Note: the offers mentioned below are subject to change at any time and some may no longer be available.
Update: This limited time welcome offer goes away on August 28, so apply now while you still have time for extra bonus points and a free weekend night award when you spend $4,000 in your first four months.
American Express is rebranding its Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card as the Hilton Honors American Express® Surpass Card, and launching an exciting limited time offer to coincide with the change.
First, the bad news. As hotel points go, Hilton’s are some of the least valuable in the industry, offering an average of .5 cents of value each, according to The Points Guy’s latest valuations. While a handful of properties on off-peak dates can be booked for as little as 5,000 points, those opportunities are few and far between. Luckily, per-night rates are capped at 95,000 points, so you can get some pretty good value for your points at the highest end hotels.
Luckily, every Hilton award redemption can also be made with a combination of points and cash, utilizing a sliding scale that maintains the same value-per-point of booking the award in full. That gives you a lot of flexibility to cut a chunk off your hotel bill, even if you don’t have enough points for a free night.
Luckily, it’s pretty easy to rack up a big Hilton point balance quickly, as you’ll earn 10x points per dollar on Hilton Hotel stays (with bonuses available for elite status members, more on that later). Plus, with the Surpass Card, you’ll earn an additional 12 points per dollar on Hilton purchases. Combine those two sources, and you can get some pretty phenomenal returns on Hilton stays.
With the Surpass card, you’ll also earn 6 points per dollar at US restaurants, US supermarkets, and US gas stations, plus 3 points per dollar on all other purchases, a 1.5% return. So while individual Hilton points aren’t worth much, the fact that you can earn a minimum of three of them on every dollar you spend essentially makes up for that fact.
For a limited time, you’ll earn 130,000 points and a free weekend night (Friday, Saturday, or Sunday) at nearly any Hilton hotel after you spend $4,000 in your first four months. That’s up from the typical offer of 125,000 points with no free night after spending $2,000 (in three months). That’s a big jump in minimum spend, but if it’s money you were going to spend anyway, that free weekend night could easily be worth hundreds of dollars.
Even looking past the free bonus night, that 130,000 points is worth about $650 according to TPG’s valuations, and you’ll also earn points on the purchases you made to hit the $4,000 threshold.
Considering the card’s relatively low $95 annual fee, that’s a very lucrative welcome offer, especially if you put the free night to good use.
If you really can’t stomach that annual fee though, the no-annual-fee Hilton Honors American Express Card also has a limited time welcome bonus right now, though it’s not nearly as lucrative.
The Surpass offers a suite of perks that surpass just about every other hotel-branded card in this tier.
Hilton Gold Status
The most notable advantage to holding the card is that it gets you Hilton Gold status automatically, which The Points Guy values at $1,260 per year. It doesn’t take an economist to understand that’s a good deal for a card with a $95 annual fee.
What makes it worth so much, you ask?
- 80% points bonus - Instead of earning 10 points per dollar on paid Hilton stays, you’ll earn 18 points. Combine that with your Surpass bonus, and you’re getting a massive 30 points per dollar back on paid stays.
- Fifth night free on award stays - If you book a five night stay with points, your fifth night will be free. You can use this perk as many times per year as you’d like.
- Room upgrades - This is based on availability, and it excludes suite upgrades, but it should make most of your stays more enjoyable.
- Free breakfast - Some Hilton properties offer complimentary breakfast, but Gold status members always eat for free.
- Miscellaneous benefits - Free water bottles plus either a welcome amenity or a points bonus at check in.
That’s an incredible set of benefits for a $95/year card. For comparison’s sake, the World of Hyatt Credit Card only grants you low-level Discoverist status with the same annual fee.
While it doesn’t include unlimited Priority Pass lounge access like some high-end travel cards, you will get 10 complimentary lounge visits per year, which can make an otherwise stressful airport experience almost pleasant.
Weekend Night Rewards
In addition to the reward you get as part of your welcome offer, you’ll get an additional reward for every $15,000 you spend with the card.
The Hilton Surpass card offers benefits that you’d expect to see in a card with a $400+ annual fee, and yet, it only carries a $95 annual fee. As long as you stay at Hilton properties with some frequency, it’s a great addition to your wallet at any time, but especially during this limited time offer.
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