Hilton Surpass Weekend Night Reward: Worth It?

Filed Under: American Express, Credit Cards
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Through August 28, 2019, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card (review), which is one of the best Hilton credit cards, is offering an increased welcome bonus.

For those who have this card, in this post I wanted to look at whether or not it makes sense to spend $15,000 on this card annually in order to earn a weekend night reward. Note that this is separate from the weekend night reward that’s earned as part of the welcome bonus.

Hilton Surpass Card Bonus

With this offer you can receive a welcome bonus of 130,000 Hilton Honors points, plus a free weekend night reward, after spending $4,000 within the first four months. That’s a fantastic bonus, which could potentially get you up to 250,000 points of value (based on the weekend night reward being redeemable at properties costing up to 120,000 points).

Redeem your Hilton Honors points at the Conrad Bora Bora

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

Hilton Surpass Weekend Night Reward Basics

The Hilton Honors Surpass Card offers a weekend night reward when you spend $15,000 on the card in a 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 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.

Factors To Consider With Spending $15,000

To decide if it’s worth spending $15,000 on the 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 Honors Surpass Card, you earn the following return on spending:

  • 12x points per dollar spent with Hilton
  • 6x points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations
  • 3x points per dollar spent on everything else

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.

So if you spent $15,000 on either of these cards in non-bonused categories you’d receive 45,000 Honors points, plus you’d get 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 a completely unfair valuation. You shouldn’t be valuing the reward at 120,000 points because:

  • There’s only a single Hilton property that costs 120,000 points per night (the Waldorf Astoria Maldives), while other properties top out at 95,000 points per night
  • The reward expires after a year, 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 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 spend. 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 Honors 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?

So 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 one of the Hilton Honors 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:

  • How much you value Hilton Honors points at
  • How much you value the weekend night reward at, taking into account the expiration date and day of week 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 are spending $4,000 anyway, 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 nigh 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).

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Comments
  1. Unrelated, but did you see American Airlines won the bidding for naming rights part of the new LA Rams stadium ($90 million for an indoor area)? Seems like a lot to not even get the name of the building, no?

  2. I think it’s worth it. If I spend $15,000 on my USAA Limitless at 2.5%, I’ll get $375 back. With the Surpass I’ll get a minimum of 45,000 points and a free night certificate. Assuming a very conservative .4 cent value and an easy to find 50,000 point redemption, this would be worth $380 (95,000*.004), almost the same as my cash back option. Throw in the Priority Pass visits (I don’t have another card with this) and the Hilton Gold status and the math works out for me.

  3. Personally, I look at the value of the certificate not in terms of points but in terms of the cash value of the room. Even with a top-value redemption, the value of the point equivalent tops out at $475 (95,000 x 0.005) and you can easily redeem the certificate for rooms that are priced at fewer points and more dollars, particularly on the weekend where non-business-oriented properties have higher rates. Plus, when I’m redeeming the certificate, I feel far less beholden to maximizing point value – I usually aim to get at least 0.5 cents per point on a redemption – and instead on feeling like I’ve gotten decent value out of the freebie. For example, this year I cashed in the certificate at the Hilton Checkers in DTLA. That’s a 60,000 point a night property IIRC, but cash rates were around $250, so not an outstanding redemption (and just average if you account for taxes and fees that I would’ve had to pay, which took it to about $300 exactly). Even without accounting for the points I earned on the card for the spend, that redemption got me about a 2% return on my spending ($300 x 50 = $15,000), which certainly isn’t horrendous – albeit, as you point out, you can do that with a no annual fee card.

  4. On an ongoing basis, I would rather fork out a larger fee for the Aspire card with all its benefits. At a minimum, its $450 fee – $250 resort credit leaves $200. Less the $95 Surpass AF (if I had it instead) leaves a $105 fee for an annual free room (you detail nicely above) that is guaranteed with no addtl spend.

  5. The math works for me.

    With the bonus categories, it is not hard to get 4pts/dollar of spend and I actually get closer to 6pts/dollar, by focusing my spend on those categories and with a couple of paid stays at Hilton each year.
    Even at 4pts/$, that is 60,000 pts for $15K spend. It is trivial to find a standard redemption with the certificate that would be 70,000 in one of the big California cities that I visit regularly.

    Looking at the next several weekends in San Francisco, where I stay at least six times a year, 60K and 70K redemptions are pricing at about $300 for a flexible rate with the Honors discount.

    That is ~$600 in value for the $15K in spend, or a 4% return with conservative assumptions and assuming that the annual fee is worth the PP membership and free breakfasts that come with HH Gold status. Even assuming these benefits have no value, it is still about 3.4% return.
    It is hard to equal that with realistic redemptions on any other rewards card, and it exceeds any cashback card.

  6. Interesting exercise. I just hit my $15K of spend this year with the Ascend (Surpass) card. Last month, I used two free weekend nights at the Hilton San Diego/Del Mar. As a Diamond, I received an upgrade at the time of booking, view and ground floor room. They comp’d me with free parking (normally $25/night), buffet breakfast, which was far better than what I expected (including smoked salmon no less), and access to the lounge ($4 beers and glasses of wine). Canapés in the lounge (5pm – 7:30pm) were pretty standard, nothing overly great. A free night at the same property using the Chase URs was very close to 15,000 points (just basic room and nothing else). So ya, the $15K spend was well worth it. Paid room rate was $259+. BTW, all points for the room were going for 60,000/night, $300/night if you value at a half-cent each, $240/night if you value them at .004. So the points here are worth much less than half-cent each, but I would go back to this Hilton again with free nights to use.

  7. I easily put $15k on the card with gas/grocery/Hilton, probably averaging 7-8 points per $, plus have saved on average $350 for the 3 redemption awards I’ve done, so 120k for $15k at 8 points * .05 = $600 + $350 for the free night + free gold status = well worth it to me

  8. I put all my grocery and gas on surpass card and easily hit $15k. This works for me because I’m working on getting as much Hilton points I can muster.

  9. 1) I suspect a lot of people are using category spend bonuses when pursuing the $15,000 in annual spend. Between Hilton paid stays, groceries, gas and restaurants, a lot of people are earning more points

    2) $15,000 is one of the lowest spend thresholds for this type of bonus. Other airline or hotel cards seem to want $25,000 to $40,0000 of more of spend. Makes it more attainable

    3) The weekend night is valuable as it is not capped by points

    I think the math works out

  10. LP, Carol: The Surpass card does not automatically award a free night certificate (except at sign-up with the current offer) so you will not get one at your CardMember Anniversary. The luxury Aspire card ($450 AF) does provide such a free night every year.
    With the Surpass/Ascend card, you only receive a free night with $15K spending in a calendar year. Reports are that you received it more or less immediately after hitting that spend threshold.

  11. Johnny boy….you are correct the Surpass card does not automatically award a free night

    What I was trying to convey is that we didn’t receive our sign-up free night offer until after our first year card anniversary. I was under the impression we would receive it after our initial spend requirement, but that wasn’t the case…for us anyway.

  12. Interesting post/analysis. I have all three (personal) Hilton Amex cards, and the Surpass’ Weekend Night Reward for $15K spend is my almost exclusive reason for keeping and spending on this card.

  13. I’ve have hit the $15k spent 2 months ago but still not received the certificate yet. I assume they will give it during the 1st year anniversary.

  14. I have two Surpass cards and have met the spend on both with groceries at 6x; planning on using the FNs in Japan next year. Unfortunately a FN was not part of the bonus when I got the first one.

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