The Hilton Honors Surpass Card and the Hilton Honors Card from American Express are two good cards for points & miles enthusiasts who have very particular goals: stays at properties in the Hilton portfolio. These hotel specific cards are much less versatile than the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card or Chase Sapphire Preferred. But unlike Avios from the British Airways Visa, Hilton Honors points are easy to redeem. These cards play an important role in my strategy for trips to Hawaii since Hilton has fabulous properties on the Big Island, Kauai, Maui, and Oahu. I recently cancelled my Hilton Honors Reserve from Citi Bank and signed up for the Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express instead.
The Hilton Honors Surpass Card is in flux. On January 18, 2018, it will become the Hilton Honors Ascend Card. This is a result of American Express buying the books from Citi Bank’s Hilton Honors Reserve. If you sign up for a Hilton Honors Surpass Card or if you already have a Citi Hilton Honors Reserve, you will be transitioned to the Ascend Card in January. Any changes as a result have been noted below.
Hilton Honors Surpass Card Sign-up Bonus
Currently, this card has a sign-up bonus of 75,000 Hilton Honors Points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. The minimum spending requirement is pretty standard for a travel credit card, but make sure you’ve done your financial check-up first.
When Amex first announced the new Ascend Card, they offered 100,000 Hilton Honors Points on the Surpass Card after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, you earned an additional 25,000 Hilton Honors Points after spending an additional $1,000 in the first 6 months. This offer was supposed to be valid until January 17, 2018, but it has mysteriously vanished. I recommend keeping an eye out for its return before you apply.
Hilton Honors Card Sign-up Bonus
Currently, this card has a sign-up bonus of 50,000 Hilton Honors Points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. With such a low minimum spending requirement, it should be relatively easy for the average points & miles enthusiast to meet the requirement.
Hilton Honors Surpass Card Annual Fee
As with any credit card, you should thoroughly read the pricing, terms, and offer details on the Amex website before you apply. You can find all those details here. As previously mentioned I don’t discuss things like interest rates on this blog because you should pay your balance off every month and never pay those fees. If you pay interest fees, you negate your free travel and you lose the points & miles game.
This card does have an annual fee of $95 and it’s not waived for the first year. However, if you apply before January 18, 2018, the annual fee is only $75. It will increase to $95 on your first card anniversary.
Hilton Honors Card Annual Fee
You can find all the pricing, terms, and offer details for this card on the Amex website here. This card does not have an annual fee.
Bonus Spending Categories
With the Hilton Honors Surpass Card, you earn 12 Hilton Honors Points for purchases at Hilton properties. You earn 6 Hilton Honors Points for purchases at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations. For all other purchases, you earn 3 Hilton Honors Points.
With the Hilton Honors Card, you earn 7 Hilton Honors Points for purchases at Hilton properties. You earn 5 Hilton Honors Points for purchases at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations. For all other purchases, you earn 3 Hilton Honors Points.
Hilton Honors Surpass Card Additional Benefits
The Hilton Honors Surpass Card comes with complimentary Gold status. Plus, additional goodies like secondary car rental loss and damage insurance, baggage insurance, travel accident insurance, extended warranty on qualifying purchases, return protection, and purchase protection. Starting January 18, 2018, you will also get 10 complimentary Priority Pass lounge passes and no foreign transactions fees.
Gold status with Hilton Honors includes guaranteed discounts, digital check-in, complimentary standard internet access, late check out, 2 complimentary bottles of water per stay, and additional benefits depending on the type of hotel or resort of your stay. These include bonus points, complimentary breakfast, or upgrades to preferred rooms. Gold members also get 25% more bonus points for spending at Hilton properties.
With the Hilton Honors Surpass Card, you can earn Diamond status after spending $40,000 in a calendar year. Staring January 18, 2018, you can also earn a Weekend Night Reward after spending $15,000 in a calendar year. I used two Weekend Night Rewards for our stay at Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa in Maui that I earned from the Citi Hilton Honors Reserve.
Diamond status with Hilton Honors includes the same benefits as Gold status plus premium internet access and additional benefits depending on the type of hotel or resort of your stay. These include executive lounge access, and spa, golf, or restaurant discounts. Diamond members are also guaranteed a room when they make a reservation at least 48 hours in advance. Diamond members get 50% more bonus points for spending at Hilton properties.
Hilton Honors Card Additional Benefits
The Hilton Honors Card comes with complimentary Silver status. Plus, additional goodies like secondary car rental loss and damage insurance and travel accident insurance. Starting January 18, 2018, there will be no foreign transaction fees with this card.
Silver status with Hilton Honors includes guaranteed discounts, digital check-in, complimentary standard internet access, late check out, and 2 complimentary bottles of water per stay. Silver members also get 15% more bonus points for spending at Hilton properties.
With the Hilton Honors Card, you can also earn Gold status after spending $20,000 in a calendar year.
Redeeming Hilton Honors Points
You can redeem Hilton Honors Points for stays at Hilton hotels and resorts. Standard room rewards start at just 5,000 points per night and go as high as 95,000 points per night. When standard room rewards are not available, you can book premium room rewards, but you’ll pay significantly more points. Hilton Honors also lets you pay with a combination of points & money. This allows you to stretch your sign-up bonus for more stays. Silver, Gold, and Diamond members receive every 5th night free on standard reward stays of five consecutive nights or more.
There are a few additional options for using Hilton Honors Points. However, they are generally a terrible use of your points. Read more about how to redeem Hilton Honors Points here.
Hilton Honors Points do not have a fixed value so I can’t give you a concrete value for this sign-up bonus. Your value will vary greatly depending on your redemptions.
Final Thoughts on the Hilton Honors Surpass Card and the Hilton Honors Card
With fantastic properties in Hawaii and around the world, Hilton Honors can be an important part of your points & miles strategy. Both cards offer a good pool of bonus points for low levels of spending.
Keep in mind that American Express cards generally only allow you to earn a sign-up bonus once per lifetime. I’d recommend waiting for an elevated sign-up bonus before you apply. Finally, consider waiting until you are ready to use these points at a dream property. My next bonus is earmarked for the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island of Hawaii!