Review of the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Reviews

Mar 16, 2018 | Updated Apr 03, 2018

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The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card is a good option for small business owners who often stay at Hilton hotels and resorts. It provides a way to earn a lot of Hilton Honors points, much more than you would get for just being a regular Hilton member.

You’ll get 12X points per dollar at Hilton from this card, along with at least 12.5X more points per dollar because this card gives you automatic Hilton Gold status. That comes with a point bonus plus other nice perks, like a discounted rate on rooms, upgrades when available, and complimentary services.

There are also quite a few other business-related bonus reward categories where you’ll earn 6X points per dollar, giving you even more point-earning opportunities. And you can get a total of 100,000 bonus points through the signup offers.

Besides Gold status, cardholders get a free weekend night stay for spending $15,000 in a given year, along with a second free night for spending $60,000 in a given year. There are more benefits too, like 10 free passes to Priority Pass Select airport lounges per year.

There’s also a line of consumer credit cards that are co-branded with Hilton. The Hilton Honors Ascend Card (Review) is the consumer equivalent of this business card.

If you spend around $1,000 or more at Hilton properties per year, this card might be a good fit for your spending habits. Keep reading to learn all about the Hilton Honors Business Card, and see if it’s the right option to earn rewards and help manage cash flow for your business.

Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
Apply Now

Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Interest Rate: 16.99%–25.99% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • 12X points per dollar at participating Hilton Portfolio hotels and resorts
  • 6X points per dollar at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations
  • 3X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases
  • 75,000 bonus points for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • 25,000 additional bonus points for spending an additional $1,000 in the first 6 months
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status and other benefits
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • $95 annual fee
  • 16.99%–25.99% Variable APR for purchases and balance transfers

Our Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

We give the Hilton Honors Amex Business Card 5 out of 5 Stars because it can provide a great value for the $95 annual fee.

Why we like this card

  • Seven different bonus reward categories to earn Hilton Honors points in
  • Automatic Hilton Gold status so you can get even more points, plus benefits and services when booking hotels
  • You can earn two free night stays per year
  • Many different valuable redemption options through Hilton
  • 10 free annual passes to Priority Pass Select, a rare find on a card this inexpensive
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Amex OPEN business card benefits

Why this card could be better

  • There’s an annual fee, although it’s pretty reasonable for the value you can get
  • You’ll need to redeem your points through Hilton to get a good value for them
  • You won’t get your free weekend night awards if you don’t spend enough each year

This is a very rewarding card, and it’s the only business card that’s co-branded with Hilton. But there are also some consumer card options, and cards made for other hotels. You can check out some of those below.

Insider Advice: Using This Card as Part of Your Credit Card Strategy

  • Use this card at Hilton hotels and resorts to earn both Bonus Points and Base Points on every purchase.
  • Spend in the other bonus categories to get 6X points on a wide variety of business-related expenses.
  • Get both signup bonuses by spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, and another $1,000 within the first 6 months. That will provide 100,000 Bonus Points.
  • Redeem your points for free nights or your 5th night free to get a great value.
  • Enjoy the Hilton Honors Gold status, which comes with some nice perks. And upgrade to Diamond by spending $40,000 in a given year.
  • Visit Priority Pass Select airport lounges 10 times for free per year. After that, admission will be $27.
  • Spend $15,000 in a given year to earn a free weekend night award stay. Spend a total of $60,000 per year to earn another weekend award stay.
  • Improve your business credit at Small Business Financial Exchange by using this card responsibly.

The Rewards

Depending on how you earn and redeem your points, you can earn the equivalent of up to 10-15% cash back or more in certain situations. Keep reading to find out how.

Earning

  • 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points per dollar at participating hotels and resorts in the Hilton Portfolio
    • plus an additional 12.5X Base Points per dollar, at minimum
  • 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points per dollar:
    • at U.S. gas stations
    • on U.S. purchases for shipping
    • at U.S. restaurants
    • on wireless telephone services directly from U.S. providers
    • on flights booked directly with airlines or with AmexTravel.com
    • at U.S. restaurants
  • 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points per dollar on all other eligible purchases
  • Signup bonus: 75,000 Bonus Points for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months of card membership
  • Signup bonus: 25,000 Bonus Points for spending an additional $1,000 in the first 6 months

Business rewards cards tend to have more bonus categories than average, but this card has about as many as we’ve ever seen — 7 in total. That gives you more opportunities to use this card, and if your business spends a lot in those categories you’ll wind up with a whole lot of Hilton Honors points.

You’ll earn points at very high rates with this card, but Hilton Honors points tend to be worth a bit less than points in other reward programs. So it tends to balance out, although this is still a very rewarding card overall.

Take note that you’ll be earning both Bonus Points and Base Points when making Hilton purchases. Bonus Points are awarded by using this card. And Base Points are also awarded because this card comes with automatic Hilton Honors Gold status, which provides 12.5X Base Points per dollar (10 points for being a member, and a 25% bonus for Gold status).

Bonus Points and Base Points are valued the same by Hilton when you redeem them, so they’re basically equivalent. That means you’ll be earning a total of 24.5X points per dollar with this card. If that sounds like a lot, you’re right!

But you can potentially get even more. If you reach Diamond status you’ll get a 50% point bonus instead, for a total of 15X Base Points earned per dollar at Hilton. That would mean 27X points per dollar spent at Hilton. What would you do with that many points?

Redeeming

You’ll have several ways to redeem your Hilton Honors points. The value you get for them will vary depending on how, when, and where you redeem them.

The redemption options are:

  • Free night stays and 5th night free at hotels and resorts
  • On-property purchases, like vacation packages, spa treatments, golf lessons, and more
  • Redemption Experiences like concerts, travel excursions, and others
  • Online shopping and dining experiences
  • Point transfers to airline/rail miles and credit card programs
  • Pooling and transferring points with family and friends

The best methods involve using them for stays at Hilton properties, because you’ll get the highest value per point. We’ll go over a couple examples of how you can use your points to get free night stays at Hilton properties with this card.

Generally, you’ll get a better value for your points when you redeem them at lower-category properties. But this isn’t always the case, because the value of your points will vary based on when and where you book your stay, along with other factors like current events.

The other redemption options will usually provide a lesser value, and they will vary quite a bit depending on the particular deal. We recommend avoiding them because you can get a better deal with free night stays, or by getting your 5th night free.

However, you can also share points with friends and family. This could let you gather a ton of points to use for a special trip or vacation.

Another option is point transfers to a partner travel program. The transfer rate (one point for one mile, one point for two miles, etc.) will vary depending on the particular deal, time of year, and other factors.

There are four travel loyalty program you can transfer to, one rail miles program and three airline miles programs:

Amtrak Virgin Atlantic Hawaiian Airlines Club Premier

We don’t recommend using this method unless you happen to get a great transfer deal. There’s no guarantee that you will, and in most cases you’ll be better off with one of the following redemption methods.

Point Redemption Examples

Let’s go over some examples of the two most valuable redemption options to see how they’d work: a free night’s stay, and a 5th night free reward.

Free Night Stays

Imagine you’re taking a trip to Cincinnati, Ohio, for a quick business meeting and to try their famous goetta sausage.

You’ll stay for one night at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, in a king-size room. This room would normally cost $219, or you could get it for 40,000 Hilton Honors points.

How much would you need to spend with the Hilton Honors Business card to earn enough points for that room?

Let’s say you earn your points at the best rate, of 24.5X points per dollar. At that rate you’d need to spend $1,633 to earn the 40,000 points. If you earn at a lower rate, you’ll need to spend accordingly more.

You’ll be able to redeem those points for the room, and they’ll cover all taxes and fees.

In this particular case you spend $1,633 to get enough points for a room valued at $219. That means you’re getting the equivalent of 13.4% cash back, an excellent value.

Your points were worth about 0.55 cents each in this example. And the goetta was great.

5th Night Free

Another valuable redemption option is to get your 5th night free on reward stays of five nights or more. You must only use points for the booking to be eligible. Up to four free nights are available on stays of 20 consecutive nights.

You need enough points to book all five nights in the first place. After booking, you’ll get a discounted price and you won’t end up actually using all of those points.

For this example, let’s travel to Washington, D.C., for about a week. We’ll imagine that we’re staying at the Capital Hilton near the White House, which should be fun because it looks very nice.

The price per night is $319, so five days would cost $1,595 in total. You could also get the room for 60,000 points per night, which would be 300,000 for the entire five-night stay.

If you earn at the best rate, of 24.5X points per dollar, you would get those points by spending $12,245. You can then book the five nights and get your 5th night free discount, meaning a 60,000-point reduction in the cost. That leaves you spending only 240,000 points for the entire stay.

So $12,245 in spending will get you enough points for this five-night stay, valued at $1,595. That’s a cash back equivalent of about 13%.

However, you got those 60,000 points back too, to use another time. If we value those at 0.55 cents each, like we saw in the first example, that would make them worth $330.

So you actually get a total value of $1,925 (the price of the stay plus the points you save). That comes to a cash back equivalent of 15.7%, even better than we saw in the first example.

How to Offset the Annual Fee

You can offset the $95 annual fee of this card with as little as $606 in spending. That’s very cheap for a card like this, and it goes to show how rewarding the rewards program is.

We’ll explain how we got that number. If you earn at the 24.5X rate and redeem for your 5th night free, you could get the same cash back equivalent we got in our example: 15.7%.

If you’re getting a return of 15.7%, it only takes $606 in spending to get a value of $95. That would offset the annual fee for a year.

Maybe you don’t want to redeem for a five-night stay. If you just redeem for a free night, getting the 13.4% cash back equivalent we saw for that example above, it would take $709 in spending to offset the annual fee.

In the free night stay example above, you could see that single redemption as offsetting the annual fee for over two years ($219 ÷ $95 = 2.3). And in the fifth night free example, that could be seen as offsetting the annual fee for almost 17 years! Keep in mind that these are just examples, although they’re based on real data.

Any points you earn after you offset the annual fee will be all profit, assuming you’re not accruing interest.

The Benefits

Annual Weekend Night Reward

You’ll get a free weekend night after spending $15,000 on purchases in any calendar year. A redeemable code will be emailed to you after meeting the threshold.

The code is redeemable for one weekend standard accommodation, with double occupancy. Weekend nights refer to Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. It can be combined with other offers, or added to existing stays.

To redeem the code, you must call 1-800-446-6677 and mention it when booking. The code will expire one year after it’s issued.

This reward can be redeemed anywhere, except for certain properties that are excluded.

Second Annual Weekend Night Reward

You’ll be able to get a second free weekend night by spending a total of $60,000 on purchases in a given year.

All of the details above for the first annual weekend night reward apply to this second reward as well.

Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold Status

Cardholders get Hilton Honors Gold status, which is two tiers above the basic Member status. It comes with some nice benefits, like:

  • 25% bonus on all Base Points earned
  • Your 5th night is free when booking reward stays of five nights or more with points
  • Your 2nd guest stays free
  • A discounted rate on rooms
  • Late check-out, express check-out
  • Digital check-in up to 24 hours in advance
  • Complimentary in-room and lobby internet access
  • Room upgrades when available
  • Location-specific benefits like bonus points or complimentary breakfasts

Fast Track to Hilton Honors Diamond Status

Cardholders will be awarded with Hilton Honors Diamond status if purchases for a given year reach $40,000. Diamond status comes with better benefits than Gold, including a 50% bonus on Base Points and a 48-hour room guarantee.

Priority Pass™ Select Access

Cardholders get access to over 600 Priority Pass airport lounges around the world. 10 free lounge visits are provided per year. After that, the entry fee will be $27 per person.

You’ll need to manually enroll in this benefit, and you’ll receive your Priority Pass Select card within 10-14 business days.

Employee Cards

You can get up to 99 employee cards, and they will all be free. Individual spending limits can be set for the cards. Take note that there are certain purchases where the spending limit won’t apply, like restaurant tips and extended hotel stays.

The primary cardholder is responsible for all charges made to the account. The card activity will not affect the credit of employees using copies of the card.

Reports to Business Credit Bureaus

All American Express business credit cards will report your card activity to the credit bureaus in the same way. They let you improve your business credit, although there are also consequences for irresponsible behavior.

As long as your account is in positive standing, the activity will be reported to Small Business Finance Exchange. This is a large and commonly-used business credit reporting bureau.

But if your account enters a negative status, such as having unpaid collections or unpaid charge-offs, the activity will be reported to other bureaus. An account with a negative status will be reported to:

  • Dun & Bradstreet
  • Experian
  • Equifax
  • TransUnion

So your positive activity will be reported to one business credit bureau. But your negative activity will be reported to a different business credit bureau, plus the typical consumer credit reporting agencies.

This means you can use the the Hilton Honors Business card to improve your business credit, but not your personal credit. However, you can still hurt your personal credit with it.

Complimentary ShopRunner Membership

Free membership with ShopRunner, which provides free two-day shipping and returns from some online retailers. Cardholders must enroll in this benefit.

Some of the retailers include:

American Eagle Calvin Klein Lord & Taylor Peet’s Coffee Saks Fifth Avenue Tommy Hilfiger

Amex Offers

You’ll have access to discounts at a wide variety of merchants — currently there are about 80 different offers available, and the selection changes now and then.

You just need to head to the Amex Offers program and click ‘Add to Card’ for the deals you want. Then, just use your card as you normally would to make a purchase with that merchant. Your savings will appear as a statement credit later on, reducing your account balance. You may or may not earn additional rewards at the regular rate — this will depend on the particular offer.

Many of the deals can be quite valuable, saving you from $5 up through more than $100 in some cases. For most of them, you’ll need to spend a certain amount to get a certain discount. Some of the current offers include:

Merchant Need to Spend Cash Back Maximum Savings
NatureBox $25 $10 40%
H&R Block $30 $10 33.33%
NBA Store $75 $25 33.33%
Hilton brands in Hawaii $1,000 $200 20%
High Fashion Home $400 $80 20%
Life Extension Vitamins and Supplements $125 $25 20%
MGM Resorts $300 $60 20%
Studio Movie Grill $50 $10 20%
Wine.com $50 $10 20%

There are many fantastic deals waiting to be had here, though many other credit card issuers will offer a similar service. For example, Chase provides the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, Bank of America has their “BankAmeriDeals” offers, and Discover has the Discover Deals service. You’ll find a range of discounts in all of them.

Save 10% on Some Utilities

Occasionally you’ll be given the opportunity to save 10% on your cable, satellite TV, and/or cell phone bills. Just find the offer and click ‘Add to Card,’ and then use your card to pay for the utility as normal.

Entertainment Access

This benefit, also called Membership Experiences, provides pre-sale tickets to a variety of sports, music, and cultural events, as well as access to certain exclusive experiences. You’ll be able to search by interest, artist, event, or venue.

When this review was written, one available offer was preferred seating at the musical The Low Road, in New York City. Many theater and live performance offers like this are included.

American Express Personal Loans

Cardholders have the opportunity to apply for a loan through American Express (but only if they have been pre-approved). Loans are offered from $3,500 to $25,000, with fixed interest rates from as low as 6.90% up to 19.97%.

Amex OPEN Relationship Care® Service

Call the number on the back of your card to speak with a specially-trained, business-oriented customer support representative. Based on our experience, this will be a cut above the typical customer support you’ll get with an Amex consumer card.

Account Manager

Designate a trusted Account Manager to manage your account. Must be at least 18 years old.

Spend Manager

A tool to help manage your spending throughout the year. Allows you to add receipts and notes to transactions, making tax time easier.

Connect to QuickBooks®

Provides an easy way to label and transfer your transaction data into a QuickBooks account.

Other Benefits and Perks

You’ll get some other benefits with this card as well, mostly protections. These can insure your purchases or travel, but there are quite a few terms and limitations.

The benefits include a Baggage Insurance Plan, Purchase ProtectionExtended Warranties, and several more.

See the full set of benefits for the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, and check your Guide to Benefits to learn the details of any specific benefit.

The Costs & Fees

Purchase APR Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR
16.99%–25.99% Variable N/A 26.49% Variable
Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee Balance Transfer Fee Cash Advance Fee
$95  0% N/A 3% (Min $5)
Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
29.99% Variable Up to $38 $38

The terms of this card are pretty clear, nothing tricky about them. The only thing standing out is that balance transfers are not allowed with this card.

If you carry a balance from month to month, which is known as revolving, you’ll be charged interest at the rate above. But you can completely avoid incurring any interest by paying your balance in full each billing period.

You’ll have a $95 annual fee to pay. As we discussed above, you’ll be able to offset that for one year with as little as $606 in spending. After that any rewards you earn will be profit, assuming you’re not revolving a balance.

Customer Support

Phone Support

Amex OPEN Business Customer Support 1-800-492-3344
Pay Bill by Phone 1-800-472-9297
Check Application Status 1-800-567-1085
Credit Bureau Unit 1-800-874-2717

American Express is known for having solid customer service, compared to most credit card companies. The credit card community is relatively fond of them, and they’ve always come in either first or second in J.D. Power’s annual Credit Card Satisfaction Survey. Last year, in 2017, they came in first ahead of Discover. Amex has been dominating this survey since it began in 2007.

We’ve usually come away satisfied after contacting them for help, though occasionally we’ve encountered a representative who left us a bit confused. In those cases we called back to speak with someone else and had better luck.

If you have to call them it will probably go pretty smoothly. But if you’re an Amex cardholder it might be easier to use the web chat, which is described next.

Web Support

The card terms for the Hilton Honors Business Card are spelled out pretty clearly on American Express’s website. You’ll be able to read about all the most important card features, like the rewards, benefits, and costs.

If you’re an Amex cardholder you can access their live web chat, and you might find this easier than calling them on the phone. In many cases that will probably be true, though for complicated questions you might want to give them a call. They also have a co-browse feature. If you agree to use it, this will let an Amex customer support rep see your screen and guide you through a procedure or to the information you need.

We spoke with customer service through their web chat, and we learned that the Hilton Honors Business card actually has a few more benefits that you won’t find on the card page.

One in particular is the Relationship Care service, which is a program that aims to help customer support reps better understand cardholders, so they can provide assistance that’s tailor-made to the cardholder’s specific account. There may also be other available benefits through the Amex OPEN business program.

Be sure to check your Guide to Benefits to learn the exact benefits that come with your card and how to access them.

The Bottom Line

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card is made for small business owners who frequently find themselves landing in Hilton properties. If that sounds like you, you’ll be able to earn at least 24.5X points per dollar on those stays using this card.

There are quite a few business categories to earn in as well, along with the Amex Travel service. This rewards program should provide you with plenty of Hilton Honors points, but keep in mind that you’ll need to redeem them through Hilton to get the best value.

Be sure to take advantage of all the extra benefits, like everything that comes with Gold status. And try to get your two free weekend nights per year. If you meet the requirement for the second weekend night award ($60,000), you’ll have already met the requirement for Diamond status ($40,000) which will let you earn even more points.

In addition to the perks, you’ll also be building your business credit at Small Business Financial Exchange, assuming you’re using the card responsibly.

You can earn a lot of Hilton Honors points with this card, but maybe it’s not right for you. There are several other business travel cards with good hotel rewards, take a look at some of them below.

How to Apply for the Hilton Honors Amex Business Card

You can apply for this card by simply clicking the Apply Now button below. American Express will check your credit reports with the three major credit bureaus when you apply.

Many applicants will get an instant decision in just a few seconds. But in some cases it may take longer. You can check the status of your application any time after you apply.

Qualifications and Requirements

  • Must be 18 to apply
  • Personal identifying information, including SSN, email address, and phone number
  • Total annual income, and source of income
  • Your business’s legal name and Tax ID number or EIN (Employer Identification Number)
  • Years in business
  • Number of employees
  • Annual business revenue/sales
  • If you’re already enrolled in the Hilton Honors program, you’ll be asked to enter your Hilton Honors number
Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
Apply Now

Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Interest Rate: 16.99%–25.99% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • 12X points per dollar at participating Hilton Portfolio hotels and resorts
  • 6X points per dollar at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations
  • 3X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases
  • 75,000 bonus points for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • 25,000 additional bonus points for spending an additional $1,000 in the first 6 months
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status and other benefits
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • $95 annual fee
  • 16.99%–25.99% Variable APR for purchases and balance transfers

Alternatives to the Hilton Honors Amex Business Card

When it comes to hotel business cards, there aren’t as many options as you’ll have for regular consumer hotel cards. But you will have a selection that includes a wide variety of hotel brands. Here are some other business cards for staying at different hotels, along with another choice for Hilton high rollers.

Hilton Honors Aspire Card

The Hilton Honors Aspire Card isn’t a business card, so it lacks the business-related features you’ll find above. But if you spend a lot at Hilton properties every year, you might want something more high-powered than the Hilton Honors Business card.

The Aspire card is much more expensive at $450 per year, but it provides more points and better perks too.

Rewards

  • 14X Hilton Honors Bonus Points per dollar at participating hotels and resorts in the Hilton Portfolio
    • plus an additional 15X Base Points per dollar
  • 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points per dollar at:
    • Flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com
    • Car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies
    • U.S. restaurants
  • 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points per dollar on all other eligible purchases
  • Signup bonus: 100,000 Bonus Points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of card membership

So you’ll earn 29X points per dollar on Hilton purchases in total. Cardholders get automatic Hilton Diamond status, an upgrade from Gold which comes with a 50% bonus on Base Points. You won’t have as many other bonus categories, however, so if those are very important to you the Business version might still end up being a better pick.

If we plug the value of 29X points into our point redemption examples from above, we would get a cash back equivalent of 15.9% for the free night stay. And the 5th night free would yield an equivalent of 18.6% cash back.

The signup bonuses are actually about the same for both cards, providing the same number of bonus points for the same amount of spending. But you’ll have a bit more time to get the Business card’s second bonus.

Benefits

There are a number of valuable benefits that can make this card worth the cost for frequent travelers. One of the most useful might be the $100 on-property Hilton credit. It’s available for stays of at least two nights at a Hilton property, and the great thing is that you can use it over and over. So the only limit to the value you can get from it is how often you’ll book those qualifying stays.

And there’s much more than that. There’s also a $250 annual Hilton resort credit, which is only available at resort properties and not regular hotels. A $250 airline credit is available, for incidental fees charged by the airline of your choice. This doesn’t cover tickets, just other fees like food and beverages. If you could use both of these credits in full every year that would more than cover the annual fee, not even counting the repeatable $100 credit.

Cardholders also get two annual weekend night awards, just like the Business card. But with the Aspire the first night is free, you don’t need to spend $15,000 to get it. However, you’ll still need to spend $60,000 to get that second night award, which is the same as the Business card.

Where the Business card provides 10 free visits to Priority Pass Select airport lounges, the Aspire card offers unlimited free access for you and up to two guests.

Costs & Fees

This is a high-end travel card with a hefty $450 fee, so it’s only meant for people who will travel quite a bit every year and stay at Hilton properties when they do.

To offset that fee, you can use some of the benefits mentioned above. Let’s say you’re only able to use them in part, offsetting the annual fee down to $200.

You’d only need to spend a minimum of $1,076 to earn enough point value to offset the remaining fee for a year, assuming you spend at the 29X rate and get an equivalent of 18.6% cash back. But that’s a best-case scenario and it probably isn’t realistic for most people, so it will probably take you more than that.

This card might seem expensive, but you can see how the rewards and benefits can quickly eat up that annual fee and start providing a lot of tangible value. If you’re spending over $1,000 at Hilton properties every year, you’ll be able to earn rewards and take advantage of those hotel credits enough to offset that fee for years to come.

Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card

If you’re not a fan of Hilton or you don’t happen to stay with them often, maybe you prefer Starwood. The Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card (Review) is also very rewarding, and comes with a similar set of benefits but aimed towards SPG properties.

Rewards

  • Up to 5X Starpoints® per dollar on eligible purchases at participating SPG hotels and resorts
    • 2X Starpoints for the SPG credit card
    • 2X or 3X Starpoints depending on SPG member status
  • 2X Starpoints per dollar at participating Marriott hotels
  • 1X Starpoint per dollar on all other purchases
  • 25,000 bonus Starpoints for spending $5,000 in the first 3 months
  • 5,000 bonus Starpoints for transferring 20,000 Starpoints to a participating frequent flyer program

You won’t get as many points as you would with the Hilton card. But Starpoints are worth more per point than Hilton Honors points, so they are pretty comparable.

This rewards program doesn’t include as many categories, however, and there are no business-specific expenses included. Your point-earning options are more limited, but if you only care about using this card at Starwood properties that won’t matter much. You’ll have a variety of redemption options, just like with the Hilton card, and your best choices will usually be for hotel stays of some kind.

We’ve calculated that you can get a cash back equivalent of about 13%, assuming you redeem your points for your 5th night free at a category 4 hotel. That’s quite a good offer, close to what you can get with the Hilton Business card.

Benefits

There are a few important differences in the benefits of these cards. You won’t get any free nights for spending certain amounts, like you would with the Hilton Business card. And you won’t get access to any airport lounges either. But you will have unlimited access to Sheraton® Club Lounges, which are exclusive on-property lounges that come with complimentary services. They can be good for quick work meetings.

Cardholders get automatic Preferred Guest status, which comes with some nice features like room upgrades and free in-room WiFi. An upgrade to Gold status is available by spending $30,000 per year with the card, which comes with an extra point per dollar spent with SPG and other perks.

If you transfer your Starpoints to an eligible frequent flyer program (there are over 30), you’ll get a 5,000 point bonus. However, we’ve usually seen point transfers from this card to be a fairly low-value option compared to redeeming for hotel stays.

This is also a business card from Amex, meaning it has all the same Amex OPEN benefits as the Hilton Business card.

Costs & Fees

The SPG Business card has an annual fee of $95, waived the first year. That’s a bit better than the Hilton Business card, which is $95 but not waived the first year.

The other terms are pretty standard. You won’t be able to use this card for balance transfers, just like the Hilton Business. This seems to be the norm for Amex business cards.

Marriott Rewards Premier Business Card

The Marriott Rewards Premier Business Card by Chase is your option if you prefer Marriott properties, and it also provides points for booking with SPG. The SPG card above provides some points with Marriott, but it’s not the focus of that card.

Rewards

  • 15X points per dollar or more at participating Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels
    • 5X points per dollar from the card
    • 10X points per dollar (at least) for being a Marriott member
  • 2X points per dollar:
    • on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline
    • at car rental agencies
    • at restaurants
    • at office supply stores
    • on internet, cable, and phone services
  • 1X point per dollar on all other purchases
  • Signup bonus: 75,000 bonus points for spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening

If you value these points at about 1 cent, you’ll be getting the equivalent of about 15% cash back when you spend at Marriott and SPG hotels. That’s a very solid offer, making this card pretty competitive with the other business hotel cards. If you can raise your elite status level you’ll be able to earn even more than that.

There are also many other offers to earn points that may come and go. Cardholders may be able to earn points when spending at Hertz or Apple, for example.

The points you get with this card will be automatically transferred to Marriott Rewards points, and, like the Hilton Business card, you can redeem them for a variety of options. Free night stays are a popular redemption method, and Marriott also offers special Point Saver deals to let you get an even better value. You could also transfer them to other loyalty programs where they might be more valuable to you, including SPG.

Benefits

You’ll get some decent hotel benefits with this card, including an annual free night’s stay at a category 1–5 hotel.

Cardholders get automatic Silver Elite status with Marriott, which comes with perks like free in-room WiFi and priority late checkout. And there’s a fast track to Gold Elite status, which provides better benefits like more points per dollar and a couple extra services.

That’s about it as far as valuable extra benefits go, though you’ll probably get some nice treatment at Marriott properties thanks to your member status.

Costs & Fees

There’s a $99 annual fee for this card, which is waived for the first year. That gives it an edge on the Hilton Business, which doesn’t waive the first year. However, you might find the benefits more valuable on the Hilton Business, making it worth the cost.

There are no foreign transaction fees with this card, so you can bring it with you around the world without worrying about paying extra. That’s true for the Hilton Business card too, but the Chase card is also a Visa, which has better worldwide acceptance than Amex.

Club Carlson Business Rewards Visa Card

The Club Carlson Business Rewards Visa Card is the card for you if you love staying at Carlson Rezidor properties, which includes the Radisson Hotel Group and Country Inns & Suites.

  • 35X points per dollar or more at eligible Carlson Rezidor hotels
    • 10X points per dollar from using this card
    • 25X points per dollar (at least) for Club Carlson member status
  • 5X points per dollar on all other purchases
  • Signup bonus: 50,000 Gold Points after making your first purchase within the first 90 days
  • Signup bonus: 35,000 Gold Points for spending $2,500 within the first 90 days
  • Annual bonus: 40,000 bonus points each year after paying the annual fee

That’s right, you can earn 35X points per dollar with this card. And if you redeem those points in certain ways, you can get a stellar value.

One of the best ways to redeem your points is for free nights. Lower category hotels will cost fewer points, of course. We’ve found that if you earn at the 35X rate and you’re willing to stay in a category 1 hotel, you can actually get a cash back equivalent of nearly 40%! That might be the highest cash back equivalent we’ve ever seen.

However, when you redeem at higher-category hotels you’ll get less value per point. A category 1 redemption will cost 9,000 points. Category 4 hotels require at least 38,000 points per night, and we’ve found that you might only get a cash back equivalent of about 12%. That’s still pretty good, and is closer to what you’ll get with other hotel cards.

There’s actually only one Club Carlson category 1 hotel in North America — the Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, in Erlanger, Kentucky — but there are many category 2 hotels where you can get great deals of around 27% cash back equivalent.

The bonus point offers are quite rewarding as well. That annual bonus will be enough to get you a free night at a category 4 hotel every year, or more nights at lower category hotels.

Benefits

This card comes with automatic Club Carlson Gold Elite status, which is why you get so many points per dollar. If you’re already a Gold or Platinum-level member, you’ll get a credit for 15 nights towards getting or maintaining Platinum status.

Gold status comes with free room upgrades when available, an in-room welcome gift, and early check-in/late check-out.

Cardholders also get one free night after spending $10,000 with the card in a given year. Perks like this are pretty typical for most hotel cards.

Costs & Fees

The Club Carlson Business Rewards is actually a bit cheaper than most other business hotel cards, at $60 per year. Foreign transactions will have a fee of 3%, so this isn’t the best card to bring with you on trips outside the U.S.

Overall, when it comes to the rewards value you can get from a hotel credit card, the key factor will be whether or not you’ll spend much time with that hotel brand. If you particularly love Carlson Rezidor properties and want a card for business purposes, this would be the one for you.

Do you bring the American Express Hilton Honors Business Card with you around the country? How do you like it? Leave your own review, we’d love to hear from you!

Looking for other card options to make your hotel stays more comfortable and manage cash flow for your business? Take a look at our picks for the Best Business Credit Cards.
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