The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is an appealing credit card, especially for not-so-big spenders and for fans of Hilton properties. In exchange for a $95 annual fee, this card has a unique array of perks and rewards, including an easy-to-earn welcome bonus, access to airport lounges, and bonus points for using the card for dining, gas, and groceries. Terms apply.
Big spenders will get a lot of mileage out of the card’s higher-end rewards, too: You get a free weekend night if you spend $15,000 on the card in a calendar year, or free Hilton Honors Diamond status if you spend $40,000 on the card in a year. Terms apply. But we think small spenders will find plenty to love in this card. Here are five reasons to get the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card.
1. You don’t want to charge $5,000 to earn a welcome bonus
Credit card welcome bonuses are hands-down the best way to earn a large number of points and miles and points for free travel. But in a lot of cases, you have to spend $4,000 or $5,000 on your new card within the first three months after opening the credit card account in order to earn the bonus. The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is a good choice for anyone who doesn’t plan to do that kind of spending but still wants to earn a nice chunk of points worth at least two or three free nights right off the bat.
Here's the current offer: Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn a $150 statement credit after your first purchase on the Hilton Surpass Card within your first 3 months. Terms Apply.
2. You’ve got your eye on some Hilton properties
If you’ve eyeballed photos of the Hilton Hawaiian Village on Oahu, the Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria or the overwater bungalows at the Hilton Moorea Lagoon, you’re probably already bursting with ideas about how you can earn and spend Hilton points. The company has more than 585 hotels and resorts spanning six continents, with brands ranging from modest Hampton Inns to eye-popping Waldorf Astoria hotels. If you book any of them, this card is exceptionally good at helping you build your points balance fast.
Use this card to reserve a stay at a participating Hilton property and you’ll earn 12 points for every dollar you spend on your card. That’s on top of the points you earn as a Hilton Honors Gold member, also a benefit of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, for just staying there. It’s a good earn rate and it means that anyone who stays regularly at Hilton properties can earn free stays more quickly than they could with a lot of other travel rewards cards. Terms apply.
» Learn more: Hilton Honors: The Complete Guide
3. You spend a lot at restaurants, gas stations and/or grocery stores
The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card earns 6 points per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets and at U.S. gas stations. If you spend a lot in these categories, this card may be a good card for you.
But if that’s not where you spend the bulk of your money, be sure to compare this card with some competitors. You’ll find cards that pay points bonuses in a wide range of categories including Amazon purchases, wholesale clubs, Lyft rides, Target store purchases and many other areas that could earn you more points.
» Learn more: NerdWallet's best store credit cards
4. You know where some Priority Pass lounges are, and you want in
Most credit cards come with no airport lounge benefits. A few come with full access to the entire network of Priority Pass lounges. The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card offers something in between, with 10 free passes to Priority Pass Select lounges every membership year after you enroll. Terms apply.
That’s a great perk if there are participating lounges in terminals you’ll actually use, but you don’t travel enough to need unlimited access. The best way to find out where the participating lounges are is to browse the Priority Pass website. New lounges join the program regularly, so even if you don’t see a lounge in your preferred airport now, be sure to check back!
» Learn more: 5 Priority Pass lounges that are worth a visit
5. You plan to travel abroad
It’s not a rare benefit, but it’s a crucial one for any traveler who might do some spending outside the U.S.: no foreign transaction fees. This means that while shopping abroad, you won’t get hit with a roughly 3% charge on every purchase you make. On any foreign trip, those fees can add up fast. And with this card as well as a number of others waiving them, there’s no reason to pay a penny extra for foreign transactions. Keep in mind that American Express cards are not accepted as widely as Visa and Mastercard outside of the U.S., so it’s a good idea to have another card as a backup just in case.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Find the best hotel credit card for you Snag these hotel loyalty perks, even if you’re disloyal Hilton Honors AmEx Ascend to change name back to Surpass