Battle of the Hilton Cards: Hilton Honors Ascend Credit Card vs. Hilton Honors Credit Card 0

There are two Hilton cards you may find yourself picking between — the Hilton Honors Ascend card (read more) and the Hilton Honors American Express card (read more). Which is right for you based on your spending and travel habits? Simple Flying takes a look at everything you need to know.

Conrad Cartagena hotel
Love Hilton brands? Which credit card is right for you? © 2018 Hilton

Welcome Bonuses

The Hilton Honors Ascend card gives you 125,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases during the first three months (learn more).

The Hilton Honors American Express card gives you 75,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months (learn more).

Taking just this into consideration, the Hilton Honors American Express would be the best value for your money, as you’re spending half the money to earn 80 percent of the points. Why spend double?

However, the Ascend card does give you a weekend night reward if you spend an additional $15,000 in the first year, so if that’s something that interests you, you might want to take that into consideration, based on how much you plan to spend on the card per year. As you’ll see, the Ascend card is well-suited for those with big spending in mind.

Exterior of Texas Hilton hotel
A free weekend night? Don’t mind if I do! © 2018 Hilton

Annual Fees

  • The Hilton Honors American Express card comes with no annual fee
  • The Hilton Honors Ascend card comes with a $95 annual fee

Earning Potential

The Hilton Honors American Express card gives you…

  • 7X points per $1 spent at a Hilton property
  • 5X points per $1 spent at any U.S. restaurant, supermarket or gas station
  • 3X points per $1 spent on everything else

The Hilton Honors Ascend card gives you…

  • 12X points per $1 spent at a Hilton property
  • 6X points per $1 spent at any U.S. restaurant, supermarket or gas station
  • 3X points per $1 spent on everything else

The Hilton Honors Ascend card, then, gives you a better earning potential, particularly if you think you’ll be spending a great deal on Hilton stays with this card. Regardless, both cards give you a nice earning amount for not only restaurant, supermarket and gas station purchases, but also on everything else.

Hilton Honors Status

Both cards will give you better Hilton Honors status. The Hilton Honors American Express comes with complimentary silver status just for being a cardholder. Then, if you spend $20,000 on eligible purchases, you receive gold status through the end of the next calendar year.

If you spend $40,000 on your Ascend card, however, you can get complimentary diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.

Enjoy perks at prime hotels, just for spending on your Hilton credit card. Photo: Hilton

While gold (and even silver) status is nice and comes with some good perks like free breakfasts and room upgrades, diamond status is even better, with loads of additional benefits. It’s a coveted hotel status for a reason.

Other Details

Both cards have no foreign transaction fee.

The Ascend card additionally comes with complimentary Priority Pass Select membership, while the Hilton Honors American Express has no such airline status benefit. Priority Pass Select gives you access to more than a thousand airport lounges worldwide and you get 10 complimentary lounge visits per year, plus additional visits for a small fee.

So which is right for you?

The Hilton Honors card from American Express (read more) is a very nice entry-level Hilton card if you’re just dipping your toe into the world of hotel rewards. You avoid the annual fee, you can still earn loads of points with Hilton stays and there’s possibility to earn gold status. However, it’s not the best card for all of your travel, so if you’re looking for a catch-all travel rewards card, look elsewhere. There are other cards that can suit your purposes better.

The Hilton Honors Ascend card (read more), meanwhile, is better if you already know you have a very strong loyalty to the Hilton brand and you want to spend a lot of money with its properties. Some of the best benefits from the card come about when you spend quite a lot, so you’ll want to keep that in mind if you’re heavily considering this card. The Ascend card is also better for those who travel often, as it comes with the Priority Pass Select membership.

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