2020 has been an interesting year so far. Between the COVID-19 pandemic and a plethora of credit card promotions, nothing is the same as it was one short year ago. And my credit card portfolio has undergone some changes because of the pandemic and some changes in my personal life. I was approved for the American Express Hilton Surpass Card earlier this week. And it is my first new credit card of the new decade. This post explains why I got the Hilton Surpass Card.

The Hilton Surpass Card is American Express and Hilton’s mid-tier personal credit card. It has a $95 annual fee (NOT waived the first year) and a plethora of benefits. Plus, it has a great earning structure for everyday expenses including Dining and Grocery Store expenses.

 

Excellent Sign-Up Bonus

American Express offers one of the most balanced sign-up bonuses in the travel industry for the Hilton Surpass Card. New cardholders can earn 125,000 Hilton Honors (HH) points by spending $2,000 within the first three months.

However, I found a link from my Hilton Honors account and received an offer worth 130,000 HH points for the same minimum spend requirement. I will receive an extra 5,000 points just because I went through Hilton (and not American Express) for the application.

By comparison, the no annual fee Hilton Honors Card comes with a public sign-up bonus worth 75,000 HH points for a minimum spend of $1,000. This bonus is worth 50,000 fewer points than the Surpass Card’s public bonus.

Conversely, the Hilton Aspire Card comes with a public sign-up bonus worth 150,000 HH points. But the minimum spend requirement is $4,000 – double that of the Surpass Card. Spending an extra $2,000 to earn another 20,000 HH points is not worth it for me! Similarly, there is a targeted offer for the Surpass Card worth 150,000 HH points. But the minimum spend requirement is $3,000. Spending an extra $1,000 to earn another 20,000 HH points is not worth it for me!

 

Maintaining Hilton Gold Elite Status

Hilton Gold Elite Status is one of the best mid-tier statuses in the hotel industry. It provides a wealth of benefits that outshine competitors’ mid-tier statuses. Fortunately, it only costs $95 per year for Hilton Surpass (and Hilton Honors Business Card) cardholders. I am grateful to have Hilton Gold Status for as long as I keep my new card.

One of the biggest perks of having Hilton Gold Elite Status is the complimentary room upgrades (up to Executive rooms). All you have to do is tell the front desk agent upon checking in that you have Gold Status and they will see if there are any upgraded rooms available. This is likely because of the COVID-19 pandemic affecting hotel occupancy rates.

Furthermore, those with Hilton Gold Elite Status also receive free breakfast. Free breakfast is huge for many travelers, especially those with families, because hotel breakfast can be expensive. This perk can even justify the Surpass Card’s $95 annual fee with one trip.

 

Earning Hilton Honors Points

Moreover, the Hilton Surpass Card is an excellent earner of HH points. It earns 6x points for Dining, Gas, and Grocery Store purchases. And it earns 3x points for non-bonus spend. I will be mainly using this card at the Grocery Store in lieu of my Amex Blue Cash Everyday Card after my sign-up bonus period ends in December 2020. That is because I would rather earn HH points than cash back.

However, the biggest bonanza with this card is through Hilton hotel purchases. The Surpass Card earns 12x points for every dollar spent at Hilton hotels. But that’s not all! Those with ordinary Hilton Honors membership earn 10x points per dollar just for being a member. And having Hilton Gold Status adds another 8x points per dollar, an 80% points bonus. In total, I will be earning a whopping 30x points per dollar at Hilton hotels!

Unfortunately, HH points are not worth much compared to transferrable points and even cash back. I value them at 0.5 cents per point (CPP). But you can value them however you want, depending on the deals you get with Hilton.

 

Points Diversification

A major flaw in my credit card portfolio until this week was a lack of diversification. All my other credit cards earn either Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) points or cash back. Chase UR points are great for Hyatt hotel redemptions and a plethora of airline redemptions. And cash back can be used for anything.

However, the Hilton Surpass is helping me diversify into HH points. These points are best suited for Hilton hotel redemptions. I can transfer them to Hilton transfer partners at just 20% of their value. But this option is not recommended.

 

Final Draw

I am thrilled to have added the Hilton Surpass Card to my wallet this week! Having a new credit card will freshen things up, especially during the three-month sign-up bonus period.

Furthermore, the Hilton Surpass Card will be great for future vacations or possible business trips once travel becomes safer. My goal is to accumulate as many HH points as possible over the next year. This holds true for Chase UR points and cash back.

On a personal note, I recently started graduate school and the Surpass Card will be great for covering expenses during the next three months. Grad school has taken up a lot of my time and is the reason why I have not been writing as much as I used to. Fortunately, I have an end of quarter break over the next few weeks and I plan on writing more during my free time.