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Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card: Is It Worth Applying For?

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card: Is It Worth Applying For?

A great hotel rewards credit card for those who spend big at supermarkets, restaurants and gas stations. Great for earning free nights at Hilton hotels.
Editor's Rating: 4.5/5.0
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Editor's Rating

{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

4.5/5.0

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer.

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card has replaced the old Hilton Ascend credit card, and most things have changed for the better. The card now features new benefits, like a free weekend night award after you spend $15,000 on purchases within a calendar year. This single benefit can be worth hundreds of dollars, which can make it worthwhile for current cardholders to keep this rebranded card. For potential cardholders, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is worth the consideration if you're a frequent Hilton guest.

Review: Is the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card Worth It?

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is a great hotel credit card for those who spend between $15,000 and $60,000 annually. Anyone below that range should consider the no-annual-fee version, while high spenders should go with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card—a card with a $450 annual fee and a suite of benefits worth much more.

Good For...Bad For...
Anyone spending over $15,000 per year.Consumers who want rewards with more flexibility and freedom.
People who want to earn free stays at Hilton hotels.

The defining characteristic of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is the free weekend night award after spending $15,000 on purchases in a calendar year. On average, we think this perk is worth about $143—more than enough to cover the $95 annual fee. However, if you're a deal hunter, you can score an even better bargain. For example, we were able to find a room at the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam where a single night can cost $700. You can read about the other perks of this credit card in the section below.

Consumers who aren't loyal to the Hilton brand can get better rewards and perks through other credit cards. If you're the type of credit card user who values flexibility and the ability to find the best rates—no matter the hotel—then the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a better choice. The Ultimate Rewards points you earn through this card can be traded in for points with 11 different loyalty programs, including both airlines and hotels. You can read more about this, and other credit card options, in the comparison section of our review.

Bottom Line: For frequent Hilton customers, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card can be a very good deal. The card offers enough to make its annual fee worthwhile. However, we recommend checking out some alternatives (listed at the bottom of this article) before you apply.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card Benefits & Features

With every swipe of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, users earn points that can be redeemed for stays at the affiliated hotel chain. You can get 12 Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar spent at a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio. When using this card within the United States at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations, you will earn 6 points per $1. Every other purchase gets you 3 points per $1. The points you earn from this card at Hilton Properties are added to the "base points" that you would earn anyway from booking a stay with Hilton.

On American Express' Secure Website

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

On American Express' Secure Website
  • Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
  • Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio.
  • Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Spend $40,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn Hilton Honors Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
  • Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio.
  • Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Spend $40,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn Hilton Honors Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Annual Fee
$95
Regular APR
17.49%-26.49% Variable
Credit Needed
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Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card has no foreign transaction fees. That means you can use it abroad without incurring extra charges.

What Are Hilton Honors Points Worth?

We consider a single Honors point to be worth approximately $0.006. You may have noticed that this card tends to be a lot more generous with the number of points it awards than most other credit cards. But these points, individually, are a lot less valuable than the typical reward point. The end rewards rate still ends up being favorable for this card, though not quite as impressive as the inflated points make it out to be.

To obtain the average value of a Hilton point, we sampled more than 15 different itineraries, including stays in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City–all across different dates. We divided the cost of a one-night stay in U.S. dollars by the cost in Honors points, to arrive at a value per point.

The value of your points also depends on the Hilton hotel category with which you book your stay. The higher the category, the nicer the hotel. Unfortunately, higher categories also give you a lesser value overall.

Category  # Number of Points Needed Value (cents)
1 5,000 1.83
2 10,000 1.17
3 20,000 0.59
4 30,000 0.53
5 30,000-40,000 0.46
6 30,000-50,000 0.42
7 30,000-60,000 0.46
8 40,000-70,000 0.40
9 50,000-80,000 0.43
10 70,000-95,000 0.43

You can read more about the Hilton Rewards program in our guide.

Priority Pass Membership (Lounge Access)

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card cardholders are automatically granted membership to Priority Pass – a value of $249 per year. This membership grants people access to more than 900 participating airport lounges worldwide, which may make your next long layover slightly more enjoyable. Amenities include free WiFi, snacks, beverages, and in some cases showers. If you're frequently traveling through airports, you might find a lot of value in this kind of benefit.

You get 10 free passes each year. Each subsequent visit will cost you $27.

Hilton Gold/Diamond Status

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card comes with complimentary Gold status at Hilton Hotels. Without this perk, you could only get Gold status by booking 20 stays or 40 nights at Hilton properties per year. The benefits include:

  • A 80 percent boost to Honors base points earned
  • Every standard-rate fifth night free on stays of five nights or more
  • Late checkout
  • Digital check-in

Cardholders who spend at least $40,000 on purchases on their Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card inside of one calendar year will be awarded Diamond status–the highest loyalty status with the hotel. Normally, to get this benefit you would need to have 30 stays, 60 qualifying nights, or earn 120,000 base points. The benefits of Diamond status include a 100 percent point bonus on Hilton stays, room upgrades, and access to executive floor lounges at select properties (when available). Diamond card holders also receive all the benefits of Gold, Silver, and Blue membership.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, please click here.

How Does the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card Compare Against Other Credit Cards?

To determine the value of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, you should compare it against other available options. Below are some of this card's top competitors, and our thoughts on how this card performs when matched up against them.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card vs Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply.
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply.

There are two benefits that can make the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card a better pick than the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card:

  • The second free weekend night benefit available to cardholders who spend at least $60,000 per year
  • The annual $250 credit toward airline incidentals (such as baggage fees, Wifi, and in-flight food.)

If you like at least one of these perks, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is likely a better choice, despite its high annual fee. The fee difference between these two credit cards is huge— $95 vs. $450 (See Rates & Fees) . However, so long as you use at least one of the above-mentioned perks, the difference is canceled out. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card's other big perk is the $250 annual credit toward Hilton hotel purchases. So long as you use it every year, it effectively knocks down your annual fee to $200.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, please click here.

The information related to the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card vs Hilton Honors American Express Card

The Hilton Honors American Express Card is a much better option for people charging less than $15,000 to their credit card each year. The card doesn't come with as many benefits as any of the other credit cards affiliated with Hilton. In return, however, the Hilton Honors American Express Card has no annual fee (See Rates & Fees). If you're spending below that $15,000 threshold, it doesn't make sense to get any of the annual fee options. You'll be paying more for the card than you get out of it.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Card, please click here.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card vs Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is better-suited for travel aficionados who don't want to be tied to a single hotel chain. The rewards you earn through this card, so-called Ultimate Rewards, can be transferred to one of four hotel and seven airline loyalty programs. The list includes:

  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Hyatt Gold Passport
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Marriott Rewards
  • The Ritz-Carlton Rewards

If you choose the Chase card, you'll be giving up that free weekend night perk. You have to decide whether the added flexibility the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card provides is worth the tradeoff. For readers who stay at Hilton Hotels multiple nights per year, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card will be undoubtedly better. On the other hand, if you're starting to use Airbnb or other services more frequently, you'll benefit more from the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

Comparison Tool

To arrive at a more comprehensive credit card suggestion, it may be worthwhile to play around with our tool, below. It will customize the net rewards you can expect out of each credit card by taking into account your spending.

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Assumptions based on $1,430 monthly spend
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Comments and Questions

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).