A card I usually recommend to people who do not want to pay an annual fee is the Hilton HHonors Amex Credit Card. Friends have asked me why I like this card so much, so I figured why not post a credit card review.
I like this card because a) It usually comes with a huge sign up bonus, b) The earning bonus categories are favorable and they include purchase categories for retailers I usually spend money at, and 3) The card has no annual fee. All are great credit card features, now let’s explore the Hilton Amex card in more detail.
Sign Up Bonus
If and when you sign up for this card, make damn sure you get a huge sign up bonus. Currently Amex is offering 40,000 HHonors points with a $750 minimum spend requirement within 3 months. This is a great sign up bonus and it is one of the highest bonuses I have seen for this credit card. In fact, you can actually earn a sign up bonus for this card twice! There are actually two versions of the Hilton Amex credit card. The first is the free version, which this review primarily covers, and the second is the Hilton HHonors Surpass Credit Card. The Surpass card comes with enhanced benefits like higher point earning, Hilton HHonors Gold status for the first year, and a 500 point online booking bonus, but it does charge you an $85 annual fee. If you sign up for the free version of the card like I did, chances are Amex will try to get you to upgrade to the Amex Surpass card. When they do target you for this offer, they will offer you 40,000 – 50,000 points to upgrade. This is a great way to get even more points!
The single best feature of the Hilton Amex card are the point bonus categories. The bonus categories are:
- 7 points per dollar at Hilton family hotels
- 5 points per dollar at restaurants
- 5 points per dollar at supermarkets
- 5 points per dollar at gas stations
All other spending categories earn 3 points per dollar. I value Hilton points at about 0.6 cents/point, so you are earning about 3% cash back at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations. Of course, you are earning even more at Hilton hotels, but I assume most people are not spending a huge amount of money on hotel stays unless they have a lot of work travel.
Free Hilton HHonors Gold Status After Spending $20K
Another great feature of this card is that you can get free Hilton HHonors Gold elite status after spending $20,000 each year on this credit card. You do get free Hilton HHonors Silver status just for being a cardholder, but Silver status is practically useless to me. Hilton Silver status only gets you a 15% point earning bonus on stays and that’s about it. Hilton Gold status on the other hand gets you a 25% point earning bonus, but more importantly gets you room upgrades, free breakfast, and the all important access to the executive lounge (if you are upgraded to the executive floor). It is important to keep in mind that as a Gold member you only get access to the executive lounge if you are upgraded to that floor, however hotels an choose to give you access even if you are not upgraded if they choose to do so. One way that you can increase your chances of getting access to the lounge is by configuring your “My Way” selection in your account to request free continental breakfast rather than a 1,000 point bonus, which most hotels would rather give you access to the lounge rather than give you breakfast in the restaurant. I say “most hotels” because I have come across some properties like the Tokyo Hilton, which was very strict about this an actually refused to give me access to the lounge instead opting to give me breakfast in the hotel restaurant. In addition, HHonors Gold members also get free internet access, which can save you $10-15 on a one night stay.
I am a big fan of the Hilton HHonors Amex credit card. It’s incredible that you can get such generous rewards with a no annual fee card.