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

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

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

If you're looking for hotel elite status and superb travel perks, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card can easily offer you both. On top of these benefits, the card features a free weekend night award after you spend $15,000 on purchases within a calendar year — which can be worth hundreds of dollars alone.

These features make the $95 annual fee convincing, as you'll find that this card offers unmatched value year after year. If you're a frequent Hilton guest, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is worth the consideration as a top hotel card.

But if you're the type of credit card user who values flexibility 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 14 different loyalty programs, including both airlines and hotels. You can read more about this card and other options in the comparison section of our review.

Good For

  • Anyone who spends over $15,000 per year
  • People who want to earn free stays at Hilton hotels
  • Hilton and airport perks, making this card more versatile than most hotel cards

Bad For

  • Consumers who want rewards with more flexibility and freedom
  • $95 annual fee

Hilton Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card benefits and features

In this section, we'll analyze the benefits and features of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card to see if it's a good fit for you.

Welcome offer

You can earn 130,000 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.

At first glance, this may seem like an outstanding offer. Don't forget that hotel points are usually inflated — according to our estimation, Hilton Honors points are worth around 0.5 cents each. For comparison, we take a look at competing hotel-affiliated cards with a similar annual fee ($95):

Credit card
Welcome offer
Value of welcome offer
Value of each point (in cents)

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

130,000 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.$6500.5 cents
World of Hyatt Credit CardEarn up to 60,000 Bonus Points - Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 More Bonus Points by earning 2 Bonus Points total per $1 spent in the first 6 months from account opening on purchases that normally earn 1 Bonus Point, on up to $15,000 spent.$7651.7 cents
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit CardEarn 3 Free Nights after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening + 10X total points per $1 spent on up to $2,500 in combined purchases at gas stations, restaurants, and grocery stores within 6 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy BoundlessTM Credit Card!$3750.5 cents
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit CardEarn 150,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.$6250.5 cents

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is the clear winner for the mid-tier hotel card market from the welcome bonus alone. Thankfully, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card excels in its other benefits that make this card worth keeping in your wallet.

Earning rate

With every swipe of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, users will earn points redeemable for stays at the affiliated hotel chain. You can 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.

While this card is most rewarding on Hilton purchases, we like that you'll earn bonus points on everyday spending that will appeal to most consumers.

What are Hilton Honors points worth?

We estimate a single Hilton Honors point to be worth approximately 0.05 cents each, but this is largely dependent on the itinerary and other factors. This value is on-par with other hotel programs, such as Marriott Bonvoy and IHG Rewards Club. Only the World of Hyatt program offers excellent value for your points, at a rate of 1.7 cents each.

Although the value of Hilton Honors points are below average compared to the average rewards program point, redeeming them is fairly easy despite the lack of an award chart. A huge plus is that you get your fifth night free with this card, which makes redeeming your points for multiple nights a great deal.

Value: Below average
Ease of redeeming: Above average

Redeeming points

Although Hilton does not publish an official award chart, redemptions start at only 5,000 points and can be as high as 95,000 points for a standard room. Some luxury properties may require up to 120,000 points. Most redemptions will actually be quite reasonable, and it should be easy to snag a great deal with your bank of Hilton Honors points. There are no blackout dates, meaning you can use your points to book any of Hilton's 4,900 properties. You can also use Hilton's Point Explorer tool to see what properties you can book with the ideal number of points you'd like to use per night in a given destination.

There are numerous brands in the Hilton portfolio, ranging from the iconic Waldorf Astoria hotels to your basic Hilton Garden Inn. You can maximize your Hilton Honors points by staying at properties that require a fewer number of points. When searching for a hotel using points, Hilton has labeled some "deals" that will likely get you a great value for your rewards.

hotel

Below, we've sampled various hotels in New York City to illustrate redemption options:

Hotel
Cash price
Points required
Points value (in cents)
Conrad New York Midtown$45289,000 points0.51 cents
Embassy Suites by Hilton New York Manhattan Times Square$8724,000 points0.36 cents
Hilton Garden Inn New York/Central Park South Midtown West$13424,000 points0.56 cents
Homewood Suites by Hilton New York/Midtown Manhattan Times Square-South, NY$18340,000 points0.46 cents
Average value0.47 cents

Based on this sample list of hotels alone, each Hilton Honors point is worth roughly 0.5 cents each. You can get a better deal on certain redemptions, such as ultra-luxury hotels or on hotels that require just 5,000 points. Plus, by using your fifth-night-free perk, you can gain even more value. You can read more about the Hilton Rewards program and the best ways to redeem your points in our guide.

Free weekend night reward

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card's defining feature is the free weekend night award after spending $15,000 on purchases in a calendar year. The award is redeemable for a standard room on the weekend at any Hilton property, save for a few exclusions. If you can reach the $15,000 spending limit each year, this benefit alone can cover the $95 annual fee.

The value of this benefit will solely depend on how you redeem it. For example, you could use this reward to book a night at the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam, which can cost over $600.

Priority Pass access for airport lounges

Another compelling feature of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is the complimentary Priority Pass access. Cardholders receive 10 free passes each year — after that, each subsequent visit will cost $32. Most hotel cards don't offer many travel benefits that aren't affiliated with the hotel, so this card can serve many travelers.

Priority Pass grants you access to more than 1,300 participating airport lounges worldwide, making your next long layover slightly more enjoyable. Amenities include complimentary Wi-Fi, snacks, beverages, and in some cases, showers. If you're frequently traveling through airports, you might find a lot of value in this benefit.

Hilton elite status

By merely owning this card, you'll earn complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status. To qualify for this tier, you typically need 20 stays per calendar year. With this requirement waived, the benefits of Gold status include:

  • 80% points-earning bonus on Hilton stays
  • Space-available room upgrades
  • Free continental breakfast
  • Milestone bonuses
  • Elite rollover nights
  • Every standard-rate fifth night free
  • Late checkout
  • Free Wi-Fi

If you want to shoot for Hilton Honors Diamond status instead, you'll need to spend at least $40,000 on purchases on your card in one calendar year. This is the highest loyalty tier through Hilton Honors, which typically requires 30 stays at Hilton per year. On top of the Gold tier benefits, you'll enjoy the following with Diamond status:

  • 100% points-earning bonus on Hilton stays
  • Executive lounge access
  • Diamond status extension
  • Premium Wi-Fi
  • 48-hour room guarantee
  • Elite status gifting

For those who spend a lofty amount per year, achieving Diamond status can be doable and will be worth paying a small $95 annual fee in comparison.

Other card benefits

Finally, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card comes with ancillary benefits that make this an all-around fantastic travel card:

  • Car rental loss and damage insurance
  • 24/7 Global Assist Hotline
  • American Express Experiences
  • Fraud protection
  • Foreign transaction fees: None
  • Terms apply

How does the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card compare to other credit cards?

To determine the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card's value, you should compare it against other available options. Below are some of this card's top competitors — including Hilton's no-annual-fee and $450 annual fee versions — and our thoughts on how this card performs against them.

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

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is Hilton's luxury card offering, with numerous benefits that make this a better pick than the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card:

  • Elevated earnings rate: Earn 14X Hilton Honors Bonus Points per $1 of eligible purchases on your Card directly with a participating Hilton hotel or resort; 7X for eligible purchases: on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies & at U.S. restaurants; 3X for other purchases on your card.
  • Complimentary Hilton Diamond status: Enjoy perks such as executive lounge access, elite status extension, premium Wi-Fi and more.
  • Two weekend night rewards: You'll receive one free weekend night reward each cardmember anniversary and another after spending at least $60,000 each calendar year.
  • Annual statement credits: You'll receive up to a $250 Hilton Resorts statement credit and upt to a $250 airline incidentals statement credit.
  • On-property credit at Hilton luxury hotels: You'll receive a $100 on-property credit for Waldorf Astoria and Conrad Hotels.
  • Terms apply

Keep in mind that the annual fee difference between these two credit cards is enormous — $450 vs. $95. However, the difference can be negated by taking advantage of the extra perks that come with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.

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

On the flip side, the Hilton Honors American Express Card is a much better option for people with minimal expenses, charging less than $15,000 to their credit card each year. In return, the $0-annual-fee Hilton Honors American Express Card comes with fewer perks than any Hilton card.

Some of the notable features of the Hilton Honors American Express Card include:

  • Earn a 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend a total of $5,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months.
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio, 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations AND 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status
  • Terms apply

The Hilton Honors American Express Card could be a decent introductory hotel card for many. Still, we believe that the added benefits that come with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card make it more attractive to many.

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

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

  • On Chase's Secure Website

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card also comes with a $95 annual fee but will be much better suited for travel enthusiasts who don't want to be tied to a single hotel chain. The rewards you earn through this card are through Chase Ultimate Rewards and can be transferred to the following loyalty programs:

  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • World of Hyatt

Although Hilton Honors isn't listed above, you can book any travel on the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and enjoy a 25% points bonus. If you choose the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you'll be giving up that free weekend night perk, meaning you'll need 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 undoubtedly be better. On the other hand, if you're starting to use Airbnb or other hotel chains more frequently, you'll benefit more from the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

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 $59,999 annually — enough to earn the card's free weekend night award, but not enough to earn two free weekend nights with Hilton's luxury-tier hotel card: the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.

Out of all the hotel credit cards out there, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card will check a lot of boxes. Even if it comes with a $95 annual fee, the card offers a long list of perks that can outweigh this cost — so long as you take advantage of them. If you don't stay at Hilton often, you may want to opt for a general travel rewards card that emphasizes flexibility instead.

The information related to Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card, and the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card have been independently collected by ValuePenguin and have not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.

Stella Shon

Stella Shon is a travel credit cards writer with ValuePenguin. After studying abroad in Paris three years ago, she became determined to keep traveling. That’s when she discovered the world of points and miles, which enabled her to travel on a student budget. Since then, she’s flown over 150,000 miles and earned more than 500,000 points and miles with eight different credit cards. While in college, she even co-founded her own travel agency, helping her peers plan and book trips on a budget. As a recent journalism graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill, her goal is to write about travel to make it simpler and achievable for everyone. Her work has also appeared on JetBlue, The Points Guy, Travel + Leisure and CNBC.

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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).