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Many Million Mile Secrets readers love Hilton! Depending on your travel destination, you can choose from luxury brand hotels, like Waldorf Astoria. Or book a family-friendly option like Hampton Inn, which offers free hot breakfast for all guests.
The Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express is an excellent option for travelers who book Hilton hotels. The card’s increased welcome bonus can get you ~$625 (or more!) worth of free Hilton hotel stays. And you can replenish points quickly by earning lots of bonus points on paid Hilton stays and other useful bonus spending categories, including US restaurants and US supermarkets.
Here’s everything you need to know!
Hilton Ascend Review
Apply Here: Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express
When you apply for the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card, you’ll earn 125,000 Hilton points after spending $2,000 on purchases with your new card within the first 3 months of account opening. You can learn more about how to meet credit card minimum spend here.
A free night at a Hilton hotel generally costs between 10,000 to 95,000 points per night. I’ll show you below how you can make the most of the bonus to get the most travel!
Hilton is one of the biggest hotel chains, so there’s likely a Hilton hotel nearby, no matter where you’re traveling. Hilton hotel brands include:
- Embassy Suites
- Hampton Inn
- Hilton Garden Inn
- Hilton Grand Vacations
- Homewood Suites
- Waldorf Astoria
Hilton points are generally worth ~0.5 cents each. So for most folks, the 125,000 point AMEX Hilton Ascend bonus is worth ~$625 (125,000 Hilton points X 0.5 cents). But you can get even more value from your points, depending on where you use them!
Keep in mind, unlike other hotel chains, Hilton does NOT have an award chart. And the number of points required to book an award stay can vary depending on your travel dates. For example, I found free nights at the Hampton Inn Branson – Branson Hills that cost between 20,000 and 30,000 Hilton points per night.
Personally, I like to pay cash for lower cost stays (less than $125 per night). Then, use points I earn to book free nights at top-tier hotels that are otherwise very expensive when you pay cash. For example, during peak travel dates, you could pay more than $1,000 for a night at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island. Or you can book an award stay for 95,000 Hilton points per night.
This means the AMEX Hilton Ascend bonus can get you amazing value!
If a trip to the Maldives isn’t in your future, you can still use the AMEX Hilton Ascend to save big on other types of hotel stays. Planning to ski in 2019? You can use 95,000 Hilton points instead of paying $900+ to stay at the luxurious Waldorf Astoria Park City. This hotel has direct access to the mountains.
Or you can stretch your AMEX Hilton Ascend bonus points and still get terrific value. For example, I found award nights at the Hampton Inn Manhattan – Times Square North. If you’re flexible with your travel dates, you can take advantage of these great deals to use fewer points and save a lot of money!
How to Earn Points With the Hilton Ascend
By spending on this card, you’ll earn:
- 12 Hilton points per $1 spent at a Hilton hotel or resort
- 6 Hilton points per $1 of eligible purchases at US restaurants, US supermarkets, and US gas stations
- 3 Hilton points for all other eligible purchases on your card
That’s excellent! If your monthly grocery bill is $500, you can earn 36,000 Hilton points per year ($500 X 12 months X 6 points per $1) just by using the AMEX Hilton Ascend card.
How to Use Your Hilton Honors Points
It’s relatively easy to search the Hilton website to figure out the number of Hilton points you’ll need for a free stay. Here’s a step-by-step guide.
Step 1. Log Into Your Hilton Account
Say you want to stay in New York City using your Hilton points. As an example, here’s how you’d check the number of points you’d need per night.
To begin, log into your Hilton account. Just click “Sign In” from Hilton’s homepage.
If you don’t log-in first, you can still browse award prices. But you’ll have to sign-in before you book a room with points.
Step 2. Enter Search Criteria
Enter your travel details, including where you want to go and your travel dates. You can also select specifics like the number of rooms and the number of people in each room.
Also, be sure to check the “Use Points” box to search for award rates.
If you don’t know your travel dates, you can select the “Use flexible dates” box, too.
Step 3. Pick Your Hotel
From there, you’ll see a list of Hilton hotels at your destination, along with the nightly points rate of each hotel (unless it’s sold out!).
To choose a hotel, click the “Select” button that’s under the nightly rate.
Step 4. Choose Your Room Type
You’ll then select the kind of room you want.
Standard rooms will cost the least number of points, compared to upgraded rooms, like those with better views or more space.
For example, standard room nights at the New York Hilton Midtown go for 80,000 Hilton points per night.
But a “premium” room with views of New York City costs 158,000 Hilton points per night. Ouch!
And if you see an asterisk next to the nightly rate, it means the rate changes during your stay.
I saw this when I searched for a 4-night stay at the Hampton Inn San Francisco Downtown / Convention Center.
Step 5. Book Your Room!
After deciding which room you want, click the “Select” button.
From there you can continue booking as usual. You’ll see your reservation details and your Hilton loyalty account information.
You can even decide if you want to use a combination of cash & points.
Remember, the rate could change depending on the day of the week or season.
You can even pool your Hilton points together with up to 10 friends and family each year for completely free! This makes booking expensive awards easier. Hilton also gives you the option to pay for part of your award stay with points using the Points & Money feature. It’s a great way to stretch your points even further.
Benefits of the Hilton Ascend
You’ll receive complimentary Hilton Gold status just for having the AMEX Hilton Ascend, which gets you an 80% bonus on points you earn at Hilton hotels. That’s on top of the 10 Hilton points per $1 you get as a Hilton Honors member by booking your room directly with the hotel, and 12 points per $1 you earn by using this card for the reservation. So altogether, you can expect to earn 30 Hilton points per $1 at Hilton hotels!
You’ll also receive free breakfast at Hilton hotels, and room upgrades when available.
You can even earn Hilton Diamond status if you spend $40,000 on eligible purchases with your card in a calendar year (valid through the end of the next calendar year after it’s earned). That comes with all the Gold Status benefits, plus things like executive lounge access, an elite status gift, and more.
A Weekend Night
You’ll get 1 weekend night after you spend $15,000 on purchases in a calendar year. You can use this weekend night at nearly any Hilton hotel, including crazy expensive ones, like the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island I mentioned before! So you could potentially save $1,000+ with this benefit.
Airport Lounge Access
This card gives you 10 free airport lounge visits each year once enrolled in a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership. Priority Pass has 1,200+ lounges worldwide, so it shouldn’t be hard to use these annual passes.
These visits do NOT come with guest privileges, so if you’re traveling with a friend, you’ll have to use 2 visits to get you both in.
Access to AMEX Offers
You can add AMEX Offers to the card, that can save you money at local or online shops that you might already be using. Team member Jasmin saved nearly $200 with one of her AMEX cards last year!
Is the Hilton Ascend Worth the Annual Fee?
Spending $15,000 in a calendar year to earn the 1 weekend night can save hundreds if you use it to book an expensive hotel. And the 10 free Priority Pass lounge visits can help you avoid paying for overpriced airport food.
And if you’re a regular at Hilton hotels, the elite status perks and bonus points you’ll earn for hotel stays are a boon.
Does the Hilton Ascend Have a Foreign Transaction Fee?
No! (See Rates & Fees)
Who Is Eligible for the Hilton Ascend?
We don’t recommend applying for the AMEX Hilton Ascend unless your credit score is at least 700. That’s where you want to be as a miles & points enthusiast. If you’re not there yet, that’s okay! Take some time to nurture it to 700, and then apply.
Also, the welcome bonus is not available to folks who have or have had this product or the Hilton Honors Surpass Card (no longer available to new applicants).
Cards Similar to the Hilton Ascend
If this doesn’t sound like the perfect fit for you, there are still other Hilton cards to choose from. The Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card is 1 of 4 available AMEX Hilton cards. The other cards include:
- Hilton Honors American Express Card – 75,000 Hilton points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening (read our review of the Hilton credit card)
- Hilton Honors American Express Business Card – 125,000 Hilton points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening (read our review of the Hilton Business Card)
- Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express – 150,000 Hilton points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
- (read our review of the Hilton Aspire)
These are all considered different card products, which means it’s possible to earn the welcome bonus on more than one version. I think the AMEX Hilton Ascend and AMEX Hilton small business card are great options for folks looking to boost Hilton point balances given the valuable welcome bonuses and useful bonus spending categories.
And these cards offer complimentary Hilton Gold status and give you the opportunity to earn free weekend nights after meeting certain spending thresholds. If this is your go-to card, there’s a lot of potential to earn big savings!
Again, the weekend nights you can earn are an excellent benefit. Because you can use them to stay almost any Hilton hotel!
You can earn 125,000 Hilton points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
At a minimum, you should be able to redeem 125,000 Hilton points to get $625 worth of free hotel stays. But you can potentially get even more value depending on how you use the points. For example, the welcome bonus is enough for an award night at $1,000+ per night hotels, like the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island or Waldorf Astoria Park City.
Plus, this card makes it easy to earn bonus Hilton points. Because you can earn 6 points per $1 spent on eligible purchases at US restaurants, US supermarkets, and US gas stations. And as an AMEX cardholder, you’ll get access to AMEX Offers, which you can use to save money on purchases you’re already planning!
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.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express, click here.