Most No-Fee Hotel Cards Aren’t Worth It — But This Hilton Honors Card Deserves a Second Look

Points, points and more points? Yes, please!
Most No-Fee Hotel Cards Aren’t Worth It — But This Hilton Honors Card Deserves a Second Look
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We’d all love to earn points and miles toward free travel, but no one wants to pay an annual fee. And while the vast majority of travel rewards credit cards carry an annual fee of around $100 or more, there are a few no-fee cards out there that seem targeted at those who refuse to pay to use a credit card.

Sadly, most of the no-fee airline and hotel cards are stinkers. They tend to offer barely any points or miles and have virtually no benefits compared to their more expensive siblings. One of the exceptions to this rule is the no-fee Hilton Honors card from American Express. It comes with a generous sign-up bonus and a decent amount of Hilton Honors points for your spending, while you enjoy some valuable benefits.

All You Get With the Hilton Honors Card From American Express

Points, points and more points, please. This card offers you 90,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on new purchases within three months of account opening, which is a particularly valuable sign-up bonus for a no-fee card. You also earn seven times the points for each dollar spent at Hilton hotels, as well as five times points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations. Finally, you earn three times points for all other eligible purchases.

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But don’t get too excited — Hilton points aren’t worth quite as much as hotel points from some other brands. In general, you’ll probably find yourself spending 30,000 to 50,000 points for an award night in a mid-level property in most small to medium-sized cities. Luxury properties and hotels in major cities will cost more, but there are always a few bargain award nights available for fewer points, especially at some of the more affordable overseas destinations.

Another nice thing about this card is you also get complimentary Silver Elite status with it, which offers you points bonuses, free bottled water and a fifth award night free when you book four consecutive nights. Plus, when you use your card to spend $20,000 in a calendar year, you get Gold status, which means room upgrades and free breakfasts!

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How Does This American Express Card Compare To Competitors?

Let’s take a look at how the points and perks of the Hilton Honors card from American Express stacks up against similar cards.

The Radisson Rewards Visa From US Bank

The Radisson Rewards Visa from U.S. Bank is another hotel card with no annual fee. It offers three points per dollar spent at Radisson hotels and two times points elsewhere. New applicants also earn 30,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on the card within the first 90 days of account opening. You can also earn a free night certificate for each $10,000 you spend in a calendar year, up to three free nights. However, there’s simply no comparing the number of hotels in the Radisson program with the massive number in all of the Hilton brands.

The Marriott Bonvoy Bold Card From Chase

Another no-fee option is the Marriott Bonvoy Bold card from Chase. It offers you 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 within three months of account opening. You also earn three times points for every dollar spent at Marriott hotels, as well as two times points on all other travel purchases, such as airfare, taxis and trains, and one point per dollar spent elsewhere. Benefits include 15 Elite Night Credits each year, qualifying you for Silver Elite status and giving you a head start toward higher levels of elite status.

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The Wyndham Rewards Visa From Barclays

Finally, there’s the Wyndham Rewards Visa from Barclays. It features 15,000 bonus points after your first purchase, enough for up to two free nights. You also earn three times points per dollar spent at Wyndham hotels, Wyndham Vacation Rental North America properties and Wyndham timeshare properties. You also earn two times points on eligible gas, utility and grocery store purchases (excluding Target and Walmart), as well as one point per dollar spent elsewhere.

Award nights start at 7,500 points per night, and you also get Wyndham Gold status which offers you perks like room upgrades and late checkouts.

Which Card Fits Your Needs?

The Hilton card is a strong contender for the best no-fee hotel card. The 90,000 point bonus is exceptional, as is the chance to earn seven times points per dollar at Hilton hotels and fives time points per dollar at restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations. By comparison, the Marriott card offers far fewer opportunities to earn bonus points. The Wyndham and Radisson Rewards cards can make sense for fans of those brands, but keep in mind that these programs don’t offer nearly as many properties as Hilton or Marriott. When you add up all the points you can earn from these cards and take a look at what awards are available, you’ll find the right no-fee hotel card for you.

Click through to see how one person got over 100 free hotel nights using his credit card.

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Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone and have not been endorsed by American Express.

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