Find the Best: Hilton American Express vs. Barclaycard Rewards vs. BB&T Spectrum Rewards

Rewards credit cards are all the rage for consumers who want to earn points for their everyday purchases. Points can be used as credit towards travel accommodations, merchandise, gift cards or cold hard cash depending on the specific programs you’re investigating. But how do you know which credit cards offer the best rewards?

Consumers who are desperate to find the top rewards card often stumble upon some of the most well-known names: the BB&T Spectrum Rewards® Card, Hilton HHonors™  Surpass® from American Express, Hilton HHonors™  American Express, and the Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard®. You may have heard these names before, but determining which one is the best can require extensive research and organization.

AdvisoryHQ wants to help consumers to make the wisest financial decisions possible. Giving consumers the basic information on these Hilton American Express, BB&T Spectrum Rewards®, and Barclay Rewards card choices is just another step in the right direction.

Find all the pertinent information you need right here in our detailed comparison. We’ll take a closer look at:

  • Interest rates
  • Annual fees
  • Rewards programs
  • Late fees

You won’t want to miss this comparison if you’ve been looking for a new credit card for your wallet. Let’s take a closer look at the details in our review sections below!

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Comparison Review List

The list below is sorted alphabetically:

  • Hilton HHonors™ Card from American Express
  • Hilton HHonors™ Surpass® Card from American Express
  • Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard®
  • BB&T Spectrum Rewards® Card

High-Level Comparison Table

Credit Card Name

Annual Fee

APR

Rewards

Hilton HHonors™ Card from American Express

$0

15.49%–9.49%

3x points on all purchases

5x points on gas and groceries

7x points on Hilton hotel or resort purchases

Hilton HHonors™ Surpass® Card from American Express

$75

15.49%–19.49%

3x points on all purchases

6x points on gas and groceries

12x points on Hilton hotel or resort purchases

Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard®

$0

25.24%

1x points on all purchases

2x points on gas, groceries, and utilities

BB&T Spectrum Rewards® Card

$0

10.40%–19.40%

1% cash back on all purchases

5% cash bonus on anniversaries

Table: The above list is sorted alphabetically



Choosing a Rewards Credit Card

What should you be considering when you’re weighing the various options among rewards credit cards? The Barclay rewards card, the Amex Hilton Surpass®, the Hilton HHonors™  Card from American Express, and the BB&T credit card rewards program all have different features and opportunities.

When you’re searching for a new rewards credit card, you’ll want to consider where you do the vast majority of your shopping. Many cards, including the Barclay rewards card and the Hilton HHonors ™American Express cards, will feature spending categories with bonus cash back or points. For example, shopping at the grocery store or at Hilton hotels and resorts may score you additional points in your accounts.

Image Source: Rewards Credit Card

Knowing where you spend your money and how you want to earn rewards is key to determining which of the potential Barclaycard rewards, Hilton American Express rewards, and BB&T rewards programs is right for you. Some give cashback bonuses direct deposited into your savings account or as statement credits. Others will allow you to cash in your points for discounted gift cards or travel accommodations.

You need to make sure that you will utilize the rewards points that you are earning. If you aren’t going to redeem them in the way that the Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard® or Hilton HHonors™  American Express cards allow, then you may want to consider a different program.

Want to know how the programs compare? Let’s take a look at their rewards programs in the section below.

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Rewards Programs

The ability to accumulate rewards on your new credit cards is one of the biggest draws. Most consumers rightfully want to know how easily they can earn their rewards and what exactly they can spend them on. In this section, we want to break down the various rewards programs so you can see where each card shines. 

The Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard® allows cardholders to earn one point per dollar on all eligible purchases with bonus spending categories. When you use your Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard® at the gas station, grocery store or utility company, you’ll earn double the points. You can earn an unlimited amount while your account is active and in good standing.

Redemption is relatively easy with Barclaycard rewards: choose from cash back, statement credits or gift cards. All it requires is 1,000 points per $10 reward.

The BB&T Spectrum Rewards® Card allows you to earn 1% cash back on all purchases, with an initial incentive granting 3% cash back for the first 90 days. Every anniversary, you earn 5% of all the cash earned throughout the year. Big spenders can earn an additional 30% cash bonus when they spend $50,000 or more each year.

You can shop through the BB&T Spectrum Rewards® center with your cash back for gift cards and more.



Differences in Hilton American Express Cards Rewards

Between the two Hilton HHonors™ American Express cards, which one offers the better rewards program? The American Express Hilton Surpass® and the Hilton HHonors™  American Express offer similar yet different programs to accommodate the varying spending levels and preferences of its customer bases.

Source: Hilton HHonors™ American Express

The original Hilton HHonors™  American Express allows you to earn 3 points per dollar spent on all eligible purchases with your card. Meanwhile, you can earn 5 points per dollar on purchases made at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations. Accrue 7 points per dollar when you make purchases with or within a participating hotel or resort from Hilton on your Hilton HHonors™ American Express.

Source: American Express Hilton Surpass®

The American Express Hilton Surpass® has the same base rate for earning points but allows you to earn 6 points per dollar at supermarkets, gas stations, and restaurants. Additionally, you’ll earn an incredible 12 points per dollar for purchases made with or within a participating hotel or resort in the Hilton portfolio.

With the Hilton HHonors™ Card from American Express, you have the opportunity to be upgraded to Gold status when you spend $20,000 annually whereas this same feature comes standard with the Amex Hilton Surpass®. This grants you access to potential room upgrades at participating locations, depending on availability as well as other benefits.

Clearly, between the two Hilton American Express cards, the Amex Hilton Surpass® allows you to earn more points per dollar spent. What you’ll discover is that, while your reward earning opportunities are significantly greater, the cost for maintaining the Amex Hilton Surpass® is also higher than the Hilton HHonors™ Card from American Express.

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Interest Rates Winner: BB&T Spectrum Rewards

Interest rates are one of the first things to compare if you plan to maintain a revolving balance on your Barclaycard Rewards, Hilton American Express cards or the BB&T Rewards card. Any balance that remains on your card past your due date will be subject to the APR that you are assigned when you apply. These are often given in a range, to be determined by your creditworthiness and other factors.

Source: BB&T Rewards card

The BB&T Rewards card offers the best APRs among all four of the potential choices. It has a great introductory offer of 0% APR over the first 12 months on both your purchases and your balance transfers. After this period ends, you’ll still have some of the best interest rates, ranging from 10.40% to 19.40% APR.

Both of the Hilton American Express Cards (the Amex Hilton Surpass® and the Hilton HHonors™ American Express) have similar interest rates. In an even tie for second place, the Hilton American Express cards offer APRs ranging from 15.49% to 19.49% based on your creditworthiness.

The Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard® has the highest interest rates of the four options by far. In fact, it exceeds the upper range of the interest rates of the other three choices by almost six percentage points. Balance transfers and new purchases will both be subject to a 25.24% APR based on the prime rate.

It’s clear to see that the first three options come in fairly close to one another in terms of the interest rate ranges. The Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard® has substantially higher rates and could cost you more than you’re willing to spend. For consumers who regularly pay their balance in full at the end of the billing cycle, the APR may not be a determining factor.

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Lowest Annual Fees

When it comes to annual fees, many consumers prefer to find rewards credit cards that feature no annual fee or minimal charges for membership each year. This keeps the cost to a minimum, both initially and over time, allowing you to make the most of the cashback rewards that you receive.

So, which of our top rewards credit cards have the lowest annual fees?

Well, it’s going to be a three-way tie for first place among the BB&T Spectrum Rewards®, the Barclaycard Rewards®, and the American Express Hilton HHonors™. No annual fees whatsoever will accompany these credit cards.

The BB&T credit card rewards, along with the cash back rewards programs available through the other two options, are great in light of this offer. Any rewards earned through the BB&T credit card rewards program or the others will be at no real cost to you. Therefore, you will not have to offset your earnings by the initial cost of the membership.

The Hilton American Express Surpass® comes with a significantly higher annual fee than the others. Coming in at $75 per year, the American Express Hilton Surpass® can cause you to stumble a little when you first open your account. However, the ability to earn rewards points comes at a much higher rate if you make frequent purchases with or within Hilton hotels or resorts.

Your potential earnings throughout the year may offset the annual fees. Consider the fact that you have the opportunity to earn 75,000 Hilton HHonors™  bonus points when you make $3,000 in purchases over the course of your first three months. These bonus points make up for the annual fee that you will need to provide up front.



Late Fees

What can you expect to pay if you are routinely late when it comes to paying the balance due at the end of your billing cycle? Be prepared for late fees and penalty APRs that may surprise you on some of these rewards cards.

The Hilton American Express cards will provide you with the highest late fees and the highest penalty APRs. Both the Hilton HHonors™ American Express card and the Hilton HHonors Surpass® from American Express have late fees up to $38. However, it’s the penalty APRs that will really cost you.

The average interest rates on these Hilton American Express cards are relatively reasonable, even if you are placed at the higher end of their APR range. When you start to look at their penalty rates, you’ll find that their penalty APR rate will reach a whopping 29.49% and last for six months after the missed payment. Payments must be received in a timely manner consistently during those six months for the penalty APR to be lifted.

The other two cards do not feature penalty APRs, so consumers who routinely miss their due date may want to consider these options.

The Barclaycard Rewards option features late fees up to $37, equivalent to the late fees presented by the BB&T Spectrum Rewards®. While these late fees can add up if you consistently can’t afford to or forget to pay your bill, they aren’t as costly as the penalty APRs that you will incur with the Hilton American Express cards. 



Benefits

When you take a close look at the Barclaycard Rewards®, the Hilton American Express cards or the BB&T rewards card, they all come with some of the same basic features including zero liability of fraudulent transactions.

The Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard® offers online access to your FICO® credit scores. You can receive alerts and be automatically notified when your credit score undergoes changes.

Source: Barclaycard Rewards®

The Barclaycard Rewards, the Hilton American Express Surpass®, and the BB&T Spectrum Rewards® all come with a handful of similar benefits and rewards, including:

  • Travel accident insurance
  • Travel and emergency assistance services
  • Warranty management services or extended warranties

The Hilton HHonors™ American Express and the other Hilton American Express cards also feature a number of other options:

  • Access to exclusive ticket presales and card member-only events, including shows, tours, sporting events, and more
  • Return protection on eligible items purchased with your Hilton American Express cards
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance

Comparing which benefits accompany your new rewards credit card can sometimes help in the decision-making process. Beyond the average cash back or points rewards system, your credit card can make traveling and shopping a more delightful experience. Don’t forget to pay attention to these features that are sometimes considered secondary during the application process.

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Reward Yourself with One of These Cards

When you know that you want to earn the most you can for purchases that you already make, it’s time consider one of these four choices: the Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard®, the American Express Hilton HHonors™, the American Express Hilton HHonors™ Surpass® or the BB&T Spectrum Rewards® Card.

The perfect card for your lifestyle will be dependent on which features are most important to you. Consumers who typically carry a revolving balance may prefer low interest rates. Others may opt for cards with higher value rewards programs like the Amex Hilton Surpass® or lower annual fees like the Barclaycard Rewards. 

Credit card preferences, especially when it comes to rewards programs, are highly individualized. As such, it is difficult to come to a completely conclusive decision regarding which one is the absolute best credit card to apply for.

AdvisoryHQ wants to assist you in making financial decisions that suit your lifestyle the best. In our detailed comparison, we’ve listed all of the key considerations you should make prior to filling out an application. The rest is up to you.

Which of these top rewards cards will you consider applying for today?

*** During our research for this article, Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard® was still a part of Barclaycard's offer. Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard® will remain the same for current cardholders, but it will no longer be offered to prospective customers.***



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