Which Is Better: Hilton Honors Surpass Card vs Hilton Honors Business Card


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If you’re looking for a Hilton Honors credit card that doesn’t cost a lot of money and that offers solid card 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 is better?

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 American Express Surpass Card and the Hilton Honors Business Card from American Express are both officially offering a welcome bonus of 125,000 Hilton Honors points after a cardholder makes $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership so, on the surface, things look very equal…but that’s not necessarily the case.

Some readers have reported being targeted for a higher bonus on the Surpass card when logging in to their accounts so be sure to check that before deciding which card is better.

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, for 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 Amex Ascend Card in the past.

Points Earning

The bonus categories offered by the Amex Hilton Surpass card and Amex Hilton Business credit 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 number of categories the two credit cards tie but, as you can see from the table, there are some notable differences.

The Amex Hilton Surpass card offers more points/dollar for spend at US supermarkets while the Hilton Business credit 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:

Hilton Honors points are worth no more than 0.4 cents each so the Amex Hilton Surpass credit card offers an effective rebate of no more than 2.4 cents/dollar (or 2.4%) on US supermarket spending….and you can do a lot better than that with a number of other credit cards:

  • The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express offers 6% cashback on the first $6,000 spent at US Supermarkets in the year – that’s real cashback you’ll see hit your statement and not points you have to figure out how to use.

  • The Amex EveryDay Preferred credit card offers 3 Amex MR points/dollar on the first $6,000 spent at US supermarkets in the year plus a 50% bonus if you make at least 30 purchases (of any kind) in a month. With Amex MR points worth at least 1.5 cents each, this card effectively offers a rebate of 6.75% on US supermarket spending.

  • The Amex EveryDay credit card offers 2 Amex MR points/dollar on the first $6,000 spent at US supermarkets in the year plus a 20% bonus if you make at least 20 purchases (of any kind) in a month. With Amex MR points worth at least 1.5 cents each, this card effectively offers a rebate of 3.6% on US supermarket spending (and this card comes with no annual fee!)

I would prefer to use any of these three cards to maximize my earnings at US supermarkets rather than use the Hilton Honors Surpass card when I do my weekly shopping.

As an aside: If earning Hilton points is important to you, don’t forget that Amex Membership Rewards points convert to Hilton Honors points at a ratio of 1 to 2.

This means that the Amex EveryDay cards can effectively earn you 9 Honors Points/dollar and 4.8 Honors Points/dollar on US supermarket spending respectively.

Based on all that I’ve written above, the fact that the Amex Hilton Surpass credit card earns 6 points/dollar on spending at US supermarkets shouldn’t really make much difference to how anyone views this card so, with the Amex Hilton Business Card offering equal or better earnings in all the remaining categories that’s 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 Amex Hilton Honors Business credit 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.

I wouldn’t advocate spending $60,000 on the Business credit card just to earn a second weekend night…but at least the card offers cardholders that option. As far as Hilton Honors benefits go there’s very little between these two cards but the Amex Hilton Business card sneaks it.

Other Key Card Benefits

The Surpass card and Hilton 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 insurance policy)
  • Both cards offer the same level of returns protection (Link to insurance policy)
  • Both cards offer the same baggage insurance (Link to baggage insurance policy)

Overall

The Amex Hilton Surpass Card and the Amex Hilton Business Card are similar in so many ways that it’s actually quite had to separate them…but of the two the Hilton Honors American Express Business Credit Card is marginally the stronger card.

  • The Surpass cards 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 when they’re buying groceries.
  • The Business card offers bonus points in two categories which don’t feature on a lot of credit cards (US shipping and US wireless services).
  • Although I wouldn’t suggest anyone goes out of their way to spend $60,000 on the Amex Hilton Business card to earn another free weekend night, the fact remains that the Business Card offers this option while the Surpass card does not.

Bottom Line

There’s really not all that much that separates these cards but what it comes down to is this:

I couldn’t find any material way in which the Hilton Honors Amex Surpass credit card is better than the Hilton Honors American Express Business Credit Card while there are one or two ways in which the Business card improves on the Surpass card’s offering…and that’s why I think the Business card is better.

What do you think? Have I missed some crucial element to the Surpass card’s offering or am I right to say that the Business credit card is better?

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