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Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card review: Mid-tier Hilton perks for casual travelers



Our take: The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card offers some solid benefits for both frequent and casual travelers alike, and it even provides some harder-hitting perks for bigger spenders like a free annual reward night and Diamond elite status for big spenders. However, people looking for a hotel card with more automatic benefits may want to keep searching.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

Intro Bonus

130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus points after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card in your first 6 months of card membership

Annual fee $150
Regular APR 20.99%–29.99% variable

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card Overview

Card type: Hotel rewards, travel rewards

For loyal Hilton Honors members, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card can be a great choice if you use it as one of your main credit cards. The card offers an impressive welcome bonus, robust rewards rates on everyday spending categories and some valuable perks that are worth more than enough to offset the card’s annual fee.

That $150 annual fee is higher than many credit cards, which typically max out at around $100. However, frequent travelers can easily get that value back in the form of Hilton statement credits—you’ll get up to $200 each year in quarterly $50 increments. If you spend $15,000 on the card in a calendar year, you’ll also earn a free night reward, which you can use at any participating Hilton property. In contrast, most other hotel cards don’t require you to spend anything to get a free night certificate each year, but they also limit you to using the reward on mid-tier properties and lower.

The card also comes with Gold elite status, Hilton’s second-highest membership tier. Notably, Gold elite status with Hilton includes an F&B credit which differs from most hotel chains. But if you spend $40,000 on the card in a calendar year, you can get a boost to Diamond status and get the full VIP treatment every time you stay. 

Who is Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card good for? 

The card can be a great choice for Hilton loyalists who travel regularly enough to take advantage of the card’s quarterly $50 Hilton credit. Even if you don’t, spending enough to earn the free night reward every year could still make it worth your while. 

Who shouldn’t get a Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card? 

While the card offers more value than its annual price tag, the benefit terms are more complicated than other travel credit cards. If you’re looking for a hotel credit card with more straightforward perks, this one might not be the right one for you.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card: How to earn rewards

The card offers 12X Hilton Honors bonus points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio. That’s in addition to the up to 18X points you earn as a Hilton Honors Gold member, for a total of up to 30X points per dollar. 

On everyday spending, you’ll earn 6X points for each dollar of purchases on your card at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets, and at U.S. gas stations, 4X points for each dollar on U.S. online retail purchases, and 3X points for all other eligible purchases on your card.

As a new cardholder, you’ll get 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus points after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card in your first 6 months of card membership.  

Keep in mind, though, that while the face value of the card’s rewards rates and welcome offer is high, it also requires a lot of points to book Hilton stays. In many major cities, you can expect a single night to cost between 40,000 and 95,000 points.

How to redeem Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card rewards 

You won’t get as much flexibility with a hotel credit card as a general travel rewards card, and the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is no exception. Here’s how you can redeem your Hilton Honors points.

Stays at Hilton hotels and resorts

Hilton is one of the largest hotel chains in the world, with more than 7,000 properties across 19 brands around the world from which you can choose. As with other hotel cards, award nights are generally the best way to use your points.

That said, Hilton points don’t have a fixed value. Depending on the details of your stay, a standard room could cost anywhere between 5,000 and 95,000 points per night, and preferred rooms and special accommodations cost more. That said, Hilton incentivizes longer trips, giving you a fifth night free when you pay with points.

If you don’t have enough points for a trip, you can pool your rewards with up to 10 family members and friends.

Other redemption options

You can redeem your points in a variety of other ways, but don’t expect to get much value in return:

Redemption option Value per point
Shop on Amazon 0.2 cents
Ride with Lyft 0.22 cents
Book a rental car with Alamo, Enterprise and National 0.21 cents
Pay for event tickets with Ticketmaster 0.2 cents
Donate your points 0.28 cents

Hilton also allows you to transfer points to a long list of domestic and international airline frequent flyer programs, but the conversion rate isn’t great. With Delta Air Lines, for instance, 10,000 Hilton Honors points get you just 1,000 Delta SkyMiles.

Finally, you can bid against other Hilton Honors members for an opportunity to attend special events like the Grammys or enjoy elite dining experiences.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card rates and fees

  • Annual fee: $150
  • Foreign transaction fee: None
  • Purchase APR: 20.99%–29.99% variable

To view rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, see this page

Additional benefits

  • Gold elite status: Gold elite members can enjoy some special perks every time they stay at Hilton properties, including space-available room upgrades, continental breakfast or a food and beverage credit, and more.
  • National Car Rental status: With enrollment, you can enjoy complimentary National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive status, which offers valuable benefits, including full-size cars at mid-size rates, guaranteed upgrades on full-size through luxury rentals, and more.
  • Baggage insurance: If your baggage is lost, damaged or stolen and you purchased your entire fare with the card, you can get up to $1,250 in coverage for a carry-on bag and up to $500 for a checked bag.
  • Purchase protection: Eligible items purchased with the card are protected against accidental damage and theft for up to 90 days from the purchase date. You can get up to $1,000 in coverage per claim.

Credit cards similar to Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card can be a great choice for casual travelers who are loyal to Hilton, but if you’re not sold on Hilton, or you want more flexibility with your credit card rewards, here are some alternatives to consider.

World of Hyatt Credit Card vs. Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

On the surface, the World of Hyatt Credit Card doesn’t look as great as the Surpass Card. For new cardholders, it offers up to 65,000 bonus points to new cardholders after spending $3,000 in the first three months, plus 2 points per dollar on the first $15,000 you spend during the first six months. You’ll also get 4X points on Hyatt Hotel purchases (on top of 5 base points per dollar earned by regular World of Hyatt members), 2X points on restaurants, directly purchased airfare, local transit, commuting and gym and fitness club memberships, and 1X point on other purchases.

But when it comes to redeeming those points, Hyatt offers a lot more value—its entire portfolio of more than 1,300 hotels and resorts is considered upscale or luxury, and a standard night at its most expensive properties typically costs 40,000 points. It also offers a annual free night at category 1-4 hotel (worth up to 15,000 points) with no spending requirement, though it’s limited in value, plus an additional free night at category 1-4 hotel each year you spend $15,000. Unfortunately, it only offers Discoverist status, which is Hyatt’s lowest elite tier. The card’s annual fee is $95. 

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

The Chase Ultimate Rewards program is one of the most versatile rewards programs, allowing you to redeem your rewards for travel, cash back, gift cards, and more, all without requiring you to sacrifice redemption value—many give you at least 1 cent per point. With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you’ll get 25% more value if you use your rewards to book travel through Chase’s portal. Alternatively, you can transfer your rewards at a 1:1 ratio to a variety of airline and hotel rewards programs. 

The card offers 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, plus 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards® (excluding hotel purchases that qualify for the $50 Annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit), 3x points on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout, and dining out, online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs), and select streaming services, and 1x points on other purchases. The card’s annual fee is $95.

Is the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card right for you?

If you’re loyal to the Hilton brand and your travel and spending habits make it easy to maximize the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card‘s benefits, it can be a great way to rack up free hotel stays.

However, if you’re not interested in sticking with just one hotel brand or you want more flexibility to use rewards for other travel expenses (or even other redemption options altogether), it may be a good idea to shop around and compare other options before deciding which card is right for you.

Frequently asked questions

Is Hilton Honors Surpass a good card?

The card offers some solid value for travelers who prefer Hilton hotels. But like any other credit card, it’s only a good fit if your travel habits and spending align with what the card has to offer. 

What credit score do you need for Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card?

Generally speaking, you’ll need good or excellent credit to get approved for the card. According to FICO, a good credit score is 670 or higher, but American Express may have a different definition. The good news is that you can get approved for the card without impacting your credit score with Amex’s “apply with confidence” feature.

Do you get a free night with Hilton Surpass?

You can get a free night reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases on your card in a calendar year.. Other hotel cards typically don’t have this spending requirement, but Hilton’s free night reward can be used at just about any of the program’s hotels and resorts, so it can be worth it.

Please note that card details are accurate as of the publish date, but are subject to change at any time at the discretion of the issuer. Please contact the card issuer to verify rates, fees, and benefits before applying.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions, and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.

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