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Advertiser Disclosure: Many of the companies featured here provide compensation to us. This is how we maintain our free service. Compensation and in-depth editorial research, determines where & how companies appear below. 

Advertiser Disclosure: Many of the companies featured here provide compensation to us. This is how we maintain our free service. 

Advertiser Disclosure: Many of the companies featured here provide compensation to us. This is how we maintain our free service. Compensation and in-depth editorial research, determines where & how companies appear below. 

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card Review

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Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card Review

Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases, enjoy complimentary Gold status, and unlock free night rewards. A world of travel rewards — Only one click away!

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card Review

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card Review

Learn More

Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases, enjoy complimentary Gold status, and unlock free night rewards. A world of travel rewards — Only one click away!

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

Introduction

When it comes to hotel rewards credit cards, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card packs a punch for loyalists of the Hilton brand. Known for its comprehensive rewards program, this card not only offers a generous point-earning structure but also provides an array of perks that can enhance any traveler’s experience.

Key features include a hearty welcome bonus, elevated rewards for spending on Hilton properties, and the much-coveted Gold status within the Hilton Honors program.

In this detailed review, we’ll take a closer look at what the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card has to offer, helping you decide if this is the right card to accommodate your travel and lifestyle needs.

Welcome Bonus

A welcome bonus is often the most eye-catching feature of a credit card, and the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card is no exception. As of the time of this review, new cardholders have the prospect of earning a substantial welcome offer:

  • Welcome Offer: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of membership.

This opening gambit is impressive because it can translate into several free nights at various Hilton properties worldwide, depending on where and when you choose to redeem them. Here’s a breakdown of how this offer measures up in terms of potential value:

  • Potential Value: The 130,000 bonus points can equate to multiple nights at mid-tier Hilton properties or a couple of luxury stays at top-tier hotels during off-peak times. It’s not unheard of to extract over $500 worth of stays from the welcome bonus alone.

To maximize this offering, it’s critical for potential cardholders to assess their typical spending habits and ensure they can comfortably meet the initial spend criteria without stretching their budget. For those who can, the welcome bonus can serve as a springboard into the card’s rewards program, padding their points balance from the outset.

Earning Rewards

For frequent guests at Hilton hotels and resorts, the rewards-earning capacity of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card can be particularly enticing. Here’s a look at how cardholders can accumulate points:

  • Hilton Purchases: Earn a whopping 12 Hilton Honors Bonus Points per dollar spent directly with Hilton properties. This includes not only room rates but also on-property dining, spa services, and more.
  • Everyday Spending: Cardholders also earn:
    • 6 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants, including takeout and delivery.
    • 6 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets.
    • 6 points per dollar at U.S. gas stations.
  • Other Purchases: All other eligible purchases on the card will earn 3 points per dollar spent.

The multiplicative effect on earning points is significant, especially for those who travel frequently for business or pleasure and tend to choose Hilton for their stays. To put this into perspective, here’s an example:

  • Spending Scenario Example: If you spend $1,000 at Hilton hotels, you would earn 12,000 Hilton Honors points. Spending the same amount on dining, groceries, or gas would earn you 6,000 points, while other purchases would net you 3,000 points.

It’s important to note that while there are plenty of opportunities to earn points, savvy cardholders will strategize their purchases to align with the higher earning rates whenever possible. Regular evaluation of spending patterns to take full advantage of these categories can lead to a robust points balance over time.

Additionally, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card also offers an annual spending bonus:

  • Spending Bonus: Earn a free weekend night reward after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your card in a calendar year.

This extra incentive reinforces the value proposition for those who are likely to meet the spending threshold and can strategically plan to use the free night for a high-value stay.

Translating spending into rewards is a straightforward process with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, but it does require attention to spending categories and willingness to use the card as a primary method of payment to rack up points efficiently.

Redeeming Rewards

The true potential of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card manifests when cardholders redeem their accumulated points. Understanding the flexibility and value of Hilton Honors points is key to getting the most from your card. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Hotel Stays: Points can be redeemed for free nights at over 5,900 properties across 18 brands in the Hilton portfolio. The number of points required for a free night varies based on the hotel, room, booking date, and length of stay.
  • Points & Money: Hilton also offers a “Points & Money” redemption option, allowing cardholders to use a combination of points and cash to book a stay, providing greater flexibility and potentially stretching your points further.
  • Transfers to Travel Partners: Points can be transferred to numerous airline and rail partners, though generally at a less favorable conversion rate compared to hotel redemptions.
  • Shopping and Experiences: Hilton Honors points can be used for shopping on Amazon.com or experiences such as concert tickets and unique travel experiences.

A primarily strategic approach to redeeming Hilton Honors points is targeting redemptions that offer the highest value. For instance:

  • Value-Driven Redemption Example: Redemption values can exceed 0.6 cents per point, particularly at luxury properties or during peak travel seasons. Thus, 80,000 points could secure a room that otherwise costs upward of $480.

However, not every redemption offers such high value, and it’s often less advantageous to spend points on merchandise or experiences, which typically yield lower values per point.

One of the most celebrated aspects of Hilton’s redemption structure is the absence of blackout dates. If there’s a standard room available, you should be able to book it using points.

Also, for those who achieve elite status with Hilton, fifth-night free benefits come into play, providing even more value for redeeming points. By booking a stay of five nights or more on points, the fifth night is free, effectively increasing the value of points for longer stays.

Careful attention to the timing and type of redemption can result in significant savings and highly memorable travel experiences, a testament to the rewards potential of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card.

Perks and Benefits

Beyond earning and redeeming rewards, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card comes with several additional benefits that can greatly enhance your travel experience:

  • Complimentary Gold Status: Cardholders are automatically granted Hilton Honors Gold status, which comes with perks such as an 80% bonus on all Hilton Honors base points earned, room upgrades when available, complimentary breakfast at many properties, and late checkout.
  • Priority Pass™ Select: Get 10 complimentary airport lounge visits each year to over 1,300 lounges worldwide through Priority Pass™ Select. Lounge visits after your free passes are available at a discounted fee.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees: Make purchases abroad without worrying about any foreign transaction fees, which is particularly beneficial for international travelers.
  • Travel Protections: The card includes a suite of travel protection benefits such as car rental loss and damage insurance, baggage insurance plan, and travel accident insurance.

Here are some bullet points to further detail these perks:

  • Automatic Gold Status offers:
    • 25% more points on stays,
    • Complimentary room upgrades,
    • Continental breakfast or food and beverage credit.
  • Priority Pass Membership provides relaxing pre-flight experiences with:
    • Access to over 1,300 lounges,
    • Complimentary snacks and beverages,
    • Peaceful places to work or unwind.
  • Travel and Purchase Protections include:
    • Coverage for theft or damage for rental cars when you decline the rental company’s collision damage waiver,
    • Compensation for lost, damaged, or stolen baggage,
    • Coverage against accidental death or dismemberment while traveling.

These advantages round out the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card’s offering and can mitigate travel stress, provide peace of mind, and bring a touch of luxury to your journeys. For frequent travelers and those loyal to the Hilton brand, the additional benefits make the card’s value proposition even stronger.

Pros and Cons

When deliberating whether the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is the right fit for your wallet, consider the following pros and cons:

Pros:

  • Robust Welcome Bonus: The ability to earn a substantial number of bonus points as a new cardholder sets a strong foundation for future travel.
  • High Earning Rates: You’ll earn a notable 12 points per dollar on Hilton purchases, and 6 points per dollar on dining, supermarkets, and gas station purchases in the U.S.
  • Gold Status Perks: Automatic Hilton Honors Gold status provides significant benefits like room upgrades and complimentary breakfast.
  • Airport Lounge Access: 10 Priority Pass lounge visits per year can provide relaxation and value during your travels.

Cons:

  • Annual Fee: There is a $95 annual fee, which, although competitive, still needs to be justified by ample card use.
  • Limited Versatility: The highest earning rates are brand-specific, limiting diversification of rewards if you don’t frequently stay at Hilton properties.
  • Foreign Transactions: While there are no fees on foreign transactions, AMEX cards are not as widely accepted internationally as Visa or Mastercard.

Key Considerations:

  • Rewards Redemption: Maximizing value requires savvy redemption strategies, particularly in choosing higher-value hotel stays.
  • Spending Requirements: To reap the full benefits, your spending habits should align with the categories that earn the most points.

Overall, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card offers a multitude of advantages to frequent Hilton guests, making it a valuable tool for those who can leverage its high rewards rate and Gold status benefits. However, for those less loyal to Hilton or who travel less frequently, the card may not offer the same level of value.

Comparison to Other Cards

When selecting a hotel rewards credit card, it’s essential to consider how the card stacks up against the competition. Here’s how the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card compares to similar cards in the market:

Hilton Honors American Express Card (no annual fee version):

  • Lower earning rates on purchases.
  • Complimentary Silver status, with fewer benefits than Gold.
  • No airport lounge passes.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card:

  • Similar annual fee.
  • Free night award each year after your account anniversary.
  • Different hotel portfolio with varying redemption opportunities.

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card:

  • Comparable annual fee.
  • Annual free night reward.
  • Different hotel portfolio and reward structure.

Here are some bullet points highlighting key comparisons:

  • Annual Fee: The Surpass Card has a $95 annual fee, which is competitive with other mid-tier hotel cards.
  • Rewards Earning: Surpass earns more at Hilton properties compared to its no-annual-fee counterpart.
  • Elite Status: Surpass offers Gold status; Marriott and IHG cards offer different levels with their respective programs.

Each card serves a particular brand loyalty and comes with distinct sets of perks. The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, with its balance of moderate annual fee and generous rewards earning, especially at Hilton properties, stands out for regular Hilton customers. However, the Marriott and IHG cards can be more enticing for travelers who prefer those hotel networks and their associated benefits.

Understanding your personal travel preferences, habits, and loyalty to hotel brands is crucial in deciding which card will offer you the most value. Comparing the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card against these competitors provides a clearer picture of where it stands in its category.

Conclusion

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card shines for those who regularly stay at Hilton properties and can utilize the abundant earning opportunities. With its lucrative welcome bonus, complimentary Gold status, and additional travel perks, this card can offer remarkable savings and convenience for loyal Hilton customers. While the annual fee and brand-specific benefits may limit its appeal for some, the card is undoubtedly a powerhouse for those entrenched in the Hilton Honors ecosystem. Ultimately, this card is best suited for Hilton enthusiasts looking to amplify their travel rewards and enjoy a more luxurious travel experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I maximize my hotel rewards with a credit card? Maximizing hotel rewards with a credit card involves using a co-branded hotel credit card for hotel stays and related purchases, taking advantage of bonus categories for everyday spending, and strategically redeeming points for maximum value, typically for free nights or upgrades.

What should I consider when choosing a hotel rewards credit card? When choosing a hotel rewards credit card, consider factors such as the hotel’s loyalty program, earning and redemption rates, additional cardholder benefits, annual fee, and how well the card aligns with your travel patterns and brand preferences.

How does hotel elite status benefit a cardholder? Hotel elite status benefits a cardholder by providing perks like room upgrades, free breakfast, bonus points on stays, late checkout, and sometimes even lounge access. These benefits enhance the travel experience and add value to each stay.

What is the advantage of having no foreign transaction fees on a credit card? The advantage of having no foreign transaction fees on a credit card is the savings you incur while traveling abroad; as typical foreign transaction fees can add up to 3% of each transaction, a fee-free card eliminates these extra costs.

Do airport lounge benefits outweigh the costs of a credit card’s annual fee? Airport lounge benefits can outweigh the cost of a credit card’s annual fee if you travel frequently and utilize the lounge access for complimentary food, drinks, Wi-Fi, and a comfortable space to relax or work, leading to savings on these expenses.

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