For frequent travelers, there is a new credit card on the scene that definitely warrants your attention. Actually, "new" may not be the most accurate description of the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card. "Next generation" is more apt. American Express is a CardRatings advertiser.
The Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card is technically a new version of the old Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express. And, as with every evolutionary process, there are significant improvements.
For starters, the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card is offering an easily attainable welcome offer of 125,000 bonus points after you spend just $2,000 in the first three months. Additionally, you will receive a weekend night reward stay when you spend at least $15,000 in a calendar year, a perk that could more than offset your annual fee. See Rates and Fees.
Beyond the bonuses, your points can add up quickly. You get 12 points for every $1 spent on eligible purchases directly with a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio. You get six points on eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations and you earn three points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases, so this turns out to be a solid credit card option for your everyday purchases.
The card carries a $95 annual fee. That's slightly higher that the $75 fee for the old Surpass card; however, a few new perks – the opportunity to earn a weekend night stay each calendar year, as well as 10 complimentary Priority Pass™ Select airport lounge passes each calendar year – make that higher fee worth it.
Bonus, perks, upgrades, complimentary.
These are some of our favorite terms when it comes to credit cards and the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card is loaded with them. And their value is significant.
The welcome offer opportunity of 125,000 points, which can be achieved with just $2,000 in purchases in the first three months, is worth several hundred dollars in rewards.
Cardholders also enjoy Gold status in the Hilton Honors program, and Hilton Honors Diamond status is within reach. Spend $40,000 in purchases in a calendar year to receive your Diamond Status upgrade. You can learn more about elite status and the numerous benefits of the Hilton Honors rewards program in our Hilton Honors program guide.
Speaking of complimentary and upgrades, the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card also provides 10 airport lounge visits each calendar year after a one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select, a lounge network with more than 1,000 locations worldwide.
The Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card also provides piece of mind for travelers. One way is through car rental loss and damage insurance. When you rent a car, you can decline the collision damage waiver (a significant savings) and still be covered in case the vehicle is damaged or stolen.
Additionally, purchases made with your Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card are eligible for complimentary extended warranty, matching the existing warranty up to one additional year, if the item has a manufacturer's warranty of five years or less.
Purchased items that are damaged or broken within 90 days of purchase are also covered by purchase protection, up to $1,000 per occurrence, $50,000 per calendar year. Even if you just want to return an item for ANY reason – you're covered. If the store refuses to take the return, return protection may provide a refund of up to $300 per item with a total limit of $1,000 per calendar year.
The Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card isn't for everyone. If you don't travel very often, then many of the perks and bonuses could be out of reach. In that case, you might want to look for a card that doesn't have an annual fee or that offers cash-back rewards instead.
Remember, too, that the rewards for non-Hilton purchases are decent, but you'll really maximize the potential with this card if you stay regularly at Hilton properties.
Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card vs. Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card
The Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card (This card is not currently available on CardRatings) offers 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account-opening. The Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card offers 125,000 points after $2,000 spent in the first three months. Keep in mind, however, that Hilton reward nights start at 5,000 points per night while Marriott nights start at 7,500 (of course, both are dependent on the category of property and timing).
The Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card offers 6X points per $1 spent at over 6,700 participating Marriott Rewards & SPG hotels and 2X points for every $1 spent on all other purchases. You also get automatic Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year -- and new in 2019, 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year. The Hilton card offers 12 points per $1 spent at Hilton's family of properties. Since Marriott and SPG are now partnered, you do have some brand options with this card that you don't with the Hilton card.
But the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card also offers six points per $1 spent on a number of everyday purchases, while the Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card offers just 2X points per $1 on all other purchases outside of those with participating hotels.
The annual fees of the two cards are the same at $95.
Besides brand-loyalty, another fact to consider is that the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card offers 10 complimentary airport lounge visits each year -- so if air travel is in your plans, that card could be a better option based on that access alone. Or, you may want to get the card that helps you earn more with U.S. News & World Report's No.1 Hotel Rewards Program, Marriott Rewards.
Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card vs. Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is a general travel rewards card, so it certainly offers more flexibility. What it doesn't offer are the perks and bonus points that come along with brand-loyalty.
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card offers a bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on eligible purchases in the first three months after enrollment – those miles are worth $500 in travel and "travel" is broadly defined as hotels, flights, car rentals and much more.
While the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card offers just two miles per $1 spent on all eligible purchases, the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card offers anywhere from three to 12 points on eligible purchases. That said, right now Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card members earn 10 miles per $1 spent on stays booked and paid for through Hotels.com/Venture. Your Capital One miles certainly have more redemption options than the Hilton Honors points offer, and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card touts the fact that it has no blackout dates for redeeming miles and your rewards won't expire for the life of the account.
Lastly, there's no complimentary airport lounge access with the Capital One card, but you have more flexibility overall. The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card annual fee is $0 intro for first year; $95 after that.
Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card vs. IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit CardThe IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card offers an attractive annual fee of $89 a year, compared to $95 a year for the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card.
The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card offers a welcome bonus of 80,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first three months of account membership while the Hilton card offers a higher 125,000-point opportunity for spending $2,000 in three months. Both cards offer incentives for staying at their own hotels but the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card offers 25 points total per $1 spent, while the Hilton card offers 12 points per $1 spent.
The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card also offers one free night stay after each anniversary of enrollment, with no spending requirement to earn the reward, as well as one free night each time you redeem points for a stay of four nights or more. You'll have to spend $15,000 in a calendar year with the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card in order to earn a weekend night stay reward.
Clearly, the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card is a strong consideration for the wallet of any traveler who often, if not always, stays at Hilton properties when on the road. If you are a frequent traveler, whether it be for business or pleasure, you are also well-suited for this card. It won't take long to achieve the thresholds needed for some very attractive perks.
To see the rates and fees for the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card, please visit the following link: See Rates and Fees.