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6 reasons why you should apply for the Hilton Honors Amex Card

The no-annual-fee Hilton Honors American Express Card (see rates and fees) can be a surprisingly great addition to anyone’s wallet, whether you’re a seasoned award traveler or a complete newbie.

Even if you don’t frequently stay at Hilton properties, this card can help you rack up bonus points on your everyday purchases to unlock free nights at thousands of properties worldwide.

Factoring in its generous welcome offer, too, it’s a great time to apply for the Hilton Honors Amex. Here are six reasons you should consider applying for this card right now.

Welcome offer


American Express is currently offering an elevated welcome offer on the Hilton Honors Amex Card: You can earn 70,000 Hilton Honors bonus points and a free night reward after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends July 19.

These 70,000 bonus points are worth $420, according to TPG’s latest points and miles valuations. This offer matches a previous best-ever offer and meets our threshold for when you should apply for this card.

As a reminder, American Express restricts applicants from earning a welcome offer on a card more than once per lifetime, so this card could be a terrific alternative for those who’ve previously held other Hilton Honors cards and thus aren’t eligible for another welcome offer on those cards.

Related: The best increased card offers to sign up for right now

No annual fee


Whether you only carry one credit card or a card for every year you’ve been alive, annual fees are only worth it if you’re certain you can maximize the benefits to justify this ongoing yearly cost.

Yes, the Hilton Honors American Express is the baseline card in the Hilton credit card portfolio. That means the card isn’t packed with many ongoing perks, but it’s still a great option if you’re looking for something that doesn’t include an up-front cost to carry in your wallet. By simply paying your bill on time and in full, you can maximize the full value without ever having to pay up an annual fee.

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Related: TPG’s 10 commandments of credit card rewards

Free Silver elite status


How often does a card with no annual fee come with complimentary elite status? The Hilton Honors Amex confers Silver status, the base level in the Hilton Honors program.

While Hilton Honors Silver won’t get you too many perks, it unlocks a key benefit that’s a must-have for award travelers: You’ll get your fifth night free on award stays (for stays up to 20 nights) and you can only imagine how the savings add up if you are staying at expensive properties.

Other perks of Silver elite status include a 20% points bonus on stays and two complimentary bottles of water per stay at most properties.

If you spend $20,000 or more on eligible purchases with your Hilton Honors Amex in a calendar year, you’ll even receive Gold elite status through the end of the next calendar year — for perks like breakfast credits and preferred room upgrades upon availability.

Related: What is Hilton Honors elite status worth?

It goes great with the Amex Platinum and Amex Business Platinum Card


The Hilton Honors Amex isn’t just for beginners. In fact, I’d argue that it’s a good fit for those who already carry premium rewards cards — namely, The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express.

Both the consumer and business Amex Platinum cards offer complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status to cardholders. Here’s an overview of the benefits that come from this second-highest level of elite status:

  • 80% point bonus: Earn an additional 8 points per dollar spent (4 points per dollar spent at Home2 Suites and Tru properties).
  • Milestone bonus: Once you reach 40 eligible nights, you’ll take home 10,000 bonus for every tenth night you stay.
  • Fifth night free: Earn your fifth night free on all award redemptions.
  • Space-available room upgrades: At most Hilton brands, you’ll enjoy upgrades to preferred rooms.
  • Breakfast credit: Depending on the Hilton brand, you’ll enjoy a $10 to $25 credit per person for you and up to two registered guests.
  • Two complimentary bottles of water per stay.

For these reasons, TPG values Hilton Honors Gold elite status at $1,255 annually. Of course, the exact value will vary depending on how often you frequent Hilton properties. Nevertheless, it’s still a great benefit to have that’s completely free if you carry the Amex Platinum or Amex Business Platinum.

Even if the complimentary Silver elite status is duplicative, the Hilton Honors Amex actually carries an earning rate that complements these two Amex cards well:

Card Rewards rate and returns based on TPG’s valuations
Hilton Honors Amex
  • 7 points per dollar on eligible Hilton properties (4.2%).
  • 5 points per dollar on purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and at U.S. gas stations (3%).
  • 3 points per dollar on all other eligible purchases (1.8%).
Amex Platinum
  • 5 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or through Amex Travel, on up to $500,000 of these purchases per calendar year (10%).
  • 5 points per dollar on prepaid hotels through Amex Travel.
  • 1 point per dollar on all other eligible purchases (2%).
Amex Business Platinum
  • 5 points per dollar on flights and prepaid hotels on Amex Travel (10%).
  • 1.5 points per dollar on eligible purchases in key business categories and purchases of $5,000 or greater, on up to $2 million in combined purchases per calendar year (3%).
  • 1 point per dollar on all other eligible purchases (2%).

If you use your Hilton Amex to pay for stays at Hilton properties and have Hilton Gold status through either Platinum card, here’s how many points you’ll earn:

  • 7 points per dollar (card bonus).
  • 10 points per dollar (base earnings).
  • 8 points per dollar (Gold status bonus).

In other words, you’re taking home at least 25 points for every dollar you spend at Hilton properties, a return of 15% based on TPG’s valuations. And even this doesn’t take into account any promotions that may be in effect at the time of your stay.

Beyond that, the Hilton Honors Amex offers a nice array of everyday bonus categories (dining, groceries and gas) that pairs nicely with the Amex Platinum and Amex Business Platinum. And if you ever need to top off your Hilton Honors points balance, remember that Hilton is a transfer partner of American Express. For every 1 Membership Rewards point you transfer, you’ll get 2 Hilton Honors points.

Plus, you’ll have plenty of points to burn from the welcome offer and enjoy your Gold elite benefits on those stays — win, win.

Related: Guide to Marriott and Hilton elite status with the Amex Platinum and Business Platinum

It complements other Hilton Honors cards


If you already carry another Hilton Honors card in your wallet (or have in the past), why not add this no-annual-fee card for the welcome offer alone?

We all want the opportunity to get more bonus points, and the Hilton Honors Amex does just that. That’s a lot to pass up — especially if you’re not eligible for the increased offers on other cards as a current (or past) cardholder.

Related: Credit card showdown: Hilton Surpass vs. Hilton Amex

You may be targeted to upgrade your card later


Anecdotally, American Express is known for being generous in targeting Hilton Honors cardholders for upgrade offers.

In the future, you may be offered bonus points for upgrading your Hilton Honors Amex to the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card ($95 annual fee; see rates and fees) or the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire ($450 annual fee; see rates and fees).

There’s no guarantee here, but in the past, we’ve seen upgrade offers of up to 150,000 bonus points. That means you could potentially upgrade your card, snag a great haul of bonus points and enhance your benefits — all without filling out a whole new card application (and dealing with another hard pull on your credit report).

The information for the Hilton Aspire has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: Hilton Surpass vs. Hilton Aspire: Which card is right for you?

Bottom line

It’s not often that we recommend applying for a no-annual-fee card over its annual-fee counterparts, but there are many valid reasons why the Hilton Honors Amex is a good deal for now. Personally, I’m planning on applying for that welcome bonus alone — and stacking it with my other awards as an Aspire cardholder.

Now for the harder decision: Where will I travel with my stash of free night certificates?

Official application link: Hilton Honors Amex with 70,000 Hilton Honors bonus points and a free night reward after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months of card membership.

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

Additional reporting by Ryan Wilcox.

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