Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card review

Published: October 31, 2019

Partner Offer

Apply Now
Published: October 31, 2019

Partner Offer

Apply Now
Ratings Policy
Rewards Rating:
4.3 rating
4.3 rating
4.3 / 5
Rewards Value: 4.6
Annual Percentage Rate: 1.3
Rewards Flexibility: 4.3
Features: 3.0
Customer Experience 4.6

In a Nutshell:

A good value for Hilton hotel fans, the Honors Surpass card makes it easy to quickly earn free night’s stays by offering a substantial introductory bonus and an ample point bonus on U.S. gas station, restaurant, supermarket and hotel purchases. (Terms apply)

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 12:1 select Hilton properties
  • 6:1 U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations
  • 3:1 general
  • Terms apply

Introductory Bonus
125,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months

Annual Bonus
Free weekend night each year you spend $15,000

Annual Fee
$95 (See rates and fees)

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$749

APR
17.24-26.24% (variable) (See rates and fees)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Points don’t expire as long as card is active every 12 months
  • Redeem for hotel stays, experiences, on-property rewards, airfare, car rentals, cruises, shopping and dining, charity
  • Use points plus cash to book rewards
  • Use points to upgrade a reservation
  • No blackout dates or capacity controls except for points plus cash rewards

Cons

  • No good uses outside of hotel redemptions
  • Expensive and confusing seasonal chart
  • While there is no official capacity control, hotels often “rebrand” a regular room into a premium room and charge an outrageous amount of points

Customer Experience

Other Notable Features: Automatic gold status, Diamond status each year you spend $40,000, 25% bonus on Honors base points, free weekend night each year you spend $15,000, 5th night free, free room upgrades, 10 free Priority Pass lounge passes, no foreign transaction fee (See rates and fees), baggage insurance, return protection, purchase protection, entertainment access

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card Review: More Details

With a generous introductory bonus, great earning rate and plenty of additional perks, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass card is a rewarding option for any Hilton loyalist. For a modest $95 annual fee, the Surpass card is packed with value.

Elevated introductory bonus

Hilton Honors Surpass card is one of the largest available among any rewards card – a whopping 125,000 points if you spend $2,000 in the first three months. Despite the fact that Hilton Honors points are inflated and worth around half of the average rewards point, this is still an incredibly valuable offer. If you use all these points at the lowest tier of Hilton hotel, you can get up to 25 free nights.

Annual bonus

On top of a generous introductory bonus the Hilton Honors Surpass includes a free weekend night any year you spend $15,000. This is within our estimated spend level for the average cardholder and can save you a lot on a rewards night stay – especially when you pair it with other rewards or a fifth night free (read on for more information on this perk).

Earning points

Unlike many hotel rewards cards, racking up points on the Hilton Honors Surpass is easy. Cardholders not only earn a generous rate on Hilton stays, but also on a variety of everyday charges. Users earn 12 points per dollar on select Hilton properties, 6 points per dollar on U.S. restaurant, U.S. supermarket and U.S. gas station purchases and 3 points per dollar on general purchases. This makes it simple to stockpile rewards for your next free night, even if you don’t have a Hilton stay planned in the near future.

This is a very lucrative earning rate, but keep in mind that Hilton points don’t stretch quite as far as the average rewards point.

What are Hilton Honors points worth?

One major drawback to this card is the fact that Hilton Honors points are one of the lowest-valued rewards program currencies. We estimate Hilton points are worth around 0.5 cents per point when redeemed for a free night reward.

This low value makes a big impact on the overall value of the rewards you earn, knocking down what seems like a very high earning rate. Nevertheless, the Hilton Honors Surpass card is very lucrative. Here’s a quick look at what we estimate each dollar of spending gets you in rewards value among major hotel cards (factoring in the earning rate and estimated point value):

Hilton Honors Ascend comparison

Hilton hotel network

The Hilton hotel network is very widespread, with more than 5,000 properties in more than 100 countries around the globe. Hilton brands include everything from luxury resorts like the Waldorf Astoria to midlevel hotels like DoubleTree or Embassy Suites. Whether you are a budget or luxury traveler, you can likely find a Hilton property for you wherever you vacation.

Redeeming points

Once you’ve racked up Hilton Honors points, you have a few different ways to redeem them. Unfortunately, like many hotel cards, you won’t be able to redeem your points for cash back or a statement credit. However, there are plenty of different purchases you can make with rewards.

Hilton Honors redemption options

Redemption option Point value (cents)
Average standard room reward 0.5
Average premium room reward 0.3
Points & Money 0.5
Car rentals 0.2
Cruise certificate 0.2
On-property rewards 0.2
Experiences Varies
Amazon merchandise 0.2
Donations (PointWorthy.com) 0.25

As you can see, non-reward night redemptions don’t get very much value out of your points. To ensure you get the most out of your rewards, you’ll want to save them for hotel stays. Hilton doesn’t impose any blackout dates, so if a standard room is available, you can book it with points. Just keep in mind that Hilton doesn’t use a fixed rewards chart, so more popular dates and locations might be a bit pricier.

See Related: Best ways to use Hilton Honors points

How many Hilton points do you need for a free night?

The amount of Hilton Honors points you’ll need to save for a free night depends on the property and dates that you want to stay. Each property tier comes with a range of costs and gets a different average value out of your points. Stays in lower-tiered properties start as low as 5,000 points, but higher tiers can cost 95,000 points or more. We found the best point values among the lower-tiered properties.

Hilton standard room rewards

Minimum points required Average point value (cents)
5,000 1.22
10,000 0.99
20,000 0.57
30,000 0.39
40,000 0.36
50,000 0.35
60,000 0.30
70,000 0.35
80,000 0.36
95,000 0.44

Unfortunately, eligible reward night rooms in the 5,000 to 10,000-point range are limited. To stretch your points, we recommend using rewards for stays at properties in the 20,000-point range. You can find out exactly how much your desired stay will cost by searching on Hilton’s website.

Elite status

With the Surpass card, you’ll be granted automatic gold status within Hilton Honors. The benefit comes with several perks that can make your next stay much more relaxed. Here are a few of the most valuable perks that come with gold status:

  • Free Wi-Fi – Though it might not seem like the most valuable benefit, saving a few dollar on Wi-Fi each night can add to your overall savings.
  • No resort fees on rewards stays – Hilton charges daily resort fees at some properties, but as a gold member these are waived.
  • Late checkout – Sleep in a bit on your next stay with late checkout.
  • Two water bottles per stay – A small perk, complimentary water bottles add a bit of extra luxury to your stay.
  • Space-available room upgrades – As long as there is a room available, you can get an upgraded room for free at select Hilton brands.
  • Continental breakfast – Enjoy a complimentary breakfast at most Hilton hotels.
  • 5th night free on reward bookings – One of the most valuable Hilton Honors perks, elite status members enjoy the fifth night free on rewards stays. This can save hundreds on pricier vacations.

Additionally, you can be bumped up to diamond status any year you spend at least $40,000 on your Hilton Surpass card. This is a pretty high spend threshold to reach, but if you can meet it, you’ll enjoy even plusher perks – including executive lounge access at participating properties.

See Related: The benefits of elite status with Hilton Honors,

Lounge access

On top of elite status perks, Hilton Honors Surpass cardholders get 10 free Priority Pass lounge passes each year. There are more than 1,200 of these plush lounges around the globe, so you can enjoy a bit of extra comfort wherever you are travelling.

See Related: Guide to Priority Pass lounges

Unfortunately, the Priority Pass lounge passes that come with the Surpass card don’t include any guest access. If you want to bring a fellow traveler into the lounge, you will either need to use one of your 10 passes or purchase their individual entrance.

If unlimited lounge access – including the ability to bring guests – is an important perk for your travels, the luxury Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card allows you to visit Priority Pass lounges as many times as you’d like with two complimentary guests.

Other benefits

The Hilton Honors Surpass card also comes with several extra perks that make it a valuable card for frequent travelers – beyond benefits at Hilton properties.

  • Free ShopRunner subscription – As an American Express card, the Surpass offers a free ShopRunner subscription, which provides free, two-day shipping from dozens of online retailers.
  • No foreign transaction fee – You won’t be charged anything extra on foreign transactions.
  • Car rental insurance – If you use your Surpass to book and pay for a rental car, you can receive secondary coverage in the case of damage or theft.
  • Travel accident insurance – For fares charged to your card, you can be covered in the case of accidental death or dismemberment while traveling by common carrier.
  • Extended warranty – On eligible warranties of five years or less, you can add up to two years to the original manufacturer’s warranty.

Keep in mind that while the Hilton Honors Surpass doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee, American Express cards are not accepted as widely abroad as they are in the U.S.

Customer experience

Another plus for the Surpass card – it is offered by American Express, who has one of the best customer service reputations among credit card issuers. In J.D. Power’s 2019 customer satisfaction survey, Amex scored 838, ranking second among 11 issuers. Their app also rates well among users, rating 4.3 out of 5 in the Google Play Store and 4.9 of out 5 in the Apple App Store.

Approval odds

The Hilton Honors Surpass is recommended for users with good to excellent credit (above 670), so make sure you meet those qualifications before you apply. Additionally, American Express reserves the right to consider how many cards you have open at a time when reviewing your application. Though there is no hard-and-fast rule on how many accounts you can have open, we recommend you stay under five open cards at a time.

How does the Hilton Honors Surpass compare to other Hilton cards?

The Hilton Honors Surpass card has a great earning rate, introductory bonus and perks for a card with a relatively low annual fee. However, some travelers might be better off opting for a no annual fee card or a luxury card, depending on how frequently you travel and take advantage of extra perks.

Hilton Honors American Express Card
Hilton Honors American Express Card
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
Rewards rate

  • 7 points per dollar on Hilton hotel stays
  • 5 points per dollar on U.S. restaurant, U.S. supermarket and U.S. gas station purchases
  • 3 points per dollar on other purchases
Rewards rate

  • 14 points per dollar on Hilton stays
  • 7 points per dollar on airfare, car rentals and U.S. restaurants
  • 3 points per dollar on other purchases
Rewards rate

  • 12 points per dollar on Hilton hotel purchases
  • 6 points per dollar on select business and travel purchases
  • 3 points per dollar on other purchases
Welcome bonus

75,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months

Welcome bonus

150,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months

Welcome bonus

125,000 points if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months

Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$450

Annual fee

$95

Other things to know

  • Automatic silver elite status
  • Terms apply
Other things to know

  • One free weekend night each year on your account anniversary
  • Additional weekend night reward each year you spend $60,000
  • Priority Pass lounge access
  • $250 airline fee credit
  • $250 Hilton Resorts credit
  • $100 luxury on-property credit
  • Automatic diamond elite status
  • Terms apply
Other things to know

  • Free weekend night each year you spend $15,000
  • Automatic gold elite status, plus automatic diamond status any year you spend $40,000
  • 10 free Priority Pass lounge passes
  • Free employee cards with ability to set spend limits
  • Year-end summaries and Quickbooks downloads
  • Terms apply

Hilton Honors American Express Card

The Hilton Honors American Express Card is a great choice for less frequent travelers, as it comes with a great earning rate and doesn’t charge an annual fee. Like the Surpass, you can earn points on everyday purchases such as those at U.S. supermarkets and gas stations. Plus, you’ll still enjoy silver elite status.

Hilton Honors Aspire

The Hilton Honors Aspire is the most luxury Hilton card, and it comes with a hefty price tag of $450. To offset this, it is packed with plush travel perks and credits. On top of a generous rewards rate on travel purchases, Aspire cardholders can enjoy unlimited Priority Pass lounge access, a free weekend night at a Hilton property every year and up to $250 in credits for incidental purchases with their favorite airline – among much more.

Hilton Honors Business

Similar to the Surpass card, the Hilton Honors Business charges a $95 annual fee and offers similar perks. However, it is designed with small business owners in mind – tailoring rewards to business purchases and offering extras like free employee cards and year-end summaries.

Who should apply for the Hilton Honors Surpass card?

  • Hilton loyalists who want to earn points on everyday purchases.
  • Cardholders looking to score a generous intro bonus.
  • Frequent travelers looking for a loyalty program with a wide network.
  • Cardholders looking for perks like lounge access and elite status who don’t want to pay for a luxury card.

How to use the Hilton Honors Surpass card:

  • Spend at least $2,000 in the first three months to earn the introductory bonus.
  • Use your card for all Hilton, U.S. supermarket, U.S. restaurant and U.S. gas station purchases to rack up the most points.
  • Save points for stays of five nights or longer to take advantage of the fifth night free perk.
  • Take advantage of the Hilton Honors Shop-to-Earn mall online shopping portal and Hilton Honors Dining program to earn a few extra points.

Is the Hilton Honors Surpass card worth it?

If you are a Hilton hotel loyalist, the Hilton Honors Surpass is a great way to rack up plenty of extra points toward your next reward stay. You’ll earn a generous rate on everyday purchases and be able to take advantage of a few extra perks along the way.

See Related: 5 tips for choosing the right hotel credit cardIs it worth it to transfer Hilton hotel points to American Airlines?

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

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

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

Our reviews and best card recommendations are based on an objective rating process and are not driven by advertising dollars. However, we do receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners. Learn more about our advertising policy

All reviews are prepared by CreditCards.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank’s website for the most current information.

Responses to comments in the discussion section below are not provided, reviewed, approved, endorsed or commissioned by our financial partners. It is not our partner’s responsibility to ensure all posts or questions are answered.

Partner Offer

Apply Now