If you’re shopping for a travel rewards credit card and you haven’t heard, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card really wants your business. And AmEx is going to pretty impressive lengths to earn it. From the attractive welcome offer to the ability to earn a free weekend night at valid at any Hilton property worldwide, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is giving the competition a run for its money. Here are the card's top benefits.
Low minimum spend required to earn the welcome bonus
Hilton’s biggest competitor, Marriott, recently acquired Starwood (which includes Sheraton, Westin and others), positioning itself to dominate the hotel industry and the hotel industry’s rewards game. Hilton is pushing back with this offer: Earn 130,000 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, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend a total of $10,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months. Terms Apply.
Compare that to another popular Marriott card, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card, which has the following offer: Limited Time Offer! Earn 100,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Those Hilton points could get you three nights at a Homewood or Hampton property in New Orleans, two nights at a Hilton resort in the Bahamas or a comparable stay in your destination of choice.
» Learn more: Hilton Honors: The complete guide
Free weekend night if you spend $15,000 in a year
Again, a comparison to Marriott is useful: The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card gives you a free night every year on your card anniversary. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve spent on the card, but it only kicks in after you’ve been charged your $95 annual card fee. And that free night is good only at lower-end properties costing up to 35,000 points per night. It’s not valid at higher-end Marriott properties, nor can you use the certificate and make up the difference with additional points.
In contrast, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card free night is earned only after you’ve spent $15,000 in qualifying purchases in a calendar year, and it’s only good for a weekend night stay. Terms apply. But the range of properties to choose from is extremely broad and includes properties at every star level, including the fanciest hotels in Hilton’s portfolio.
Depending on what your travel plans are and what type of hotel you prefer to stay in, you can choose the card option that works best for you.
» Learn more: 5 hotel loyalty programs that offer free nights
12 points per dollar spent at Hilton properties
It’s pretty standard for hotel credit cards to offer you more points when you use their card at one of their properties. But the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card’s 12 points per dollar charged at a Hilton property is unusually good, helping you get to your next free stay even faster. You’ll also get rewarded for spending at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations with 6 points per dollar spent in those categories. All other qualifying spending will earn you 3 Hilton Honors points per dollar. Terms apply.
» Learn more: Hilton credit cards: Which one should you get?
No foreign transaction fees
This perk is always mentioned far down the list of credit card benefits, but it should be high on the list of anyone who might travel out of the country. Foreign transaction fees, which apply to any purchase you make in a foreign country, often run around 3%. That means everything you buy in another country could automatically cost you 3% more than the purchase price.
But you won’t pay that extra charge with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card. Keep in mind that American Express cards are not accepted as widely as Visa and Mastercard abroad, so it’s always a good idea to carry another card as backup.
» Learn more: 6 best no-foreign-transaction-fee credit cards
Big spenders can earn Hilton Diamond status
Not everyone spends $40,000 in one year, much less on one credit card. But if you do, you might as well be rewarded for it. Charge that much every year on the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card and you’ll get automatic Honors Diamond status through the end of the following calendar year, bestowing more than a dozen perks including a fifth night free on award stays and executive lounge access. Terms apply.
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