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The Hilton Honors program is the hotel rewards program with the most rewards credit card offerings available.
With a mixture of annual fee cards and no annual fee cards, it can be somewhat tough and time-consuming to determine what Hilton hotel rewards card is the best option for your needs, especially when there’s limited time offers on the Hilton cards up to 100,000 points. The good news is that they all earn Hilton Honors reward points for every dollar spent!
This article is broken down into two sections, comparing the two annual fee cards and the no-fee Hilton Honors rewards credit cards. So, there will be two winners.
Annual Fee Hilton Honors Rewards Cards
There are two annual fee Hilton credit cards to choose from. The primary decision factor might be how much you plan to spend each year with the credit card as the reward payouts are very different between the two credit cards. Two similarities that both cards share is free Gold membership in the Hilton HHonors loyalty program and cardholders are automatically upgraded to Diamond status when making at least $40,000 in purchases per calendar year.
Citi Hilton Honors Reserve
This is the “Cadillac” of the Hilton Honors credit card pairings. It has the highest annual fee ($95) but makes up for it with the sign-up bonus and anniversary bonus. New users will earn two complimentary weekend night stays after spending $2,500 in purchases within the first 4 months. It’s also possible to earn a complimentary anniversary night by spending at least $10,000 before the annual fee is charged each year. When used properly, this bonus easily offsets the annual fee and can be redeemed at virtually any hotel within the Hilton Portfolio. With these bonuses, it can suddenly become affordable to stay at a hotel that would normally cost $300-$400 per night.
Besides the bonus, the reward payout is 10 Honors points on Hilton purchases, 5 points on airline and car rental purchases, and 3 bonus points on all other purchases.
- Two complimentary weekend nights sign-up bonus after spending $2,500 in first 4 months
- Complimentary anniversary night after spending $10,000 per anniversary year
- Can earn at least 3 points on all purchases (minimum payout is better than most annual fee and no-fee reward credit cards)
- No Foreign Transaction Fee
- $95 annual fee is rather steep if you do not earn anniversary night
- Need to spend at least $10,000 annually to maximize the reward potential
Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express (offer unavailable)
For a limited time, new Amex Hilton Surpass members have the opportunity to earn 100,000 Honors points after spending $3,000 within the first three months. Plus, you will receive a free weekend anniversary night!
Spenders have the opportunity to rack up more points as the Surpass card pays 12 points per $1 on Hilton purchases, 6 points at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets, or gas stations, and 3 points on all additional purchases.
- Can earn points faster with better-tiered payout schedule of 12-6-3 compared to 10-5-3
- Can earn bonus points on more spending categories
- Slightly lower annual fee ($75 vs. $95)
- Better option if you spend less than $10,000 per year
- Annual fee not waived
- 7% foreign transaction fee
No-Annual Fee Hilton Honors credit cards
American Express and Citi both offer no-annual fee Hilton Honors cards for the budget conscious. It should go without saying that these two offerings are not as glamorous as the Citi Reserve or Amex Surpass, but, are still quality cards. Both no-fee credit cards come with complimentary Silver membership status to the Hilton Honors program with an automatic upgrade to Gold status after spending at least $20,000 in a calendar year. The competition is much stiffer at the no-fee level when deciding a winner.
Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express (offer unavailable)
The Amex Hilton Honors card comes with a sign-up bonus of 50,000 points after spending an easy $1,000 in 3 months of card membership. Plus you will receive an additional 25,000 points after spending another $1,000 in 6 months. That’s a long time to meet a second-tier spending requirement. And there’s no annual fee!
This bonus is still very respectable and can be redeemed for 1 or 2 nights depending on the property. The tiered reward structure is also very lucrative with 7 points earned per $1 for Hilton purchases, 5 points for restaurant, gas, or supermarket purchases, and 3 points for everything else. There is also the opportunity to earn 500 bonus points when making a Hilton reservation online and paying for it with the Amex Hilton card.
- No annual fee
- 75k bonus points is better than Citi’s normal sign-up bonus
- Better purchase reward payout than Citi
- No anniversary bonus
- 7% transaction fee
Citi Hilton Honors Visa Signature Credit Card
The Citi Hilton Visa offers slightly lower reward payouts when it comes to the sign-up bonus and purchase rewards. Normally, new users can only earn 40,000 bonus HHonors points (75,000 points periodically) after spending $2,000 within the first three months. Regarding the purchase rewards, users earn 6 points for Hilton stays, 3 points at gas stations, supermarkets, and drug stores, and 3 points for all remaining purchases. Citi’s reward payout might be more beneficial if you spend more money at drug stores compared to going out to eat.
What Citi lacks in everyday purchases rewards, it makes up for with additional perks. Cardholders who stay four times within the Hilton portfolio within the first 90 days of account opening are automatically upgraded to Gold status (25% bonus on Hilton stays compared to 15%). There is also an anniversary bonus of 10,000 HHonors points when more than $1,000 is spent in Hilton stays each calendar year. The anniversary bonus makes the Citi offering more lucrative when you spend at least $1,000 in Hilton stays as the 10,000 point bonus “breaks even” with the 7x point Amex bonus payout at the $1,000 mark and is the clear winner after that. $2,000 in Hilton stays with Citi equals 24,000 points (14,000 purchase rewards the 10,000 point anniversary bonus) while the Amex will only reward 14,000 points 500 bonus points for every stay booked online (it would take 20 separate stays to “break even” with Citi’s anniversary bonus).
- No annual fee
- No foreign transaction fee
- 10,000 point anniversary bonus if $1,000 spent annually in Hilton stays
- Fast track option to earn Gold Hilton HHonors membership status for new card members
- Lowest sign-up bonus of all four Hilton credit cards
- Lower purchase rewards than no-fee Amex Hilton
- Have to decide whether it’s more important to earn 3 points from drugstore purchases (Citi) or restaurants (Amex)
Summary on Best Hilton Honors Credit Cards
If you’re looking for a new Hilton HHonors card to add to your wallet I would suggest looking at one of the two American Express offers while there’s currently a limited time offer.
Apply Now: Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express
Apply Now: Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express
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