Hilton Honors American Express Business Card Review: Is It the Best Hotel Rewards Card for Business Owners?

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff Published on: Dec 11, 2018

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card is a hotel rewards credit card for business owners that offers a big sign-up bonus as well as multiple ways to earn points you can use to book hotel rooms for free.

The card is similar to the Hilton Honors Ascend. However, because it’s a business card it has a variety of business-related tools that make this slightly more tailored to a business owner.

In general, American credit card customers value the rewards and benefits that a card offers, so, in this review, we’re going to help you understand the breadth of rewards you can earn with this card, the redemption options you have for those rewards and the benefits that can enhance your business’ experience.

We’ll also provide an analysis of this card’s rates and fees as well as a comparison of other hotel-rewards business cards.

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card’s Rewards

This card provides you with five different types of rewards: a sign-up bonus, spending rewards, free status upgrades, free Priority Pass entrances and free weekend nights.

125,000-Point Sign Up Bonus

Sign-up bonuses are a way for credit card companies to catch your attention in the hopes that the prospect of a huge up-front bonus will dazzle you enough to sign up for the card. Now, in some cases, sign-up bonuses can be average or, in the case of travel rewards cards, they may not have as much value as you think.

This card’s 125,000-point sign-up bonus is a valuable one, not only because it’s one of the biggest sign-up bonuses we’ve seen from a hotel rewards card and because you can redeem those points for up to 15 free nights, which is something we’ll talk about in a few minutes.

Keep in mind, though, that the points don’t appear in your Hilton Honors rewards account (AmEx sets one up for you during your application if you don’t already have one) for up to 8 weeks. In most cases, the fine print says, it will take 6-8 weeks.

12x/6x/1x Points on Spending

There are three tiers of rewards you get with this card.

12x at Hiltons:

First, you’ll earn 12 points for every dollar you spend at Hilton hotels and resorts. This bonus applies to the purchases you make at Hilton properties, which includes restaurant purchases, room service, spa services and bars where you pay with your card.

So, if you take a business trip to Austin and spend $1,000 on four nights at the Hilton Austin Airport, you’ll earn 12,000 points.

The best way to understand this rewards rate is to look back on the past year of spending and find out how much you spent at Hilton properties or hotels, in general. Multiply that total by 12 and you’ll get your projected points total.

For the sake of example, we’ll assume you spend $2,000 a year at Hilton properties, which is 24,000 points.

6x on Business Purchases:

This category is pretty broad. According to the card’s fine print, it includes the following five types of purchases:

  • U.S. restaurants
  • Airfare you by directly from the airline or from AmEx’s travel site
  • Car rentals from Alamo, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, E-Z, Fox, Hertz, National, Payless, Sixt, Thrifty
  • Gas at U.S. gas stations
  • Shipping services
  • Wireless telephone services

What makes this card an interesting choice is that it offers you a wide variety of 6x rewards. Most cards allow you to choose between one or two of the categories above, but not all of them.

Understanding how many points this bonus category can get is tough because no two businesses are the same. However, for sake of example, let’s say you spend $5,000 on these five categories each year. Your rewards total will be 30,000.

1x on Everything Else:

This category covers all the spending you do that’s not included in the 12x and 6x categories. Also, you won’t get the 1x bonus on any fees or interest payments AmEx charges you.

If you spend $20,000 in the “everything else” category, you’ll earn 20,000 points.

The Value of 74,000 Yearly Points

The total number of points you can earn from the previous three sections is, by our estimation, 74,000 Hilton Honors points. When you add in your sign-up bonus, we believe you can earn 200,000 points the first year you own this card.

Based on our research of Hilton’s rewards rates, you can book a room for as little as 5,000 points and cash (amount varies per property) or 10,000 points without cash.

Now, that 10,000 points is the cost of the cheapest rewards rate among Hilton hotels. Point totals can exceed 80,000 points depending on where you stay. If you manage to stay at 10,000 points properties, your first-year rewards total is worth 20 hotel nights.

Also, Hilton has a fifth-night-free perk in which you get a fifth night free when you book five nights with your rewards points.

The key to knowing the value of your points isn’t so much in the cheapest hotel but in understanding where you stay and the level of luxury you want.

For example, if you stay in New York often, room rewards rates are going to be much higher than if you stay in Jacksonville. More desirable locations demand higher rewards redemption rates.

Complimentary Gold Status With Diamond Upgrade

There are four tiers in the Hilton Honors loyalty program: member, silver, gold, and diamond.

As a Hilton Honors business card customer, you get complimentary gold status but, if you can spend $40,000 in one year, you can get diamond status, the highest tier in the program.

As a Gold member, you get, among other benefits, free late checkout, free breakfast, free upgrades to executive-level rooms and an 80% bonus on the points you earn as a Hilton Honors member. The 80% bonus refers to points that Hilton gives you for staying at their properties.

As a base member, you get 10 points for every dollar you spend at a Hilton property. So, if you get a $200 room, then you’d earn 2,000 Honors points. As a Gold member, you get an 80% on those points, a Hilton phone rep told us, which means you’ll earn 3,600 Honors points from a $200 room.

Again, these points are separate from the 12 points you’ll earn by using your AmEx Hilton business card to buy the room. So, as a gold member, spending $200 for a room will earn you 3,600 Honors points from Hilton and 2,400 Honors points from AmEx for a total of 6,000 points.

Based on our research of hotel rewards business credit cards, this is an excellent bonus rate.

Diamond status has a 100% points bonus, which means a $200 stay would earn you 6,400 points. In addition to that, you get complimentary suite upgrades and executive lounge access, plus welcome gifts whenever you stay at a Hilton property.

To earn free Diamond status, you’ll have to spend $40,000 a year.

Free Weekend Nights

Hilton will give you a free weekend night if you can spend $15,000 in a year. They’ll give you an additional free weekend night if you can spend $60,000 year.

10 Free Priority Pass Entrances

In addition to the rewards we’ve mentioned so far, owning this card will afford you 10 free passes to Priority Pass airport lounges.

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card’s Benefits

Aside from the rewards you get, American Express provides you with various accounting tools you can use to track your business expenses, as well as a series of benefits you get when you use your Hilton business card to book travel and make other purchases.

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card’s Fees and Rates

Here’s a list of the APR’s and fees you get with this card:

  • Purchase APR: 17.74% - 26.74%
  • Penalty APR: 29.99%
  • Cash advance APR: 27.24%
  • Annual fee: $95
  • Late/returned payment fee: Up to $38
  • Cash advance fee: 5%

The red flag here is the penalty APR. This rate will activate when you make a make a returned payment, you make two late payments in a 12-month period or you don’t make the minimum payment required when your bill is due.

Based on our research of travel cards and business cards, the Hilton business card from AmEx has reasonable interest rates and fees.

How the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card Compares to Marriott’s Business Rewards Card

If you aren’t loyal to a particular hotel brand and you want the best available hotel rewards business card, then it’s important to understand how the AmEx Hilton business card compares to similar cards.

The following chart will give you a side-by-side comparison between this AmEx card and the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Business card:

AmEx Hilton Honors Business Chase Marriott Premier Rewards Business
Sign-Up Bonus 125,000 75,000
Yearly Rewards 74,000 72,000
APR 17.74% - 26.74% 17.74% - 24.74%
Free Status Upgrade Gold Silver
Free Nights 1 at $15K, 2 at $40K 1
Priority Pass 10 free entrances None

Based on this chart, we believe the American Express Hilton Honors Business is a superior hotel rewards card for business owners because of the following reasons:

  • Bigger sign-up bonus
  • Better status upgrade
  • More free nights
  • 10 Priority Pass passes

Marriott’s hotel network is bigger because both Marriott and Starwood hotels are included under their umbrella. However, we believe that the rewards and benefits AmEx offers exceed whatever advantage Marriott has in terms of the number of properties they have.

How to Use the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card to Maximize Rewards

If you want to maximize the value of this card to benefit you or your business, then, in our opinion, you should consider signing up for it if you spend at least $40,000 a year.

If you can hit that spending amount, then you’ll get a free weekend night every year and you’ll qualify for Diamond status, which is good for the year in which you achieve it and the following year. The benefits you get from this tier are phenomenal and certainly worth the $40K spend.

Also, we see this card being of great value to businesses who have higher than average spending on shipping, gas, wireless services, and travel. The bonuses in those categories are powerful will earn you 50% more points than what you’d get from the same spending categories with the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Business card from Chase.

If you want to learn more about other business credit cards, read through our rankings of the best business credit cards. We help you see which cards offer the best rewards and all-around benefits for business owners.

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