Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card Review

If you’re a frequent traveler who prefers to stay at Hilton hotels and resorts, the Hilton Honors Surpass card has a lot to offer. Enjoy Gold status, amazing introductory bonus points, and points earned with every stay that you can redeem for free nights.

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The Verdict

The Hilton Honors Surpass credit card deserves a place in the wallet of anyone loyal to the Hilton family of hotels

If you travel often and prefer to stay within the Hilton family of hotel chains, the Hilton Honors Surpass card (also known as the Hilton HHonors Surpass card) could be the perfect choice to help you rack up points and free nights quickly.

Considering that you get immediate Gold status and can earn points on everyday purchases like gas stations and restaurants, it's easy to see why the Hilton Honors Surpass card is so attractive.

If you typically spend at least $15,000 or more per year on purchases and are loyal to the Hilton brand, The Hilton Honors Surpass should absolutely have a place in your wallet.

Your Gold status, in addition to the perks you'll enjoy at the Hilton property, can net you bonus Hilton HHonors points with every stay.

Hilton HHonors members growth chart

What's more, the tier is upgradeable, which means you can earn Diamond status if you spend $40,000 or more per calendar year on the card.

If you don't spend quite as much per year, but still want similar points perks, you may want to go with the no annual fee version – the American Express Hilton Honors card.

Read more about how this card compares to the Hilton Honors Surpass below.

You May Want to Consider This Card, Instead

The Hilton Honors Surpass credit card is the more exclusive option from American Express for Hilton

While they appear at first glance to be quite similar, the Hilton Honors card and the Hilton Honors Surpass card have some key differences.

For $75 a year annual fee, the Surpass card gives you:

  • 75,000 sign-up points, if you spend $3k in the first 3 months
  • Instant Gold status
  • The option to get Diamond status if you can put $40k on the card in one year
  • 12 points instead of 7 when you spend at a qualifying Hilton property

If you were planning on spending approximately $500 on Hilton hotels in one year, and you didn't mind staying at a category 1 hotel (which requires fewer points to cash in rewards) then the Surpass card may be better for you.

If you're unsure about your spending plans at Hilton, then you may want to stick with the Honors card.

If you're a Starwood or Marriott fan, then you may want to consider the Marriott Rewards Premier or even the Starwood Preferred Guest cards.

How the two Hilton cards by American Express stack up

Hilton Honors Surpass Card Hilton Honors Card
How high of a credit score do you need? Good-Excellent Good-Excellent
Average APR? 16.24%-20.24% 16.24%-20.24%
Annual Fee? $75 None
How big of a sign-up bonus do you get? Automatic Gold status plus 75,000 Hilton HHonors bonus points Automatic Silver status plus 50,000 Hilton HHonors bonus points
How much do you need to spend to get the bonus?
  • – At least $3,000 within the first three months of your card membership
  • – You can earn Diamond status if you spend $40,000 on the card in a year
  • – At least $1,000 within the first three months of your card membership
  • – You can earn Gold status if you spend $20,000 on the card in a year
How many points do you get for every dollar?
  • – 12 points per dollar on eligible purchases charged to your card at a participating resort within the Hilton portfolio
  • – 6 points per dollar when eligible groceries, restaurants, and gas station purchases are charged to the card
  • – 3 points per dollar on all other eligible purchases
  • – 7 points per dollar on eligible purchases charged to your card at a participating resort within the Hilton portfolio
  • – 5 points per dollar when eligible grocery, restaurant, and gas station purchases are charged to the card
  • – 3 points per dollar on all other eligible purchases
Any restrictions? Beyond the Hilton properties, points can only be earned on eligible restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations within the U.S. Beyond the Hilton properties, points can only be earned on eligible restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations within the U.S.
If you spent $100 on the card, how much would the points be worth in dollars? About $5 About $5
How much would you need to spend on the card to make up for the fees (excluding APR/rates)? If you spend $100 at a Hilton property using the Surpass card, you get 1,200 points. You need 5,000 points to stay in a category 1 room. A category 1 room costs approx. $100/night. So, you would need to spend approximately $450 to confidently make back the cost of the fee in the form of a free room at a category 1 Hilton hotel. None

The Question Everyone Is Asking

What hotels can you book and how many points does it take to get a free night?

The HHonors Points redemption system can be confusing — so much so that even Hilton used to have an online calculator to help customers figure out how much its points could get them at each brand.

But now that the company simplified the system somewhat.

The easiest way to make sense of how many points it takes to get a free night across each Hilton property is to categorize them like so:

Luxury Hotel – Waldorf Astoria, Conrad brands

Premium Hotel – Hilton

Mid-Range Hotel – Embassy Suites, DoubleTree, Hilton Garden, Hampton

Lifestyle Hotel – Tru, Canopy, Curio

Limited Service – Homewood, Home2 Suites

Hilton then divides these into different categories, so a night at the Waldorf Astoria, which would be considered a Category 10 hotel (the highest level), would cost between 70,000-95,000 points, while a stay at a lower hotel category, say a category 1, would only cost 5,000 points per night.

Although Hilton doesn't have any blackout dates for using your points, the price in points can increase or decrease depending on things like seasonality, location, and demand.

You can see the maximum room rate in points by using this tool from Hilton's website.

So are the points you earn worth it? Absolutely

The fact that you can earn points quickly as well as transfer points into Hilton HHonors points from programs like Citi ThankYou and American Express Membership Rewards make it even easier and faster to treat yourself to a very comfortable stay.

With this in mind, plus the bonus points you get as an automatic Gold status member, you'll be earning points even when you redeem them toward a free stay.

Use them all on the trip of a lifetime or spread them out at smaller, premium-grade hotels.

Thanks to the Hilton Honors program, you have that flexibility.

The Strengths

The Hilton Honors Surpass is strong because of its flexibility and short-term rewards

Considering that you can earn considerable points for staying at the Hilton family of hotel brands, any frequent traveler can see just how quickly points can add up.

Who rules the online travel market?

What you may not realize is that Hilton itself spans a wide range of brands around the world, including over 5,000 locations in 100 countries.

This means if you travel frequently and stay at Hilton branded hotels, you'll rack up points at an admirable pace which can translate into more stays and more points.

Short term rewards, including a welcome bonus, are excellent – particularly for travelers who tend to use their cards for groceries, gas, and restaurants.

The automatic Gold status upgrade is also a boon, as it's worth a little under $1,000 in and of itself. Gold status entitles you to the following:

Enjoy 25% points bonus on paid stays. That equates to 2.5 points per dollar spent. This bonus is only available to Gold tier members.

Get your fifth night free. Both Silver and Gold status members enjoy a fifth night free on all award redemptions during the calendar year that you're a Gold member.

You'll be earning more points than your Silver status counterparts though, so you can enjoy more fifth nights free of charge as your points add up.

Impressive room upgrades. Depending on available space, you may enjoy an upgrade to a preferred room at most Hilton brands – including DoubleTree, Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, Curio, and Canopy.

In some cases, this upgrade is also the only way to get access to the Executive Lounge at various properties.

Fill up on a complimentary breakfast. Most Hilton brands will provide you with free continental breakfast, including Hilton, Curio, Conrad, and DoubleTree. Hilton Garden Inn provides hot, cooked-to-order breakfast with this perk.

Get additional bonus points as part of the MyWay program. If you're a member of the Hilton MyWay hotel benefits, you can put your bonus points toward other amenities like 1,000 bonus points.

Specific brands also offer some perks, like a free in-room movie at Waldorf hotels, 500 points at Canopy hotels and snacks or drinks at Embassy Suites, Hampton, Homewood, and Home2.

The automatic status perk is an excellent benefit that can serve as a particularly tantalizing introduction to Hilton brands if you haven't stayed there in the past.

Enjoy added perks available from American Express. In addition, because the card is offered through American Express, you'll enjoy a host of other benefits that Amex users get as well, including shopping and travel benefits such as:

  • Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance
  • Travel Accident Insurance
  • Purchase Protection
  • Extended Warranties
  • Return Protection
  • Payment reminders and account alerts
  • Ability to add additional card members through your account
  • Use your card to make recurring payments
  • Manage all American Express cards from one central location

If you've been looking for a hotel rewards program that gives you flexibility and a large number of ways to spend your points, and you're a Hilton hotel chain fan, it simply doesn't get any better than the Hilton Honors Surpass card.

What hotel services do you care about?

The Weaknesses

The Hilton Honors Surpass is weak because of its lack of long-term rewards

Considering how focused American Express as a whole is on customer loyalty, it may surprise you to learn that the Hilton Honors Surpass card really doesn't do much to reward long-term users.

Outside of hotel redemption, there's not much value in the card.

Calculating your points value requires an advanced mathematical degree. The process is confusing, cumbersome, and frustrating for many users – to the point that Hilton actually posted a calculator on its page to help you muddle through it.

You'll feel the pinch in your wallet if you travel overseas. In addition to the $75 annual fee, there's a 2.7% foreign transaction fee.

This means purchases made overseas can cost you more than you bargained for if you charge them to your card.

Points values vary depending on all kinds of factors. As far as general hotel rewards cards go, Hilton Honors Surpass could do better in terms of points redemption values.

Although you can earn points quickly, the values of these points differ depending on where you stay, the demand, seasonality and so on.

Points commonly convert at 0.01 or less when you convert them to award nights, which is a much lower value than competing chain reward programs.

Gold status perks don't apply to all Hilton properties. They currently apply at Conrad, Curio, DoubleTree, Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, and Tapestry brands.

Who's It For?

You should get the Hilton Honors Surpass card if you're loyal to the Hilton family of brands

No matter which Hilton property you stay at, the company's considerable ecosystem of brands rewards you for being a loyal cardmember.

The portfolio of brands include:

  • Hilton Hotels and Resorts
  • Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts
  • Conrad Hotels and Resorts
  • Canopy by Hilton
  • Curio – A Collection by Hilton
  • DoubleTree by Hilton
  • Tapestry Collection by Hilton
  • Embassy Suites by Hilton
  • Hampton Garden Inn
  • Hampton by Hilton
  • Tru by Hilton
  • Homewood Suites by Hilton
  • Home2 Suites by Hilton
  • Hilton Grand Vacations

If you travel often and prefer to stay at a Hilton brand, this card is definitely one you'll want to have in your wallet.

What country spends the most on tourism?

Did you know?

The founder of Hilton Hotels made a guest appearance on the hit TV show, Mad Men. Well, not the Conrad Hilton, but an actor on the AMC show, Mad Men.

If you didn't see the show, the ever-poised Don Draper, and star of Mad Men, bumps into Conrad Hilton at a party.

The two form a relationship based on their humble Kentucky roots and then business gets personal.

The truth about Conrad being irascible isn't that far off. The Hilton brand of hotels goes back to 1919 when Conrad bought his first hotel property, the Mobley Hotel in Cisco, Texas.

This hotel did such incredible business that rooms would often change hands as often as three times a day and the original dining room was converted into additional rooms to help meet demand!

What People Love About It

People love this card because it rewards loyal Hilton users

For those who stay frequently at Hilton branded properties and hotels, you'll find that the perks afforded by the Hilton Honors Surpass card, including the Gold status benefits are well worth it.

Gold status entitles you to free breakfast for yourself and a guest – on paper, it says that the breakfast is continental, but in practice, many guests note that you can get hot/full breakfast.

Who skips breakfast the most often?

If you'd rather have a bonus 750-1,000 Hilton Honors points instead of breakfast, you have that flexibility.

If you upgrade to an executive-level room, you can also get executive lounge access as well as (subject to availability) late check-out and preferred rooms.

You can also earn 25% bonus points for Hilton Stays based on the points you normally earn.

This amount is on top of the points you regularly earn, which, although small, can certainly add up over time.

Biggest Complaints

There are benefit inconsistencies across brands

When it comes to the Hilton Honors Surpass card, customers really have to dig deep to find something worth complaining about.

This is in no small part due to the partnership between American Express (which prides itself on excellent customer service) and Hilton (which prides itself on outstanding promotions and rewarding loyal customers), which seems to be a match made in heaven.

The only real complaint, however, is that the benefits you get can mean different things at different hotels – and at different locations.

Depending on where you go, your Gold status may entitle you to certain benefits overseas that may or may not be the same as you'd expect at home – which can be a bit of a disconnect in the consumer's mind.

Key Digital Services

The Hilton Honors Surpass Card combined with MyWay Rewards offers the ultimate flexibility

If you want the flexibility to use your Hilton Honors points as you see fit, be sure to register with Hilton Honors MyWay Rewards Program online.

This is a digital feature that lets you use your points (or earn them) in a variety of ways that are tailored to your lifestyle and preferences.

As you earn points on your Hilton Honors Surpass card, you can enjoy greater freedom in how and when you use those points in the MyWay program.

To do this, simply follow these steps:

  • Sign into your MyWay account, click on My Profile, and then Edit Preferences.
  • You can then see the section marked MyWay Earning Style Preferences, which lets you choose Points and Points (which lets you earn hotel stays faster) or Points and Miles (which lets you earn airline miles).
  • Add your preferred travel program under the Preferred Travel Partners section and you'll see your changes take effect from that point on.

From your MyWay Rewards member dashboard, you can see which benefits are available to you at your current tier as well as redeem those points for free stays, gifts, merchandise, and more.


  • How do I sign up for the Hilton Honors Surpass credit card?

    In order to sign up for the Hilton Honors Surpass card, sign up through the American Express website.

    You can get a pre-approval decision in as little as 30 seconds.

  • How is this card different from the Hiltons Honors credit card?

    The main difference is that the Hilton Honors Surpass card has an annual fee of $75.

    You earn more points with Hilton stays, as well as more points on groceries, restaurants and other eligible purchases.

    In addition, with the Hilton Honors Surpass card, you automatically enjoy Gold status, which gives you 25% bonus points on every stay at participating Hilton resorts.

  • What is the Priority Pass Membership that comes with this card?

    You can redeem your Hilton Honors points for Priority Pass membership for a much more enjoyable travel experience, including Wi-Fi, conference rooms, complimentary drinks and snacks, showers, beds and more.

    The Priority Pass membership depends on the number of points you want to use:

    • 4,000 points gets you Standard Membership (members access with a low annual fee and cost-per-use fee)
    • 6,500 points gets you Standard Plus Membership (10 lounge visits per year with annual fee)
    • 10,000 points gets you Prestige Membership (unlimited access to lounges throughout the year)
  • How can I cancel my card?

    You may be able to cancel your card through the American Express website, by logging into your account and contacting customer service through your preferred method (live chat, phone, mail).

  • What can I use my credit card for?

    You can use your Hilton Honors Surpass credit card just as you would any regular credit card, however you'll earn the most points by using it to book Hilton hotel stays.

  • Where and what stores can I use my credit card?

    The Hilton Honors Surpass credit card is accepted anywhere that accepts American Express.

  • How long does it take American Express to refund my credit card?

    This will depend on the length of the inquiry needed for the specific transaction.

    Should you have questions, you'll want to login to your member's area and contact a customer service representative.

  • What can I use my Hilton Honors bonus points for?

    You can use your Hilton Honors bonus points toward free or reduced-rate stays at a variety of properties in the Hilton Portfolio.

    You can also use your points for other travel perks such as Priority Pass membership and much more.

  • What is the travel benefit that comes with this card?

    The Hilton Honors Surpass card points can be redeemed for Priority Pass membership which offers enhanced travel experiences and benefits for members.

  • What can I expect if I become a Gold member?

    Gold members can enjoy a variety of perks at various Hilton-owned resorts and hotels, although the type of perks you get vary from property to property.

    See the details in the guide above for specific benefits.

  • Are there any shopping benefits attached to this card?

    You'll earn 12x points on Hilton property stays booked with your card, along with 6x points on groceries and restaurants, along with 3x points on regular eligible purchases.

    You may earn even more points by being a Hilton MyWay program member.

  • How can I check my credit card balance?

    You can check your balance at any time by logging into your American Express member dashboard.

  • Can I withdraw money from my credit card?

    As this is primarily a hotel rewards card, there is no ability to withdraw money directly from your card.

  • Can I get a cash advance and are there any related fees?

    As this is primarily a hotel rewards card, there is no cash advance feature.

  • Can I pay for the credit card with a gift, a different credit card, or PayPal?

    You can preview the methods to pay on the balance of your card by logging into your American Express members area.

  • Can I use my American Express credit card without the card?

    Please see the Terms and Conditions included with your card regarding the ability to pay via mobile wallet.

  • How do I add an authorized user to American Express credit card?

    You can add additional users to your American Express credit card by logging into your member's area and following the steps to add an additional authorized user.

  • Are there any upgrades for my American Express credit card?

    The upgrades or bonuses you receive will depend on the American Express card you've applied for. In the case of the Hilton Honors Surpass card, you'll enjoy bonus Hilton Honors points which can be redeemed toward hotel stay(s).

  • How soon can I use my credit card once I receive it?

    You can start using your Hilton Honors Surpass card immediately once you receive it.

  • How to contact American Express credit card services?

    In order to contact American Express card services, please log in to your member's account.From there, you can choose to chat live online, call member services, or write to American Express by mail.

    American Express customer service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at: 1-800-528-4800

  • How do I report a stolen American Express credit card?

    To report a lost, stolen, or damaged credit card, click here to request a replacement. American Express will then cancel the lost or stolen card and reissue you a new one.

  • What credit score do I need to get approval for the card?

    You will need a good or excellent credit score (approximately 720 or better) in order to be approved for the Hilton Honors Surpass card.

  • What credit score do I have to maintain so my account is not closed?

    You will need to maintain good or excellent credit to avoid account closure.

  • Will my credit score drop if my account gets closed?

    This may depend on the specific situation, but your credit score may drop if your account is closed.

    Be sure to check your credit report frequently to note any changes.

  • Which credit bureaus does American Express credit card report to?

    American Express reports to all major credit reporting bureaus including Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

  • Can I build my credit with the American Express credit card?

    You may be able to build a credit history with an American Express credit card, however, the Hilton Honors Surpass card is designed for those users who already have good to excellent credit.

  • Is there an expiry date on the card?

    Your card will have an expiry date printed on the front.

  • Is there a credit insurance program and how will it cover me if I lose my job?

    This will depend on the type of card you have applied for.

    The Hilton Honors Surpass card does not have a credit insurance program.

  • Can I have two credit cards from American Express at the same time?

    You may be able to have two American Express cards at the same time, but if you apply for one card and then quickly apply for another, your application may trigger a red flag and be denied.

  • Can I transfer money from my American Express credit card to another?

    This will depend on the terms of your card as to whether or not you can do a balance transfer from one American Express card to another.

    Generally speaking, balance transfers from the same brand of card may not be allowed, but this varies from card to card.

  • How long does it take to receive the card once I have been approved for it?

    You will receive your card in approximately 1-2 weeks after your application is approved.

  • How do I get more reward points?

    You can earn additional reward points by way of certain eligible purchases as well as enrolling in the Hilton MyWay rewards program.

    Through the MyWay Rewards program, you can choose how to use your points, which includes earning bonus points on your stay.

  • Does my American Express card cover rental car insurance?

    Your Hilton Honors Surpass card comes with many benefits directly from American Express, including car rental loss and damage insurance.

    Consult the terms and the cardmember agreement carefully to learn what's covered with regards to your rental car.

If you frequently stay at Hilton properties, then get this card

As you can see, the Hilton Honors Surpass card is a must-have for any frequent traveler who prefers to stay within the Hilton portfolio of hotels.

The instant Gold status is a fantastic perk that makes any trip a lot more comfortable, while the ability to earn points and use them flexibly within the MyWay program reflects the changing needs and lifestyles of today's travelers.

Do you use the Hilton Honors Surpass card?

How has the card worked out for you?

Any great tips (or nightmares) to share with the rest of us?

Let us know in the comments below.

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