HomeCredit CardsAmexHilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card review (2024)

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card review (2024)

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The card_name has long been one of the better co-branded hotel cards on the market thanks to the valuable mid-tier hotel status that it offers alongside a suite of other useful benefits, and for a keen Hilton fan, this is a card that’s relatively simple to justify holding.

The card_name

Annual fee

Welcome offer (terms apply)


Note: Per the offer terms, the welcome offer is not available to applicants who have or have had the card_name or the Hilton Honors Amex Ascend® Card.

Earning rates (terms apply)

  • 12 points/dollar at Hilton properties worldwide
  • 6 points/dollar at U.S. restaurants
  • 6 points/dollar at U.S. supermarkets
  • 6 points/dollar at U.S. gas stations
  • 4 points/dollar on U.S. online retail purchases
  • 3 points/dollar on eligible spending in all other categories

Key benefits (terms apply and registration may be required)

  • Receive Hilton Honors Gold status for as long as you hold the card.
  • Get up to $200 back in annual statement credits when you use your card to pay for eligible purchases made with Hilton (paid as quarterly $50 credits).
  • Earn Hilton Honors Diamond status after spending $40,000 in a calendar year.
  • Earn a Free Night Reward from Hilton Honors after spending $15,000 in a calendar. year
  • Receive National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive status for as long as you hold the card.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Why I like the card_name

The Welcome offer (terms apply)

For a card that costs annual_fees (See Rates and Fees), the 130,000 bonus points that can be earned as part of the welcome offer is pretty good, and as I value Hilton Honors points at 0.4 cents each (based on how I use them and the value that I know that I can get out of them with relative ease), that makes the welcome offer worth $520 to me.

The Free Night Reward that’s also part of the welcome offer can be used at any property participating in the Hilton Honors program worldwide and that makes it valuable.

Clearly, the value you ascribe to this reward will depend on where you’re likely to be staying, but most people shouldn’t have much trouble using the reward to save at least $300 and as part of a high-end stay, the Free Night Reward could save someone considerably more.

Lastly, it’s worth noting that there is a relatively simple spending target for the welcome offer ($3,000 of spending in 6 months) and because this card offers spending bonuses in categories that are very popular (US gas stations & US supermarkets), this means that the bonus points should be relatively straightforward and economical to earn.

Hilton Gold Elite Status (terms apply)

The Hilton Gold status that comes with the card_name gives cardholders the following key benefits on all Hilton stays:

  1. Complimentary breakfast and/or executive lounge access for you and up to one guest sharing your room (in the United States, you’ll receive a food & beverage credit).
  2. Space available room upgrades.
  3. Late check-out (subject to availability).
  4. An 80% points bonus on every eligible stay.

With hotel breakfasts at regular Hilton properties often costing $15 or more, and breakfasts as the more upscale properties and resorts consing a lot more than that, the complimentary breakfast benefit that comes with Hilton Gold status can easily pay for the card’s annual fee in just a few stays … if those stays are made outside of the US.

If the stays are being made at properties in the US, the clawback is less impressive as some of the f&b credits offered by US properties can be quite miserly.

Room upgrades are not guaranteed, but a guest with Hilton Gold status is highly unlikely to be assigned any of the less desirable rooms in a property and, in my experience, is almost always given a good amount of leeway when it comes to what time they have to check-out.

Access to Hilton’s 5th night free benefit

Travelers with elite status with the Hilton Honors program (e.g the Gold status that comes with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card) are given the 5th night of all award stays for free. A single 5-night award stay at even some of the cheaper Hilton properties would see a cardholder save more than the cost of the card’s annual fee.

Good earning rates (terms apply)

The 12 points/dollar that The card_name earns at Hilton properties worldwide equates to a 4.8% rebate on all Hilton stays (based on my valuation of 0.4 cents/point), and when you factor in the bonus points that cardholders earn thanks to the Gold elite status the card comes with, the total effective rebate this card offers comes to an impressive 8%.

In addition to the bonus points available for spending with Hilton, the card earns cardholders 6 points/dollar at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. restaurants, and U.S. gas stations and those are spending categories that most people use frequently in their everyday lives.

Based on my earlier valuation of Hilton Honors points (0.4 cents each) this card offers a 2.4 cent/$ (or 2.4%) rebate in all three of those categories.

Quarterly Hilton credits (terms apply)

Since October 2023 (when its annual fee increased to its current level), the card_name has offered cardholders up to $200 per year in Hilton statement credits.

These statement credits are offered as $50 quarterly credits and are earned on purchases made directly with a property in the Hilton portfolio that are paid for using the card_name.

For anyone that makes at least one stay with Hilton every quarter, this benefit more than covers the card’s annual fee and is reason enough for them to hold this card.

In fact, even for less frequent visitors to Hilton properties (visitors like me), this benefit makes the card an attractive proposition as just two stays (made in different quarters) will effectively reduce the card’s annual fee to just $50, and an effective annual fee of just $50 is pretty easy to justify in light of the other benefits that this card offers.

Access to Amex Offers

The card_name is issued by American Express and all American Express cards give cardholders access to Amex Offers (listed in a cardholder’s online account) which can easily save them hundreds of dollars a year.

One thing I don’t really like

In the interest of completeness and balance, I should discuss (briefly) the bonus that this card offers on online U.S. retail spending.

This is one of the only US credit cards that offers bonus points for U.S. online retail purchases (these are defined as purchases made on a website or through a digital app from a U.S. retail merchant that sells physical goods or merchandise directly to consumers), but the return on spending that it offers is far from impressive.

4 points/dollar is, to me, an effective rebate of 1.6% which, although better than nothing, is a return that can be beaten by a variety of other credit cards even though those cards don’t offer a bonus for U.S. retail spending (the Citi Double Cash Card, which charges a $0 annual fee, will earn a cardholder 2% back).

In short, this isn’t a benefit that can be used as a justification for applying for or holding the card, and it’s introduction in October 2023 did little to improve the card’s overall package.

Bottom line

In summary, in the right hands the card_name can be one of the better value hotel credit cards available today.

The card offers consumers the best hotel mid-tier elite status available, good earnings at Hilton properties worldwide, and bonus points for spending in key categories. Combine all of that with an excellent welcome bonus and with the fact that it doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, and you have a pretty compelling case for why this card should be in a lot of people’s wallets.

For rates and fees of the card_name, see See Rates and Fees

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