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Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express Review

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Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express

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A Great Addition to Hilton Loyalists’ Wallets 

In simply looking at rewards earning rates of the Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express, you realize just how well the company takes care of highly valued cardholders.  Whereas most other travel rewards cards won’t go above a 6x points rate, this card reaches as high as 12x points.

That rate is applied to eligible purchases made at participating Hilton Portfolio hotels and resorts. Furthermore, 6x points are given for eligible restaurant, supermarket and gas station purchases in the U.S. and 3x points are given on all other eligible purchases. Plus, you can earn 75,000 points after your first three months by spending $3,000 during that time.

A complimentary Hilton Honors Gold membership is afforded to all cardholders, including perks like a 25% Elite Status bonus on base points earned, a fifth night free when you stay five or more nights using your points, complimentary in-room Wi-Fi and more. However, if you spend $40,000 on your card within a calendar year, you’ll become a Diamond member, giving you benefits such as a 50% Elite Status bonus on points earned, guaranteed reservation availability at least 48 hours prior to arrival, all the perks of levels below and more.

There is a $75 annual fee with this card. For some that may seem like a lot but it’s not unreasonable when it comes to credit card annual fees. Plus, if you’re someone who stays and spends at Hilton frequently, you’ll likely earn that amount back in rewards quite quickly. 

Smart Features

75,000-point sign-up bonus – If you spend at least $3,000 in purchases during your first three months as a cardholder, you’ll earn 75,000 bonus points.

Earning Hilton Honors points - Hilton Honors™ Surpass® cardholders receive some of the best point-earnings rates on the market. You earn 12x points for every dollar spent on eligible purchases at a Hilton Portfolio participating hotel or resort, 6x points for every dollar spent on eligible restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations in the U.S. and 3x points for all other eligible purchases.

Redeeming your points - There are many travel-related ways you can spend your rewards earnings, including on hotels, airfare, car rentals and dining experiences.

Hilton Honors Gold and Diamond status - Just for becoming a cardholder, you’re given a complimentary Gold level membership in the Hilton Honors program. However, if you spend at least $40,000 in eligible purchases during any calendar year, you’ll be upgraded to Diamond for that year.

Free Priority Pass™ membership - This program allows you to visit any of the 1,000+ Priority Pass airport lounges around the world. However, even though the membership is free, you may still be required to pay a $27 extra charge. This is activated upon your first purchase with the Surpass Card.

Extra Hilton Honors benefits - This card is a part of the Hilton Honors program, as is evident by its name. Therefore, it comes with a few bonus perks.

  • Point pooling and transfer - Hilton Honors members can pool their points with up to 10 other members. Points can also be sent between members to help other build their travel plans, as well. Note that 500,000 points is the maximum transfer amount each year.

  • Double Dip® earning - Hilton allows cardholders the opportunity to choose one of two ways they can earn even more benefits on normal travel purchases. This includes more points or miles, whichever you choose, with the final rewards choices being the deciding factor.

$75 annual fee – There is a $75 annual fee with the Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express. 

“Destination Family” program - Taking a family vacation is the aim of this program, and perks like adjoining rooms, free meals for children and more are offered depending on the hotel or resort. Terms may apply. 

Global Assist® hotline - This phone service provides emergency aid to cardholders who’ve traveled further than 100 miles from their home. If extra charges come about as a result of the use of this, the cardholder is liable for them.

Lowest hotel rates guarantee - After booking a room with your card on amextravel.com, make sure to keep a lookout on changing room prices. If this happens before your stay, you’ll be credited the difference.

Entertainment Access® - Pre-sale tickets will be available to cardholders for events like concerts, plays, sports games and more.

Car rental damage insurance - If you’ve fully paid for your car rental with the Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express and you decline the rental company’s insurance, you’ll be covered for any damages or thefts that occur.

Amex mobile app - Cardholders can keep a constant eye on their credit statements and rewards through American Express’ mobile app for both iOS and Android.

How It Works

The extraordinary point-earning rates of the Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express are where all of its benefits begin. For every eligible purchase made at participating Hilton hotels and resorts, you’ll earn 12x points. Spending on eligible purchases at restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations in the U.S. gets you 6x points and all other eligible purchases yields 3x points. By spending at least $3,000 over your initial three months as a cardholder, you’ll exponentially grow your point total with 75,000 bonus points.

These earned points can be redeemed to help pay for or cover many different travel costs. This list includes hotel stays, airfare, car rentals, dining experiences, online shopping rewards, donations and more. Over 5,000 hotels around the world are included in the Hilton Honors program, so everyone can likely find the place they want to go.

The Priority Pass™ free airport lounge membership you’ll receive after first purchase with your new card isn’t totally free, as a $27 charge may apply if you want to enter. So while there are many perks with this card, it does come with some stipulations.

The Amex mobile app is where you’ll find all the information related to your card and its rewards program. This is available through both iOS and Android devices, and is a valuable tool to keep watch on your growing point returns.

What’s the Catch

Some may consider the $75 annual fee for the Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express as a “catch.” If you’re opposed to paying any annual credit card fees, then this will likely be the case. However it’s not a particularly high fee as compared to other credit cards. You’ll have to decide for yourself if the card’s perks are worth the fee.

A penalty APR of 29.99% Variable will be applied on top of your base interest rate should you make a late or returned payment. However, if you plan to pay your bill in full and on time each month, this APR shouldn’t affect you.

Considering this is a largely travel-based credit card, it’s not surprising that its point redemption options almost solely offer rewards for airfare, hotel stays and car rentals. However, many similar cards offer statement credits and/or cash back as well. This glaring could be a drawback for some potential cardholders.

Just the Math Please

Rewards

Most of your points will be earned through your daily and travel-based buys. You’ll get 12x points on eligible purchases at participating Hilton hotels and resorts, 6x points on eligible purchases at restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations in the U.S. and 3x points on all other eligible purchases.

Additionally by spending $3,000 during your first three months with an account, you’ll receive 75,000 points.  

Balance Transfers

Those looking for 0% introductory APR on balance transfers will have to turn elsewhere. The APR on balance transfers requested within 60 days of account opening is 16.24%-20.24% Variable with the Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express.

Rates and Fees

Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for Purchases

16.24%-20.24% Variable, depending on your creditworthiness. 

APR for Balance Transfers

16.24%-20.24% Variable, depending on your creditworthiness. 

APR for Cash Advances

26.24% Variable. 

Penalty APR and When It Applies

29.99% Variable. This APR may be applied to your account if you make a late payment or make a payment that is returned. If your APRs are increased for either of these reasons, the Penalty APR may apply indefinitely.

How to Avoid Paying Interest on Purchases

Your due date is at least 25 days after the close of each billing period. Interest on purchases will not be charged if you pay each month your entire balance (or if you have a plan outstanding, your balance adjusted for plans) by the due date. Interest will begin being charged on cash advances and balance transfers on the transaction date.

Annual Fee  

$75

Transaction Fees

  • Balance Transfer Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. 

  • Cash Advance Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.

  • Foreign Transaction 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to U.S. dollars

Penalty Fees

  • Late Payment Up to $38

  • Returned Payment Up to $38

How It Stacks Up

How does the Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express compare to other hotel and travel-centric credit cards on the market? Let’s compares it to the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card, one of the most consistently high-rated hotel credit cards out there.

The Marriott card offers 5 points per dollar spent at participating Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels, 2 points per dollar spent on airline tickets booked with the airline, car rental agencies and restaurants and 1 point on purchases. While these are solid point rates, they pale in comparison to those offered with the Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express.

The cards have similar sign-up offers but the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card’s offer is slightly better. If you spend $3,000 within your first three months with the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card, you’ll earn 75,000 points. Remember the Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express offers 75,000 points for spending the same amount in the same timeframe. However you also have the opportunity to earn an additional 7,500 bonus points by adding the first authorized user to the Marriott Rewards® Premier Card and making a purchase within the first three months of account opening. This widens the bonus point gap between the two cards.

The Marriott Rewards® Premier Card’s $85 annual fee is $10 more than the Hilton Honors Surpass card. It also has a higher APR range. The Marriot card’s purchase APR is 17.24% to 24.24%, depending on your creditworthiness and varying with the Prime Rate. 

These two cards offer similar benefits and rewards so it may come down to whether you prefer Marriott properties or Hilton properties. 

Bottom Line

The Hilton hotel and resort chain has a solid customer loyalty base. If this includes you, the Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express will likely be a valuable addition to your wallet. Even if you’re not already a Hilton loyalist but you are someone who finds themselves traveling frequently for business and pleasure and you enjoy staying in hotels, you can earn a lot of valuable rewards with this credit card, thanks to its generous points rate.

 

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer.

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