Is the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card Worth the Annual Fee? It Depends

The Surpass Card is perfect for fans of Hilton Hotels who don't want to spend a lot of money.

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Loyal fans of Hilton hotels and resorts have three choices for personal credit cards to choose from, with varying benefits and fees. The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is the mid-range card option, a step up from the no-fee card. While it does have a $95 annual fee, its welcome offer, rewards earning rates and other perks more than offset the fee.

Hotel co-branded credit cards are perfect for people who travel often and want to earn and use rewards for hotel stays. With almost 6,000 properties worldwide in 117 countries, Hilton offers choice accommodations for nearly every budget.

Here’s a closer look at the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card to see if it’s the right card for you.

Table of Contents

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Pros & Cons

Pros

  • High rewards rates for Hilton stays
  • Complimentary Hilton Gold Status
  • Ten free Priority Pass Lounge Select visits
  • Can earn a free weekend night stay after hitting a spending requirement
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • Annual fee
  • No weekend reward night if you don’t hit the spending requirement
  • No set award redemption chart for hotel properties
  • High spending requirement to reach Diamond Status

Hilton Honors Surpass Card Benefits

Welcome Offer

The American Express Hilton Honors Surpass Card comes with an excellent welcome offer. New cardmembers get 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus points after spending $2,000 in the first three months from account opening.

Rewards Rate

The Surpass Card also earns ongoing rewards in bonus spending categories. The highest earning rate is for Hilton stays. Even a few stays a year can build up Hilton Honors points quickly. Here’s a breakdown of points earning with the Hilton Honors Surpass Card:

  • 12X bonus points per dollar spent directly at Hilton hotels and resorts
  • 6X bonus points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations
  • 3X bonus points per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases

The Surpass Card also comes with automatic Hilton Honors Gold status. Gold status members earn 80% Bonus Points, or 18X points, on Hilton stays in addition to the 12X bonus points earned using your Surpass Card.

The other bonus spending categories offer competitive earning rates, but the best way to build up your point total quickly is staying at Hilton hotels and resorts frequently.

Redeeming Hilton Honors Bonus Points

Hilton stays are also the best use of your Hilton Honors bonus points. Using points for Hilton accommodations gives you the most value for your points. Redemptions for Hilton stays start at 5,000 points per night at select Hilton hotels.

  • Hilton stays, vacation packages and more
  • Exclusive experiences, like concerts, sporting events and travel excursions
  • Online shopping at Amazon and Hilton’s online shopping mall
  • Gift cards
  • Lyft rides
  • Rental cars
  • Charity donations
  • Transfer points to airline partner and Amtrak programs

The value of Hilton Honors bonus points varies depending on which redemption option you choose.

Purchase and Travel Benefits

Earning and redeeming Hilton Honors points aren’t the only perks that come with the Surpass Card. Several benefits come from having this Hilton credit card.

Hilton Honors Gold Status Having the Surpass card gives you automatic Gold status with Hilton. Gold status perks include 80% bonus points for stays, free breakfast, room upgrades, fifth night free on reward stays and more.
Weekend Rewards Night Cardmembers earn a free weekend night reward after spending $15,000 on your Surpass Card on eligible purchases in a calendar year.
Diamond Status Spending $40,000 on eligible purchases with your Surpass Card in a calendar year earns you Hilton Honors Diamond status, the highest Hilton status available.
Priority Pass Visits The Surpass Card comes with 10 free visits a year to Priority Pass Select airport lounges worldwide.
Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance Cardmembers get limited car insurance coverage by using their Surpass card and declining the collision damage waiver offered by rental car companies.
Baggage Insurance The Surpass Card provides travelers with limited coverage if your luggage is lost or delayed.
Extended Warranties Eligible purchases made with the Surpass card are eligible for extended warranty coverage after manufacturer warranties expire.

 

Hilton Honors Surpass Card Review

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card is for Hilton loyalists. Cardmembers earn a higher rewards rate for Hilton stays than any other spending category. Also, many of its benefits, like Gold status, are explicitly used at Hilton hotels.

The Surpass Card is also for people who frequently spend money dining out, at the gas pump and on groceries, which are all bonus spending categories.

Frequent travelers love this card too. Beyond earning and redeeming rewards at Hilton, cardmembers also get limited access to airport lounges around the world. It’s an excellent card to have for international travel since it doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.

If you don’t travel frequently, the Surpass Card is not the right credit card. If that describes you, a top cash-back credit card would be a better option.

Apply for the Hilton Honors Surpass Card

If you frequently stay at Hilton hotels and resorts during your travels, it makes sense to get a Hilton credit card. The Hilton Honors Surpass Card is the middle-tier Hilton credit card. If you still want to earn rewards for Hilton stays but don’t want to pay the annual fee, the Hilton Honors Card from American Express may be a better choice. If you spend a lot of money at Hilton properties annually, you may want to opt for the top-tier Hilton Honors American Express Aspire® Card. It has a much higher annual fee, at $450, but also offers much more value for regular Hilton customers.

Applying for the Hilton Honors Surpass Card can be done directly through the issuer’s website. In many cases, people will find out if they qualify in minutes.

The Surpass Card is the best of both worlds, packed with Hilton benefits and other perks, but with a more manageable annual fee. If you don’t plan on staying at Hilton properties often, you’re better off with a more versatile travel rewards credit card instead, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

Hilton Honors vs. IHG Rewards Club

If you’re on the fence about which co-branded hotel card is right for you, the Slickdeals Credit Card Marketplace helps you compare rewards, bonus offers and fees by issuer and card type.

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IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

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Kevin Payne

Kevin Payne is a personal finance, credit card, and travel writer. He is the family travel and budget expert behind FamilyMoneyAdventure.com. Kevin lives in Cleveland, Ohio, with his wife and four kids. His work has appeared on several websites, including FinanceBuzz, Credit Karma, Millennial Money, Club Thrifty, Student Loan Planner and Slickdeals.

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