The American Express Hilton Surpass Card is Hilton and American Express’ mid-tier credit card. It is an affordable way to earn Hilton Honors (HH) points quickly, especially if you spend heavily in everyday categories.
The Hilton Surpass has a $95 annual fee (NOT waived the first year). But it comes with some amazing benefits including Gold Elite Status, free breakfast, and complimentary room upgrades (up to Executive Rooms). These benefits are some of the best in the industry among mid-tier hotel credit cards.
The Hilton Surpass Card earns 6x HH points on Dining, at Grocery Stores, and at Gas Stations. All other purchases earn 3x HH points. But do not be fooled by this card’s high multipliers. Many people value HH points at 0.5 cents apiece, which makes them much less valuable than transferrable points. Nonetheless, the Surpass Card a decent earner for everyday expenses and an amazing earner at Hilton hotels.
By itself, the Hilton Surpass earns 12x HH points per dollar for Hilton hotel purchases. But the earning does not stop there. Those with membership in the Hilton Honors program earn another 10x HH points per dollar spent at Hilton hotels. And having Gold Elite status provides an 80% points bonus on top of the 10x points from membership for a total of 18x HH points. In total, using the Hilton Surpass will net you a whopping 30x HH points per dollar at Hilton hotels!
Plus, the Hilton Surpass offers a sign-up bonus worth 130,000 HH points. This bonus can be earned after spending $2,000 within the first three months. Of the three Hilton card bonuses, this one is my favorite because of the balance between points earned and minimum spend. The more expensive Hilton Aspire card offers 20,000 more points for an extra $2,000 spend. And the regular Hilton Honors card offers 50,000 fewer points for half the spend.
Hotel redemptions are the only way to redeem HH points directly. Nights start at 5,000 points, but most locations will cost more than that per night. Unlike Marriott, Hilton does not have a rewards chart publicly posted. How many points a night costs depends on your location and date. Your mileage may vary.
Hilton HH points are transferrable to 43 airline partners and three car rental agencies (Enterprise, Alamo, and National). However, transferring them is not recommended because you will be losing tons of value. This is why transfer partners are not often marketed by Hilton or American Express. You’re only receiving a value of 0.1 cents per point (CPP).
Complimentary Gold Elite Status
Having Hilton Gold Elite Status is a big step up from having Silver Elite Status (or none at all). You will receive an 80% points bonus on Hilton purchases including room rates and gift shop purchases. This is a major increase from the 20% that Silver Elite Status offers.
Furthermore, Gold Status comes with complimentary room upgrades up to Executive Rooms. Suites are not included. It also comes with free breakfast for each day you stay. The free breakfast alone on one trip can justify the Surpass Card’s $95 annual fee.
You can obtain Hilton’s top-tier Diamond Elite Status by spending $40,000 per year on the card. However, applying for the Hilton Aspire Card is a less expensive option if you want Diamond Elite Status.
Hilton Gold Elite Status is also available as a perk on all versions of the American Express Platinum Card. Amex’s top charge card could make this card redundant for Hilton lovers.
You also receive a fifth night for free when you use points to pay. The free fifth night could save you some money if you stay at Hilton hotels often for at least five nights. This perk is a huge incentive to make this card a keeper.
You can earn another free night by spending $15,000 per year on the card. This night can be earned just once per year.
Secondary Car Rental Insurance
This benefit covers the entire loss, damage, or theft of your car rental after your regular insurance’s policy kicks in. American Express cards only provide secondary coverage. Secondary coverage means that you must go through your own car insurance company first before calling Amex to activate this benefit.
No Foreign Exchange Fees
You will save 2.7% on all purchases made outside the United States with the card.
Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption Insurance
If you must cancel your trip because of an unexpected event, this benefit gives you up to $10,000 per trip for non-refundable expenses. Plane tickets, hotel rooms, and tours are included.
Priority Pass Passes
Another amazing benefit that comes with the Hilton Surpass is 10 Priority Pass passes each year. These passes will let you into Priority Pass airport lounges around the world, but not restaurants. The passes are great for occasional air travelers with families as well as more frequent solo travelers.
Rules & Regulations
Like all American Express cards, this card is subject to Amex’s Once Per Lifetime Rule. This rule states that you can only receive a sign-up bonus on any card once. The key is to apply for this card when a balance is struck between maximum points and minimum spend. If you cannot afford the spend to hit the bonus, apply when the threshold is lower.
American Express Hilton Aspire Card
The Hilton Aspire Card is the bigger “sibling” to the Surpass Card. It offers complimentary Diamond Elite Status and multiple free nights. The Aspire has a sign-up bonus of 150,000 HH points, which can be earned by spending $4,000 within the first three months.
Furthermore, the Aspire Card earns 14x HH points on Hilton hotel purchases, not including the boosts from membership or Diamond Elite Status. It also earns 7x HH points for US Restaurants, Flights (booked directly with airlines or via amextravel.com), and Car Rentals (booked directly with car rental agencies). All other purchases earn 3x HH points.
This card is a better option for those with an Amex Platinum Card as the Aspire Card offers Diamond Elite Status. By comparison, both the Platinum Card and the Hilton Surpass offer Gold Elite Status.
Chase World of Hyatt Card
This Chase World of Hyatt Card is a great card for Hyatt loyalists and hotel dwellers. It has a $95 annual fee and a two-part sign-up bonus. First you can earn 25,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. Then, you can earn 25,000 more points after spending $6,000 total in the first 6 months.
For earning, you get 4x Hyatt points per dollar spent at Hyatt hotels. You also earn 2x points on Dining, airline tickets purchased directly from the airline, local transit and commuting, and gym memberships.
Furthermore, the World of Hyatt Card comes with some nice benefits to justify its annual fee. You will receive one free night (up to Category 4) each year as well as Hyatt Discoverist Status. Plus, you will receive five Elite Night Credits every year to put towards earning the next levels of status faster.
Hyatt loyalists and those who spend within the card’s categories are better off with this card.
The American Express Hilton Surpass Card is a great mid-tier card for Hilton visitors. It can also be a great downgrade option for Hilton Aspire cardholders that still want some benefits. Gold Elite Status, free breakfast, and the fifth night free are the highlights of this $95 annual fee card.
The Surpass Card is a nice earner within the bonus categories and can possibly be a long-term keeper card. It is possible to earn enough points to cover the modest annual fee without taking perks into account.
Apply Today: American Express Hilton Surpass Card
I have both the Amex Aspire and Ascend cards, and believe a correction is in order. While the Ascend provides a 6X bonus on gas and grocery purchases, the Aspire card does *not* provide a bonus on these categories (just regular 3X points per dollar spent).
Both cards are good. Was thinking to cancel the $95/year Ascend since I recently got the Aspire, but the gas/groceries bonus and (more importantly) the chance to earn a free weekend night with $15K spend probably justifies keeping the Ascend around for the long term.
Thanks for pointing out this mistake. I have updated the post with the correct 7x categories.
Instead of cancelling the Ascend, I would downgrade it to the regular Hilton card. It still earns within the same categories but at lower rates. You will also save the $95 AF while maintaining your average age of accounts.
[…] post will focus on the three personal Hilton Honors cards: the (regular) Hilton Honors card, the Hilton Ascend, and the Hilton Aspire. The Hilton Ascend will be renamed the Hilton Surpass on July 18, 2019 to […]