The Amex Hilton business card is worth more than the annual fee – Here’s why

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I’ll admit it. I used to cringe when realizing a travel credit card had an annual fee. I mean, who wants to pay an annual fee for simply owning and using a rewards credit card? “Shouldn’t I be reimbursed?” I would think. Isn’t that a huge waste of money? What am I even getting for this fee?

But…then I started to notice something interesting about these cards with annual fees. In most cases, the larger the annual fee, the more benefits are offered to the cardholder. And if you’re trying to get the most from your points, rewards and status, there’s a good chance that your best bet really is a card that offers all of this and charges an annual fee.

So let’s take a look at an interesting hotel credit card, The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card. This is one of the few cobranded hotel cards that is also a business credit card, which makes it more valuable if you’re trying to stay under the Chase 5/24 rule. But, our question today is, is it worth the annual fee?

You could book a free night at the Hilton Cambridge with this card’s bonus. (Photo courtesy of Hilton)

Is the Hilton business card annual fee worth it?

It always makes sense to weigh the monetary benefits versus what you’re paying each year for your credit card. For example, if you know that your card offers a $300 travel credit and a $200 credit for groceries (I don’t know if this card exists, but if it does, I want it) and the annual fee is $450, that’s easy math. You’ll probably want to apply for that card.

So let’s outline the benefits of the Hilton business credit card. There’s a relatively small annual fee of $95 (see rates and fees) and in return you’ll receive a welcome bonus of up to 180,000 bonus points. Earn 130,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend a total of $10,000 in purchases on the card in the first six months. This Hilton credit card comes with Gold Hilton status, which gets you free breakfast, 80% bonus base points and your fifth night free on award stays. Enrollment required for select benefits.

This is also a good card for earning Hilton points. You’ll get 12x points on direct Hilton purchases, 6x points on select travel and business purchases and 3x points on all other eligible purchases. And each year you’ll get 10 Priority Pass lounge passes. Each pass is valid for a single visit and they can be used for guests. When you’ve got a long layover airport lounge access can make your travel experience so much more pleasant. This perk alone makes the card completely worth it, in my opinion.

You can also earn free weekend night certificates with this card if you use it a lot. If you spend $15,000 or more on the card in a calendar year you’ll get a weekend night reward certificate, valid at almost any Hilton hotel (except for these). And if you spend $60,000 (in total) in a calendar year, you’ll get a second weekend reward night certificate. On top of that, any calendar year in which you spend at least $40,000 on the card you’ll also get top-tier Hilton Diamond status. Terms apply.

Here’s the value of this card’s benefits

Here’s the total value of the main perks that come with this American Express card (terms apply):

  • 10 Priority Pass airport lounge visits – Worth $300-$500 if you paid cash for the visits
  • 130,000 Hilton points – Worth~$650 (we value Hilton points at an average of 0.5 cents each)
  • Gold elite status – Free breakfast at all Hilton hotels, 5th award night free, tons of bonus points. You can easily save $40+ per stay with the free breakfast perk alone.
    • Enrollment required for select benefits.

Everyone’s situation is different, so I’m curious to know – when you do the math, does the Amex Hilton business card seem worth paying the annual fee? I think it’s worth applying for this card if:

  • You know you can spend at least $2,000 on purchases in the first three months to earn the bonus 
  • You know you will want to stay at a Hilton hotel at least two nights per year or one night if you’re headed somewhere fancy

Can you qualify for the Hilton business card?

With all the benefits outlined above, this card is worth way more than $95 a year. But before you apply you’ll want to be aware of certain Amex and Hilton application rules. First off, Amex will only allow you to earn the welcome bonus on a specific card once per lifetime. So you won’t qualify for the bonus if you currently have or have ever had this card before. And the general consensus is that Amex limits you to having five Amex credit cards at a time.

Also, you will need to be able to qualify for a small business credit card. You could do this as a full-time business owner or even as a part-time freelancer or independent contractor. And if you’re a sole proprietor, you can use your name as the business name and your Social Security number as your business tax ID. For step-by-step help, read our guide on how to complete an Amex business card application.

If you can qualify for Amex business cards it’s a great way to earn points while not impacting your Chase 5/24 status. The reason for this is because Amex business cards don’t appear on your personal credit report.

For rates and fees of the American Express Hilton Business card, please click  here

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Additional reporting by Jason Stauffer.

Erin Lizzo is a contributor for Million Mile Secrets where she covers points, miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels and general travel. Her work has also appeared in the Matador Network.

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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