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VS

Compare the Features and Benefits of Hilton Honors American Express Card and
United℠ Explorer Card

Detailed Comparison Overview

Key Facts
Annual Fee
Avg. Min. Credit Score
Ongoing APR
Balance transfers fees
Best Multiplier
Avg. Point Value
(Learn More)
Bonus Offer
Rating
Review
Key features
Unique Card Benefits
Extended Warranty
Purchase Protection
Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
No Foreign Transaction Fees
Grants Hotel Status
Secondary Car Rental CDW Waiver
No Fees for Authorized Users
Amex Offers
Free Checked Bags
Airport Lounge Access
Priority Boarding
Global Entry / TSA PreCheck Reimbursement
Primary Car Rental CDW Waiver
Trip Protections
Concierge Services
Free Access to Credit Score
Annual Fee
$0 (Rates and fees)
Avg. Min. Credit Score
670-850 *
Ongoing APR
20.99%-29.99% (Variable)
Balance transfers fees
-
Best Multiplier
7x Hotels

Applies to bookings at Hilton Honors properties booked directly with Hilton. Otherwise, earn 3X

5x Gas Stations

At U.S. Gas Stations

5x Dining Out / Food Delivery

At U.S. Restaurants. Take out and delivery included.

5x Groceries

At U.S. Supermarkets. * American Express defines a supermarket as offering a wide variety of food and household products such as meat, fresh produce, dairy, canned and packaged goods, household cleaners, pharmacy products and pet supplies. (Superstores, convenience stores and warehouse clubs are NOT considered supermarkets.)

3x Everything Else
Avg. Point Value
(Learn More)
$0.005
Bonus Offer
Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership.
Rating
YBCC Card Rate Stars Filled
YBCC Card Rate Stars Empty
(4.2) Our Review

Our ratings are determined by the authors and editors on our team. Each individual card feature is compared against all other cards we offer and the total score is an average of those 4 ratings.

Review

The Hilton Honors American Express Card is the entry level Hilton card in a family of three Hilton credit cards for individuals including this one, the Hilton Honors Surpass® Credit Card ($150 annual fee), and the Hilton Aspire® credit card ($550 annual fee).

(All information about the Hilton Honors Aspire® Credit Card ahas been collected independently by Your Best Credit Cards.)

If you stay with Hilton frequently and simply aren’t willing to pay an annual fee, this isn’t a bad card. With 7X earned at Hilton portfolio properties (we value that at 3.5% worth of points back since we value Hilton points at 0.5 cents each), you’ll certainly do well when you pay with this card at Hilton family hotels and resorts.

5X Hilton Honors points at US restaurants, US gas stations, and US supermarkets on a no-annual fee card isn’t bad either, with a 2.5% effective return on spend assuming a value of 0.5 cents per Hilton point).

restaurants-hilton-honors-american-express-card

However, if you do step up to the annual fee cards, you do get more. The Surpass comes with automatic Hilton Gold status instead of Hilton Honors Silver status, which adds a breakfast or meal voucher credit to your benefits along with room upgrades and gives you the opportunity to earn a Free Night Reward valid on any Standard Night Reward after $15,000 in spend.

And the Aspire, despite its heft annual fee, provides come crazy benefits like Diamond elite status.

However, you are probably reading about this card because you want a no annual fee Hilton credit card and this one is pretty strong for a new annual fee hotel card. Not to mention the shopping protections like Extended Warranty and Purchase Protection as well as no foreign transaction fees.

Rates and Fees for the Hilton Honors Credit Card from American Express

Read more
Unique Card Benefits
yes
Extended Warranty
yes
Purchase Protection
yes
Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
yes
No Foreign Transaction Fees
yes
Grants Hotel Status
yes
Secondary Car Rental CDW Waiver
yes
No Fees for Authorized Users
yes
Amex Offers
yes
Free Checked Bags
no
Airport Lounge Access
no
Priority Boarding
no
Global Entry / TSA PreCheck Reimbursement
no
Primary Car Rental CDW Waiver
no
Trip Protections
no
Concierge Services
no
Free Access to Credit Score
no
Annual Fee
$0 Introductory Annual Fee for the first year, then $95
Avg. Min. Credit Score
670-850 *
Ongoing APR
21.99%-28.99% (Variable)
Balance transfers fees
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Best Multiplier
2x Airfare

On United flights only; otherwise earn 1X

2x Dining Out / Food Delivery
2x Hotels
1x Everything Else
Avg. Point Value
(Learn More)
$0.012
Bonus Offer

Earn 60,000 United MileagePlus Miles after spending $3,000 on qualifying purchases in the first three months of opening an account, plus Annual Fee waived for the first year. Offer ends March 13, 2024.  

Rating
YBCC Card Rate Stars Filled
YBCC Card Rate Stars Empty
(4.05) Our Review

Our ratings are determined by the authors and editors on our team. Each individual card feature is compared against all other cards we offer and the total score is an average of those 4 ratings.

Review

The United Explorer is one of the best credit cards out there for occasional United flyers. That’s because you’ll get useful perks, such as free first checked bags, priority boarding privileges, a 25% food and beverage discount on board United operated flights, and even get a taste of airport lounge access with two anniversary United Club passes. Plus. the annual fee is waived the first year, then just $95 thereafter.

Consider this scenario: Even if you only fly United a couple of times per year, the Explorer Card is worth it for the free checked bag benefit alone. Keep in mind, this applies to the primary card holder and one companion on the same reservation, as long as you use the card to pay for your ticket. At $35 for one checked bag, and $140 for a round-trip flight for two people, it’s easy to get value that exceeds the card’s annual fee.

In addition to the sign-up bonus earned after account opening, the United Explorer card earns a decent 2X miles on United Airlines purchases, 2X miles on dining, including eligible delivery services, 2X miles on hotel stays when booked with the hotel and 1x miles on all other purchases. Also, the card helps to fast track your United elite status goals with 500 Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs) for every $12,000 you spend on purchases (up to 1,000 PQPs in a calendar year). These PQPs can be applied toward your Premier status qualification — up to the Premier 1K level.

And don’t forget the ability to earn PQPs towards elite status from spend. You’ll earn 25 Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs) for every $500 you spend on purchases – up to 1,000 PQPs per year.

If you’re in need of extra miles besides flying on United flights, keep in mind that Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to the United Mileage Plus program at a 1:1 ratio to help you top up your miles balance.

While the United Explorer card is a fantastic option for the occasional United flyer, those that travel more often with the airline might want to consider other options, including United’s other, more premium, credit cards.

In more simple terms, the Explorer card fits the “occasional United flyer” once or twice per year mold, while the $250-per-year United Quest fits the “semi-frequent United flyer.” Then, there’s the United Club Infinite Card for the “frequent United flyer.” If you’re looking for a United Club membership and need more than just two one-time passes, you’ll probably be better off with the United Club Infinite Card, which comes with a full United Club membership but also charges the highest annual fee of the United cards at $525.

Read more
Unique Card Benefits
yes
Extended Warranty
yes
Purchase Protection
yes
Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
yes
No Foreign Transaction Fees
yes
Grants Hotel Status
no
Secondary Car Rental CDW Waiver
no
No Fees for Authorized Users
no
Amex Offers
no
Free Checked Bags
yes
Airport Lounge Access
yes
Priority Boarding
yes
Global Entry / TSA PreCheck Reimbursement
yes
Primary Car Rental CDW Waiver
yes
Trip Protections
yes
Concierge Services
yes
Free Access to Credit Score
yes

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