The Hilton Honors American Express Card Review (2021) – Up to 130,000 bonus points on offer

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The entry-level Hilton Honors American Express Card doesn’t get a lot of attention because it’s a simple card that doesn’t offer any amazing or eye-catching benefits. That, however, doesn’t mean this is a card you should ignore. With a great welcome offer and no annual fee, this can be a fantastic starter card for anyone new to the miles and points game or a great backup card for infrequent visitors to Hilton properties worldwide.

Here’s what you need to know about the Hilton Honors Credit Card from American Express:

Annual Fee

Limited-Time Welcome Offer

    • Receive 80,000 Hilton Honors Points after you spend $1,000 on the card in the first three months after you open your account.
    • Receive a further 50,000 Hilton Honors Points after you spend a total of $5,000 on the card in the first six months after you open your account (more details)

Note: The welcome offer is not available to applicants who have or have had this card in the past.

Earning Rates (terms apply)

  • 7 points/dollar at all properties in the Hilton portfolio
  • 5 points/dollar at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. restaurants, and U.S. gas stations
  • 3 points/dollar on all other eligible purchases

Key Benefits (terms apply)

  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status
  • Cardholders can earn Hilton Honors Gold status after spending $20,000 in purchases on the card in a calendar year
  • No foreign transaction fees

Why I Love This Card

The Welcome Offer

For a card that doesn’t charge an annual fee (rates & fees), the welcome offer is very good.

If you look at the welcome offer from a pure points perspective, it’s easy to see just how tempting it really is. The 130,000 bonus points are more than enough to book a night at almost every top Hilton property in the world and they’re enough to book multiple nights at a variety of mid-tier properties too. Even if you only choose to earn the first 80,000 points that are on offer, that will be enough to book you a free night at a lot of very nice hotels and multiple nights at some of Hilton’s lower category properties. Considering this is an offer for a card that doesn’t charge an annual fee, that’s pretty good going!

If you want to look at the welcome offer from a value perspective rather than from a pure points perspective, it still looks very good.

I value Hilton Honors points at 0.4 cents each (based on how I use them and how easy I find them to use). That values the 130,000 bonus points that are on offer at $520 and the 80,000 points that are on offer for spending just $1,000 at $320.

That’s $320 – $520 of value from a card that won’t cost you a dime unless you make the cardinal mistake of carrying a balance (no one should ever carry a balance on a travel rewards card).

What makes the main part of the welcome offer even more appealing is the fact that the spending target required to earn the first 80,000 bonus points is relatively low ($1,000 of spending in 3 months) and the fact that because this card offers bonus points for spending at US supermarkets, just about everyone applying for this card should find the welcome bonus straightforward and economical to earn.

Access To Hilton’s 5th Night Free Benefit

The Hilton Honors Credit Card bestows Hilton Honors Silver status on a cardholder and if you have elite status with the Hilton Honors program, the 5th night of all award stays is free (see how the 5th night free is calculated). Even if you ignore all the other aspects of this card, this benefit alone makes it a card that’s worth having – it’s a money saver.

No Foreign Transaction Fees

Not only does the Hilton Honors Credit Card cost nothing to hold but it also doesn’t punish cardholders when they use the card outside of the United States. There aren’t very many cards that don’t charge an annual fee and that waive foreign transaction fees but this card is one of them and it’s a great benefit to have.

Effective Every Day Rebates

The Hilton Honors Credit Card earns cardholders 5 points/dollar at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. restaurants, and U.S. gas stations and those are spending categories that most people use in their everyday lives. Based on my earlier valuation of Hilton Honors points (0.4 cents each) this card offers a 2.0 cents/dollar (or 2%) rebate in all three of those categories. That’s not bad for a card that costs absolutely nothing to hold.

Access To Amex Offers

The Hilton Honors Credit Card is issued by American Express and all American Express cards give cardholders access to Amex Offers which can easily save them hundreds of dollars a year.

Access To Amex Shop Small

Every year Amex runs its “shop small” campaign in which it offers statement credits for spending at smaller establishments around the country. Last year the campaign offered $5 back on $10 of spending at participating locations (up to $50 back in total) and every Amex card in a person’s wallet is eligible for this promotion (if you have 4 Amex cards you could earn up to $200 back).

A free-to-hold card like the Hilton Honors Credit Card is usually eligible for $50 of credits in the same way as the $695/year Platinum Card® from American Express is (rates & fees), but with the Platinum Card, the credits just help to offset part of the annual fee while with the Hilton Honors credit card the credits are effectively free money.

Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos – Image courtesy of Hilton

Bottom Line

I really like the Hilton Honors Credit Card and it’s a card I held until April 2019 when Amex offered me 150,000 bonus points to upgrade to the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Credit Card.

If you’re a frequent visitor to Hilton properties this isn’t the most efficient card to use to collect Hilton Honors points (a card like the Surpass card may be better), but if you’re an infrequent Hilton guest (as I was) or new to the miles and point world, this is a great card to hold.

The Hilton Honors Credit Card is simple, it’s economical, and the 130,000 bonus points that it’s currently offering will get cardholders a free night some truly fantastic properties around the world…or at least two nights at a significant number of other nice Hiltons. What more could you want from a card that doesn’t charge an annual fee? 😀

Learn how to apply for the Hilton Honors Credit Card from American Express


  1. While reading this, I was reminded how easy it still is to take advantage of credit card offers to achieve free travel. Besides the Hilton offer, Choice also offers a no annual fee credit card that gives you 50K points after spending $1K. With these offers and after doing the spend requirements, you would have 78K Hilton and 52K Choice points. I could easily turn those points into 3 nights with Hilton and 3 to 4 nights with Choice.
    Barclays has an AA card that gives you 60K miles after the first use and paying a $95.00 annual fee. That translates into 2 economy round trip tickets. If you have a spouse/significant other, you could sign them up for the same offers which gives you 2 weeks of accommodations with 4 round trip airfare tickets for $190.00.
    Your article serves as a reminder that this hobby isn’t dead, as some would like you to believe. As annual fees and spending requirements rise, it’s refreshing to see that there are still opportunities out there offering ways to travel for little or no money.

  2. Is there any way to get this offer if you applied 2 days earlier for the 80,000 point offer? I would love to hear if anyone had success in getting that changed

    • Sometimes card issuers will honor a better offer if an application was only processed a few days before the improved offer appeared but sometimes they flatly refuse to do anything. There’s no sure-fire way of knowing what Amex will do until you call them up and ask.


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