The Hilton Honors Amex Surpass card: 5 reasons to get it

Feb 17, 2021

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest credit card information.

Hotel cobranded credit cards serve a very specific audience — after all, if you aren’t a regular visitor to the hotel chain in question, there probably isn’t much reason to get its credit card. But on the flip side, some cobranded hotel cards are better than others, especially when it comes to extra benefits that come in handy during stays at the chain’s properties.

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is an excellent example of a cobranded hotel credit card that truly offers value to the regular Hilton guest. Not only does it come with a generous welcome bonus and solid earning potential, but it also provides a level of status that will greatly enhance your stays at Hilton hotels — all at a reasonable $95 annual fee (see rates and fees). So, here are some of the top reasons you might think about getting a Hilton Honors Amex Surpass card.

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In This Post

The welcome offer

The current offer is 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in eligible purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Based on TPG’s current valuations, those bonus points are worth $780, a great return for a card that only charges a $95 annual fee. (see rates and fees)

Given that Hilton has more than 6,300 properties worldwide, there are tons of uses for these bonus points, such as five nights at Universal Orlando or at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Queenstown in New Zealand.

Related: 7 great ways to use 150,000 Hilton Honors points

12x Points at Hilton Hotels

The DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Penang. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)
Redeem your Hilton Honors points at the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Penang. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

If you stay at Hilton hotels regularly — or even on a semi-regular basis — there are very few cards with a return as good as the Hilton Honors Surpass. You’ll earn 12x points per dollar spent on all Hilton purchases, and since TPG values Hilton Honors points at 0.6 cents each, you’re effectively getting a 7.2% return on Hilton stays when using this card.

The only other cards that beat the Hilton Surpass on Hilton stays are The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express. But with both of those cards, you’ll have to book prepaid stays via Amex Travel to get the 5x Membership Rewards points on hotels. Using the Hilton Surpass card, you can book refundable reservations directly with Hilton and get 12x points per dollar, giving you a lot more flexibility to move or cancel your stay if your plans change.

On top of getting 12x points at Hilton (which includes all charges made to your room during your stay), you’ll also get 6x points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations with the Hilton Surpass card, and 3x points on all other eligible purchases.

American Express also added limited-time benefits for cardholders not receiving the full value of their credit cards during the pandemic. The Hilton Surpass benefits include:

  • Unexpired free weekend night certificates — plus those issued through Dec. 31, 2020 — can now be used on any night of the week, and those issued between May 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, will be valid for 24 months from the date of issuance (rather than the usual 12 months).

Related: Amex announces limited-time perks for select Amex Membership Rewards, Delta, Marriott and Hilton cards

Complimentary Hilton Gold Status

Many hotel chains offer only so-so mid-tier elite status benefits, but Hilton is an exception. Hilton Honors Gold elite status comes with a 25% bonus on points earned for Hilton stays, room upgrades at most brands (excluding suites), complimentary breakfast at most properties, a welcome amenity and the Fifth Night Free on award stays. TPG values Hilton Gold status at $980, and you get it free just for having the Hilton Honors Surpass card. The card also comes with the ability to upgrade to Hilton Diamond if you spend $40,000 on it in a calendar year.

Fifth night free

With the Surpass card, you'll get your fifth night free when redeeming points at properties such as the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort. (Photo courtesy of the hotel)
With the Surpass card, you’ll get your fifth night free when redeeming points at properties such as the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort in Phoenix. (Photo courtesy of the hotel)

When it comes to redeeming Hilton Honors points, you can make the ones you’ve earned go a lot further if you have the Hilton Honors Surpass card. Since the card gives you complimentary Hilton Gold elite status, you can take advantage of one of the key benefits of that status: a fifth night free on award redemptions. That means you’ll effectively save 20% of your points on all award stays of five nights.

Hilton uses a dynamic pricing system, so the value of your fifth night free is calculated by taking the average award rate you pay across your five eligible nights. Hilton also includes clear language in its terms and conditions stating that this benefit is only applicable to standard rooms:

“5th Night Free: For every Standard Room Reward stay of five or more nights, every 5th night is free. Applies only to five consecutive nights within the same full Points Standard Room Reward stay at the same property, up to 20 nights, when confirmed at time of booking. All other nights of the stay will be charged at the applicable full Standard Room Reward price. A standard room is defined by each hotel and subject to availability at participating hotels within the Hilton Portfolio. Applies to Standard Room Reward stays only, not to paid stays or Points & Money Rewards™. Does not apply when stay is booked as part of a Reward Stay offer, package, or promotion offered by Hilton or any of its partners.”

Related: The award traveler’s guide to Hilton Honors

Priority Pass access

The British Airways Priority Pass lounge at closing.
The British Airways Priority Pass lounge at Washington Dulles International Airport. (Photo by JT Genter)

The Hilton Surpass comes with a Priority Pass Select membership that gives cardholders 10 lounge visits every year. You can pay $32 for each additional visit past 10. If you’re a semi-frequent traveler who goes through an airport with a Priority Pass lounge a handful of times a year, this is a great perk that won’t break the bank like similar benefits on premium travel rewards credit cards.

Related: Best credit cards for airport lounge access

Bottom Line

When it comes to credit cards, you don’t get many chances to both maximize a welcome offer and minimize an annual fee at the same time. But the current offer on the Hilton Honors Surpass Card does exactly that. If you have any interest in Hilton Honors points or Hilton elite status, our advice is to add this card to your wallet.

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

Featured photo by John Gribben/The Points Guy

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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