Credit Card Review: Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card

by joeheg

American Express offers three personal Hilton Honors co-branded credit cards. There’s a base-level Hilton Honors AMEX card with no annual fee and the luxury Hilton Honors Aspire AMEX. That card comes with a hefty $450 annual fee but provides automatic Hilton Diamond status along with other perks.

In between those two cards, there’s the mass-marketed co-brand card. The one with a moderate annual fee and provides benefits semi-regular travelers find appealing. That card is the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card.

Annual Fee

$95 Annual Fee

Sign Up Bonus

The current sign-up bonus for the Hilton Surpass AMEX card is 130,000 Hilton Honors points when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months of having the card. If you’re interested in this card, or any of the other Hilton AMEX cards, here is our referral link.  (We receive Hilton points for approved applications.)

Spending Categories

When spending on the card, you earn points in the Hilton Honors program as follows:

  • 12 points per $1 spent at participating hotels or resorts within the Hilton Portfolio
  • 6 points per $1 spent on:
    • U.S. restaurants (including take-out and delivery)
    • U.S. gas stations
    • U.S. supermarkets
  • 3 points per $1 spent on all other purchases

That’s not bad if you’re interested in earning Hilton points. This card earns almost as many points at Hilton hotels as the $450 card. I value Hilton points at a minimum of 0.5 cents each. For all your spend, you’ll earn at least 1.5 cents per dollar. Now you could be earning up to 2 cents per dollar with a cashback cardso you have to decide if you want to earn Hilton points or cash.

Card Benefits

The Hilton Honors Surpass AMEX includes these benefits:

What makes things interesting is that Hilton members earn 10 points per dollar for spending at Hilton properties. Hilton Gold members, a status level all AMEX Surpass cardholders are automatically granted, earn an 80% bonus on base points. When you add to that the 12 points per dollar earned for using the Surpass card and you’re earning 30 Honors points per dollar spent at Hilton Hotels, that’s crazy good. Even if points are even worth 0.5 cents each, that’s a 15% return.

Ways to use Hilton Honors points

The points you earn with the sign-up bonus and spending on the card are deposited into your Hilton Honors account. From there you can use the points to book hotel rooms. The number of points needed for a room varies based on the cash price required to book the room on any given day.

For example, I needed a room for the night in Tampa after seeing a concert. Cash prices for hotels cost over $250 a night, but I was able to find a Hampton Inn for 40,000 Hilton points. In that example, I was able to get 0.625 cents per point value for an Honors point.

Of course, there was a time when we looked to use Hilton points in Key West and the price for a room at the Hampton Inn was over 300,000 points a night.

There are other uses for Honors points, such as booking “experiences” like concerts or tours. These may be a good value and may not be available to book on your own, so make sure to check out what you’re getting to see if it’s a good value. Another option that’s not a good value is using your points to pay for things on

Final Thoughts

We currently have the Hilton Surpass co-brand card. It makes sense for our travel style and since Hilton is not our primary brand, the luxury card provides benefits that we’re not going to use.

The Hilton Honors Surpass AMEX checks all of the boxes for a co-brand credit card. It provides worthwhile status to travelers who wouldn’t usually qualify. There are some perks for using the card regularly (free night) and benefits to make traveling more comfortable (Priority Pass.) I’d hoped it would offer some additional travel benefits, but those are limited to the $450 Aspire card. Having the card also makes it easy to keep your Hilton miles from expiring.

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