Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card review: Earn 12X points on Hilton property stays
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
CardRatings Editor's Analysis: Pros & Cons
- The opportunity to earn a weekend night stay reward after spending at least $15,000 in a calendar year gives you an ongoing option to more than offset the annual fee.
- There's a mega welcome offer opportunity with this card of 130,000 points. Spend $2,000 in the first three months to earn it.
- This branded card offers you bonus rewards opportunities outside of just your Hilton purchases. For instance, you'll earn six times the points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations.
- There is an annual fee to think about. If you're a casual credit card user who won't spend enough for the annual weekend night reward, you might want to consider a more general rewards card without an annual fee.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Amex Hilton Honors Surpass® Card Benefits
- What our Editors like Best About the Amex Hilton Honors Surpass® Card
- Potential Downsides of the Amex Hilton Honors Surpass® Card
- Amex Hilton Honors Surpass® Cardholder Scores
- How the Amex Hilton Honors Surpass® Card Compares to Other Cards
- Is the Amex Hilton Honors Surpass® a Good Card?
For frequent travelers, especially those who are loyal to the Hilton brand, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card warrants some attention. American Express is a CardRatings advertiser.
To start things off on the right foot, new Surpass® cardholders can earn 130,000 bonus points once spending $2,000 in the first three months of opening an account. Cardholders will also receive a weekend night reward stay when spending at least $15,000 in a calendar year, a perk that can more than offset the card's $95 annual fee. (See Rates and Fees.)
Beyond bonuses, your points can add up quickly with 12 points earned for every $1 spent on eligible purchases directly with a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio. You'll also earn six points on eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations, and three points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases. With so much potential to earn rewards on purchases other than at Hilton properties, this card turns out to be a solid option for your everyday purchases, too.
Bonus, perks, upgrades, complimentary.
These are some of our favorite terms when it comes to credit cards and the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is loaded with them. And their values are significant.
The welcome offer opportunity of 130,000 points, which can be achieved by making $2,000 in purchases in the first three months, is worth several hundred dollars in rewards.
Cardholders also enjoy Gold status in the Hilton Honors program, and the card makes Hilton Honors Diamond status easily within reach. Spend $40,000 in purchases in a calendar year to receive your Diamond Status upgrade. You can learn more about elite status and the numerous benefits of the Hilton Honors rewards program in our Hilton Honors program guide.
Speaking of complimentary and upgrades, the Hilton Honors Surpass® card also provides 10 airport lounge visits each calendar year after a one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select, a lounge network with more than 1,000 locations worldwide.
This card also provides peace of mind for travelers. One way is through car rental loss and damage insurance. When you rent a car, you can decline the collision damage waiver (a significant savings) and still be covered in case the vehicle is damaged or stolen. There's also no fee for foreign transactions, which has the potential to save you hundreds of dollars if you travel internationally often. (See Rates and Fees.)
Additionally, purchases made with your Surpass® card are eligible for complimentary extended warranty, matching the existing warranty up to one additional year, if the item has a manufacturer's warranty of five years or less. Purchased items that are damaged or broken within 90 days of purchase are also covered by purchase protection, up to $1,000 per occurrence, $50,000 per calendar year. Even if you just want to return an item for ANY reason – you're covered. If the store refuses to take the return, return protection may provide a refund of up to $300 per item with a total limit of $1,000 per calendar year.
The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card isn't for everyone. If you don't travel very often, then many of the perks and bonuses could be out of reach. In that case, you might want to look for a card that doesn't have an annual fee or that offers cash-back rewards instead.
Remember, too, that the rewards for non-Hilton purchases are decent, but you'll really maximize the potential with this card if you stay regularly at Hilton properties. Hilton Honors points can also be redeemed for perks other than free hotel stays including purchases on Amazon.com; car rentals and rental upgrades; and special experiences such as private concerts, luxury weekends and VIP access to special events; however, you'll likely get the most out of your points using them for free hotel stays.
CardRatings conducts a survey annually to learn what actual cardholders think of their cards. Here are the results:
|2020 Scores||2019 Scores|
|Rewards Program Satisfaction||8.5||8.4|
|Likelihood of Continuing to Use||8.6||8.7|
|Recommend to a Friend/Colleague||8.8||8.2|
Hilton Honors Surpass® Card vs. Hilton Honors American Express Card
Anyone who stays at Hilton properties on a regular basis can probably benefit from a Hilton Honors credit card. Both the Hilton Honors Surpass® Card and the Hilton Honors American Express Card offer points and perks that can be used at hotels and resorts across the globe.
The Hilton Honors Amex is an entry-level card that doesn't charge an annual fee but also doesn't come with the same perks as the Hilton Honors Surpass. In exchange for an annual fee, the Surpass® card comes with complimentary Gold Status, a free weekend night reward after you spend $15,000 per year and 10 free visits to Priority Pass™ airport lounges. Meanwhile, the Hilton Honors Card offers complimentary Silver Status but no opportunity to earn a free weekend night and no free lounge access.
Beyond a higher level of Hilton Honors status, the Surpass® card offers more bonus points. With the Hilton Honors Amex, you'll earn 7X points for purchases at Hilton properties, 5X points at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and U.S. restaurants and 3X points for all other eligible purchases. With the Hilton Honors Surpass Card, you'll earn 12X, 6X and 3X points for those same categories, respectively.
For a no annual fee card, the welcome bonus for the Hilton Honors Amex is still solid— earn 80,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after making $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership.
While you can't go wrong with either of these cards, frequent travelers may find that a higher status level and airport lounge access are well worth the $95 annual fee charged by the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® card.
Hilton Honors Surpass® Card vs. American Express® Gold Card
If you prefer to stay at Hilton hotels and resorts, a Hilton Honors credit card may seem like the best choice. However, it's worth considering whether a general purpose rewards card might be better. For example, let's see how the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® card stacks up against the American Express® Gold Card.
With Hilton Honors Surpass®, you'll pay a $95 annual fee which seems like a bargain compared to the $250 annual fee assessed by Amex Gold. While the annual fee seems like a lot, the Amex Gold card gives you the opportunity to earn up to $120 in dining credits at select restaurants and a $100 hotel credit to spend on qualifying dining, spa, and resort activities, plus a room upgrade upon arrival, if available, when you book a stay of at least two consecutive nights with American Express Travel at over 600 properties. If you use those, the annual fee effectively drops to $30.
Plus, with the American Express® Gold Card new cardholders can earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $4,000 in purchases within six months of opening an account. Those points can be used to book travel directly through American Express or be transferred to partner programs, including Hilton Honors. Beyond its rewards, the Gold Card offers perks not available to Hilton Honors Surpass members such as a baggage insurance plan.
As for rewards earning potential, Amex Gold offers 4X Membership Rewards® for dining at restaurants worldwide, up to $25,000 in annual purchases at U.S. supermarkets, 3X points for airfare booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, and 1X point on all other eligible purchases.
Hilton Honors Surpass® Card vs. Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™
For those who aren't loyal to Hilton properties, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card is a good alternative to consider. The card is issued by Chase and earns points that can be used at Marriott properties worldwide.
Like the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® card, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ card charges a $95 annual fee. The signup bonus for new Boundless™ cardholders is 75,000 bonus points after $3,000 in purchases made within three months of opening an account, so it's quite generous.
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ credit card also gives cardholders automatic Silver Elite Status, a free night award on their account anniversary and 15 elite night credits. Every dollar spent at participating Marriott properties earns six points while all other purchases earn two points per dollar.
All that means the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card can be a good choice for those who don't necessarily have to stay at Hilton hotels.
Yes, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is a strong consideration for the wallet of any traveler who often, if not always, stays at Hilton properties when on the road. If you are a frequent traveler, whether it be for business or pleasure, you are a well-suited candidate for this card. It won't take long to achieve the thresholds needed for some very attractive perks.
Survey Methodology: CardRatings commissioned Op4G in September and October 2020 to conduct surveys among 1,746 cardholders nationwide. CardRatings website analytics from Jan. 1, 2020-Aug. 31, 2020 were used to determine a selection of the most popular cards and additional cards were added to add survey breadth. Responses to each of nine questions were given on a scale of 1-10 and respondents' scores were then averaged under broad topics. To determine the overall score, responses from questions 1-8 were summed and the answer to "How likely are you to recommend this card to a friend, coworker or family member?" was double weighted.
To see the rates and fees for the American Express cards featured in this post, please visit the following links: Hilton Honors American Express Card (See Rates and Fees); American Express® Gold Card (See Rates and Fees); Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card (See Rates and Fees)