Hilton Honors American Express Surpass review: Excellent perks and a huge bonus with a low annual fee

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Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

American Express Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

With an elevated welcome bonus of 150,000 points after you spend at least $2,000 on eligible purchases in your first 3 months of account opening, plus a $150 statement credit after your first purchase in the first three months, you’ll more than offset the annual fee the first year. Plus, you’ll get valuable perks like Hilton Gold status, 10 free Priority Pass airport lounge visits annually, and the opportunity to earn a free weekend night at almost any Hilton hotel after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases in a year.

The points from the welcome bonus are enough for a splurge at luxurious Hilton brands like Waldorf Astoria and Conrad — or you can stretch your points for longer stays at budget-friendly favorites like Hampton Inn and Hilton Garden Inn. 

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is a solid earner, too — you’ll earn 12x points on eligible purchases at Hilton hotels, 6x points at eligible U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations, and 3 points per dollar on all other eligible purchases. If you’re looking to boost your Hilton balance quickly, using this card on everyday expenses is a great way to earn a ton of points.

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If you’re looking for even more perks and don’t mind a higher annual fee, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card can be an even better choice for frequent travelers, because it comes with top-tier Diamond status, airline fee and Hilton resort credits, and unlimited Priority Pass visits. Or, for flexibility, consider a card that earns American Express Membership Rewards points like The Platinum Card® from American Express (which also offers Hilton Gold status) or the American Express® Gold Card . You can transfer Amex points from these cards to Hilton Honors at a 1:2 ratio, and occasionally there are transfer bonuses.

Bottom line: The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is a great pick if you stay with Hilton and are looking for a card with solid perks — like valuable elite status and airport lounge access — for a moderate annual fee. 

We’re focused here on the rewards and perks that come with each card. These cards won’t be worth it if you’re paying interest or late fees. When using a credit card, it’s important to pay your balance in full each month, make payments on time, and only spend what you can afford to pay.

Comparison: Amex Hilton Surpass vs other Hilton credit cards

 

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

Hilton Honors American Express Card

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Annual fee

$95

$0 (See Rates)

$450 (See Review)

Rewards rate

12 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at Hilton hotels

6 points per dollar spent at eligible U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations

3 points per dollar on all other eligible purchases

7 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at Hilton hotels

5 points per dollar spent at eligible U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations

3 points per dollar on all other eligible purchases

12 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at Hilton hotels

7 points per eligible dollar spent on flights booked directly with airlines or Amex Travel, on car rentals booked directly with select car rental companies, and at eligible U.S. restaurants 

3 points per dollar on all other eligible purchases

Welcome bonus

150,000 points after you spend at least $2,000 on eligible purchases in your first 3 months of account opening, plus a $150 statement credit after your first purchase in the first three months 

100,000 points after you spend at least $1,000 on eligible purchases in your first 3 months of account opening, plus a $100 statement credit after your first purchase in the first three months

150,000 points after you spend at least $4,000 in your first 3 months of account opening

Travel benefits

Hilton Gold elite status

Upgrade to Diamond status after you spend $40,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year

Free weekend night certificate after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year

Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership with 10 free visits per year

 

Hilton Silver elite status

Upgrade to Gold status after you spend $20,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year

Hilton Diamond elite status

Free weekend night certificate each year on your card anniversary

Another free weekend night certificate after you spend a total of $60,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year

Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership 

Up to $250 in airline incidental fee credits per calendar year

Up to $250 in Hilton resort credits each cardmember year

Up to $100 in on-property credits for minimum stays of two nights at participating Waldorf Astoria and Conrad properties

 

Foreign transaction fee

No (See Rates)

No (See Rates)

No (See Review)

Review

 

Hilton Honors American Express Card review

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card review

Comparison: Amex Hilton Surpass vs other hotel credit cards

 

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

Annual fee

$95

$95

$89

Rewards rate

12 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at Hilton hotels

6 points per dollar spent at eligible U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations

3 points per dollar on all other eligible purchases

6x points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels

2x points on everything else

10x points on eligible purchases at IHG hotels

2x points on eligible purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants

1 point per dollar on all other eligible purchases

Welcome bonus

150,000 points after you spend at least $2,000 on eligible purchases in your first 3 months of account opening, plus a $150 statement credit after your first purchase in the first three months 

75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening

Travel benefits

Hilton Gold elite status

Upgrade to Diamond status after you spend $40,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year

Free weekend night certificate after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year

Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership with 10 free visits per year

Marriott Silver elite status

Upgrade to Gold status after you spend $35,000 on eligible purchases in an account anniversary year

Free night certificate each card anniversary, valid at Marriott hotels that cost 35,000 points or less

15 elite night credits each calendar year

 

IHG Platinum elite status

Free night certificate each card anniversary, valid at IHG hotels that cost 40,000 points or less

Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit

Fourth reward night free on standard award stays of four nights or longer

10,000 bonus points after you spend $20,000 on purchases and make one additional purchases each account anniversary year

20% discount on points purchases

Foreign transaction fee

No

No

No

Review

  Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card review IHG Rewards Club Premier card review

How to use points from the Hilton Honors Surpass card

Based on Insider’s points and miles valuations, Hilton points are worth, on average, 0.5 cents apiece — so if you’re getting that rate or better on when you redeem your points, you’re getting a good deal. Of course, it’s possible to get even more value from your points, especially when you use them for stays at expensive luxury hotels.

Find out more about how Insider calculated the value of points, miles, and credit card rewards here»

Use Hilton points for hotel stays

The Hilton Honors program includes over 6,300 hotels in 118 countries, so it’s easy to redeem your points just about anywhere you go. You can redeem Hilton points at the following brands:

  • Conrad Hotels & Resorts
  • Canopy by Hilton
  • Curio Collection by Hilton
  • DoubleTree by Hilton
  • Embassy Suites by Hilton
  • Hampton Inn by Hilton
  • Hilton Hotels
  • Hilton Garden Inn
  • Hilton Grand Vacations
  • Home2 Suites by Hilton
  • Homewood Suites by Hilton
  • LXR
  • Motto by Hilton
  • Signia by Hilton
  • Tapestry Collection by Hilton
  • Tempo by Hilton
  • Tru by Hilton 
  • Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts

You’ll typically get the best value from Hilton points by redeeming them for award nights, either for a completely free stay or by combining points and cash. Hilton doesn’t have a standard award chart; instead, the price of an award night at a particular hotel fluctuates based on demand, cash price, and season. 

Standard award nights start at 5,000 Hilton points up to 95,000 points (with a couple of exceptions), but premium awards  — for better rooms, suites, or high-demand dates — can cost much more. Keep in mind the lowest-priced Hilton hotels are usually budget-friendly brands (like Tru by Hilton or Hampton Inn) located off the beaten path; upscale hotels in big cities or luxury resorts will cost more points.

For example, you can book an overwater villa at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island for 95,000 points a night instead of paying over $1,300 with cash. Or, you can stretch your points at hotels like the Hampton Inn Chicago Downtown/N Loop/Michigan Avenue, where low-season rates are as little as 20,000 points per night. Always be sure to compare the cash price to the award rate, because sometimes the paid rate is so low it’s better to save your points for a higher-value redemption.

The Gold elite status you automatically receive with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card qualifies you for the fifth night free on award stays of five nights or more. This is another great way to stretch your points if you want to make them last.

Transfer Hilton points to airlines and Amtrak

Hilton Honors partners with over 30 airlines, plus Amtrak, and you can transfer points at varying ratios depending on the program. This typically won’t result in the best value, but if you won’t be using points for stays it’s an option for other types of travel.

Redeem Hilton points for experiences, events, merchandise, and more

Other options for redeeming Hilton points also won’t get you the highest value, but they could be helpful in certain circumstances:

  • Hilton experiences — Use points for exclusive events, dining, and tours
  • Use Hilton points for event credits — Starting at 25,000 points for up to $50 credit
  • Redeem Hilton points at Amazon — A poor value; you’ll get just 0.2 cents per point
  • Donate Hilton points to charity — For every 10,000 points you donate, Hilton will send $25 to a charity of your choice
  • Use Hilton points toward Lyft rides — Again, not the best value; you’ll typically get around 0.2 cents per point
  • Pool or transfer Hilton points to a friend — Send up to 2 million points per year to friends or family with no fee, or pool your points with up to 11 people to save for a redemption

Hilton points normally expire if there’s no activity in your account for 12 months, but due to the pandemic, the chain has paused points expiration until December 31, 2021. Spending on a Hilton credit card like the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is an easy way to keep your points from expiring until you’re ready to travel.

Amex Hilton Honors Surpass Card benefits and features

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card comes with a lot of useful perks that can improve your travel experience and save you money.

Automatic Hilton Gold elite status

Cardholders receive Hilton Gold status as long as their card is open and in good standing. Hilton’s mid-level elite tier comes with surprisingly good benefits, including:

  • Free continental breakfast 
  • Room upgrades when available
  • Fifth night free on award stays of five nights or more
  • 80% points bonus on paid stays
  • Free bottled water 
  • Elite rollover nights

However, if you spend $40,000 or more on eligible purchases in a calendar year with your Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, you’ll get upgraded to Hilton Diamond elite status through the end of the following calendar year. Hilton Diamond status is even more valuable — it comes with all the benefits of Gold status, plus a 100% points bonus on paid stays, better upgrades, executive lounge access, and premium Wi-Fi.

Priority Pass airport lounge access

When you have the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, you can enroll in a complimentary Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership, with 10 free visits included per year. While other, more premium cards offer a membership with unlimited visits, you’ll usually have to pay a much higher annual fee — so this is a good option if you only travel a few times a year.

Free weekend night certificate

When you spend $15,000 or more on eligible purchases in a calendar year with your Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, you’ll receive a free weekend night certificate, valid for use at most Hilton hotels — even luxury resorts. The certificate is usually only valid on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday nights, but due to the pandemic, unexpired certificates issued in 2020 or 2021 can be used on any night of the week.

Car rental loss and damage insurance

When you pay for your car rental with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card and decline the collision damage waiver at the rental counter, you can get secondary coverage for damage to or theft of the vehicle. Some countries and vehicle types are excluded, so be sure to read the terms and conditions before you rent and note that liability insurance isn’t included.

Secondary car rental insurance will only cover amounts left over after your primary (personal) car insurance pays out. Some credit cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, offer primary car rental insurance, which doesn’t require you to file a claim with your personal policy to get reimbursed.

Global Assist Hotline

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card members can access Amex’s Global Assist Hotline when they’re traveling 100 or more miles from home. This service can provide help with issues like translation services, missing luggage, and emergency legal and medical referrals, and lost passports, but you’ll be responsible for any third-party costs.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

American Express Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® CardCiti Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit CardChase Chase Freedom Unlimited®

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Please note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they’re subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.

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