Hilton Surpass Weekend Night Reward: Worth It?

Filed Under: American Express, Credit Cards
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I recently wrote a comparison of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card (review) and the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card (review), which are Amex’s mid-range Hilton Honors credit cards.

In this post, I wanted to look at a specific aspect of these cards, which could make it worth putting spending on them. Specifically, does it make sense to spend $15,000 on these Hilton cards annually in order to earn a weekend night reward? I’ll focus on the Surpass Card so that I can compare it to other personal credit cards, though you can crunch the numbers similarly for the business version of the card.

Hilton Honors Surpass & Business Card bonus

Both Hilton cards are offering phenomenal increased bonuses at the moment, which can earn you both Hilton Honors points and statement credits:

  • The Hilton Surpass Card is offering a welcome bonus of 150,000 Hilton Honors points after spending $2,000 within three months, plus a $150 statement credit after your first purchase within that same time period
  • The Hilton Business Card is offering a welcome bonus of 150,000 Hilton Honors points after spending $2,000 within three months, plus a $150 statement credit after your first purchase within that same time period

Redeem your Hilton Honors points at the Conrad Bora Bora

On top of that, the cards offer lots of great ongoing benefits, like Hilton Honors Gold status.

Hilton Surpass Weekend Night Reward basics

The Hilton Surpass Card offers a weekend night reward when you spend $15,000 on the card in a calendar year. This will be credited to your account 8-12 weeks after you complete eligible spending, rather than at the end of the calendar year. This certificate can be redeemed at a vast majority of Hilton properties, and there’s only a very small list of excluded hotels.

The certificate is ordinarily valid for a year from when it’s issued, and as long as a standard room is available on a weekend night (that includes Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights), you should be able to redeem it. Hilton standard rooms cost as much as 120,000 points per night, so that’s potentially the maximum value you could get from this.

Note that at the moment these certificates are even more flexible than ever before:

  • Unexpired and new free night rewards issued through December 31, 2021, can be used for stays any night of the week, and not just weekends
  • New free night rewards issued between January 1 and December 31, 2021, will be valid until December 31, 2022

Factors to consider with spending $15,000

To decide if it’s worth spending $15,000 on the Hilton Surpass Card, you have to decide how much you value the certificate, and also what the opportunity cost of that spending is.

In the case of the Hilton Surpass Card, you earn the following return on spending:

Let’s assume you’d be spending this money in non-bonused categories, because if you’re maximizing your credit card strategy, that’s where the opportunity cost is the lowest.

If you spent $15,000 on either of these cards in non-bonused categories you’d receive:

  • 45,000 Hilton Honors points
  • A weekend night reward, valid at a hotel retailing for up to 120,000 points per night

That’s potentially a return worth up to the equivalent of 165,000 Honors points, or 11 Honors points per dollar spent.

But that’s an unfair valuation. You shouldn’t be valuing the reward at 120,000 points because:

  • There are only two Hilton properties that costs 120,000 points per night (the Waldorf Astoria Maldives and Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal), while other properties top out at 95,000 points per night
  • The reward has an expiration, so you have a limited window in which you can use it
  • In order to maximize this certificate you’d have to redeem at the most expensive hotels, which greatly reduces the flexibility in terms of where you can redeem
  • You can typically only redeem for weekend stays

Redeem your weekend night reward at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives

At most you’re earning the equivalent of 165,000 Honors points worth of value for that $15,000 of spending. That’s not a fair objective valuation, though it is possible you’ll get that much value.

Perhaps more realistic would be to apply some sort of discount to that certificate, due to the restrictions. To keep things simple, maybe we should instead say that certificate is worth 75,000 points, which I think is a fair valuation for an “average” traveler. If your math is different, you can plug in those numbers.

This would mean your total return on that spending is the equivalent of 120,000 points, which is about eight Honors points per dollar spent. I value Honors points at ~0.5 cents each, so that’s the equivalent of a ~4% return. That’s excellent.

Allocating the Surpass Card annual fee

The Hilton Surpass Card has a $95 annual fee (Rates & Fees), and you have to decide how you want to allocate that.

In other words, are you keeping this card solely to be able to earn the weekend night reward, or are you getting value out of the Hilton Honors Gold status, 10 Priority Pass visits per year, and more? For example:

Do you value the Priority Pass benefit offered by the Surpass Card?

In your situation, you have to decide how much of that fee you’re allocating towards that benefit.

Opportunity cost of spending

Looking at my post about the best credit cards for everyday spending:

In both cases there are some restrictions on that return on spending, so it won’t necessarily be that high for everyone.

Crunching the numbers

While I’d love to provide a direct answer of whether or not it’s worth spending money on the Hilton Surpass Card to earn a weekend night reward, there’s no one size fits all answer.

I’d encourage everyone to do the math based on the following:

  • What you valuation of Hilton Honors points is
  • How much you value the weekend night reward, taking into account the restrictions
  • Whether you’d otherwise have the card or not; if you’d have the card even without this, then you don’t have to factor in the $95 annual fee with the math, while otherwise, you’d have to subtract the annual fee from what you perceive the value to be

To provide some generalized advice:

  • If you are just applying for this card and have to spend some amount on the card anyway to earn the bonus, then it’s definitely worth trying to spend $15,000
  • If you have this card anyway then I do think it’s most definitely worth spending $15,000 on the card per year
  • If you have the card just to be able to earn the free weekend night reward, and don’t value any of the other benefits, then I think it’s fairly close to breakeven, depending on your valuation of various things

Redeem your weekend night reward at the Waldorf Astoria Park City

I’m curious how you guys feel — is it worth spending $15,000 on the Hilton Honors Surpass Card to earn a free weekend night reward every year?

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).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
Comments
  1. I’d say you would have to place a much higher value on the free night cert than what 75,000 points would typically be worth and there’s really only a handful of properties that make it worthwhile.

    We actually just got back from the WA Park City in which we used 2 of these certificates for a 2 night stay. Base rooms for that weekend were selling for $1,500 the week before our stay and we were upgraded to a one bedroom suite, which was very nice. I forgot to look at how much those were selling for. So…if you could score something like that…definitely worthwhile. However it should be noted that during non-Covid times, it’s very hard to find award availability at this property during peak winter season.

  2. My annual grocery already covers 3/4 about of that 15K. The only Chase with grocery category, is currently the 5X promotion on Flex for 1 year. So Chase Flex or Amex Gold (pointwise) are the only ones worth for me. I don’t have Gold, so I’m throwing all grocery on Chase Flex, although the norm for me is to throw all grocery on Surpass and get the free weekend cert (considering when travel will resume). I haven’t made the math, but I hope I’m doing it right…

  3. Every time I see a photo of Conrad Bora Bora I’m reminded of how much I hated that place. So much so that we left about 5 hours after arriving. Our luggage never arrived and for hours staff couldn’t locate it (husband found it next to launch boat next to Captain’s personal bag). The resort seemed rundown, water was meh, bikes were in “are you kidding” condition, bike path was broken in a lot of spots. Thanks but no thanks. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

  4. Math works out much better in the favor of Surpass if a significant portion of that spending is dining, grocery or gas.

  5. If you also have the promo that gets you 10,000 points after each 5,000 you spend this is a no brainer, then 15,000 spending will earn 75,000 points and a free night.

  6. I’ve done this for a few years but this year I won’t be. AMEX is too sketchy about withholding rewards for legitimate grocery spend.

  7. I was looking at spending Hilton free night certificates at Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal but this hotel will only open the required inventory a few days before the stay. I the past I was burning those certificates in Waldorf on Maui or Conrad Singapore or Tokyo. But when close to the expiration date I also have been using these certificates in the places where I can stay for 40,000 HHonors points.
    Note that no-fee Costco Anywhere Visa (but you have to be Costco member) offers
    4% on eligible gas, including gas at Costco for the first $7,000 per year
    3% on restaurants and eligible travel purchase worldwide.
    So the only advantage is when your are buying groceries. Note that Aspire does not give your extra credit for groceries but the no fee Hilton Amex gives you 5 HHonors points. So you only gaining 1 Hhonors point with Surpass. And you cannot pay with Amex at Costco. Amex screwed up big time when they lost the Costco contract.

  8. I’ve been asking myself the same question about this card. I snagged it a couple years ago simply for the bonus, which I think was high at the time. I rarely put any spend on this card, although I have bought a few fast food items to get that credit. I have the no-fee honors card that was converted from Citi years ago, so it seems like I really don’t need this any longer. There seem to be at least two cards I could cut from portfolio. This one and the old and not improved United Quest Card.

  9. The only thing I don’t like these FN certs is they don’t show on your HHonors account so that you can track it easily! Somehow I suspect Hilton does it on purpose..:-(

  10. I’m spending 2 nights at WA Monarch Beach, Dana Point next week on certificates. Cheapest room is $600. Hoping for upgrade though. They do get $60 for parking and $55 resort fee. I’ll probably spend over $500 on food and drink so I don’t think they will lose much.

  11. So alternately, you can get the Aspire for $450 and get the free weekend night for free (no spend required). So that caps the potential value of Surpass at a maximum of $355 since you could just get the other card. That’s the equivalent of 71,000 Hilton points at .5 cpp (in a Hilton points sale, that’s what you could buy for $355)- so not very far off from your 75,000 Hilton point value for the free night for the Surpass card.

    What this says to me is that the marginal value of Surpass + spend for a free night vs. Aspire and just holding the other card isn’t great. Remember, you’re losing the opportunity of putting that $15,000 in spend elsewhere, because on a straight plain 2% cashback card that’s $300, plus you’re assigning a value of $0 to the other benefits of Aspire that beat Surpass. If you give the airfare credit + resort credit any value at all (and if you’re trying to max out the free weekend night, there’s a good chance you’ll use the full value of that resort credit) that makes Surpass + spend considerably worse vs. Aspire + just hold, put spend elsewhere.

    Now, if you’re using a Surpass for dining… oh, wait, you could use the Aspire for dining and actually get an extra 1x (7x vs. 6x) , so you literally can never catch up in terms of earned point value that way. 🙂

    It makes sense on groceries and gas… kind of… except you could get the no annual fee Hilton AND the Aspire, and you’d earn 5x/5x/7x for your Hilton card spend vs. 6x/6x/6x. (I’m excluding “actually there are better cards for that” because this is already complicated enough).

    I actually hold the Aspire and no annual fee card and put a modest amount of “sub-optimal” spend because AMEX likes that if you’re shooting for upgrade and retention offers on your cards. 😉

    Side note: Hilton’s cards are arguably not terrible for earn categories (contrast with pretty much any airline card or hotel cards other than Hyatt, now that the SPG card’s earn and chart is toast). They get blown away by AMEX Green/Gold/Platinum when you assign 1.7 cpp to Membership Rewards points and .5 cpp for Hilton, but those are assigned values so YMMV (as you point out when you assign the values and the reasoning for them). Cards where you earn between 2.5%-3.5% on categories like dining, gas anD groceries in US, airfare, car rentals isn’t world-beating but it’s not terrible, either.

  12. I had this card for a couple of years and downgraded a few months ago. I was traveling a little for business and typically staying at Hiltons. I figured $5000 at Hilton, a few Amex offers, some dining & grocery, and then the free night cert would be worth it. It never turned out that way. I was always spending toward a signup bonus or a more lucrative retention offer. I got way more than $95/year of value out of the card as a whole (with just Amex offers and retention bonuses I more than covered my AF), but the Aspire is probably a better way to get the “free” night, even with the big annual fee.

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