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Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card review: An ideal option for Hilton loyalists

Occasional travelers will love this card’s generous everyday rewards rates

 /  12 min
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Snapshot

4.7

Bankrate rating
Info
Rating: 4.7 stars out of 5

Bottom line

Built with Hilton loyalists and everyday spenders in mind, this Hilton card lets you earn your keep on purchases at Hilton properties and on everyday expenses like restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and gas stations. While the welcome offer is lucrative and the rewards program is generous, the inflated points value for Hilton Honors may leave you wanting more.

4.7
Rating: 4.7 stars out of 5
Bankrate score
Info
Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Recommended Credit

Earn 130,000 points

Intro offer

Info

N/A

Offer valuation

Info

3X - 12X

Rewards rate

Info

$150

Annual fee

20.99%-29.99% Variable

APR

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card Overview

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is one of the best cards for Hilton fans who travel occasionally. With the card’s hefty rewards system and enticing bonuses, you can acquire quite a few free stays while taking advantage of complimentary Hilton Honors™ Gold Status.

What are the pros and cons?

Pros

  • Checkmark

    Earn Hilton Honors Gold status for up to 80 percent more rewards on stays.

  • Checkmark

    Start to redeem rewards from as little as 5,000 points.

  • Checkmark

    Variety of perks and experiences make travel more comfortable.

Cons

  • Reward redemptions limited to hotel stays, experiences and gift certificates.

  • Single nights at hotels can cost a significant amount of points.

A deeper look into the current card offer

Quick highlights

  • Rewards rate: 12X points on eligible purchases at Hilton hotels and resorts; 6X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations; 4X points on U.S. online retail purchases; 3X points on other eligible purchases.
  • Welcome offer: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors bonus points plus a Free Night Award after you spend $3,000 in your first 6 months of card membership. Offer ends July 31, 2024.
  • Annual fee: $150
  • Purchase intro APR: N/A
  • Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 20.99 percent to 29.99 percent variable

Current welcome offer

Through July 31, 2024, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card is offering 130,000 Hilton Honors bonus points plus a Free Night Award after you spend $3,000 in your first six months of card membership. This is a bit of a downgrade from one of the card's previous offers of 155,000 points with the same spending requirement, and far lower than the 170,000 points you could earn with past offers.

Though Hilton Honors points have a fairly low redemption value compared to those of similar hotel rewards programs (only 0.6 cents on average according to Bankrate’s latest hotel point valuations), you can find award nights available for as little as 5,000 points. Assuming a valuation of 0.6 cents per point, 130,000 points translates to around $780 in redemption value, which is still pretty impressive given the relatively low annual fee and the additional Free Night Award. Plus, if you split up your spending evenly across the first six months of card membership, you'd only need to spend $500 per month in order to secure the welcome offer — quite manageable for the average person. 

Rewards rate

The rewards program with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card acts as an extension of the free Hilton Honors program. You’ll earn more points for purchases made with the card than a member of the Hilton loyalty program who is not a cardholder.

How you earn

You’ll earn 12X points for eligible purchases at Hilton portfolio stays around the world. When you use your card on eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations, you’ll earn 6X points. You'll also earn 4X points on eligible U.S. online retail purchases. All other eligible purchases will accrue 3X points.

In addition, being a Surpass cardholder will grant you Gold elite status, which will give you perks that add further value to your card. For instance, you can get every fifth night free on rewards stays when you stay for five consecutive nights or more. You’ll also earn 10,000 bonus points for every 10 nights you stay in a calendar year (starting at 40 nights) and you’ll get an 80 percent bonus on all Hilton Honors Base Points you earn. Along with several other perks like free Wi-Fi, complimentary water bottles and Continental Breakfast, these are among some of the ones that carry the most value for cardholders.

If you’re a restaurant regular on the road or close to home, you could also boost the 6X rate for purchases at U.S. restaurants with the Hilton Honors Dining program. Just linking your card to Hilton’s dining program will earn you an extra 2X points at select restaurants, but you can easily add up to 5X additional points by signing up for Hilton Honors Dining’s email communications list. And by signing up for emails and making 11 qualified transactions with the program in one calendar year, you will earn VIP status, which boosts your base rate by 8X points at participating locations and comes with an expanded pool of potential restaurants and access to the VIP Member Services line.

There are several other ways to earn Hilton Honors points, including linking your Hilton Honors account with Lyft and select car rental partners or reaching Hilton stay milestones. These methods won’t rake in the rewards at the same rate as your card’s bonus categories, but every bit counts toward your next getaway.

How to redeem

You can redeem rewards by logging in to your Hilton Honors account online, via the app or by calling 1-800-4HONORS (1-800-446-6677). The minimum required redemption is 5,000 points if you’re paying with both points and money, but a night’s stay often costs a considerable amount more in points. You can use your points not only for free hotel stays and on-property perks (like free Wi-Fi) but also for:

  • Exclusive experiences in dining, concerts, sports and more
  • Lyft rides
  • Shopping on Amazon.com or with Hilton’s merchandise portal
  • Rental cars with Alamo, National and Enterprise
  • Transfers to 30+ partner travel loyalty programs

How much are points worth?

Hilton Honors points are among the most inflated in hotel rewards programs, only worth around 0.6 cents per point by our estimates. However, that number is a relative baseline since Hilton’s redemption structure means your points’ value can fluctuate based on your booking, with some properties and travel options typically costing more. For example, while the card’s high rewards rate can be attractive, it can often cost around 25,000 points or more for a single night’s stay at some locations. While it’s possible to find stays for as low as 5,000 points, these are not widely available.

If you use your card enough, you’ll likely get a good number of hotel stays under your belt. But don’t expect rewards to stretch too far.

Other cardholder perks

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card boasts some impressive travel perks, which are nice for getting a worldwide Hilton experience. While some people may find more value in these benefits than others, all cardholders are encouraged to take advantage of them if they’re able. These perks are easy ways to recoup the card’s annual fee.

Free Night Reward and valuable credits

One of the card's best perks is a Free Night Reward after you spend $15,000 in purchases on your card in a calendar year. This perk alone could be valuable enough to offset the card's annual fee, and it may not be too hard to qualify if you use the card for most of your spending or share the account with family authorized users. 

The card also unlocks valuable statement credits that could come in handy for frequent flyers and Hilton fans alike. This includes up to $50 in statement credits each quarter for purchases made directly with a property in the Hilton portfolio on your Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card. That's up to $200 in statement credits annually. 

This is a terrific list of perks for a co-branded hotel card at this price level.

Travel benefits

When you travel with Hilton, expect to travel in style. You’ll have premium airport lounge access with a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership featuring ten free airport lounge visits each Priority Pass Membership year once enrolled. You’ll also be able to avoid pesky foreign transaction fees while you travel and get access to the Global Assist Hotline.

American Express experiences

As a card member, you’ll also get exclusive Amex benefits. You can enjoy special members-only experiences like sporting events, Broadway shows and more.

Money management tools

Enjoy $0 fraud liability, a year-end summary of your spending and payment assistance plans to help you budget your spending and stay on track.

Rates and fees

Although other Hilton cards range from $0 to $450, the Surpass comes with a $150 annual fee, which is a nice middle ground. The card previously offered a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, but recently updated to exclude this first-year benefit. Now, you have to carefully consider if you can recoup the value of the annual fee from the start of opening the account.

Unfortunately, there is no intro APR to help you save on interest as you pay down debt or finance new purchases. You’re looking at an interest rate between 20.99 percent to 29.99 percent (variable).

International travelers may find the card a good choice, though, as there are no foreign transaction fees.

We tried it: Here’s what our experts say

Bankrate credit cards writer Ryan Flanigan uses his Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card to rack up tons of points from everyday spending.

This card has great practical use for my everyday needs. I use to this card early and often in the year to earn the free night as quickly as possible. If I spend just in the 6X bonus categories to meet the $15,000 spending requirement, that’s 90,000 points in my pocket. Using that free night at a top property is a great value for the annual fee. The quarterly Hilton credits also give me a boost while staying at a property. And an airline credit that’s more flexible than the usual Amex airline credits is another welcome feature. This card can almost always be found in my wallet.

— Ryan Flanigan, Writer, Credit Cards

How the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass compares to other hotel cards

Whether you want the Hilton Honors Surpass card may come down to how strongly you feel about branded cards or the convenience of more flexible rewards cards. If Hilton isn’t your preferred hotel chain, then you might be looking at Marriott co-branded hotel cards. Or, if you aren’t particularly sold on any hotel brand you’ll likely want to use a more flexible rewards card that earns a generous rate for all purchases.

Image of Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
on American Express's secure site

Annual fee

$150

Intro offer

Earn 130,000 points
Info

Rewards rate

3X - 12X
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
on Capital One's secure site

Annual fee

$95

Intro offer

Earn 75,000 miles
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Rewards rate

2 Miles - 5 Miles
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Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card

Bankrate Score
Rating: 3.8 stars out of 5
3.8

Annual fee

$95

Intro offer

Earn 3 Free Night Awards
Info

Rewards rate

2X - 17X
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info

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

A close competitor to the Hilton Honors Surpass card is the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless. The ongoing annual fee is just $95, and you’ll earn comparable rewards you can use at Marriott hotels around the world.

Like the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless offers a high rewards rate (up to 17X points) on hotels participating in the issuer’s rewards program. Over 7,000 hotels participate in Marriott Bonvoy, and cardholders who regularly stay at (or prefer) Marriott hotels and their partner branches would certainly want this card on their radar.

The Hilton Surpass earns a boosted 12X points at Hilton locations, which is a bit lower than Bonvoy Boundless card’s offer. Additionally, Bonvoy points are worth about 0.7 cents per point compared to Hilton Honors points, which are valued at an average 0.6 cents per point according to Bankrate’s latest valuations.

If you plan to use your hotel card specifically for hotel stays, then the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless is your best option from a strictly rewards-oriented perspective. Meanwhile, the Hilton card is likely a better standalone rewards option since it earns more in everyday spending categories, including at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and U.S. restaurants. 

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass vs. Capital One Venture Rewards credit card

The Capital One Venture offers a more flexible rewards program than the Hilton Honors Surpass card, albeit one that may be less rewarding if you’re planning to focus your spending on hotel stays.

Depending on how you redeem, the Venture card’s welcome bonus may be a bit less valuable than the Hilton Honors Surpass card’s, offering just 75,000 miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases within three months from account opening (equal to $750 in travel). Conveniently, you can redeem miles for any travel purchase with any brand, including for hotel nights, airfare and more. You may also enjoy more than 1-cent-per-mile in redemption value if you transfer Capital One miles to a high-value airline or hotel partner.

While Capital One miles are worth about 1 cent per mile through the issuer, which is a bit more than Hilton Honors points, the Hilton Honors Surpass offers higher earning bonus categories that can earn points much faster.

For example, if you shop regularly at grocery stores in the U.S. and frequently stay at Hilton Hotels, the Surpass card’s 6X points at U.S. supermarkets and 12X points per dollar at Hilton Hotels and resorts may net you more value than the Venture card’s 5X miles on hotels booked through Capital One Travel and 2X miles on general purchases. For instance, if you spent $5,000 per year at U.S. supermarkets and $2,000 per year at Hilton hotels with both cards, you’d earn 20,000 Capital One miles and 54,000 Hilton points, respectively. Your Capital One miles would be worth $200 in travel redemptions while the Hilton points would be worth roughly $324 when redeemed through the Hilton Honors portal.

That said, if you’re the kind of cardholder who makes everyday purchases more often than you stay at hotels, a flat-rate rewards card may be in your best interest. This idea is especially the case if you want to redeem points for air travel or other travel expenses through the issuer’s portal.

Best cards to pair with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass

The Hilton Honors Surpass Card is almost exclusively geared toward hotel stays, so you could create a powerful combination with a general travel card, like the Capital One Venture or its no-annual-fee sibling the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card (See Rates & Fees). You may also consider a co-branded airline credit card. That way, you’ve got both travel and lodging covered.

Bankrate’s Take — Is the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass worth it?

According to Stephanie Zito, Bankrate’s Travel Rewards Expert Contributor, “The Hilton Honors Amex Surpass is a great card for people who spend most of their money on everyday items — like groceries, restaurants, and gas — and then use these points to cover their hotel costs on a trip at a Hilton resort. Pair the solid points earnings with Hilton’s fifth night free benefit, and you’ll have a free week in a hotel covered in no time.”

Overall, the card is a fairly high-quality hotel card for the casual traveler. For those with high travel budgets and trips planned, you may want to consider a different Hilton credit card that may cost more but has the potential to be more rewarding. Or, if you’re looking for something with more flexibility, check out our guide for choosing a hotel credit card.

*The information about the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card and Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

For Capital One products listed on this page, some of the above benefits are provided by Visa® or Mastercard® and may vary by product. See the respective Guide to Benefits for details, as terms and exclusions apply.

Frequently Asked Questions

Written by
Nouri Zarrugh
Senior Editor, Credit Cards
Nouri Zarrugh is a writer and editor for CreditCards.com and Bankrate,  focusing on product news, guides and reviews. His areas of expertise include credit card strategy, rewards programs, point valuation and credit scores, and his stories on building credit have been cited by Mic.com, LifeHacker, People.com and more. Through his thorough card reviews and product comparisons, Nouri strives to demystify personal finance topics and credit card terms and conditions to help readers save money and protect their credit score.
Edited by Associate Editor, Credit Cards
Reviewed by Associate Editor

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