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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express
Hotel co-branded 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 co-branded hotel cards are better than others, especially when it comes to extra benefits that really come in handy during stays at the chain’s properties.
The Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express is an excellent example of a co-branded hotel credit card that truly offers value to the regular Hilton guest. Not only does it currently come with a generous sign-up bonus and solid earning potential, but it also provides a level of status that will greatly enhance your stays at Hilton hotels. And as a result of some upcoming changes to the Hilton credit card lineup, you don’t have much longer to get this card in its current form. So here are some of the top reasons you might think about getting a Hilton Honors Surpass Card in the near future…
1. The Sign-Up Bonus
For a limited time, American Express is offering 125,000 bonus points when you sign up for the Hilton Honors Surpass Card — you get 100,000 points after you spend $3,000 or more in purchases within the first 3 months, and an additional 25,000 points after you make an additional $1,000 in purchases within the first 6 months. That’s the highest publicly available bonus we’ve ever seen on this card, and based on TPG’s most recent valuations, the bonus points alone are worth $750, which is a great return for a card that only charges a $75 annual fee.
Given the enormous number of Hilton properties, 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. But this offer may quickly vanish without notice, so grab these bonus points while you can.
2. 12x Points at Hilton Hotels
If you stay at Hilton hotels on a regular basis — 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 12 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 credit cards that beat the Hilton Surpass on Hilton stays are the Platinum Card from American Express and the Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN. 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 12 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 US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations with the Hilton Surpass card, and 3x points everywhere else.
3. 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. We value 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, but unlike Hilton’s mid-tier status, the chain’s top-tier status isn’t as impressive as some of its competitors. Still, it’s nice to have the option if being a Diamond elite is valuable to you.
4. Fifth Night Free
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.
You can use the 5th Night Free benefit on an unlimited number of award redemptions, but keep in mind it only applies to stays of five consecutive nights at the same property using a full standard room award. But if your stay extends longer than five nights, you’ll get another Fifth Night Free at night #10, night #15 and even night #20 within the same reservation.
5. Grandfathered Annual Fee for First Year
Finally, you don’t have too much more time to get the Hilton Honors Surpass card, with or without the 125,000-point limited time sign-up bonus. That’s because American Express has announced that in January 2018, it’s going to introduce three new Hilton credit cards — the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card, the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card and the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. When that happens, all existing Surpass cardmembers will have their cards converted to the new Hilton Ascend.
But that creates a great opportunity to lock in a discounted annual fee on this card. That’s because if you get the Hilton Surpass now, you’ll be grandfathered into the $75 annual fee for the first year, even though your card will convert to the more expensive $95 Hilton Ascend card in January. So you’ll save $20 versus waiting to get the card in 2018.
The great news is that even though you’ll pay the lower fee for the first year, you’ll still get all the new benefits of the Ascend card as soon as your card is converted. That means starting in January, you’ll get a free weekend award night when you spend $15,000 in purchases on the card in a calendar year, along with 10 free Priority Pass lounge passes (the current Surpass Card includes a basic Priority Pass lounge membership, but you have to pay $27 per person per visit to the lounges). In addition, the Ascend card will waive foreign transaction fees, a major improvement over the Surpass which charges a 2.7% fee on overseas purchases.
When it comes to credit cards, you don’t get many chances to both maximize a bonus offer and minimize an annual fee at the same time. But the current offer on the Hilton Honors Surpass Card does exactly that. So if you have any interest in Hilton Honors points or Hilton elite status, our advice is to jump on this deal while you can, because the window to get this card is quickly closing and will soon be gone forever.
Featured image of the Hilton at Resorts World Bimini, Bahamas, courtesy of Hilton.