offers 125,000 Hilton points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account
  • Bonus Points Earning:   Hilton Honors American Express Business card has the highest point earning amounts and the most flexible categories
  • Lowest Annual Fee:   The Hilton Honors American Express has no annual fee
  • Complimentary Elite Status:   Both the Hilton Honors Business and Hilton Honors Ascend cards offer complimentary Gold elite status which can be increased to Diamond elite status after meeting minimum spending requirements
  • Weekend Night Award:   The Hilton Honors American Express Business card offers the option to earn one weekend night award after spending $15,000 on purchases in a calendar year, and a second weekend night award after spending a total of $60,000 on purchases in the same year
  • Airport Lounge Access:   Both the Hilton Honors Ascend and Hilton Honors Business cards offer 10 complimentary visits to Priority Pass lounges each year

Each of these cards is considered a different product, so if you’ve already earned the bonus on one, you’re still eligible for the others.

Which card is your favorite?

For rates and fees of the Hilton Ascend Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Business Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Amex Card, please click here.

Alex Curtis is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets, he covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

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! :)

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