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For occasional travelers and once-in-a-while Hilton customers, the Honors Card is a fine choice. For Hilton diehards, the Surpass is the go-to pick.
The main reason is the Surpass’ 3x points on Hilton spending, which eclipses the Honors’ 7x points. Ultimately, the Surpass card will give you a points machine that’ll help you earn free nights at the Hilton. Even though points are typically worth 0.4 cents a piece, you’ll collect so many that the card will pay for itself. And it certainly doesn’t hurt to earn 6x points at US restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations, as well as 12x points on all other eligible purchases.
You can find Hilton properties that cost as little as 5,000 points a night, but more often you’ll pay around 30,000 points for a night. That makes the card’s 100,000-point signup bonus quite generous.
Because the Surpass comes with a $75 annual fee, it’s most valuable if you stay at Hilton many times a year. If you stay at Hilton only occasionally, the Honors card is likely a better deal.
Which Hilton Honors card should I get?
|Welcome bonus||80,000 points (spend $2,000 in the first 3 months)||Earn 100,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $3,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.|
|Bonus points for Hilton Honors bookings||500 bonus points||500 bonus points|
|Complimentary Hilton Honors status upgrade||Silver||Gold|
|Secondary Hilton Honors status upgrade||Gold (after spending $20,000)||Diamond (after spending $40,000)|
The Honors card has no annual fee, while the Honors Surpass charges $75 a year. Getting the Surpass starts to make sense when you consider its 100,000 signup bonus. However, it’s more valuable if you stay at Hilton regularly. That’s because you’ll earn 3x points on Hilton purchases versus the 7x you get with the Honors.
The other big factor is whether you value a complimentary bump to Gold status from the Surpass, or whether you’re okay with Silver (from the Honors). Silver offers many of the same perks Gold does. But Gold gives you faster earnings to attain higher status tiers, as well as small goodies at select properties like snacks and breakfast.
Overall, most travelers will do just fine with the Hilton Honors card. If you’re a hardcore Hilton customer, however, the Hilton Surpass is a no-brainer.
- SIGNUP BONUS: Hilton Honors points.
- POINT: Earn accelerated Hilton Honors points.
Earn 3x points at Hilton properties. Earn 6x points at US restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations. And earn 12x points on all other eligible purchases.
- More points when you book at a Hilton Honors website.
Each time you book online from a Hilton Honors property, you’ll receive 500 bonus points.
- Complimentary upgrade to Hilton Honors Gold status.
Gold status offers property-specific bonuses, a 25% bonus on Hilton Honors Base Points you earn, and your fifth night free when you book five nights or more in one stay with points. It also includes standard perks like digital check-in, complimentary Wi-Fi and late check-out.
You’ll also like…
- Complimentary upgrade to Hilton Honors Diamond status after meeting spending requirements. If you spend $40,000 or more in a calendar year, you’ll get a free upgrade to Diamond status.
- Travel protection. You’ll have access to the American Express Global Assist Hotline, which you can use if you find yourself in a pinch on vacation. Also, get complimentary car rental, baggage and travel accident insurance.
- Purchase benefits. Get extended warranties and return protection on eligible items.
- Cardmember-only entertainment. As a cardholder, you’ll have access to exclusive events and ticket presales.
What to watch out for
- Not as widely accepted overseas. Because the Hilton Honors Surpass card is an American Express card, you might not have as many opportunities to use it overseas as you would with a Visa or Mastercard.
- Foreign transaction fees. You’ll incur fees when you use your Hilton Honors Surpass card abroad.
- It hurts to pay late. Making late or returned payments could saddle you with a penalty APR as high as 29.99%. You may also incur late and returned-payment fees as high as $38.
Consider other cards if…
- You don’t stay at Hilton. You’d be better served by another co-branded hotel card or a general travel card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Barclaycard Arrival Plus.
- You want cash back. Go for a great cash back card like the Citi Double Cash or the Blue Cash Preferred.
What to know before you apply
To apply for the Hilton Honors Surpass card, you must be:
- At least 18 years old
- A US resident
What credit score do I need?
You’ll have a better chance of being approved for the Hilton Honors Surpass card if you apply with a good to excellent credit score of 680 or higher.
How to apply for the card
1. On the American Express website, click Apply Now.
2. Fill out the application form. Provide information like your Social Security number, home address, income source and total annual income.
How long will it take to be approved?
Because conditional credit card approval is automated on the website, you can get a decision on your application within 60 seconds.
I got the card. Now what?
- Making payments. Register an account at the American Express website to pay your balance online. You can also enroll in autopay.
- Avoiding interest payments. After the close of each billing cycle, you have a grace period of 25 days to pay your balance. If you do, you won’t pay interest on your purchases.
- Avoiding fees. Late and returned payments come with hefty fees of up to $38. Balance transfers, cash advances and foreign transactions also come with fees.
- Customer service. Help documents aren’t easily accessible on the American Express website, but you can call 800-528-4800 for customer service. According to market research company J.D. Power, cardholders give American Express high marks in customer interaction.
The Surpass card is a great pick for Hilton regulars. For casual travelers, the Hilton Honors card is a better choice.