Comparing The $95 Annual Fee Hilton Amex Personal & Business Cards

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In January American Express and Hilton introduced a suite of new credit cards. Among these cards are the Hilton Honors Ascend Card and Hilton Honors American Express Business Card. Since one is a personal card and the other is a business card, in this post I wanted to look at how the two cards compare, given their identical annual fees.

Sign-up bonuses

The sign-up bonuses on the two cards are very similar. Both offer up to 100,000 Honors points. The only difference is the spend requirement:

  • The Hilton Honors Ascend Card offers 75,000 Honors points after spending $2,000 within the first three months, plus an additional 25,000 points after spending an additional $1,000 within the first six months
  • The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card offers 75,000 Honors points after spending $3,000 within the first three months, plus an additional 25,000 points after spending an additional $1,000 within the first six months

As you can see, the business version of the card just has a slightly higher spend requirement to earn the bonus.

Annual fees

The two cards have identical annual fees of $95.

Return on spend

Both cards offer 12x points/9x points/3x points, though the exact bonus categories differ:

  • The Hilton Honors Ascend Card offers 12x points per dollar spent with Hilton, 6x points per dollar spent at US restaurants, US supermarkets, and US gas stations, and 3x points per dollar spent on everything else
  • The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card offers 12x points per dollar spent with Hilton, 6x points per dollar spent at US gas stations, on wireless phone services with US service providers, on US shipping purchases, at US restaurants, on flights booked directly with airlines or with amextravel.com, and on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies, and 3x points per dollar spent on everything else

The personal card exclusively offers 6x points at US supermarkets, while the business version of the card exclusively offers 6x points on wireless phone services, shipping purchases, flights booked directly with airlines, and rental car spend.


Both cards offer 6x points at US restaurants

Status perks

Both cards are identical in this regard:

  • You receive Gold status for as long as you have the card
  • When you spend $40,000 on the card in a calendar year you receive Hilton Honors Diamond status


Hilton Honors Gold & Diamond members receive complimentary breakfast

Free weekend night certificates

Both the Hilton Honors Ascend Card and Hilton Honors American Express Business Card offer a free weekend night reward when you spend $15,000 on the card in a calendar year.

However, the business version of the card exclusively offers a second weekend night reward if you spend $60,000 on eligible purchases on the card in a calendar year.

This creates some nice spend thresholds on the business version of the card, since you get a free weekend night after $15,000 of spend, Diamond status after $40,000 of spend, and another weekend night after $60,000 of spend.


Redeem your free weekend night certificate at the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem

Priority Pass visits

Both cards offer 10 free visits to Priority Pass lounges per year. Additional passes are $27 per person per visit. However, given how many excellent cards offer Priority Pass memberships without restrictions (like The Platinum Card® from American ExpressCiti Prestige® Card, and Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card), I don’t personally value this benefit all that much.


Receive 10 free Priority Pass lounge visits with either of these cards

Foreign transaction fees

Both the personal and business versions of the card have no foreign transaction fees.

Approval odds

For those with excellent credit, I find both of these cards to be pretty easy to be approved for. The major restriction is that Amex limits you to five credit cards per person (this excludes charge cards, like The Platinum Card® from American ExpressThe Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN, and The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN).

Assuming you’re within that limit you have good odds of approval. One advantage of the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card is that applying for an Amex small business card generally won’t count towards your total as far as the Chase 5/24 rule is concerned.

Bottom line

The Hilton Honors Ascend Card and Hilton Honors American Express Business Card are very similar, despite being branded differently — both cards have the same annual fee, similar sign-up bonuses, and comparable perks. There are some minor differences between the cards, and I’d say for the most part they swing in favor of the business version of the card.

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Comments

  1. Are these considered new products or is the Ascend card a continuation of the Surpass card and if you had that before you will not get the bonus on this one?

  2. @Jack — The Aspire card is still “embargoed” by AMEX, which likely requested that travel bloggers not write anything about any of the co-branded HH cards until they say so and release a link. I knew that we would soon see a piece about the Ascend card once I saw a link for it under the “Hot Deals” on this site.

    @Trup — If you have or had the Surpass, you won’t get a bonus for the Ascend.

  3. A 3 way comparison of the new card offerings would be good did you end up getting one lucky? Was curious if the extra 400$ is worth it for 2x more points and free status.

  4. I actually have all three personal Hilton Honors cards.

    Hilton purchases are 14x/12x/7x for Aspire/Ascend/Honors
    Restaurants are 7x/6x/5x
    Flights with airlines are 7x/3x/3x
    Gas stations are 3x/6x/5x
    Groceries are 3x/6x/5x
    Hilton status guarantees are Diamond/Gold/Silver
    Annual fees are $450/$95/$0

    I also own the Amex Everyday Preferred, which is effectively 9x/6x for Groceries/Gas (after transferring MR to HH). I don’t spend enough at grocery stores to max out the $6K limit on EDP.

    This effectively strikes down the Gas stations and groceries categories. Flights with airlines I have Amex Plat (eff 10x HH), so that one is out too.

    Ascend only really beats Aspire on the annual fee. However, Ascend has no real fee waivers, and the free night at $15K is not worth it considering Aspire gets the same free night at anniversary.

    However, Aspire gets the $250 airline fee credit, so that effectively takes the annual fee down to $200. Then, the $250 resort credit is pretty easy to use as I do like travel. I’ll say value this at 50%, because I may not have otherwise stayed at those resorts. This takes us down to eff $75. Priority Pass I don’t value because Amex Plat has it too. So, effectively for me, Aspire is cheaper than Ascend and earns better in the categories I need.

    I’m going to retire the Ascend card after having it for a year. I’ll probably keep the free Honors card around since it doesn’t cost me anything to have. However, it may also eventually be discarded so I can reduce the number of accounts I have.

  5. I also did a comprehensive post detailing my experience with the 3 personal AMEX HH cards, but especially about: (a) my experience applying for the Aspire card, (b) how long it took for me to get “upgraded” to the promised Diamond status which will be good to March 2020, (c) how long it took for the the physical Aspire card to arrive after I was instantly approved online, (d) how AMEX figured the size of my credit line [they described it the official approval letter they sent me by snailmail, which I posted], and much more [there are comments by others between the items I wrote about so that you might wish to read it all or just scroll down to find specific items]:

    https://goo.gl/Fjq46S

    Enjoy!

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