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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.
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.
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
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
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 Express, Citi 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.
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 Express, The 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.
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.