Travel Rewards Credit Cards can be a great tool for earning points and miles toward travel. In addition, these cards usually come with some extra travel benefits that can be pretty helpful and save you money on travel costs.
One credit card that we really like is the Hilton Surpass from American Express. We have had it for over 3 years now and are very happy with our decision to get it. Here are 5 things that I like about this card.
$95 Annual Fee
The annual fee for the Hilton Surpass card is just $95. Some travel rewards credit cards come with a hefty annual fee ranging betweet $250 and $550 per year. We definitely get more than $95 worth of value from this card each year.
Priority Pass Lounge Access
Another reason that I like this card is the complimentary Priority Pass Lounge Membership. You simply enroll and set up your account to receive 10 lounge passes per year. The membership allows you to bring one additional guest into the lounge with you at no extra cost, they simply deduct 2 of your 10 visits when you do so.
This membership is comparable to the Priority Pass Standard Plus Plan which includes the same 10 visits per year but comes with a $299 annual fee. If you utilize this free membership it provides you with almost a $300 value.
We really utilize our Priority Pass membership and feel that we have gotten a lot of benefit from it. It’s especially nice to have when we encounter long layovers or unexpected flight delays. The lounge gives us a comfortable place to wait, relax and charge our devices. Additionally, we can enjoy a drink and a bite to eat without having to dip deep into our wallet for one of the pricey airport dining options.
Hilton Gold Tier Status
Another great feature of the Hilton Surpass card is that it comes with automatic Gold Tier Status at Hilton hotels. There are several ways that you can use this status to get added value during your hotel stays.
- No Resort Fees on Rewards Nights
- 80% Points Bonus on Paid Stays
- Free Breakfast
- 2 Complimentary Bottles of Water per stay
- Space Available Room Upgrades
- 5th Night Free on Award Stays
We stayed at the Hilton Oakland Airport hotel during an overnight layover in 2019. Before catching the shuttle to the airport for our early morning flight, we enjoyed a complimentary sit down breakfast. Our meal would have cost us $41 without the Gold Tier status included with the Hilton Surpass card. We also earned an 80% points bonus for our stay by paying with our Hilton Surpass card. Just another example of how simply taking advantage of the included benefits saved us money and helped us earn lots of extra points during our trip.
Hilton Loyalty program members can move up from Gold to Diamond Tier Status by staying 30 nights in a calendar year. You can also do it by earning enough points during the calendar year. Hilton American Express cards and their elevated spending categories make that much easier to do. You can track your progress on the Hilton loyalty account home page and toggling from Nights Needed to Points Needed.
Points, Points & More Points
Some rewards credit cards make it hard to earn points. They have low paying categories that mean slow points accumulations. But the Hilton Surpass card kicks the earnings into overdrive!
- 12 points per dollar spent at Hilton properties
- 6 points per dollar spent at the Grocery Store
- 6 points per dollar spent at the Gas Station
- 6 points per dollar spent on Dining Out
- 3 points per dollar spent on Anything Else
For most people Gas, Groceries and Dining Out is some of their biggest everyday spending. 6 points per dollar is a really good return compared to the same categories on other travel rewards credit cards. This means that your points add up fast so that you can redeem them sooner for reward nights at Hilton properties.
Getting 3 points per dollar for Anything Else is also a great option for expenses that don’t fall into any of the usual elevated categories. Before having this card, our best option for those purchases only earned 2 points per dollar spent.
Plenty of Extra Benefits
Although most travel rewards cards pack in plenty of extras that I will never use, the Hilton Surpass actually provides some very useful added benefits:
- No Foreign Transaction Fees
- Car Rental Insurance
- Hilton Gold Tier Status
- Earn a Free Weekend Night Certificate for $15,000 in qualified spending in a calendar year*
- Priority Pass Membership
- And More (click link for the full list)
*Also watch for short term credit card offers to earn extra Free Weekend Night Certificates for completing a spend requirement. If you see one, register right away, and plan your spending accordingly. These certificates are worth a lot because they don’t have a cap on redemption. We just used one to cover a Saturday night at the Waldorf Astoria Grand Wailea in Maui where the least expensive room was over $1100 per night.
You should always put a lot of thought and research into any credit card before applying for it. Make sure that you are getting it for the right reasons and not just for an enticing Welcome Bonus. Also review the points earning categories to be sure they align with your spending so that you will be able to earn the maximum points and get enough value from the card to offset the annual fee.
One consideration for this card is that the points can only be used at Hilton properties. Before signing up for this card, determine if earning Hilton points makes sense for helping you to achieve your personal travel goals.
This card has really worked out well for us. We have been able to earn a lot of points in a short amount of time because of it’s elevated points categories for Dining, Gas and Groceries. We have also found a lot of value by booking 5 night reward stays at Hilton properties. Hilton offers a book 5 nights with points and only pay for 4 nights option. This saves on the room rate cost plus any resort fees and taxes the reservation might have otherwise incurred. That can be a huge savings in some areas.
Over the last 3 years (even with limited travel due to the pandemic), we have been able to utilize the points we earned from using this card for two separate 5 night stays in Sonoma, a 4 night stay in Key West, a 5 night stay in Texas and 2 free nights at the Waldorf Astoria Grand Wailea in Maui. Not to shabby!
With gas and grocery costs through the roof these days, this is a great card to use in order to convert daily spending into a ton of points toward travel. If you then consider how much you can also save with the card during your hotel stays (free nights and waived taxes and resort fees on points bookings) and the included perks like Lounge Membership, it’s not hard to get enough value from the Hilton Surpass card to justify the $95 annual fee.
If you are looking for a new Travel Rewards credit card, the Hilton Surpass card might be the one for you!
Dream, Plan, Save, Adventure!
I am not affiliated with Hilton or American Express and I do not receive any compensation for my honest review of this credit card.