Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Review

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The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass card offers extra points and benefits for Hilton fans who crave elite status perks for minimal cost. 

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card

Overall Rating
3.2
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.74% - 24.74% variable
Annual Fee $95
Rewards Earning Rate 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. 6 points per $1 for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations. 3 points per $1 for all other eligible purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
Ratings Breakdown
for Interest
1.7
for Fees
2.5
for Rewards
3.0
for Credit
3.7
Current Offer

Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass(R) Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

Who Is This Credit Card Best For?

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    Road Warrior
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    Adventure Seeker
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    Brand Loyalist

Surpass is Hilton’s middle-tier credit card and, as such, it can be worth getting even if you are only a fair-weather Hilton fan because it gives you some airport lounge access. If you’re a semi-regular traveler who doesn’t want to pay for a premium airline credit card but likes airport lounges, this is a good deal. 

If you stay at Hilton hotels regularly and like the Honors program’s benefits, you’ll find value in this card, too. New cardholders are automatically upgraded to Hilton Honors Member Gold status, which means more Hilton perks and a higher points earning rate. However, if you’re looking for a card that truly offers the best rewards for frequent travelers, consider a non-Hilton option that is more flexible and rewards both airline and hotel purchases generously. 

Pros
  • Priority Pass Select airport lounge access

  • High rewards earning rate

  • Free weekend night reward

  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold Status upgrade

Cons
  • Annual fee

  • Low average point valuation

Pros Explained

  • Priority Pass Select airport lounge access: This isn’t an airline-branded credit card, but you can still enjoy airport lounges in the Priority Pass Select network for free 10 times each year. If you’re able to use that benefit, it’s a great offering, considering an annual Priority Pass membership with 10 visits a year costs $299 upfront. 
  • High rewards earning rate: The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass card earns significantly more points for Hilton spending than the basic Hilton Amex card, and still gives you bonus points for everyday gas, grocery, and restaurant purchases. 
  • Free weekend night reward: If you spend at least $15,000 in a calendar year, you’ll earn a free weekend night to use at a Hilton property. That should be an easy-to-reach benefit if you charge $1,250 to this card each month, on average.
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status upgrade: You’ll immediately be eligible for a higher points earning rate when you pay to stay at Hilton properties. Plus, the status gives you a few extra hotel perks such as room upgrades when available and free continental breakfast. Then, if you spend $40,000 on the card in a calendar year you’ll be upgraded to Diamond Status through the end of the next calendar year.

Cons Explained

  • Annual fee: The $95 annual fee is not out of line for a midlevel travel rewards credit card, and is an easily recouped cost if you enjoy what this card offers. But those who don’t take advantage of the airport lounge access or spend at least $15,000 a year on the card (enough to earn a free hotel night) would be better off with the no-annual-fee Hilton Honors American Express card. 
  • Low average point valuation: The Balance found the average value of Honors points is a low 0.45 cent each, while several major hotel rewards programs offer points worth at least 1 cent each. It’s great that you can earn so many extra points with this card, and that helps make up the value difference. Just be mindful of this when you see high numbers of bonus points or the cost of award nights.

Welcome Offer

If you spend $3,000 with this card in the first three months, you’ll earn 150,000 Hilton Honors points. 

We calculate that this welcome offer may be worth about $675 when points are redeemed for hotel stays—maybe not as much as it might seem when you look only at the six-figure points bonus. That’s because Hilton points are not worth as much, on average, compared with other hotel loyalty rewards (more about this below). 

The welcome offer is not available to new applicants who have or have had this card or the former Hilton Honors Ascend Card before. The number of other American Express cards you’ve previously opened and closed will also factor into your eligibility.

Earning Points & Rewards

If you stay at Hilton hotels often, you’ll rack up points really fast with this card. You’ll earn 12 points per $1 spent on Hilton purchases, and those points are on top of a base of points you’ll earn by staying as a Hilton Honors Gold Status member. The base point earning rate for Gold Status members is 18 points per $1 spent on Hilton stays (or 9 points per $1 at Tru and Home2). You’d only earn 10 points per $1 spent on Hilton stays if you didn’t have elite status. 

This means if you book a $1,000 hotel stay using your Hilton Honors Surpass card, you’ll earn 30,000 points: 18,000 points for being a Gold Status Hilton Honors Member + 12,000 points by paying with this Amex card.  

Book all reservations directly with the hotel. If you use your card through a third-party travel website or travel agency, the purchase won’t be eligible for the top Hilton Honors Bonus Points earnings rate.

Everyday purchases will earn a good number of points, too. You’ll get 6 points per $1 spent at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations, and then 3 points per $1 on everything else. There’s no limit on the number of points you can earn, no blackout dates, and points don’t expire. 

It’s not easy to earn rewards on travel right now, so this card is offering extra points/miles on something many people are spending money on right now: groceries. See “Credit Card Deals Help You Earn and Use Travel Benefits During COVID-19” for more information about this limited-time offer. 

Redeeming Rewards

You’ll get the most value from your points by using them for hotel stays, which cost 5,000 to 95,000 points per night. The final cost of a standard or premium room reservation will vary based on seasonality, location, and availability at each hotel. You can also book a hotel reservation with a combination of reward points and money in 1,000-point increments, starting at 5,000 points. 

The Balance found Hilton points are most valuable when used to book standard hotel rooms in particular. It’ll cost about 63,000 points each night, on average, to make such an award night reservation, according to our research. To learn more about how this compares to other hotel program rewards, see "What Are Credit Card Points and Miles Worth?"

Hilton Honors points can also pay for: 

  • Experiences (i.e. concerts, sporting events, historic tours, travel excursions, and unique activities)
  • Hilton resort activities (i.e. dinners, spa treatments, and golf reservations) 
  • Shopping on Amazon.com
  • Rental cars with partner companies Alamo, Enterprise, or National 
  • Charity donations

Hilton Honors points can be transferred to six U.S. airlines (American Airlines, Delta, United, Frontier, Alaska, and Hawaiian Airlines) and to more than 30 international airlines, but you’ll need an average of at least eight Hilton Honors points to get 1 point in the transfer airline partner’s program. This is clearly not a good use of your points, but it’s good to know your options.

How to Get the Most Out of This Card

Spend $2,000 as soon as you can to lock in those welcome offer bonus points and free night. Strive to spend at least $15,000 in the first year to get a second free weekend reward night, too. Use all 10 free airport lounge passes throughout the year, too, as that benefit makes up for this card’s annual fee. 

Above all, only redeem your points for hotel stays. Because the redemption options outside of Hilton hotels are not of great value, we recommend pairing this card with a general travel, airline, or cash-back rewards card to maximize your rewards potential.

Excellent Perks 

In addition to the top benefits we’ve already mentioned, this card also offers this standout travel card perk: 

  • Baggage insurance plan: You’re covered for replacement costs up to $1,250 per covered individual, per trip for a lost checked or carry-on bag when trip transportation was paid in full with this card.

Other Features 

  • Insurance for stolen or damaged purchases
  • Extended warranties
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver (secondary coverage)
  • Free two-day shipping on select online purchases via ShopRunner  
  • Global travel assistance hotline

Customer Experience

According to J.D. Power, American Express ranks No. 1 for customer satisfaction among credit card issuers, scoring 838 out of 1,000 points in the 2020 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study. The industry average score was 812, so Amex is considered “one of the best” when it comes to positive cardholder ratings. 

Besides American Express’s excellent customer service, you can use a free tool called MyCreditGuide. It gives you access to your TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 and provides credit report monitoring tools. 

Security Features 

If your Hilton Honors American Express Surpass card has been compromised, or your card is lost, instantly lock your account via your online cardholder account. The freeze will automatically lift after seven days unless you remove it first. Lost or stolen cards will be replaced for free, including next-day free shipping. 

Fees 

This card charges a standard array of transaction and penalty fees, plus a $95 annual fee. The annual fee is worth the value of many of its benefits, but only if you use them. If you don’t think you will, but you’d still like to earn Hilton Honors points, you might be better off with the Hilton Honors American Express card, which doesn’t charge an annual fee.

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CURRENT CARD
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card
overall rating
3.2
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.74% - 24.74% variable
Annual Fee $95
Rewards Earning Rate 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. 6 points per $1 for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations. 3 points per $1 for all other eligible purchases.
Our Methodology
At The Balance, we are dedicated to giving you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews. To do this, we collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances.
  • Our Reviews Are Always Impartial: No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive. The scores and reviews come directly from the data we collect and our editorial expertise, and we focus on three areas:
  • How Much Does It Cost? With credit card debt at an all-time high, we believe you should know the cost of carrying a balance. Because of that, we give regular purchase APRs significant weight in overall scores, and cards receive low marks if they have an array of pricey fees.
  • What Are the Rewards Worth? Cards accumulate rewards in different currencies—points, miles, cash back—and their values vary widely. To simplify the problem, we built a system that fairly compares rewards and gives them a dollar value. We do this by looking at the ways you can earn and use rewards, which includes evaluating Americans’ typical spending habits and analyzing common travel patterns.
  • Does It Make Your Life Easier? Our scoring system favors cards that accept a wide range of credit profiles and offer simple solutions for things like checking your credit score or contacting customer service. Finally, we give preference to credit cards that have several tools for dealing with fraudulent charges.
  • For every review on The Balance, we hold the credit cards to these standards, and we set the bar high. While we recognize the appeal of splashy features like six-digit sign-up bonuses, our approach ensures that credit cards with the best combination of value, affordability, and accessibility receive the highest scores. See our full methodology for more details.

Article Sources

The Balance requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. Hilton. "Hilton Honors Express Surpass Card." Accessed Oct. 13, 2020.

  2. American Express. "IMPORTANT INFORMATION REGARDING RATES, FEES, AND OTHER COST INFORMATION." Accessed Oct. 13, 2020.

  3. J.D. Power. "Customers Losing Faith in Credit Card Issuers as COVID-19 Pandemic Lingers, J.D. Power Finds." Accessed Oct. 13, 2020.