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INSIDER SECRET: This card’s name may have changed, but it still comes with outstanding benefits like automatic Hilton Gold elite status and Priority Pass lounge visits, plus an improved welcome offer.
Hilton is a favorite among Million Mile Secrets readers and staff because it’s so easy to earn Hilton Honors points and use points at Hilton hotels. Depending on your travel destination, you can choose from luxury brand hotels, like Waldorf Astoria, or book a family-friendly option like Hampton Inn, which offers free hot breakfast for all hotel guests.
The refreshed Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card (previously the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card) is an excellent option for travelers who book Hilton hotels. For a limited time through August 28, 2019, the Hilton Surpass card is offering an increased welcome bonus of 130,000 Hilton Honors points plus a weekend night certificate at nearly any Hilton after you meet minimum spending requirements.
You can replenish points quickly by earning lots of bonus points on paid Hilton stays and other useful bonus spending categories, including US restaurants and US supermarkets.
Here’s our Amex Hilton Surpass review:
Amex Hilton Surpass Review
Apply Here: Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card
For a limited time, when you apply for the Hilton Honors Surpass card, you’ll earn 130,000 Hilton Honors points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first four months of account opening. Plus, you’ll earn a weekend night certificate valid at almost any Hilton hotel after meeting the same minimum spending requirement. This offer is only good until August 28, 2019.
A free standard night at Hilton hotels generally costs 10,000-95,000 Hilton points per night, so the bonus points are more than enough for a night at any top Hilton hotel or multiple nights at less expensive locations. Plus, you can make the most of your weekend night certificate by booking a high-end Hilton property (like a Conrad or Waldorf Astoria), which can sometimes cost $800 or more (here’s a list of exclusions).
Hilton is one of the biggest hotel chains, so there’s likely a Hilton hotel nearby, no matter where you’re traveling. Hilton hotel brands include:
- Embassy Suites
- Hampton Inn
- Hilton Garden Inn
- Hilton Grand Vacations
- Home2 Suites
- Homewood Suites
- Tapestry Collection
- Waldorf Astoria
Hilton points are generally worth at least 0.5 cents each. So for most people, the 130,000-point Amex Hilton Surpass bonus is worth, at minimum, $650 in stays (130,000 Hilton points x 0.5 cents). However, it’s possible to get even more value from your Hilton points, depending on where you use them.
Unlike other hotel chains, Hilton does not have an award chart, and the number of points required to book an award stay can vary depending on your travel dates. Travel during peak periods will generally cost more points than off-season awards. The Hilton Points Explorer tool can give you an idea of the minimum and maximum number of points you’ll pay at a specific property.
Most folks prefer to pay cash for lower-cost stays (less than $125 per night), and instead use points to book free nights or a weekend night certificate at top-tier hotels that are otherwise very expensive when you pay cash. For example, during peak travel dates, you could pay more than $1,000 for a night at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, but you could book an award stay instead either for 95,000 Hilton points per night or by redeeming your certificate.
The Amex Hilton Surpass bonus can get you amazing value if you redeem for a night like this.
If a trip to the Maldives isn’t in your future, you can still use the Amex Hilton Surpass to save big on other types of hotel stays. Planning to ski this winter? You can use 95,000 Hilton points or a weekend night certificate instead of paying over $900 to stay at the luxurious Waldorf Astoria Park City, which has direct access to the mountains.
How to Earn Points With the Hilton Surpass
With the Amex Hilton Surpass, you’ll earn:
- 12 Hilton points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at Hilton hotels and resorts
- 6 Hilton points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations
- 3 Hilton points per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases
For example, if your monthly grocery bill is $500, you can earn 36,000 Hilton points per year ($500 x 12 months x 6 points per dollar) just by using the Amex Hilton Surpass card for those purchases.
How to Use Hilton Honors Points From the Hilton Surpass Card
It’s relatively easy to search the Hilton website to figure out the number of Hilton points you’ll need for a free stay on your travel dates.
Step 1. Enter Search Criteria (Log In Not Required)
Suppose you want to stay in New York City using your Hilton points. Here’s how you’d check the number of points you’d need per night.
To begin, navigate to Hilton’s homepage and click “Sign In“. (You don’t need to log in to see points values, but you’ll need to be signed in to book). Enter your destination, travel dates, number of rooms and number of guests.
Choose “Use Points” to search for award nights. There’s also an option to select flexible dates if your travel plans aren’t firm.
Then click “Find It” to get the search going.
Step 2. Pick Your Hotel
From there, you’ll see a list of Hilton hotels at your destination, along with the nightly points rate of each hotel (unless it’s sold out).
To choose a hotel, click the “Select” button under the nightly rate.
Step 3. Choose Your Room Type
Next, select the room you want. Standard rooms will cost the fewest points compared to upgraded rooms, like those with better views or more space.
For example, standard room nights (one king or queen) on a sample date in December at the Hilton Garden Inn New York/Times Square Central go for 70,000 Hilton points per night.
But “premium” rooms with views of the New York City skyline cost 217,000-222,000 Hilton points per night. Ouch – definitely not a good deal.
If you see an asterisk next to the nightly rate, it means the rate changes during your stay.
Once you’ve decided on the room you want, click the “Select” button.
Step 4. Book Your Room
If you aren’t yet logged into your account, you’ll be prompted to do so. From there you can continue booking as usual, including having the opportunity to add additional guest names and any special requests. You’ll then see your reservation details and your Hilton loyalty account information.
You can also customize your payment with a combination of points and money by moving the slider on the booking screen.
Benefits of the Hilton Surpass
Hilton Gold Elite Status
You’ll receive complimentary Gold Hilton status just for having the Amex Hilton Surpass, which gets you an 80% bonus on points you earn at Hilton hotels. That’s on top of the 10 Hilton points per dollar you get as a Hilton Honors member by booking your room directly with the hotel (5 points per dollar at Home2 Suites and Tru), and 12 points per dollar you earn by using this card for the reservation. So altogether, you can expect to earn 30 Hilton points per dollar at most Hilton hotels.
You’ll also receive free breakfast at Hilton hotels, and room upgrades when available.
You can even earn Hilton Diamond status if you spend $40,000 on eligible purchases with your card in a calendar year (valid through the end of the next calendar year after it’s earned). That comes with all the Gold Status benefits plus things like executive lounge access, an elite status gift and a 100% bonus on points earned at Hilton hotels.
Weekend Night Certificate When You Hit a Spending Threshold
You’ll earn an additional weekend night after you spend $15,000 on purchases in a calendar year with your Amex Hilton Surpass card. You can use this weekend night at nearly any Hilton hotel, including expensive resorts like the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa, where rates can exceed $600 per night.
Priority Pass Airport Lounge Access
This card gives you 10 free airport lounge visits each year once enrolled in a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership. Priority Pass has over 1,200 airport lounges worldwide, so it shouldn’t be hard to use these annual passes.
These visits do not come with guest privileges, so if you’re traveling with a friend, you’ll have to use two visits to get you both in.
Access to Amex Offers
You can add Amex Offers to the card, which are statement credits or bonus points you’ll receive when you enroll your card for targeted offers at merchants including Hilton hotels. I recently saved $300 on a stay at the Waldorf Astoria Grand Wailea in Maui by stacking two Amex offers, and have saved hundreds of dollars over the years with other deals including AT&T and Boxed.
Is the Hilton Surpass Worth the Annual Fee?
Spending $15,000 in a calendar year to earn the weekend night certificate can save hundreds if you use it to book an expensive hotel, and the 10 free Priority Pass lounge visits can help you avoid paying for overpriced airport food.
Plus, if you frequently stay at Hilton hotels, the Gold elite status perks like free breakfast, upgrades when available and bonus points can offer huge value.
Does the Hilton Surpass Have a Foreign Transaction Fee?
No. (see rates & fees)
Who Is Eligible for the Hilton Surpass?
Because Amex limits welcome bonuses to once per person per lifetime on a particular card, if you’ve had the Amex Hilton Surpass (even under it’s previous name, the Amex Hilton Ascend), you’re not eligible for the bonus.
Cards Similar to the Hilton Surpass
If the Hilton Surpass doesn’t sound like the perfect fit for you, there are other Hilton cards to choose from:
- Hilton Honors American Express Card – Limited-time offer until August 28, 2019: 90,000 Hilton points after you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
- Hilton Honors American Express Business Card – 125,000 Hilton points after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
- Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express – 150,000 Hilton points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
These are all considered different card products, which means it’s possible to earn the welcome bonus on more than one version. I’m a big fan of the Hilton Aspire card because it comes with incredible benefits that make it worth much more than the annual fee for frequent Hilton guests. (Here’s our review of the Hilton Aspire for more.)
The Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express (formerly called the Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express) is offering an increased welcome bonus of 130,000 Hilton Honors points plus a weekend night certificate at almost any Hilton hotel after meeting minimum spending requirements. You’ll want to get in on this deal soon, because it expires August 28, 2019.
At a minimum, you should be able to use 130,000 Hilton points to get $650 worth of free hotel stays, but you can potentially get even more value from your Hilton points depending on where you redeem them. For example, the welcome bonus is enough for an award night at hotels that can cost over $1,000 per night, like the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island or Waldorf Astoria Park City.
The Hilton Surpass card makes it easy to earn lots of Hilton points because you can earn 12 points per dollar at Hilton hotels, 6 points per dollar at US restaurants, US supermarkets, and US gas stations and 3 points per dollar everywhere else. Plus, as an Amex cardholder, you’ll get access to Amex Offers, which you can use to save money on purchases you’re already planning.
For more about all things Hilton, check out our guides:
- Hilton Honors Review
- Hilton Points Value
- Hilton Status
- Best Use of Hilton Points
- How to Earn Hilton Honors Points
- How to Setup a Hilton Account
- How to Use Hilton Honors Points
- Hilton Award Chart
- Do Hilton Points Expire?
- Current Hilton Promotions
For the latest tips and tricks on traveling big without spending a fortune, please subscribe to the Million Mile Secrets daily email newsletter.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Surpass Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Business Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Amex Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express, click here.