Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card review

Margaret Drummond  in  Hotel How we rate our cards  |  Advertiser Disclosure
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Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

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Best for loyal Hilton customers

Annual Fee:
$95
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Terms and Restrictions Apply | Rates and Fees

Bankrate Rating

Commonly used for: Auto Rental Insurance, EMV, Extended Warranty Program, Gas, Hotel, Mobile Pay Ready, No Foreign Transaction Fees, Points, Purchase Protection, Rewards, Roadside Assistance, Travel, Travel Accident Insurance, Unsecured credit card, Zero Fraud Liability.

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Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card: Details and benefits

The Surpass is the second tier of three personal cards offered by American Express for Hilton loyalists, boasting a dramatic 125,000-point bonus welcome offer for new cardholders when you spend $2000 in the first three months of membership.

Redemption value starts at 5,000 points per night at select hotels, so this is a tempting offer for those hoping to rack up free nights quickly. Add to that a free weekend night’s stay when you spend $15,000 in the first year, and you’re sitting pretty as a first-year cardholder.

Racking up points can happen rapidly with the Surpass card, with 12X base points on the dollar for each stay charged on your card at a Hilton portfolio hotel. The card also grants 6X points for spending at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations. All other eligible expenses accrue points at a rate of 3X on the dollar.

While the other Hilton Honors card fees range from $0 to $450 a year, the Surpass is a good middle-of-the-road option with its $95 annual fee (See Rates & Fees), offering enough perks to make it worthwhile to a traveler who loves Hilton hotels, but doesn’t need the whole kit and caboodle. As a Surpass member, you are granted Hilton Gold Status, which enables you to earn 80 percent more points on stays, every fifth night free when staying five or more nights and free room upgrades. Spend $40,000 on the card in a calendar year and get an upgrade to Diamond Status for even more royal treatment.

Advantages
  • This card gives holders Hilton Honors Gold status, which grants 80% higher bonus points earned with each stay (18 points per dollar spent), and a fifth night free when booking a reward stay of five nights or more using points.
  • Acquire Hilton Honors Diamond status when you spend $40,000 on eligible purchases within a calendar year.
  • You can transfer your Hilton points to one of their airline partners, which may result in greater value than using for a hotel stay.
  • Starting at 5,000 points, you can choose a combination of points and cash in 1,000 point increments to pay for a Hilton property hotel room.
  • Numerous bonus perks to make frequent travel more comfortable.
Disadvantages
  • You cannot redeem your rewards for cash back, only for hotel stays, gift certificates or experiences through the Hilton portfolio.
  • Redemption value of points is considerably lower than a cash back credit card.

Is the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass worth it for you?

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card is a good option for travelers who are loyal to the Hilton portfolio of hotels and can benefit from the many additional perks that come with being a Gold member. If you prefer flexibility in hotel brands or shy away from annual fees, you may prefer a general travel rewards card.

It’s a great card for the first year, and perhaps longer if you’re a big fan of Hilton, but only if the luxury perks add up for you. Points alone may not suffice for the long term.

Get the most value from the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass

Complimentary Gold Status includes 80 percent bonus on base points earned from Hilton Honors when you stay, room upgrades, in-room high-speed Wi-Fi and a fifth night free on a standard room when five nights or more are booked using points.

To help you travel in style, this card allows you to become a Priority Pass member, giving you access to over 1,200 airport lounges worldwide. Visit our Priority Pass guide to learn how to sign up and take advantage of the opportunity the next time you’ve got some time to kill before your flight. Roadside assistance, baggage insurance, and 24-hour Global Assist Hotline access are offered for any additional travel needs. This card comes with auto insurance and protections, cell phone insurance and access to extended warranties on eligible purchases.

Cardholders also are eligible for exclusive pre-sale access to select entertainment events. To learn more on how to best utilize the benefits offered with this card, visit our Hilton Honors rewards guide.

How much are the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass rewards worth?

At the outset, this card puffs itself up with big bonus point rewards, and it’s certainly tough to resist the introductory bonus. It should be noted, however, that the redemption rate may not be quite as rosy as it appears on the surface.

While Hilton requires 5,000 points for the minimum number of points required per night for redemption, we found that to be a fraction of the number required for a night’s stay. A standard room at the Hilton Garden Inn at the Charlotte Airport listed the redemption rate at 31,000 points. You may be able to earn more efficiently with a cash-back rewards card.

How to redeem rewards

You can redeem your rewards online, via the Hilton app or by calling 1-800-4HONORS. Points can be redeemed for hotel stays, gift cards, charity, experiences, travel via transferring to Hilton travel partners and more.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card, please click here.