Hilton Honors Credit Card Showdown – Comparing 3 of Our Favorites Side-by-Side

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It’s easy to earn lots of Hilton points quickly from the American Express Hilton cards.  But each is a little different.

Our favorite 3 cards are the Hilton Honors American Express Card, Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card, and The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card because they each have terrific welcome bonuses with a low (or no!) annual fee.

While they’ve got some similarities, it can be hard to choose which is the perfect fit for you.  So let’s dig a little deeper to see which Hilton card is best for your needs.

Points and Perks Earned From Hilton Credit Cards Can Take You All Around the World Like to the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam Which is Eligible to Stay at for Free With a Free Weekend Night Certificate.
Points and Perks Earned From Hilton Credit Cards Can Take You All Around the World! You Could Visit the Charming and Elegant Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of our 3 favorite Hilton cards!

Our 3 Favorite Hilton Credit Cards

Apply Here:   Hilton Honors American Express Card

Our Review of the Hilton Honors American Express Card

Apply Here:   Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card

Our Review of the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card

Apply Here:   The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

Our Review of the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

Remember, AMEX limits welcome bonuses to once per person, per card, per lifetime.  But because these cards are each considered different products, you can earn the bonus on each (and even multiple, different cards open at a time).

Note:   Folks who’ve had the AMEX Hilton Surpass card (no longer available) are not eligible for the Hilton Ascend welcome bonus

If you’re trying to stay under the Chase 5/24 rule, I recommend the Hilton Honors American Express Business card.  Because opening this card will NOT count towards your 5/24 limit with Chase, while the other (personal) cards will.

Let’s have a look at each card’s welcome bonus and perks!

Earn Hilton Points With These Welcome Bonuses

You can earn a substantial chunk of Hilton points with the welcome bonuses on all 3 cards.  And the minimum spending requirements are easy to reach:

The 100,000 Hilton points Welcome Bonus can be for up to 12 Free Nights at Simple Hilton Properties Like This Hampton Inn in Bakersfield, CA Which is only 10,000 Points per Night.
100,000 Hilton Points Are Enough for up to 12 Free Nights (Including the 5th Night Free Perk) at Spots Like the Hampton Inn in Bakersfield, California, Which Costs 10,000 Hilton Points per Night

A welcome bonus of 100,000 Hilton bonus points will earn you up to 10 nights at Hilton hotels with a 10,000 Hilton points per night rate.  Folks can even extend this to 12 nights free when used in combination with the 5th night free perk across 2 different stays (5-night stay for 40,000 Hilton points per stay).

Or you might decide to go all-out at a 5-star Waldorf-Astoria hotel.  These can usually be found for 75,000 to 100,000 Hilton points per night, instead of paying hundreds and hundreds of dollars!

The Hilton Honors American Express Ascend card is the easiest way to earn the most Hilton points, because the spending requirement is $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening, and earns you 100,000 Hilton points.

Bonus Category Spending

Each card has its own bonus categories to help you earn more Hilton points from everyday purchases.  The earning rates and categories are unique for each card.

  • Hilton Honors American Express Card
    • 7X Hilton bonus points per $1 spent at any Hilton portfolio hotel or resort
    • 5X Hilton bonus points per $1 at US restaurants, US supermarkets,  and US gas stations
    • 3X Hilton bonus points per $1 spent on everything else
  • Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card
    • 12X Hilton bonus points per $1 spent at any Hilton portfolio hotel or resort
    • 6X Hilton bonus points per $1 spent at US restaurants, US supermarkets, and US gas stations
    • 3X Hilton bonus points per $1 spent on everything else
  • The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
    • 12X Hilton bonus points per $1 spent at any Hilton portfolio hotel or resort
    • 6X Hilton bonus points per $1 spent on select business & travel purchases (including wireless phone services from US providers, US restaurants, US gas stations, car rentals, and more)
    • 3X Hilton bonus points per $1 spent on everything else

Make sure to look at these categories carefully to see which card is best for you based on your spending habits.  The annual-fee cards earn more points on your bonus category purchases, especially at Hilton.

Annual Fees

It’s always important to consider the annual fee before applying for a new credit card.  All of the Hilton cards featured here have reasonable annual fees, making them affordable to keep in your wallet for a long time.

Folks looking to get a Hilton card with no annual fee should consider the Hilton Honors American Express card.  But keep in mind, annual-fee cards come with additional benefits and perks that can make them well worth keeping year after year, even with the extra cost.

Complimentary Elite Status

All of the Hilton credit cards offer you elite status at Hilton to improve your stays.  Every level of Hilton elite status (above “Member”) will get you the 5th night free perk, which allows you to book 5 award nights for the price of 4 if reserved as a single stay.

Here’s the elite status you’ll get with each card:

Enjoy a Room Upgrade With Gold Elite Status Offered Complimentary With Some of the Hilton Honors Cards.
Enjoy a Room Upgrade With Gold Elite Status Offered Complimentary With Some of the Hilton Honors Cards

You can enjoy Gold elite status with either the Hilton Honors Ascend card or the Hilton Honors Business card as long as you keep the card open.  Gold elite status earns you room upgrades (when available) and free breakfast at most Hilton locations.

Weekend Night Awards

On some of the Hilton cards, you can earn weekend night certificates after meeting a certain spending requirement.  With a weekend night award, you can stay almost any Hilton hotel for free!

Hilton Honors Card Comparison
Use Your Free Weekend Night Certificate for a Night at the Conrad Bora Bora Nui Worth ~$950!

The weekend night perk is a valuable benefit to have on these cards because you can redeem it at extremely expensive hotels, like the Conrad Bora Bora Nui (worth ~$950 per night), Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam (worth ~$700 per night), Grand Wailea – A Waldorf Astoria Resort (worth ~$580 per night), and Hilton Key Largo Resort (worth ~$553 per night) just to name a few.

Airport Lounge Access

With the Hilton Honors Ascend and the Hilton Honors Business cards, you’ll get access to Priority Pass airport lounges.  This is a great way to enjoy free snacks, drinks, Wi-Fi, and a quiet place to relax before your flight!

Both cards offer 10 free Priority Pass visits per year at any of the 1,000+ Priority Pass airport lounges around the world.  You can buy additional passes for $27 with your Hilton Honors card after that.  If you travel often, your 10 free visits can more than offset the cost of the annual fee, because airport food and drinks can be very expensive otherwise!

The Hilton Honors American Express card does not offer this benefit.

Bottom Line

The Hilton American Express cards are all excellent cards to consider.  The exact card that is right for you will depend a lot on your spending habits, how you plan to use the card, and which card features are most important to you.

Here are 3 of our favorite Hilton American Express cards:

The best card for each feature:

Each of these cards is considered a different product, so if you’ve already earned the bonus on one, you’re still eligible for the others.

Which card is your favorite?