Hilton HHonors Amex Surpass Card 80,000 Point Sign-Up Bonus

Update: There’s an exciting Limited Time Offer for the Hilton American Express cards through 5/31/17! The links below are expired, but you can learn more about best offers we’ve seen on these cards!

Update: The below links for the Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express are expired, but you can learn more about best available offers here.

Through February 28, 2015, the Hilton HHonors Surpass Card from American Express is offering an increased 80,000 HHonors points sign-up bonus after you spend $3,000 in purchases within your first three months of card membership. The card has a $75 annual fee, which isn’t waived for the first year. This is the highest publicly available sign-up bonus I’ve ever seen on the card.

What makes this card so valuable is that it offers Hilton HHonors Gold status for as long as you have the card, which gets you free breakfast/lounge access (based on availability) and free internet at Hilton properties. To me those are the two most valuable hotel elite perks. So I do think it’s worth having a co-branded Hilton credit card long term.

Conrad-HK-Breakfast
Complimentary Gold breakfast at the Conrad Hong Kong

Hilton’s credit card portfolio is especially unique because they have two co-branded credit card issuers — American Express and Citi. The co-branded Hilton card I have is the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card.

Amex vs. Citi Hilton cards

So what are the selling points of the Hilton HHonors Surpass Card from American Express vs. the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card?

The Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card offers:

  • A better sign-up bonus of two free weekend nights at any Hilton hotel, which has a value of up to 190,000 HHonors points
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • A free weekend night certificate when you spend $10,000 on the card per year
  • 5x points on airline and car rental purchases

The American Express Hilton HHonors Surpass Card offers:

  • 12x points per dollar spent at Hilton properties (vs. 10x points)
  • 6x points at US supermarkets, gas stations, and restaurants
  • Access to Hilton’s AXON awards, which aren’t nearly as useful as they used to be
  • The annual fee is $20 lower

And both cards offer:

  • Hilton HHonors Gold status just for having the card
  • Hilton HHonors Diamond status after spending $40,000 on the card in a year

Are two free weekend nights worth more than 80,000 points?

Hilton HHonors devalued their award chart early last year, whereby the cost of aspirational award stays went up by a lot.

On the low end HHonors points are still a great deal. For example, you can book the nice Doubletree Kuala Lumpur for 10,000 points per night, and get your fifth night free, bringing down the cost to 8,000 points per night. That means the Amex sign-up bonus could get you up to 10 free nights at this hotel.

Doubletree-HHonors

Conversely, the Conrad Koh Samui costs up to 95,000 points per night, so the Amex sign-up bonus wouldn’t even get you enough points for a one night stay. The Citi sign-up bonus, however, would get you two free nights.

Conrad-Koh-Samui

Bottom line

This is the best sign-up bonus we’ve seen for the card, and I’d certainly consider it if you:

  • Already have the Citi Hilton Reserve Card
  • Prefer redeeming your points for non-aspirational properties, in which case 80,000 points will get you more value than two free weekend nights

Beyond the sign-up bonus, while the Amex has slightly better category bonuses and an annual fee that’s $20 lower, I do prefer the Citi Hilton Reserve Card for being able to earn a free weekend night at any property in the world after spending $10,000 on the card, and for the waived foreign transaction fees.

What’s your preferred co-branded Hilton credit card — the Hilton HHonors Surpass Card from American Express or the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card?

Conrad-Koh-Samui
Conrad Koh Samui

Comments

  1. @ Lantean — In theory it would cost 38,000 points + ~$250 per night, though through the end of the schedule I only see Points + Money rewards available within the next couple of weeks.

  2. Lucky,
    for this card and SPG Amex, i am not eligible for sign up bonus since i have the green and business gold Amex.

    but i remember you advising to delete all the cookies before applying to get around this issue.
    how successful is deleting cookies or using a new computer to get sign up bonus? is there a chance Amex can find out later since i would be providing my name and SS#?

    whether it’s temporary or permanent, inability to fatten up my KE skypass account via UR makes SPG Amex very attractive.

    your feedback is appreciated as always and will use your link if i decide to apply.

  3. Lucky –

    Is it possible to get this card if you already have the fee free card. I have heard of people “upgrading” off of an offer from Am Ex but do they approve 2 cards at one time for the same product?

  4. Oh well, I just (last week) upgraded my base amex hilton card (the light blue one) to surpass for 50k points for 3k spend. The good thing about the upgrade was that amex did not pull my credit. So, looks like I traded a hard pull for 30k hilton points – well worth it IMO.

    I am on the phone (cannot contact amex by e-mail or chat, sucks) and the CSR is refusing to match 80k on my upgrade offer – saying that the 80k offer is only for new applications.. will HUCA..

  5. Is this considered a different product from the 65K HHonors Amex Surpass Card? I canceled my HH Surpass card months ago, I am eligible for this bonus?

  6. @ T3pleshot — It is pretty normal for them to give fewer points for upgrades than new applications, so can’t say I’m too surprised.

  7. @ Mark — Best I can tell you’d still be eligible. The terms I see are as follows: “Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product.”

  8. @ steven k — Not sure where you’re seeing those terms, but neither of those cards should make you ineligible for the SPG Amex or HHonors Amex.

  9. Does the gold status work like SPG – once you have it you get the benefits, regardless of whether you use the card to book (assuming you do book through the Hilton website or app)?

    I need to use my work AMEX for all work expenses – for SPG this is fine, my platinum benefits dont depend on booking with the card.

  10. lucky,

    So, is the $10,00 spend on the Reserve card stackable?

    You stated “A free weekend night certificate when you spend $10,000 on the card per year” so, if I spend $30,000 do I qualify for three certificates?

  11. Lucky, can you elaborate on the Gold status? Literature says “as long as you own the card”. But my wife had both this and the Citi Reserve, cancelled both when AF was due, and she still had status when we used her reward certificates months later. Same with Hyatt. I’m looking to pick these up for myself.

  12. @ Marvin — Yep, typically it’s issued to you for an entire year, and if you cancel the card then the Gold status remains valid until the following year, when it expires.

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