Amex or Citi? Which is the best Hilton Credit Card?

Best Hilton credit card

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With properties like the Hilton Moorea and the Grand Wailea, it’s apparent why the Hilton’s Honors program is so popular. Like most loyalty programs Hilton has abundant credit card options. We’ll dive into the world of Hilton co-branded credit cards and pick the best Hilton credit card.

British Colonial Hilton Nassau


Best Hilton Credit Card – No Annual Fee

Hilton Honors from American Express

The no annual fee Amex Hilton card has a sign-up bonus of 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus points after spending $2,000 in the first three months. Bonus earning consists of 5x at restaurants, 7x at Hilton hotels and portfolios, and 3x on all other purchases. Other benefits are complimentary Silver status with the ability to upgrade to Gold after spending $20,000 in a cardmember, not calendar year.


Citi Hilton Honors Visa Signature Card

The no annual fee Citi Hilton card has a sign-up bonus of 40,000 Hilton Honors Bonus points after spending $1,000 in purchases within the first four months of membership. Bonus earning consists of 6x at Hilton properties, 3x at supermarkets/drugstores/gas stations, and 2x on all other purchases. Other benefits include 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 or more within the Hilton portfolio, Hilton Silver status, and the ability to upgrade to Honors Gold after four stays within your first 90 days or $20,000 in purchases in a calendar year.


Best Hilton Credit Card – Premium Versions

Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express

The $75 annual fee Amex Hilton card has a sign-up bonus of 100,000 Hilton Honors Bonus points after spending $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Also, a free weekend night award after your first card membership anniversary. Earn 12x at Hilton properties, 6x at restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations, and 3x on all other purchases. Other benefits include complimentary Gold status with the ability to upgrade to Diamond when spending $40,000 in a calendar year.  You’ll also receive Priority Pass Select ($99 value) that gives you access to 900+ airport lounges.


Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card

The $95 annual fee Citi Hilton card has a sign-up bonus of two weekend night certificates after spending $2,500 within the first four months of account opening. Also, you’ll earn 10x at hotels within the Hilton portfolio, 5x on airline and car rentals, and 3x on everything else!

Other benefits include Hilton Honors Gold status and an upgrade to Diamond after spending $40,000 or more per calendar year. Best of all you’ll earn 0ne weekend night certificate at select Hilton properties after spending $10,000 each year.

Best Hilton credit card Diamond and free night status 2017
Lee has already earned his free night & well on his way to Diamond status.



And Citibank makes it easy to track your progress towards your free night and Hilton Honors Diamond status with tracking in their online banking.


Which is the Best Hilton Credit Card?

No Annual Fee Cards

Comparing the Amex Hilton Honors and Citi Hilton Honors Visa Signature it’s apparent the Amex version is the superior card. The card’s sign up bonus is twice as valuable, and the earning rates are excellent. While the Citi version offers a shortcut to Gold status, the Amex version outshines it in every other way.


Annual Fee Cards

Categories and BenefitsAmex SurpassCiti ReserveThe Winner is....
Sign-up Bonus100,000 points after $3,000 spend2 FREE weekend nights after $2,500 spendCiti Reserve
Hilton Portfolio 12 pts per dollar10 pts per dollarAmex Surpass
Hotels and Car Rentals3 pts per dollar5 pts per dollarCiti Reserve
Gas, Restaurants, and Supermarkets6 pts per dollar3 pts per dollarAmex Surpass
All Other Purchases3 pts per dollar3 pts per dollarTie
Annual Fee$75$95Amex Surpass
StatusFree Gold and Diamond after $40,000 spendFree Gold and Diamond after $40,000 spendTie
Anniversary and Other BenefitsPriority Pass Select Free weekend night after $10,000 spend and visa signature Citi Reserve


After looking at the table, we see that both cards excel in three categories and are equivalent in two others. While the Amex Surpass dominates in categories such as gas, restaurants, supermarkets and a lower annual fee, the strength of the Citi Reserves sign-up bonus and annual free weekend night make it much more compelling.

Think about this: two free weekend nights and one additional after $10,000 spend could be worth over 285,000 Hilton Honors points, while you would earn more points using the Amex Surpass at the hotels and the categories mentioned above, it would take A LOT of card use to even the playing field.

If you’re going to use the card at Hilton properties and make it your primary card for gas stations, restaurants, and supermarkets than the Amex Surpass is the card for you.

Best Hilton credit card


So You Want to Accumulate as Many Hilton Points as Possible…

If you’re a Hilton person or want to become one you could get two cards to reap the rewards. I would get both the Citi Reserve and the Amex Hilton Honors no annual fee card. Doing so would grant you the benefits of the Citi Reserve AND 5x at restaurants, gas stations, and supermarkets for no additional fee.

Also, you would get 80,000 Hilton Honors points PLUS the two free weekend nights; this is worth over 365,000 Hilton Honors points when maximized for just $95….wow.


The Bald Thoughts

All of these Hilton co-branded cards are good for accruing Hilton Honors points and Hilton Status. The no fee Amex Hilton Honors with the Citi Reserve would be a powerful combination for only $95 a year! Hilton has some of the best properties worldwide, and a Hilton card is a must in 2017.

What Hilton card or cards do you use? Which one is best for you?



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