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Co-branded hotel credit cards open up a world of luxury and exclusive benefits for their cardholders.
If you have ever wondered how people get complimentary room upgrades, early arrival, and late checkout, the odds are that they booked their stay with a co-branded credit card.
Another benefit of utilizing a hotel credit card is the accelerated path to loyalty status with a hotel chain.
Today we will look at the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® card, which has a massive introductory spending bonus, airport lounge access, and the ability to earn a free night at a Hilton Hotel when you book a stay with points.
The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is an excellent, mid-tier hotel co-branded credit card that generates a surprising amount of rewards across some of the most popular spending categories.
Many consumers currently value Hilton Honors points at around half a penny or $0.005 meaning every 1,000 points is approximately $5 in rewards.
The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® has a tiered rewards system. Cardholders earn 12x points per dollar spent with Hilton, 6x points per dollar on all eligible grocery, restaurant, and fuel purchases, and 3x points per dollar on all other purchases.
One of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® card’s biggest advantages is the 6x points earning potential on three of the most common spending categories.
Many rewards cards usually offer a combination of one or two of these categories, making this a compelling card for everyday spending.
Cardholders can redeem rewards on the Hilton website or mobile app to book rewards nights at locations worldwide.
If you are curious to see what your points are worth, you can use the Hilton Points Explorer tool to identify optimal locations for your points balance and budget.
Along with a compelling rewards program, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® also carries additional benefits:
The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® card’s $95 annual fee is relatively low compared to the value.
The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® has one of the highest points introductory spending bonuses in its category. New cardholders receive a whopping 130,000 Hilton Honors points after spending the first $2,000 on the card.
130,000 points can easily pay for a few nights at a mid-tier property or offset the cost of a longer stay at a premium Hilton property.
Cardholders can earn another 50,000 points if they spend an additional $10,000 on the card during the first year.
Since groceries, restaurants, and gas stations fall under the 6x points per dollar tier, consumers who put much of their everyday spending on this card should be able to earn the additional 50,000 points.
Travel credit cardsoften offer insurance and travel assistance as part of their rewards program.
The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® card provides cardholders access to fraud protection, a global assist hotline available 24/7, and rental car insurance, to name a few.
It’s important to note that the trip needs to be booked with your Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® card; otherwise, it will not be covered.
Many hotel rewards credit cards offer a complimentary night’s stay annually on the cardholder’s anniversary date.
The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® does not, but instead offers a complimentary fifth night when a trip is booked entirely with points.
By leveraging the introductory bonuses and booking off-peak trips, achieving the fifth night free is well within reason and can potentially save hundreds of dollars.
Traveling by air can be a hassle, and it can be expensive if you have to stay at an airport for an extended period.
Airport lounges are small oases spread throughout most airports, and they offer complimentary food, drinks, showers, and sometimes massages.
Entering an airport lounge can be tricky for unseasoned travelers because they often require airline loyalty status, an upfront fee, or both.
Priority Pass is a well-known lounge network that works with premium credit card companies to provide free access to many lounges worldwide, and the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® gives cardholders 10 passes annually to enjoy Priority Pass locations.
Since lounge passes can range from $20-$50 on average, Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® holders can get $500 extra worth of value from their card.
Although it may seem like a niche reward, lounge passes can be lifesaving on long trips or if you want to find somewhere quiet to rest during an extended layover.
Hopefully, you can see that the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® credit card carries unique benefits, including Priority Pass lounge access, complimentary elite status, and points bonuses when booking through Hilton.
However, the travel credit card market is extremely competitive in this bracket, so let’s see how this credit card stacks up against its competition.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is the gold standard for mid-tier travel Rewards. It generates 5x points per dollar on travel booked through Chase, 3x points per dollar on travel and dining, offers a $50 hotel credit, and much more for a $95 annual fee.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® has a host of transfer partnerships available for airlines and hotel chains which often transfer at a high rate, meaning you get more bang for your buck with Chae Ultimate rewards points.
However, since the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® credit card is co-branded with Hilton Hotels, it provides immediate elite status for cardholders which is not an option for many general travel credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
When deciding between these two options, the biggest factor is if you prefer flexible point redemption options or loyalty status and perks from the Hilton Hotel chain.
The Platinum Card® from American Express is one of the most premium and luxurious credit cards on the market.
It carries a hefty $695 annual fee, including monthly Uber and streaming credits, statement credits for incidental airline fees and Saks 5th Avenue purchases, and even credits for private jet charters.
It also offers Hilton Gold status as well as elite status at Mariott Bonvoy. If luxury travel is important to you and you don’t mind paying the annual fee, few cards match the prestige and scope of the Platinum Card® from American Express.
Although the Platinum Card® from American Express offers Hilton Gold status, cardholders only earn bonus points when booking through Amex Travel.
So, if you want a card that helps you get free nights, you may want to stick with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® card instead.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is another ultra-premium travel rewards credit card and is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card’s older sibling. It carries a $550 annual fee which includes a $300 travel statement credit.
Since the first $300 in travel is covered by the fee, its effective annual fee is $250. It earns up to 5x points per dollar on flights booked through Chase, which is comparable to the Platinum Card® from American Express.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® also generates 3x points per dollar spent on all travel and dining and provides a 50% bonus points redemption when you book travel through Chase through their Ultimate Rewards program.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® does not have any hotel-specific benefits because it is geared toward the more general traveler.
So, the decision between the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® card still revolve around the traveler’s preference – either elite hotel perks or higher earning potential for overall travel expenses.
Since the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® card carries some unique benefits on top of its earning potential, let’s go through some of the top questions about this card:
The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® card is best for medium to high spenders who can take full advantage of the bonus spending rewards, such as the 50,000 points after an additional $10,000 in spending and the fifth free night of a trip booked with points.
Applicants should have a great to excellent credit score since it is a premium travel credit card that offers many benefits.
The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® is especially worth it for fans of the Hilton Hotel chain who want some luxury perks but do not want to pay a large annual fee. The airport lounge perk is a welcome addition for cardholders who prefer to fly.
The co-branded hotel credit card market is extremely competitive, and the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® sits squarely in the middle of the pack.
Some comparable hotel cards offer a guaranteed free night every cardholder anniversary, but the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® makes up for this shortcoming by incentivizing high spenders with extra bonus points and airport lounge credits.