5 reasons to get the Hilton Honors Amex Surpass card

May 28, 2022

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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.

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is an excellent example of a cobranded hotel credit card that truly offers value to a regular Hilton guest. It comes with a generous (and elevated) welcome bonus and solid earning potential, but the card also provides a level of status that will greatly enhance your stays at Hilton hotels.

Here are some of the top reasons you should think about getting a Hilton Honors Amex Surpass card.

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In This Post

The welcome offer

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

The current offer is 130,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, you can earn up to $130 in statement credits on eligible purchases made on the card at any of the Hilton family hotels in the first 12 months of membership. Based on TPG’s current valuations, those bonus points are worth up to $780, and when you factor in the statement credits, the value of this offer jumps to $910.

That’s a great return for a card with 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. And with high demand for summer travel, the addition of up to $130 in statement credits for your Hilton stays — which can be applied to room rates or on-property charges — makes now a great time to apply.

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

12 points per dollar 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 12 points per dollar spent on all eligible 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.

There are three other cards that have the potential to beat the Hilton Surpass when it comes to rewards on Hilton stays:

But with the first two cards, you’ll have to book prepaid stays via American Express Travel to get 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on hotels. And the Hilton Aspire card carries a massive annual fee of $450 (see rates and fees), and your earning rate is just a bit higher (14 points per dollar instead of 12).

Using the Hilton Surpass card, you can book refundable reservations directly with Hilton and get 12 points per dollar without a large annual fee, giving you a lot more flexibility to move or cancel your stay if your plans change.

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

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 an 80% bonus on points earned for Hilton stays, room upgrades at most brands (excluding suites), a daily food-and-beverage credit (at U.S. hotels only) or continental breakfast (at non-U.S. hotels) and a welcome amenity. 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 — though if you’re really in the market for Diamond status, you may be better off with the Hilton Aspire.

Related: I tried out the new Hilton Honors ‘breakfast’ benefit — and I’m a fan

Fifth night free on award stays

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 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.”

Nevertheless, this can be a great option to save some points on longer stays.

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 Points Guy)

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 beyond that amount. 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. Enrollment is required for select benefits.

Related: Best credit cards for airport lounge access

Bottom line

When it comes to credit cards, you don’t get many chances to maximize a welcome offer with a decent annual fee. This is especially true for American Express cards due to the issuer’s policy of once-per-lifetime welcome bonuses. Thankfully, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card recently upped its welcome offer to 130,000 points plus up to $130 in statement credits for Hilton purchases.

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 of the Conrad Punta de Mita courtesy of Hilton.

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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