Hotel credit cards are among the most underrated credit cards out there, in my opinion, given the perks that they potentially offer. While I’m primarily loyal to Hyatt and Marriott, Hilton has grown on me a lot lately, thanks to the number of new luxury hotels they’ve opened, and also how easy it is to earn points with their credit cards.
In this post, I wanted to take a close look at one of Hilton’s most popular personal credit cards, which was rebranded in 2019. I especially wanted to look at this in light of current circumstances.
Hilton Honors Surpass Card Basics For July 2020
The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is one of Hilton’s most popular consumer credit cards. The card has a fantastic bonus for new customers, offers valuable status for as long as you have the card, and offers some bonuses on spending that might make the card worth using for your everyday purchases.
Is the Hilton Surpass Card right for you? Let’s take a closer look at what you need to know about this card.
125,000 Bonus Points
The card is offering a new member bonus of 125,000 Hilton Honors points, after spending $2,000 within the first three months.
I value Hilton Honors points at ~0.5 cents each, meaning that I value the 125,000 points at ~$625.
Redeem your points at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives
Eligibility For Bonus
The welcome offer on this card is not available to those who currently have or who have had the Hilton Honors Surpass Card or the Hilton Honors Amex Ascend Card.
You are eligible for the bonus if you have had any other Hilton card, though, including the no annual fee card, the business card, or the premium $450 annual fee card.
Amex Application Restrictions
I find that Amex cards are fairly easy to be approved for, for those with excellent credit. Just make sure you know that:
- You can be approved for at most two Amex credit cards in a 90 day period
- You can have at most five American Express credit cards at any point (this doesn’t include charge cards)
The Hilton Honors Surpass Card has a $95 annual fee (Rates & Fees). The annual fee isn’t waived for the first year, and you can add authorized users to the card at no extra cost.
Earning Points With The Surpass Card
The Hilton Honors Surpass Card offers some bonuses on spending that could make it worth using for your everyday spending. The card offers 3-12x points per dollar, depending on what categories you’re spending money in.
In addition to the actual points, you earn with the card, you can also Hilton Honors Diamond status and/or a free weekend night reward with spending.
12x Points At Hilton Hotels
The card offers 12x Hilton Honors points for spending at Hilton properties globally. This includes all Hilton brands, from Hampton Inn to Waldorf Astoria.
I value Hilton points at ~0.5 cents each, so to me, that’s like a 6% return on hotel spending, which is excellent.
6x Points Bonus Categories
That’s the equivalent of a 3% return on spending in those categories, which is pretty good.
Earn 6x points on supermarket purchases
3x Points On Other Purchases
The card offers 3x points on all other eligible purchases, which I value at a return of ~1.5%. On the surface, there are better cards for everyday spending, but as I’ll explain below, there are some tricks to do even better.
No Foreign Transaction Fees
The Hilton Surpass Card has no foreign transaction fees (Rates & Fees), so it’s an excellent card for purchases abroad, especially for stays at Hilton abroad.
Hilton Surpass Card Benefits
The Hilton Honors Surpass Card is a well-rounded credit card, though the area where it really shines is with its benefits. This card can be worth having even if you don’t want to spend that much on the card.
Why is this card so worthwhile?
Hilton Honors Gold Status
Just for having the Surpass Card you get complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status. This is the lowest annual fee card that offers Gold status with Hilton without any sort of spending requirement.
For someone who occasionally stays at Hiltons, Gold status is excellent, as it offers the following benefits:
- Free breakfast and/or executive lounge access
- Late check-out, subject to availability
- Preferred rooms
- 80% points bonus
- Fifth night free on award stays
Hilton Honors Gold members receive executive lounge access
Hilton Honors Diamond Status With Spending
You can earn Hilton’s top tier Diamond status for spending on this card. If you spend $40,000 on the card in a calendar year you’ll earn top tier Hilton Honors Diamond status, which comes with the following perks:
- Guaranteed executive lounge access for properties with lounges
- Free breakfast at properties without lounges
- Room upgrades, including up to suites, at the hotel’s discretion
- Late check-out, subject to availability
- 100% points bonus
Hilton Honors Diamond members may receive suite upgrades
Free Weekend Night Reward With Spending
For example, this could be redeemed at properties costing up to 120,000 points per night. If you put $15,000 of spending on the card in non-bonused categories you’d earn 45,000 Honors points plus a free weekend night, which is an excellent deal if you redeem it for a top property.
How The Weekend Night Reward Works
Here’s what you need to know about redeeming the weekend night reward:
- It’s issued within 8-12 weeks of when the spending requirement is met
- It’s valid for stays up to a year from when it’s issued
- It can be redeemed for one weekend night in standard accommodation
- There’s a small list of excluded properties
- A weekend night is defined as Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night
- To redeem you have to call 1-800-446-6677 and mention your award code
Redeem your weekend night reward at the Conrad Bora Bora
Free Night Rewards Have More Value For A Limited Time
In light of current circumstances, Hilton free night rewards are more flexible than ever before:
- Unexpired and new free night rewards issued through December 31, 2020, can be used for stays any night of the week, and not just weekends
- New free night rewards issued between May 1 and December 31, 2020, will be valid for 24 months from the date of issuance, rather than for 12 months
10 Complimentary Priority Pass Visits
While there are some cards offering full Priority Pass memberships, they typically have $450+ annual fees. The great thing about this card is that it has a reasonable annual fee and offers 10 Priority Pass visits per year at no cost. That’s a useful perk for someone who travels occasionally.
Visit Priority Pass lounges 10 times annually with this card
Purchase And Extended Warranty Protection
The Amex Hilton Surpass Card offers some potentially valuable purchase protection and extended warranty coverage. While you’ll want to check your cardmember agreement for all the details, you can potentially expect:
- Purchase protection, offering protection on eligible purchases that are accidentally damaged, stolen, or lost; valid for up to 90 days, and $1,000 per occurrence, and $50,000 per calendar year
- Extended warranty, where you can get up to one extra year added to the original manufacturer’s warranty, for warranties of five years or less
One of my favorite features of Amex cards is access to Amex Offers, which offers savings on purchases with all kinds of retailers. There’s huge value to be had in getting as many Amex cards as possible, so that you can get these offers on multiple cards.
Amex Offers could save you hundreds of dollars per year. You can access these offers by logging into your account and scrolling down to the bottom of your account summary page.
Is The Hilton Surpass Card Worth It?
Hilton is one of the largest hotel groups in the world, and the Hilton Honors Surpass Card is a great option for anyone who is looking to get started with Hilton Honors.
At a minimum, the card is worth having for Gold status, which could pay for itself after just one or two stays thanks to free breakfast and more.
The card could also be worth putting spending on, in order to earn a free weekend reward and Diamond status.
Let’s take a quick look at a few other aspects of the card that are worth considering.
Card Showdown: $95 Annual Fee Vs. No Annual Fee
The no annual fee card doesn’t offer complimentary Gold status, doesn’t give you the opportunity to earn Diamond status or a free weekend night reward with spending, and doesn’t have a welcome bonus that’s nearly as good.
Personally I think the Surpass Card is well worth the annual fee.
How Does The Hilton Aspire Card Compare?
I should also mention that Hilton has the excellent $450 annual fee (Rates & Fees) Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. I think the card is well worth it, though many people will be put off by the annual fee. However, the card does offer:
- Diamond status for as long as you have the card
- A $250 annual airline fee credit
- A $250 annual Hilton resort credit
- A free weekend night reward annually
- A Priority Pass membership
Hilton Surpass Card Summary
The Hilton Honors Surpass Card is an excellent mid-range card that offers a great bonus for new members, as well as valuable ongoing perks. The card can be worth having for the Gold status alone, and it could also be worth putting $15,000 or $40,000 of spending on the card for the threshold bonuses that the card offers.
Even if you don’t stay at Hiltons that often, the value of free breakfast and upgrades will add up quickly.
The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card (Rates & Fees), and Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card (Rates & Fees).