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Which credit card earns the most points for Hilton stays?

Feb. 22, 2022
6 min read
Canopy Philadelphia
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If valuable hotel elite status without the high annual fee is what you're after, it doesn't get much better than the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card.

The Surpass offers immediate Hilton Gold status — an elite tier that is quite valuable for even an occasional traveler. Free breakfast (or food and beverage credit) and room upgrades, anyone?

However, when it comes to spending money at Hilton properties, let's take a look at which card comes out on top. Hilton has a trio of consumer cards to choose from, in addition to other travel cards that give you a bonus on hotel stays. Remember, you don't necessarily have to pay with the card to reap the benefits.

Let's take a closer look to see which card is best for Hilton stays.

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Current Hilton Surpass offer

While the premium Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card currently has a stellar welcome offer of 150,000 Hilton Honors points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening, the mid-tier Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card includes a welcome offer that surpasses (no pun intended) its premium counterpart.

The Hilton Surpass card offers 130,000 Hilton Honors bonus points plus a free night reward (valid any night of the week) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months of card membership. The card has an annual fee of $95 (see rates & fees).

The points from the welcome offer equate to $780 in value, based on TPG’s most recent valuations. However, the free-night reward has the potential for even more value. Aside from a very small list of excluded properties (available here), you can use this at virtually all properties in the Hilton Honors program.

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Apply here: Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card

How the Surpass card stacks up to the competition

Based on TPG’s latest monthly valuations, the Hilton Surpass card’s 12 points per dollar earned on eligible purchases at Hilton hotels equals a return of 7.2%. However, cobranded Hilton cards aren’t your only option for earning bonus rewards on a Hilton hotel booking.

Below, I’ve compared the earning rates — and the return on spending — you’d get with the three current Amex Hilton cards and a handful of other top consumer travel rewards cards that offer bonus points on hotels.

Related: Review of the Hilton Surpass card

Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express12 points per dollar7.2%
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card14 points per dollar8.4%
Hilton Honors American Express Card7 points per dollar4.2%
Chase Sapphire Reserve10 points per dollar20%Must be booked through Chase Travel
The Platinum Card® from American Express5 points per dollar10%Must be booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year. Terms apply.
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card10 miles per dollar18.5%Must be booked through Capital One Travel
Citi Prestige® Card3 points per dollar5.1%3 points per dollar on hotels

The information for the Citi Prestige Card and Hilton Aspire Amex card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

As you can see, several cards are great for earning bonus points on Hilton stays and hotel purchases in general.

But the cards that offer the highest return on hotel purchases — such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Capital One Venture X — require that you book prepaid reservations through their respective portals, restricting your ability to earn Hilton points and use elite perks. Beyond those cards, the Hilton Aspire and Hilton Surpass are currently your best bets for Hilton stays.

Of course, it also depends on which points are the most valuable to you — if you’d rather earn points in the Ultimate Rewards program than Hilton, the higher return on spending with the Hilton cards doesn’t mean much.

The Waldorf Astoria La Quinta. (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

Bottom line

Some of the best cards to use for Hilton stays are, in fact, not even Hilton cards. For instance, booking with a Chase Sapphire Reserve through Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel typically won't earn you Hilton points or let you make use of your elite perks, but that may not matter to you.

However, if you want points, elite night credit and the ability to utilize the benefits of your status, booking directly through Hilton is your best option. In that case, you can't go wrong with the Hilton Aspire and Hilton Surpass cards — offering 14 Hilton points and 12 Hilton points per dollar on eligible Hilton purchases (terms apply), respectively.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Surpass Amex, click here.

Featured image by (Photo by Julie Soefer for Canopy Philadelphia)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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