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Keith: 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.
As a Hilton loyalty member (free to sign-up), it’s relatively easy to earn lots of Hilton points on paid stays. And you can really boost your points balance by paying with a Hilton credit card. Then, redeem points you earn for free hotel stays to celebrate a special occasion or just to get away!
The Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express is a good option for travelers who book Hilton hotels. The card’s 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 before you apply for the AMEX Hilton Ascend card.
Hilton Honors Ascend Card From American Express Review
When you apply for the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card, you’ll earn 125,000 Hilton points after spending $2,000 in purchases with your new card within the first 3 months of account opening.
A free night at a Hilton hotel generally costs 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!
AMEX Hilton Ascend cardholders also get:
- 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
- 1 weekend night after spending $15,000 on purchases in a calendar year
- Access to statement credits when taking advantage of an AMEX Offer
- Complimentary Hilton Gold status
- Earn Hilton Diamond status if you spend $40,000 in a calendar year (valid through the end of the next calendar year after it’s earned)
- 10 free airport lounge visits each year once enrolled in complimentary Priority Pass™ Select membership
- NO foreign transaction fees
- Terms and limitations apply
If your monthly grocery bill is $500, you can earn 36,000 Hilton points ($500 X 12 months X 6 points per $1) per year just by using the AMEX Hilton Ascend card.
The card’s $95 annual fee is NOT waived the first year. But card’s perks can easily offset the annual fee.
Plus, getting a free weekend night can potentially 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.
Note: The welcome bonus offer for this card is not available to folks who have or have had this product or the Hilton Honors Surpass Card (no longer available to new applicants).
What Are 125,000 Hilton Points Worth?
Hilton is one of the biggest hotel chains, so there’s likely a Hilton hotel nearby, no matter where you’re traveling!
Hilton hotels include:
- Embassy Suites
- Hampton Inn
- Hilton Garden Inn
- Hilton Grand Vacations
- Homewood Suites
- Waldorf Astoria
And it’s free to pool your Hilton points together with up to 10 friends and family each year! 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.
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 more value out of your points depending on how 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 can cost between 20,000 and 30,000 Hilton points per night. It’s really easy to search the Hilton site for available award nights.
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!
If you’re looking for inspiration to use your Hilton points, check out our prior posts:
- 5 Hilton Hotels for Friends Traveling Together
- 5 Great Hilton Hotels for Family Travel
- 5 Fantastic Hilton Hotels in Europe
- 5 Excellent Hilton Hotels in the US
- 5 Outstanding Hilton Hotels in the Caribbean & Mexico
Book Hilton Hotels With Points
It’s relatively easy to search any particular Hilton hotel’s 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’ll be asked to before the points rate will be displayed.
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 “Book a Room” 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 137,000 Hilton points per night. Or more if you want breakfast included in your stay!
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.
There Are 4 AMEX 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 (no-annual-fee card)
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card (premium card with a $450 annual fee)
- Hilton Honors American Express Business Card (here’s our review of the card)
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!
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!