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What’s This Card Worth? Assessing Hilton Amex Surpass Card Value

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Hilton Amex Surpass

All information about the Hilton Honors American Express, Surpass, Aspire, and Business cards has been collected independently by Miles to Memories.

Hilton Amex Surpass

Amex has (justifiably) taken a lot of flak lately for their card devaluations, including the Hilton cobranded products.  One by one, Amex is eliminating useful cards with a sub-$100 annual fee.  Taking a page from their premium card playbook, Amex hikes the annual fee and rationalizes doing so by adding perks which put more onus on the cardholder to consume.  Despite these changes, some can squint and make sense of holding certain cards.  And could it be that others have improved?  I’m considering the latter today with the Hilton Amex Surpass, now with a $150 annual fee.  Here’s how I calculate the benefit value of the Surpass right now.

Reminder:  In line with previous valuation articles, I’m not taking into account a welcome offer for the Hilton Amex Surpass.  I’m specifically focusing on the card’s ongoing benefits for individuals who decide to pay the annual fee.  Of course, new cardholders eligible for the signup bonus should add their customized value to cardmember year one. You can find the information for the current welcome offer below.

Hilton Amex Surpass Welcome Offer


Current Hilton Surpass Welcome Offer: bonus_miles_full card_name

$200 Hilton Credit

I’ll start with a newer benefit which can be a clear winner for many.  A Surpass cardholder can pick up a $50 statement credit each quarter on charges at any property within the Hilton portfolio.  Plenty of Surpass cardholders have stays in these timeframes, and I’ve noticed this credit easily triggers.  Sure, it would be simpler for cardholders to realize a year-wide $200 credit.  But even without a quarterly stay, methods exist to use this credit without much effort.  My family and I have normal spend (mostly food and beverage-related) during our stays, and this credit plays along nicely with the elite F&B credit (more on that next).  I fully value this new Surpass benefit.

Annual Benefit Value:  $200

Hilton Honors Gold Status

The Surpass automatically grants the primary cardholder Hilton Honors Gold status.  I consider Gold the best mid-tier hotel elite status out there.  Gold status unlocks Hilton’s daily elite food and beverage credit.  Interestingly, Gold and the more elite Diamond level access the same benefit amounts.  This benefit consistently delivers for us throughout the year, and I finally consider it a clear winner.

Historically, I haven’t received upgrades as much with Gold status as I have with Diamond.  But I’ve been surprised with upgrades here and there as a Gold elite in the past, enough that I remember the solid return from this mid-tier status.  In fact, I’m considering allowing my current Diamond status to expire; I could be perfectly fine with Gold.

Of course, how each person values this benefit will vary widely based on their number of Hilton stays throughout the year.

Annual Benefit Value:  $250

Hilton Amex Surpass

Bonus Category Earning and Big Spend Bonus

I don’t often take into account earning categories and big spend bonus opportunities in benefit valuations, as many other cards often work out better.  But I actually look to put everyday spend on the Surpass for good reason.  And clearly, I’d pay for what the Surpass offers over the no-fee card version.  The latter offers solid 5x earning on US supermarket, dining, and gas station spending – all staple categories for many consumers.  But the Surpass offers a superior 6x in those same categories, all while contributing to the $15k big spend bonus – a Hilton free night certificate.  I consider the Hilton cert the best out there, redeemable at most all their properties (here are the exclusions).

If the Surpass had no other benefits except these two, I’d pay $50 for it over the no fee version.  Those who significantly spend in the Hilton portfolio (I do not) will probably value this benefit even higher, since the Surpass earns 12x in those situations.

Annual Benefit Value:  $50

Everything Else

I value everything else zero.  The Surpass provides cardholders National Car Rental Executive status, perhaps a useful benefit for some.  But individuals often obtain the same or superior benefit with other cards – this goes for car rental loss/damage and baggage insurance, too.  I don’t value spending to $40k for Diamond, as an Aspire upgrade automatically comes with that status.  No foreign transaction fees is a valuable perk for many, but we’re not traveling enough for this to be of any substantive value currently.

Hilton Amex Surpass – Conclusion

In return for a $150 annual fee, the Surpass brings us a strong $500 annual benefit value.  Coming out ahead by $350 minimum with a $150 annual fee card is perhaps even more impressive than the $400 win from the $550 annual fee Aspire.  And taking into account the new Surpass benefits and the annihilation of those from the Business version, the former is the clear long-term hold Hilton card for my family and me.  That said, we may briefly rent an Aspire via upgrade, but we’ll inevitably return to the Surpass.

How do you value the Hilton Amex Surpass these days?

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Benjy Harmon
Benjy Harmon
Benjy focuses on the intersection of points, travel, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently roams throughout the USA close to expense-free. Benjy enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

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  1. I’m surprised you would assign $250 value to the Surpass for Hilton Gold status since you get that anyway with your Platinum cards.

    • Agreed. To be fair, it might be worth including the value “if you don’t have the Amex Platinum” and zero value “if you do have the Amex Platinum.”

  2. I agree with everything you said about the card. Remember, you also get a cash credit on your portfolio for up to 2 guests for food and beverage credit per day with the credit amount depending on the type of property you’re staying at. I easily reach the $40K spend for Diamond. With my wife having the same card, we both attain the FNC, which as you said is one of the best perks in the business.
    With the recent unannounced hike needed for room redemptions by IHG and Choice, Hilton points have become more competitive for those seeking ordinary rooms almost anywhere you might need to stay.


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