Low cost way to earn HHonors Gold status.
You get HHonors Gold VIP status for as long as you hold the card, so for $75 a year you end up getting free breakfast, room upgrades, late check out and more at most Hilton affiliated hotels.
Fastest earning from everyday spending.
With the exception of airline and car rental purchases, no card earns more HHonors points per dollar on everyday spending than the HHonors Surpass American Express. You get 12x points at Hilton hotels (10x is the best the closest card, the Citi Hilton HHonors Resere offers), 6x points at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations, and 3x points on everything else.
Foreign transaction fees.
Although the card has an EMV chip built in, you’re probably not going to want to use it traveling abroad. You’ll get hit with a 2.7% foreign transaction fee if you do. The Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve with a $95 annual fee waives all foreign transaction fees, but earns less in some categories like U.S. restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations (just 3x points versus 6x for this card).
Hilton HHonors points not the most valuable.
Hilton points aren’t the most valuable around, as it takes a lot of points just to get a free night at most hotels. Think 40,000 points or more for a decent hotel. They make up for it by making the points really easy to earn, but if you’re simply trying to earn points for hotel nights via your card spending, other cards like the Chase Hyatt and Starwood American Express could earn you free nights at nice hotels more quickly.
No trip protection benefits.
An alternate card, the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve, includes benefits like coverage that will pay for a hotel room if your flight is significantly delayed, or coverage that can reimburse you for nonrefundable travel expenses in case you can’t make a trip due to illness or other covered reasons. This card, the HHonors Surpass, doesn’t have any of that coverage.
Not the biggest intro deal.
While the headline introductory points deal looks great, and can be very valuable, it’s not quite as valuable as the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve, which earns you 2 free weekend nights. If you like to stay at hotels in big cities or in popular vacation destinations, the 2 free nights can save you 100,000 points or more.
Fastest earning card for HHonors points
It’s hard to beat this card for earning HHonors points quickly from your ongoing spending. 12x points per dollar on Hilton spending beats the closest option by 20%. And you can’t come close to the unlimited 6x points at U.S. restaurants, gas stations, and supermarkets this earns versus other HHonors cards. Where it falls a little short is on car rental and airline purchases, where the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card earns 5x points per dollar.
How fast can you earn points with the card?
Let’s say you spend $2,000 a month on your card, with $500 at supermarkets, $200 at gas stations, $200 at restaurants, and $200 at Hilton hotels. Here’s what you’ll earn in a year:
And that’s not including the introductory sign on bonus in the first year. So it’s easy to earn free nights every year without a lot of spending.
Is it worth the annual fee?
If you value HHonors Gold VIP status – then the card is worth it for no other reason. Think of it as paying $75 a year to get the benefits. If you don’t value that so much, consider the regular Hilton HHonors American Express, which has no annual fee. It earns 7x points at Hilton properties (vs 12x for the Surpass), 5x at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations (vs 6x for the Surpass), and the same 3x points on everything else.
So how do you know if the $75 is worth it for the extra earning at Hilton hotels and restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations?
The easiest thing to do is use our CardFinder tool for hotel credit cards. It lets you enter your monthly spending habits and will calculate which card will earn you the most value.
What you’ll find is if you spend about $4,000 or more a year on Hilton hotels, then you’ll earn more than enough points versus the no annual fee version to make up for the fee each year.
As an example, we think Hilton points are worth a bit less than half a cent each. So you’ll need to earn about 20,000 extra points a year with the HHonors Surpass to justify its annual fee versus the no annual fee version if you don’t care about HHonors Gold status. It would take $20,000 a year in spending in supermarkets, restaurants, and gas stations to earn the extra 20,000 points versus the no annual fee version, so don’t get this card just for the 6x in those categories versus 5x for the no annual fee version.
But if you stay a lot at Hilton hotels, the extra earning can add up more quickly. Since it earns 12x points at Hilton properties versus 7x for the no annual fee version, just $4,000 a year in spending at Hiltons will earn you an extra 20,000 points over the no annual fee version.
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Foreign Transaction Fee Waived
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Or, consider other cards for 50,000 or more miles or points that transfer into United miles with additional flexibility for your everyday spending.
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