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Update: The below links for the Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express and Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express are expired, but you can learn more about best available offers here.
Through May 31, 2017, we’re seeing the biggest ever sign-up bonuses on two Hilton Honors cards:
- The no annual fee Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express is offering 80,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after spending $2,000 in purchases within the first three months
- The $75 annual fee Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express is offering 100,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after spending $3,000 in purchases within the first three months; you also get a free weekend night valid at most Hilton Honors hotels on your first cardmember anniversary
Like I said, both of these are the best ever offers we’ve seen, and anecdotally they’re pretty easy cards to get approved for. If you’ve never had either card before, I tend to think that the bonus on the Hilton Surpass Card is a bit better, even factoring in the $75 annual fee.
What makes the Hilton Surpass Card worth getting and holding onto
For one, the Hilton Surpass Card offers a free weekend night certificate on your first anniversary. This can be redeemed at a vast majority of Hilton hotels globally, many of which retail for up to 95,000 points per night. Conservatively I’d say that certificate is worth at least $250.
Beyond that, the card offers Hilton Honors Gold status for as long as you have the card, which gets you bonus points, room upgrades, breakfast or club lounge access at many Hilton brands, and late check-out subject to availability. This is the lowest annual fee card that gets you Hilton Gold status.
For many, that alone is a reason to hold onto the card, because the $75 annual fee will pay for itself after just one or two Hilton stays each year (however, keep in mind there are also other cards that offer Hilton Gold status, like the The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN).
But how much are the 100,000 Hilton Honors points worth?
While the other perks are somewhat straightforward, a lot of people don’t have a sense of how much value you can get out of 100,000 Hilton points. That’s understandable, since Hilton doesn’t have formal award categories anymore (and even when they did, there was a huge variance within each category).
For example, the DoubleTree Kuala Lumpur costs 10,000 points per night, and Hilton offers elite members a fifth night free. That means that five nights would cost you 40,000 points, or an average of 8,000 points per night. That means that 100,000 points would get you 12 free nights at that hotel.
On the other end of the spectrum, Hilton’s most expensive properties go for 95,000 points per night. This includes properties like the Conrad Koh Samui.
But Hilton also recently introduced Points & Money awards, which allow you to pay part points and part cash towards the cost of any stay. It actually turns out that this is a pretty decent value.
You can pretty reliably get over 0.5 cents worth of hotel “rate” per Honors point under the new program. The exact value varies based on the hotel or date, but I’m finding that to be a pretty average redemption value.
Let me give a couple of real life examples — this isn’t cherry picking, but rather the upcoming Hilton stays I’m looking at.
I’m planning on visiting Tallinn, Estonia soon, and the rate at the Hilton Tallinn is 133EUR.
Alternatively I could redeem 27,000 Honors points, which is roughly 0.54 cents (in USD) per Honors point.
Or I can redeem part cash and part points towards a redemption, at roughly the same ratio. You could redeem 13,000 points to take 63.98EUR off the cost of the stay, which is also roughly 0.54 cents (in USD) per point.
As another example, I’m spending a night near JFK soon, and am considering the Hilton. All the hotels near JFK are pretty expensive that night, and the Hilton costs $261.02 all-in.
Alternatively I can redeem 50,000 points, which is 0.52 cents per point.
Or I can book a Points & Money award, and redeem 25,000 points in lieu of paying $148.77. That means I’d be getting roughly 0.6 cents per point.
Maybe I’m in the minority, but the Points & Money awards are actually working out quite well for me. Nowadays it’s easy to consistently get more than 0.5 cents of value per Hilton point at a majority of properties. So I’d say 100,000 Honors point should easily get you more than $500 worth of hotel stays.
However, do keep in mind that when you redeem points there’s the opportunity cost of the points you’re not earning by booking an award stay, so that should ultimately be valued in as well.
The sign-up bonus on the Hilton Surpass Card is fantastic, as it offers 100,000 points upon completing minimum spend, which can easily be used for more than $500 worth of hotel stays due to the flexibility of Hilton’s new program. On top of that, you get Gold status for as long as you have the card, and also get a free weekend night on your first account anniversary, which adds quite a bit of value as well. If you don’t yet have this card, I’d seriously recommend it.
If you do already have this card, then the no annual fee Hilton Honors Card is also worth considering, as it’s offering a bonus of 80,000 points upon completing minimum spend.