Hilton Surpass Amex: Should I Apply Or Upgrade My Existing Card?

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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.

Since early April, American Express has been offering increased sign-up bonuses on their two co-branded Hilton credit cards. These increased offers are valid through May 4, 2016. The details of these offers are as follows:

I figured I’d share the situation I’m in, and my thought process in picking up a new card.

I already have the Hilton HHonors Amex

I’ve had the no annual fee Hilton HHonors Amex for a few years. I got the card with a sign-up bonus a few years back, and have found it worth holding onto. It has no annual fee and has gotten me access to several Amex Offers which saved me money, so I’ve been doing quite well with it.

Furthermore, having a card long term helps your credit score, given that your average age of accounts is an important metric for your credit score. That being said, I haven’t had the card so long that canceling it would hurt my credit score much, as there are some other cards I’ve had for ~8 years now.

My options for the Hilton HHonors Surpass Amex

Even though I have Hilton Diamond status through a status match, I’ve been considering applying for the Hilton HHonors Surpass Card. The sign-up bonus is 100,000 points upon completing minimum spend, though if I log into my account I’m also presented with an option to upgrade my card.

Typically to get the full credit card sign-up bonus you have to apply for the card new rather than upgrade. In this instance I’m being offered 50,000 HHonors points for upgrading my card, after spending $3,000 within three months.

So which is better — upgrading my Hilton Amex to a Surpass Amex for 50K bonus points, or applying for a Surpass Amex new for 100K points?

There are a couple of ways to look at this:

  • In favor of the 50K upgrade offer: there won’t be a credit pull, and I’ll maintain my account age on the new card
  • In favor of applying for the 100K offer: Amex sign-up bonuses are once in a lifetime nowadays, so why would I accept anything less than the best offer?

Assuming you value Hilton points at ~0.4 cents each, 100,000 points are worth $400, and 50,000 points are worth $200. There’s a $75 annual fee, so really my “profit” for upgrading the card would be $125, while it would $325 for applying new.

Is it worth getting credit inquiry for $200? I’d say so, assuming you’re not maxed out on Amex cards. So I’m leaning towards applying for the Hilton HHonors Surpass Card, rather than upgrading my Hilton HHonors Amex.

I should note that since I’m Hilton Diamond I can’t take advantage of one of the best perks of this card, which is Hilton Gold status for as long as you have the card, which is an extremely valuable mid-tier hotel status, getting you free breakfast and/or club lounge access. This is the lowest annual fee credit card which gives you Gold status, so many will find the card more than worthwhile for that alone.

Conrad Hong Kong club lounge

Bottom line

Ultimately everyone has a different threshold in terms of how much a credit pull is worth to them, and also what kind of an offer they’re willing to “settle” for. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has the no annual fee Hilton Amex already, and is considering getting the Surpass Card.

If you’re in a similar position, are you planning on upgrading for 50,000 points, or applying new for 100,000 points?

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  1. Do both at the same time. Last year, I upgraded this card first, got approved for it and then applied for a new HHonors Surpass card with an instant approval. This way I managed to receive both bonuses.

  2. My upgrade offer is for 100,000 points and $3,000 spend, so I’m definitely going for that. I’ve already got 4 Amex cards, so I’m not sure I could even apply for a new one.

  3. Do corporate cards on AX SPG corporate and gold AX corpcount towards the four limit? I’ve got the centurion, SPG personal along with corporate SPG AX and corporate gold.


  4. So here’s the thing, the 50K upgrade offer is not subject to the “new account” bonus so not only is there no hard credit pull, you can upgrade and downgrade between the Surpass and regular card as many times as you want. Whereas, with Amex’s once in a lifetime policy you can only get the new card bonus once in a lifetime. YMMV but keep that in mind.

  5. @Arlington Taveler

    Did you do it & can confirm? I have done it 2x in the past & it has been over a year.

    However, I was hesitant since the “new rule” came out. I assumed it applied to the upgrades.

    Thanks for your help

  6. Lucky, I also got offered to upgrade to the Surpass for 100K points for 3K spend in 3 months. I think I’ve had this card before but I’m not sure. Would they offer me this upgrade if I wasn’t eligible for the bonus? It says in the small print under the offer that “terms apply”.

  7. mo-
    click on card benefits after you log in on the (Hilton card) Amex site- I found it there

  8. I have an offer to upgrade and receive 100k HHonors points, but I will most likely still apply for the new card and not upgrade since I always get Amex Offers on my no-AF HHonors card.

  9. I have both cards. I applied for Surpass to get max sign up bonus. Now I get more opportunities for multiple AMEX offers.

  10. Maybe targeted as I don’t see it on my account under Amex offers or after clicking the ‘benefits’ link.
    I have had this card before & downgraded last month.

    Also if you go to the hilton surpass upgrade link page directly you see this in the terms – “Welcome bonus not available to applicants who have or have had this product”

    Any thoughts ?

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