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Credit Cards

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card review: Huge welcome offer, automatic status and low annual fee

The Hilton Honors Surpass Amex is a great card to earn Hilton points for free nights.

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Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is a solid hotel card with a low annual fee. Whether you regularly visit Hilton properties, or only take a vacation or two per year, the Surpass card delivers great value for many types of travelers.

As you spend on the card, you will earn Hilton Honors points, which can be redeemed at any Hilton property in the world. This includes luxury property brands like Waldorf Astoria and Conrad. In addition to earning points to redeem for free nights, you will have excellent benefits including complimentary hotel status with Hilton and airport lounge access.

The card has a $0 intro for the first year, then $95 annual fee (see rates and fees) — but is the card worth the investment? Select reviews the Hilton Surpass card, analyzing its welcome bonus offer, rewards earned from spending and APR to help you decide if it's the best card for you.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card review

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

Information about the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    12X points per dollar for eligible purchases on your card made directly with a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio; 6X points for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations; 3X points for other eligible purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the card in the first 3 months of card membership.

  • Annual fee

    $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    18.74% - 27.74% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See rates and fees, terms apply.

Welcome bonus

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is currently offering a welcome offer of: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the card in the first 3 months of card membership.

Keep in mind that you will also earn Hilton Honors points as you spend on the card to reach these spending thresholds.

Even if you were to spend exactly $2,000 in the first three months, at a minimum of 3 Hilton Honors points per $1 spent, that is an additional 6,000 points — giving you a total of 136,000 Hilton Honors points. Hilton Honors points are valued by many at a modest 0.5 cents per point.

Benefits and perks

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is loaded with benefits. Someone who stays at a Hilton property a few times per year can extract excellent value from the card. When you spend on the card, you will earn:

  • 12X Hilton Honors points for every $1 of eligible purchases spent on hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio
  • 6X Hilton Honors points for every $1 spent at U.S. restaurants (incl. takeout and delivery), U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations
  • 3X Hilton Honors points for every $1 spent on all other eligible purchases

When you have the card, you will get:

  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status. This includes benefits like: Food and beverage credit at select Hilton properties, room upgrades when available, free Wi-Fi, fifth night free when booking with points, free bottled water and the ability to choose your room.
  • Free weekend award night. You can earn a free weekend night after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Note that this certificate can be redeemed at any Hilton property around the globe, no matter how expensive the nightly rate is, as long as there is award availability.
  • Complimentary Priority Pass™ Select membership. Priority Pass is a network of over 1,300 airport lounges around the world. With the Hilton Surpass card, you will receive a free Priority Pass membership, good for up to 10 lounge visits per year.
  • Rental car insurance.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

How to earn and redeem Hilton Honors points

Earning Hilton Honors points

The two best ways to earn Hilton Honors points is by either staying at Hilton hotels or by spending on Hilton co-branded credit cards.

If you stay at Hilton Hotels regularly, you can easily earn rewards that way. All you need to do is attach your Hilton Honors number to your Hilton reservation and book directly with the hotel (stays booked through third-parties like Expedia often don't earn points), and you will earn points based on that stay. But for most Americans, especially with the slow down of both business and leisure travel during the pandemic, hotel stays have been less frequent.

For most, the more realistic way to earn hoards of Hilton Honors points is by earning a welcome bonus and spending on a Hilton co-branded credit card like the Surpass card. However, you are not restricted to just one Hilton credit card. You are able to have more than one Hilton credit card, and if you are able to meet multiple welcome offer thresholds, you will see your points balance skyrocket.

If you are considering this strategy, here are the other Hilton cobranded cards:

  • Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card: Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within your first three months of card membership.
  • The Hilton Honors American Express Card: Earn 100,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card in the first 3 months of card membership. Plus, you can earn up to $100 in statement credits on eligible purchases made on the card at any of the Hilton family hotels in the first 12 months of membership.
  • The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months of card membership.

You can also earn Hilton points through the hotel's partnership with Lyft and can transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to Hilton at a 1:2 ratio. Earning Amex points with an Amex credit card can be a good strategy to earn flexible rewards with the option to convert them into Hilton points at a later date.

Redeeming Hilton Honors points

Once you've earned the points, redeeming them is the fun part.

Hilton has over 6,500 properties in 119 countries, at all different price tags and levels of luxury. Some of the most recognizable brands include: Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, DoubleTree, Hampton, Hilton Garden Inn and Hilton Grand Vacations.

Hilton Honors points are also great to earn as they have no blackout dates on when you can redeem points, so you never have to worry about whether you can use them or not. However, Hilton Honors operates on 'dynamic pricing', which means that prices for award nights will fluctuate as demand goes up. This means that one Saturday night could be 40,000 points per night, while the next Saturday night could be 74,000 points for the same room. The amount of points you pay is often associate with the cash price of the room.

This is different than Hyatt and Marriott, which both have an award chart. However, prices can slightly vary based on demand as both hotel chains have award individual charts for off-peak, standard, and peak dates.

However, there are a few things to keep in mind before you redeem your points:

  • Estimated value: While there is no confirmed value from Hilton, many travel rewards enthusiasts have estimated the value of Hilton Honors points at 0.5 cents per point. It isn't 'bad' per se to redeem them for less, but it is a good benchmark to keep in mind when redeeming your points.
  • Fifth night free: If you have at least Silver status within Hilton Honors, you are able to enjoy a fifth night free when you book five consecutive nights on one reservation using points. This is a great way to stretch the value of your points even farther, since you're essentially getting a 20% discount on five night stays.
  • Points + money option: When you're booking a room using points, you may find yourself without enough points to cover the cost of the entire room. Hilton will give you an option to cover the remaining balance with cash. This is a great option if you are just short of enough points for a room.
Need a few more points to get that free night? Here's a tip

If you are short a small amount of points for a stay, try sending a tweet to Hilton Honors. If you ask kindly that you need a few extra points, they may add the remaining amount to your account as a courtesy to complete the booking. However, your results may vary.

  • Transfer your points to airline or train loyalty programs: You can transfer your Hilton points to a list of different airline and train loyalty programs. However, the value you will realize is pretty low. For example, for every 10,000 Hilton Honors points you will earn a modest 1,000 Delta SkyMiles. In nearly all cases, it is best to use your Hilton Honors points for Hilton nights.

Rates and fees

The card has a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95. It does not have any foreign transaction fees*.

If you plan on carrying a balance month to month, this card may not be the best. It has a high interest rate range of 18.74%-27.74% variable APR for purchases*. If you want to avoid accruing interest, consider a credit card with a 0% introductory APR offer.

The late payment fees can be up to $40*.

*See rates and fees.

Card comparison

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card is an excellent choice for someone who enjoys staying at Hilton properties a few times per year. But, is it the best credit card for you?

Select analyzed three other travel credit cards to see how they match up with one another.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card vs. Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card

A similar card to the Surpass, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card is a hotel credit card with a low annual fee that earns Marriott Bonvoy points.

The card is currently offering a limited time welcome offer of 100,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Keep in mind that the Boundless card has specific restrictions to determine if you are eligible to be approved for the card, as well as earning the welcome offer.

The welcome offer isn't available to applicants who:

Lastly, keep in mind that if you are over the dreaded Chase 5/24 rule, you will automatically be denied for the card. The 5/24 rule is a baseline Chase uses based on credit credit application history. Simply, if you have more been approved for more than five credit cards (from any bank) in the last 24 months, you will not be approved.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred®

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is known as one of the best travel credit cards available because of its transferable and easy-to-redeem rewards. It has a $95 annual fee, with a long list of benefits including travel insurance and broad spending categories.

As you spend on the card, you will earn:

  • 5X points for every dollar spent on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 3X points for every dollar spent on dining, online grocery purchases and select streaming services
  • 2X points for every dollar spent on other travel purchases

The card is currently offering a welcome offer: 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after new cardholders spend $4,000 in the first three months of account opening. Ultimate Rewards points are transferable to 14 airlines and three hotel loyalty programs. Those 60,000 points are worth $750 towards travel booked through the Chase Travel portal.

The hotel partners includes IHG, Marriott and Hyatt, but not Hilton. So if you aren't extremely loyal to Hilton, consider the Sapphire Preferred for further flexibility with your travel rewards.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card vs. American Express® Gold Card

The American Express® Gold Card is known for being a great credit card for foodies as it gives excellent rewards for restaurants and grocery stores. And while it's much different than the Surpass card, the two cards can complement each other well.

As you spend on the Amex Gold, you will earn:

  • 4X Membership Rewards® points for every dollar spent on restaurants (plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., plus, Uber Eats purchases) and at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X)
  • 3X points for every dollar spent on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com
  • 1X point for every dollar spent on all other purchases

As you spend on the Amex Gold card, you will earn American Express Membership Rewards, which can be transferred directly to Hilton Honors at a 1:1 ratio. This is a great way to top off your Hilton Honors points balance for that upcoming vacation.

The card comes with a $250 annual fee (see rates and fees), but comes with a long list of benefits that can offset the annual fee if they are maximized.

Who the Hilton Honors Surpass card is best for

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card is best for travelers who stay at Hilton Hotels at least a few times per year.

With cobranded hotel credit cards, it is always best to match the "level of investment" to how often you stay in hotels.

  • If you stay in hotel 1-2 times per year, it may be worth it to stay with the no annual fee hotel credit card.
  • If you stay 3-5 times per year, it could be worth upgrading to a modest annual fee hotel credit card.
  • If its 6+ times per year, having the high annual fee hotel credit card is a great way to improve your stays.

Even if you only stay in a Hilton once a year, this card could still be worth getting for annual free weekend night certificate and Priority Pass benefits alone, both of which can easily offset the annual fee.

In addition, this card is great for international travelers as the card has no foreign transaction fees.

Bottom line

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is a great hotel credit card if you visit Hilton Hotels a couple times per year, or want to begin earning Hilton Honors points for your next vacation. Having complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status and no foreign transaction fees can make your travels much more enjoyable and efficient — all for a modest introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $95.

However, if you enjoy earning travel rewards and have the ability to have multiple credit cards, consider pairing this with one of the cards listed above. By doing this, you can build your credit score and earn hundreds of thousands of points and miles along the way.

FAQs

How much are 150,000 Hilton Honors points worth?

If you value Hilton Honors points at 0.5 cents per point, 150,000 points would be worth $750.

What credit score do you need to get a Hilton Honors credit card?

You need to have at least a good credit score. However, if you have an excellent credit score, you will have a better chance of being approved.

What can you get with Hilton Honors points?

The best way to redeem Hilton Honors points is free hotel nights. However, you can also transfer them to friends, exchange them for airlines miles, redeem them for tickets on Ticketmaster or donate them to a charity of your choice.

For rates and fees for the American Express® Gold Card, click here.

For rates and fees for the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, click here.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
Plenty of rewards and benefits including 4X points per dollar for dining at restaurants worldwide
Enjoy an intro APR on purchases plus, Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year.