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Review: Amex Hilton Personal Cards

Amex's co-branded Hilton credit cards offer great perks for Hilton loyalists and have solid earning potential with many bonus categories.
Travel on Point(s) has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel on Point(s) and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

Review: Amex Hilton Personal Cards

Amex's co-branded Hilton credit cards offer great perks for Hilton loyalists and have solid earning potential with many bonus categories.

Travel on Point(s) has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel on Point(s) and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

Amex offers 3 co-branded Hilton personal credit cards. Each card of these cards can help award travelers make the most of Hilton's massive global footprint. Below, we compare and review each of the Hilton Honors American Express Card, Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card, and the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.

Current Offers

The Hilton Honors card currently offers the ability to earn 80,000 bonus Hilton Honors points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months from account opening. The Hilton Honors card does not have an annual fee.

The Hilton Surpass card currently offers the ability to earn 130,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months from account opening. This card has a $95 annual fee.

The Hilton Aspire card card currently offers the ability to earn 150,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months from account opening. The Hilton Aspire card has a $450 annual fee.

Each of these cards should count towards Amex's limit of five credit cards.

Earn Rates

The Hilton Honors card earns bonus points per dollar on each of the following categories:

  • 7x on Hilton purchases
  • 5x at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations
  • 3x on all other purchases

The Hilton Surpass card earns bonus points per dollar on each of the following categories:

  • 12x on Hilton purchases
  • 6x at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations
  • 3x on all other purchases

The Hilton Aspire card earns bonus points per dollar on each of the following categories:

  • 14x on Hilton purchases
  • 7x on flights booked directly with airlines or AmexTravel.com and car rentals booked directly with select car rental companies
  • 7x at U.S. restaurants
  • 3x on all other purchases

Benefits

Benefits and perks vary among each of the 3 Hilton cards. As expected, benefits differ depending on each card's annual fee.

Hilton Honors Card Benefits

The Hilton Honors card‘s benefits include:

  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status
  • Hilton Honors Gold status after spending $20,000 on the card in a calendar year
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance: you can be covered for damage to or theft of a rental vehicle when you decline the rental company’s collision insurance and pay for the entire rental cost with your card (terms apply)
  • No foreign transaction fees

Hilton Surpass Card Benefits

The Hilton Surpass card‘s benefits include:

  • Earn a Free Night Reward after you spend $15,000 on your card in a calendar year
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status
  • Hilton Honors Diamond status after spending $40,000 on the card in a calendar year
  • 10 complimentary Priority Pass lounge visits per year (enrollment required)
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance: you can be covered for damage to or theft of a rental vehicle when you decline the rental company’s collision insurance and pay for the entire rental cost with your card (terms apply)
  • No foreign transaction fees

Hilton Aspire Card Benefits

The Hilton Aspire card‘s benefits include:

  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status
  • Complimentary Free Night Reward upon card opening and every year upon membership renewal
  • Earn an additional Free Night Reward after you spend $60,000 on your card in a calendar year
  • Annual $250 in statement credits for eligible purchases made with Hilton resorts (renews each membership year)
  • $250 statement credits for airline incidentals (renews each calendar year)
  • $100 property credit when you book a 2 night minimum stay at hiltonhonorsaspirecard.com for qualifying charges at participating Waldorf Astoria and Conrad properties
  • Complimentary Priority Pass Select membership
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance: you can be covered for damage to or theft of a rental vehicle when you decline the rental company’s collision insurance and pay for the entire rental cost with your card (terms apply)
  • Baggage insurance plan: you can be covered for lost, damaged, or stolen checked and carry-on baggage when you purchase the entire fare for a common carrier with your card (terms apply)
  • No foreign transaction fees

Our Analysis

Each of these cards offer value to Hilton loyalists. For those put off by an annual fee, the Hilton Honors card provides good value. It's nice to see complimentary Silver status without annual fee, but this is Hilton's lowest elite tier. Silver status doesn't give you much, but it does give you fifth night free on award stays. This alone can save you a lot of points to make it worth holding on to the Hilton Honors card.

The mid-tier Hilton Surpass card offers more robust perks in exchange for a $95 annual fee. Complimentary Gold status is the next elite tier above Silver, and unlocks room upgrades (subject to availability) and daily food & beverage credit (which has replaced free breakfast at U.S. properties). Hilton does not have the best track record with room upgrades for elites (regardless of level), but it can happen. The Free Night Reward after spending $15,000 is the card's biggest draw.  A Free Night Reward can save you a lot of cash or points on a stay at Hilton's many high-end properties around the world.

The premium Hilton Aspire card offers a slew of benefits that more than make up for the card's $450 annual fee. The annual statement credits alone already add up to $600. The airline incidental credits and the annual resort credits are especially easy to use and don't require you to jump through any hoops. The Hilton Aspire card is also the only credit card among the major hotel chains that grants complimentary top tier status.

All three of the Hilton cards has a compelling earn structure. As expected, they all reward Hilton purchases very well, with 7x, 12x, or 14x points per dollar. But each card also earns a lot of points at U.S. restaurants and gas stations. And the Hilton Honors and Hilton Surpass cards also earn 5x and 6x at U.S. gas stations, respectively. It's odd to not see U.S. gas stations as a bonus category for the Hilton Aspire card. Frequent ToP readers know that not all points currencies are created equal, and one Hilton Honors point is not the same as one Membership Rewards point. But these Hilton cards are still solid earners.

Final Thoughts

Amex's co-branded Hilton cards offer good earning rates and some excellent benefits. Having at least one of these cards is a must for anyone looking to explore Hilton's massive global footprint. We at ToP are big fans of Hyatt, but Hilton's larger portfolio is too big to be ignored. Considering the cards' earning structure and card benefits, Amex's Hilton cards are quite impressive.

What do you think of Amex's co-branded Hilton personal cards? Come share your thoughts in our Facebook group!

Travel on Point(s) has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel on Point(s) and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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