Hilton HHonors Card from American Express (Review)

This is a review of the Hilton HHonors Card from American Express.

Hilton HHonors used to be my very favorite hotel rewards program, and this Hilton HHonors Card from American Express used to be my favorite rewards card. I say “used to be” because in 2013 Hilton made some significant changes to the Hilton HHonors program, which had the effect of “devaluing” Hilton HHonors points. (Basically, they started requiring a lot more points for most of their hotel stays.)

But even though I can’t call this my favorite card anymore, there are still some good things about this card that make it worthy of your consideration, especially if you enjoy staying in the Hilton family of hotels.

Speaking of the Hilton family of hotels, the points earned from this card can be redeemed at the following hotels: Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn, Doubletree, Homewood Suites, Home2 Suites, and even Waldorf Astoria.

This card has its pros and cons, so let’s start with the GOOD things about this card…

* No Annual Fee – that’s a rarity in the world of rewards credit cards

* 40,000 bonus points when you make $750 in purchases on your card in the first 3 months

* 7 bonus points per dollar spent at Hilton Hotels (and related brands)

* 5 bonus points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants, gas stations, and grocery stores (you can rack up a ton of points with this card)

* 3 bonus points per dollar on all other purchases with the card (again, you can build up a lot of points)

Now let’s look at some of the NOT SO GOOD things about this card…

My complaints with this card aren’t actually with the card itself (which is quite good, as outlined above), but rather with the Hilton HHonors program itself.

And the main problem with the Hilton HHonors program is that it requires more points per hotel night than most other hotel chains (such as Marriott.) The Hilton HHonors program requires 5,000 points per night for a Category 1 hotel, and up to 95,000 points per night for a Category 10 hotel. (And many people find that the hotels they want to stay in are closer to 95,000 points per night than 5,000 points per night.)

But sometimes that disadvantage can be outweighed by the fact that this card earns so many bonus points. For example, it’s possible to earn an average of over 4 points per dollar spent on this card, whereas most hotel cards only earn 1 point per dollar spent.

So even though Hilton requires more points per night than most other chains, if you use this card as your main credit card, you can still get a lot of free hotel nights each year.

Here’s the bottom line on this card… it’s not right for everyone, but for some people it can be great. You need to do your homework to see if it makes sense for you.

For example, let’s say that one night a month you stay in a specific Hampton Inn that happens to be a Category 2 hotel (10,000 points per night.) In that instance, this could be a great card for you. Your 40,000 bonus points would get you four free nights, and the ongoing bonus points you earn from using the card each month might be enough to earn an additional free night every month.

But unless you find yourself in a specific situation where this card makes sense for you, you’re probably better off with a different card.