A Pocket Guide to the New Hilton Cards

At the beginning of 2018, Hilton Hotels made the clean break with previous credit card provider Citi and now offer all of their points-earning cards through American Express. With the change, the hotel giant now offers three levels of credit card – ranging from the low-earning, no annual fee card, to the high-end card which offers a similar price point and level of benefits as The Platinum Card from American Express.

If you are considering making Hilton you preferred hotel brand in 2018, or just want a big points bonus towards a future stay, where does one start? We did some research into each card, looked at the pros and cons of each, and want to help you get the best Hilton card that is right for you.

Before you apply for one of the three Hilton Honors cards, you will want to read this overview to see the core differences between the cards to make sure you get the right card.

Hilton Honors American Express Card

Benefits: The biggest benefit of the Hilton Honors American Express Card is that it comes with no annual fee, but still earns Hilton Honors points with every purchase. You can earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio, 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your card at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets, at U.S. gas stations, and 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card. This card also comes with no international transaction fees.

In addition, the Hilton Honors American Express Card offers a sign-up bonus that is obtainable for every household. Eligible cardholders can earn Earn 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.

Downsides: They say “you get what you pay for,” and that certainly seems to be the case with this card. For no annual fee, the card comes with the lowest level of benefits, including Hilton Honors Silver Elite Status and the lowest earnings levels for all Hilton Honors cards. Even if you use this as your primary card, don’t expect to earn a free night at a Hilton hotel anytime soon.

Who it’s best for: If you need 50,000 Hilton Honors points sooner rather than later, or are just looking for a credit card that offers no international transaction fees alongside no annual fee, there’s no harm in holding this card. However, if Hilton is one of the primary hotel chains you stay at, this card might not be your best bet.

Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card

Benefits: The sign-up bonus on the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card is one of the most generous that we have found in a long time. If you qualify, you could earn up to 100,000 Honors points for opening this card: Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your Card within the first 3 months of card membership, and earn another 25,000 Bonus Points after you make an additional $1,000 in purchases on your Card within the first 6 months.

This card also comes with complimentary Hilton Honors Gold Status so long as you hold the card, and the potential to upgrade your status level through spending. When using the card, you can earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio, 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets, and at U.S. gas stations, and earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.

Downsides: Even for the $95 annual fee, the name of the game with this card is spending – because all of the big rewards come with spending. For example: you won’t earn a weekend night reward until you spend $15,000 in a calendar year, and won’t upgrade to Diamond Honors status until you reach $40,000 in spending in a calendar year. While this card also comes with Priority Pass lounge access, its usage is limited: you only get 10 free airport lounge visits every year.

Who it’s best for: If Hilton is your primary hotel chain, and you like the ability to hold Gold status every year without committing to the minimum stays, this is the card you want. It’s important to make sure you get $95 worth of value out of this card every year through either points or benefits. Otherwise, you are throwing money away when a no-annual fee version is available.

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Benefits: For the traveler who has to have it all, this $450 annual fee card comes with benefits that extend beyond the Hilton portfolio. When using this card, you can earn 14X Hilton Honors Bonus Points per dollar for each eligible purchase on your Card made directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio, 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each eligible purchase on your Card for flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies and U.S. restaurants, and 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for other purchases on your Card.

This card also comes with complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond Status and an annual weekend night reward on your card anniversary every year plus an additional one after spending $60,000 in a calendar year. You can also receive a $250 airline incidental credit every year of card membership, along with unlimited visits to Priority Pass Lounges.

Downsides: While the $450 annual fee is steep, it comes with a number of actual cash benefits that help you get the most out of your card. Between the $250 airline credit, $250 resort credit at participating resorts, and $100 credit at participating Waldorf Astoria and Conrad Hotels and Resorts, the potential for value exists. To make the most of it, you have to actually use them. The other downside I don’t like is the low amount of Hilton Honors Bonus Points earned on the card for all purchases: with the high annual fee, you should be earning more than 3 points per dollar.

Who it’s best for: If Hilton is your only hotel chain, or you are looking for a lower-cost replacement for The Platinum Card from American Express, this card may be your best overall bet. With good benefits that may overvalue the annual fee, this card has a lot of upside for high-end travelers.

Which card do you like best? Which one will you apply for this year? Give us your opinions in the comments below!

Joe Cortez
Joe Cortez is an award-winning journalist and blogger focused on travel, leisure, and loyalty programs. As a frequent traveler, Joe has flown across the United States, Canada, and Europe primarily on award bookings and discounted flights. In addition,…
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The JetBlue Plus Card

  • Annual Fee: $99 fee waived for the first year
  • Foreign Fees: 0%
  • Card Type: Travel

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  • Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.
  • Earn 6 points per $1 on JetBlue purchases, 2 points per $1 at restaurants and grocery stores and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • No blackout dates on JetBlue-operated flights & redeem for any seat, any time on JetBlue-operated flights. Points required for an Award Flight will vary based on the published base fare at the time of booking
  • Points awarded in your TrueBlue account don’t expire.
  • Earn and share points together with Family Pooling
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points every year after your account anniversary
  • 50% savings on eligible inflight purchases like cocktails and food & the primary cardmember’s first checked bag is free on JetBlue-operated flights
  • Enjoy TrueBlue Mosaic benefits for one year after you spend $50,000 or more on purchases each calendar year with your card
  • Enjoy a $100 statement credit after purchasing a JetBlue Vacations package of $100 or more with your JetBlue Plus Card
  • Your first checked bag is free.

Breakdown

Earn (pt.)

Spend


3 months

30,000

$1,000


JetBlue Purchases

6.00

$1


Restaurants Purchases

2.00

$1


Groceries Purchases

2.00

$1


All Purchases

1.00

$1


The JetBlue Plus Card

  • Annual Fee: $99 fee waived for the first year
  • Foreign Fees: 0%
  • Card Type: Travel
FTG Review Reward Breakdown Points Breakdown
  • Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.
  • Earn 6 points per $1 on JetBlue purchases, 2 points per $1 at restaurants and grocery stores and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • No blackout dates on JetBlue-operated flights & redeem for any seat, any time on JetBlue-operated flights. Points required for an Award Flight will vary based on the published base fare at the time of booking
  • Points awarded in your TrueBlue account don’t expire.
  • Earn and share points together with Family Pooling
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points every year after your account anniversary
  • 50% savings on eligible inflight purchases like cocktails and food & the primary cardmember’s first checked bag is free on JetBlue-operated flights
  • Enjoy TrueBlue Mosaic benefits for one year after you spend $50,000 or more on purchases each calendar year with your card
  • Enjoy a $100 statement credit after purchasing a JetBlue Vacations package of $100 or more with your JetBlue Plus Card
  • Your first checked bag is free.

Breakdown

Earn (pt.)

Spend


3 months

30,000

$1,000


JetBlue Purchases

6.00

$1


Restaurants Purchases

2.00

$1


Groceries Purchases

2.00

$1


All Purchases

1.00

$1


Apply Now

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