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Is the Hilton Surpass Amex card worth the annual fee?

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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.

In our opinion, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is well worth its $150 annual fee (see rates and fees) if you’re a Hilton loyalist, as it offers valuable earnings rates and automatic Hilton Gold elite status.

Hilton Gold status includes complimentary breakfast, room upgrades and boosted earnings when staying at Hilton brands, one of the most valuable automatic status perks on any card.

Keep reading to discover why this card is worth the annual price tag.

Lucrative welcome offer

The Hilton Surpass offers 155,000 Hilton Honors points after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the card within the first six months of card membership. The highest offer we have seen on this card is 180,000 bonus points, but with a substantial spending requirement.

The card’s current offer meets our criteria for a great time to apply, as those points are worth $930 according to our valuations.


American Express lists the following terms for the welcome offer:

You may not be eligible to receive a welcome offer if you have or have had this Card or the Hilton Honors Amex Ascend Card or previous versions of these Cards. You also may not be eligible to receive a welcome offer based on various factors, such as your history with credit card balance transfers, your history as an American Express Card Member, the number of credit cards that you have opened and closed and other factors. 

Before you submit your application, Amex will let you know whether you’re eligible for the bonus.

Related: A complete guide to Amex’s one-bonus-per-lifetime restrictions

Solid points earning with Hilton

The Hilton Surpass card earns 12 points per dollar spent at Hilton hotels and resorts, 6 points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants (including takeout and delivery), U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations, 4 points per dollar spent on U.S. online retail purchases and 3 points per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.

a hotel pool flanked by the hotel building and shade-covered lounge chairs

The non-Hilton spending returns aren’t amazing, but you’ll still earn considerable value with just your Hilton spending — another reason to consider if you’re a Hilton loyalist.

Related: Booking direct: How much value does Hilton status provide?

Redemption options

The simplest way to maximize your Hilton Honors points is to redeem them for free nights. You’ll want to make note of Hilton’s dynamic pricing system, where the number of points for redemptions can fluctuate based on the time of year and other factors.

Hilton’s Points Explorer page can help you determine how many points you’ll need for a free night across properties within the Hilton portfolio. You can always leverage your redemption with Hilton’s fifth night free perk to better maximize your use of points.

a hotel room with tan, beige and brown tones in its decorations

Hilton Honors also allows members to earn and redeem Hilton points with partners. However, most non-hotel redemption options provide relatively low value for your points, so you’ll likely want to steer clear of these options.

Related: 5 ways Hilton Honors should improve its loyalty program

Elite status

The Surpass card offers complimentary Hilton Gold status, which includes the following perks:

Hilton Maldives Amingiri breakfast

Additionally, if you spend more than $40,000 on the card in a calendar year, you’ll earn Diamond status, Hilton’s top-tier offering, through the end of the next calendar year.

Cardholders also receive complimentary National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive status after enrollment in the Emerald Club program. Terms apply. Benefits include increased access to cars, guaranteed upgrades and no second-driver fees.

If you don’t use National you can leverage the elite status to complete a status match to other car rental companies.

Related: Points of View: Which credit card should you use for Hilton stays?

Hilton statement credit

A valuable perk of the Hilton Surpass that helps to offset the annual fee is a statement credit toward eligible Hilton purchases. Cardholders receive up to $50 in statement credits (up to $200 annually) each quarter when using the card for Hilton purchases.

Eligible purchases for the statement credit are those charged directly with a Hilton portfolio property, including room rates and incidental charges such as room service, minibar consumption and laundry services.

Even if you don’t stay at a Hilton property every quarter, you may be able to maximize this credit by purchasing a Hilton gift card online, or visiting a Hilton property to have a meal or purchase something from the gift store.

Free night reward

The Hilton Surpass offers a free night reward when you spend $15,000 on purchases on the card in a calendar year. It can be used at almost any Hilton property worldwide.

If you value that free night at, say, $300, that still makes for a 2% return on the $15,000 in spending.

lounge chairs flank an infinity pool while a hotel built into a cliffside is visible in the background, overlooking the ocean

Related: How to get maximum value from Hilton free night certificates

Other benefits

Finally, the Hilton Surpass includes no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees) when traveling outside the U.S., free two-day shipping with ShopRunner and Amex’s “Send & Split” feature, which lets you divide bills like a group dinner with friends. Enrollment required for select benefits.

Additionally, the card comes with Amex’s “Plan It” perk, which makes it possible to pay large purchases over time, plus secondary rental car insurance of up to $50,000 for theft or damage.*

*Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Not all vehicle types or rentals are covered, and geographic restrictions apply. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit for details. Policies are underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. Coverage is offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc. 

Related: 6 reasons to get the Hilton Honors Amex Surpass card

Bottom line

The Surpass doesn’t have the flexibility or over-the-top perks of some other cards, but it could be just what you’re looking for if you’re a semi-frequent traveler who’s partial to Hilton. Automatic Gold status, high points-earning opportunities and up to $200 in annual Hilton credits make this card a great option for Hilton loyalists.

To learn more about the card, read our full review of the Hilton Surpass.

Apply here: Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card

For rates and fees of the Hilton Surpass Card, click here.