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How Do I Know If the Hilton Honors AmEx Surpass Card Is Right for Me?

Nov. 22, 2019
Travel, Travel Credit Cards
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Every week it seems as though there’s another new rewards credit card competing for your attention. The result of all this competition: increasingly attractive welcome bonuses and perks. The downside: It’s getting harder to choose.

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card increased its competitive edge last year with a 125,000-point sign-up bonus, some standout lounge perks, and an array of other benefits that make this card worth your consideration.

Here are four ways to know whether this card is right for you.

1. You like Hilton properties

Some travel rewards cards give you points you can use anywhere. Others let you book with any provider you like, then let you redeem points for a statement credit that erases the charge. The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is a third kind: a hotel-specific card designed to encourage loyalty to the company’s portfolio. Yes, like most rewards programs, Hilton Honors lets you use your points for other things, like airline miles and concert tickets.

But you generally don’t get as much value when you convert your points to a partner program. Because this card creates an incentive to stay at Hilton properties, the question becomes: Is that really where you want to stay? Hilton gives you plenty of reasons to say yes, with hotels and resorts at every price point at over 5,000 locations in 100 countries. Before you decide on this card, skim their offerings and make sure they fit with your travel plans and price points.

» Learn more: Hilton credit cards: Which one should you get?

2. You don’t want to spend $4,000 or $5,000 in three months

Welcome bonuses are usually the most lucrative perk of any rewards card, but they often come with a catch: You have to make purchases of up to a specific amount in a certain amount of time after account opening to qualify. For some cards, this amount can be $5,000 or more. The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card has a much friendlier bonus threshold: Earn 125,000 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. Terms Apply.

You’ll be able to use your points for a free night at a lot of ultra-high-end Hilton properties like the Waldorf Astoria Bangkok, or up to four nights at certain lower-tier hotels like the ones in Hilton’s Hampton Inn collection.

3. You can take advantage of the free lounge access.

A few credit cards come with unlimited access to the Priority Pass network of airport lounges, but many of these have much higher annual fees. Other cards might give you two free passes to a specific airline’s lounge every year on your cardmember anniversary. Most cards come with no lounge access at all. The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is unusual because it lets you use Priority Pass lounges for free 10 times a year. Terms apply.

There are over 1,200 Priority Pass lounges worldwide where your passes are valid, though not every airport terminal will have a lounge that can be accessed with Priority Pass. Browse the lounges at the Priority Pass website, taking note of the airports (and specific terminals) you travel through to gauge whether these lounges will be convenient for you.

» Learn more: 5 Priority Pass lounges that are worth a visit

4. You expect to spend at least $15,000 per year on the card.

Unlike a number of hotel credit cards issued by Hilton competitors Marriott and IHG, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card does not automatically get you a free night certificate every year on your cardmember anniversary. But you can earn a free weekend night certificate every year you spend at least $15,000 in qualifying purchases on the card. Terms apply.

The downside is you’re limited in when you can use the certificate: weekends only. The upside is that you have a huge number of hotel options where the certificate is valid. Unlike the Marriott free night perk that’s good only for hotel rooms at the lower end of the price spectrum, the Hilton free weekend night is good at any Hilton property with availability, including very high-end properties in the company’s portfolio. Terms apply.

» Learn more: Hilton Honors: The complete guide

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 2019, including those best for:

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

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