Showdown: Hilton Honors Surpass Card vs Hilton Honors Business Card


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If you’re looking for a Hilton Honors card with a low annual fee but which still offers solid benefits (like Hilton Honors Gold status) there are really only two cards to choose from – the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card and the Hilton Honors Business Card from American Express. But which, if either, is the better credit card?

The Comparison

Annual Fee

Both credit cards cost $95/year and, as things stand, neither waives the annual fee in the first year of card membership.

Welcome Bonus

The Hilton Honors Surpass Card and the Hilton Honors Business Card are both currently offering the same excellent bonus:

  • Earn 150,000 bonus Hilton Honors points after spending $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Also, earn a $150 statement credit after making one purchase within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

Note: If you’ve held the Hilton Honors Business card in the past you’re not eligible for the welcome bonus this card is now offering. Also, as far as the Surpass card goes, its welcome offer is not available to applicants who have or have had the Hilton Honors Surpass Card or the Hilton Honors Ascend Card in the past.

Earning Rates

The bonus categories offered by the Hilton Honors Surpass Card and Hilton Honors Business Card vary quite a bit and this is how the cards compare when all the data is put into table form:

Click to enlarge

In a few spending categories, the two cards tie but as you can see from the table, there are some notable differences.

The Hilton Honors Surpass Card offers more points/dollar for spending at US supermarkets while the Hilton Honors Business Card offers more points/dollar on airfare, car rentals, wireless phone services, and shipping.

Opinions will vary here but these are my thoughts on the numbers:

I value Hilton Honors points at no more than 0.4 cents each (based on the value that I know I get out of them with little effort) so that means that the Hilton Honors Surpass Card offers an effective rebate of no more than 2.4 cents/dollar (or 2.4%) on US supermarket spending. That’s a rebate that can be beaten by a lot of other credit cards (e.g. the Blue Cash Preferred Card (review) which offers 6% cash back on the first $6,000 spent at US Supermarkets in the year) and so the Surpass Card’s earnings at US supermarkets shouldn’t be a key factor in deciding which of these two Hilton Honors cards is better.

With that in mind, and as the Hilton Honors Business Card offers equal or better earnings in all the remaining spending categories, the Business Card is clearly the card that comes out on top in this section of the comparison.

Hilton Honors Benefits

Both cards offer complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status and the opportunity to earn Diamond status after spending $40,000 in purchases in a calendar year.

Both cards offer a One Weekend Night Reward at a hotel or resort in the Hilton portfolio after spending $15,000 in purchases on the Card in a calendar year.

The Hilton Honors Business Card offers a second Weekend Night Reward at a hotel or resort in the Hilton portfolio after spending $60,000 in purchases on the Card in a calendar year.

As I wouldn’t suggest that anyone should be spending $60,000 on the Business card just to earn a second weekend night (even though that may be a nice option for some cardholders to have), there’s really not much difference between the Hilton Honors Surpass Card and Hilton Honors Business Card when it comes to Hilton Honors benefits. If I was forced to choose between the two, the Business Card just edges it.

Other Key Card Benefits

The Hilton Honors Surpass Card and Hilton Honors Business Card match each other on the following benefits – there’s nothing between them:

  • Both cards waive foreign transaction fees
  • Both cards offer 10 free Priority Pass Lounge passes per year
  • Both cards offer the same car rental loss and damage insurance up to $50,000 (link to policy details)
  • Both cards can extend the length of your warranty by up to 1 additional year when you use your American Express Card for eligible purchases that come with an original U.S. manufacturer’s warranty of 5 years or less (Link to the insurance policy)
  • Both cards offer the same level of returns protection (Link to the insurance policy)
  • Both cards offer the same baggage insurance (Link to the baggage insurance policy)

Overall

The Hilton Honors Surpass Card and the Hilton Honors Business Card are similar in so many ways that it’s actually quite hard to separate them but, of the two, the Hilton Honors Business Card is marginally the stronger card.

  • The Surpass card’s only points-earning advantage over the Business card is in the US supermarket category but considering how many other cards are available that offer a better return on US supermarket spending than the Surpass card, no one should be using this card as their primary card when they’re buying groceries.
  • The Business card offers bonus points in two categories that don’t feature on a number of other credit cards (US shipping and US wireless services) so that’s a notable positive feature of the card.
  • Although I wouldn’t suggest anyone goes out of their way to spend $60,000 on the Hilton Honors Business card to earn a second free weekend night, the fact remains that the Business Card offers this option while the Surpass card does not.

If you have the choice between these two cards, the Hilton Honors Business Card is probably the card you should choose.

Bottom Line

There’s really not all that much that separates these cards but I’m giving the win to the Hilton Honors Business Card because I couldn’t find any material way in which the Hilton Honors Surpass Card is better, and because the Business card improves on the Surpass card’s offering in at least a couple of ways.

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