I just received an offer for the Hilton HHonors Surpass Card From American Express that provides 75,000 Hilton HHonors Bouns Points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months of membership.

The sign up bonus on this card is typically 60,000 points, 20k after first spend and 40k after $3k in 3 months. Readers of this blog should have no problems generating $3k spend in 3 months. Apart from the sign up bonus, the key benefits and terms of this card are:

  • Earns 12x at Hilton properties
  • Earns 6x at US restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations
  • Earns 3x elsewhere
  • Hilton HHonors Gold status as long as you hold the card (used to be first year only)
  • Hilton HHonors Diamond status if you make $40,000 in spend in a year
  • Priority Pass membership for lounge access
  • Access to Hilton AXON awards
  • The usual strong Amex purchase protection and extended warranty benefits

Some key points from the terms & conditions of the offer are:

  • Offer expires February 28, 2014
  • “This offer is not valid for existing Hilton HHonors Surpass Card Members”
  • There is nothing in the terms that would exclude anyone who has any other Hilton card from Amex, or anyone who has closed a prior Hilton HHonors Surpass card
  • “If your offer is not approved by 02/28/14 because it is incomplete or in pending status, you may not receive the 75,000 Bonus Points offer, even if your application is subsequently approved”
  • $75 annual fee not waived
  • Foreign transaction fee of 2.7%

I think that last one is aimed at me personally, I had trouble with a generous Delta sign-up this year when I applied during the promo period, but because I had to go through reconsideration, my card was only eventually approved after the promo ended. After some to’ing and fro’ing I got the offer honored, but maybe this makes it easier for them to say “tough luck” in the future. However the terms appear quite generous in terms of churners in that as long as you do not currently have this same card, you should qualify for the offer.

So how good do I think this card and offer is? Well personally in the post devaluation world it’s not the most exciting offer in the world. I value Hilton points around 1/3rd of a cent a piece, so I see this as a roughly $250 value sign up, or around $50 more valuable than normal. A year ago 75k would get you two nights at the Conrad Maldives if it was part of a longer redemption. This year it will nearly get you one night at the same property again assuming you have the points to make at least a four night stay. That said the Hilton Gold benefit is pretty useful considering it gets you breakfast for two at most properties (though not at Waldorf Astoria properties). The Diamond status for $40k is probably not worthwhile for most, though we have some big Hilton stays coming up at Whistler and Conrad Maldives so personally I manufactured $40k worth of spend on this card to get Diamond through to early 2015 primarily in the hope the higher status edges our upgrade chances. The earning structure itself is not bad, that $40k spend was mostly at grocery stores buying gift cards and reload packs and so generated 240k odd points. With my 1/3rd cent valuation it effectively makes it similar to a 3% at Hilton, 2% at groceries, gas and restaurants and 1% elsewhere card. Not great, not terrible. Ultimately I would say the competing Citibank Hilton Reserve card is a better value with it’s two weekend nights, but still for anyone who wants to get this card this is a welcome boost in the sign-up.

I should also note that if you have an existing “regular” Amex Hilton card (the fee-free version) and you want to get a boost for upgrading to the Surpass version, you may be better off trying to get an upgrade bonus. Check out the Wiki in this FlyerTalk thread for details. It looks like you may be able to get a 50k bonus for upgrading, so if you wanted to avoid getting an additional credit inquiry, this may be an attractive option.

(Note I do not receive any consideration for the links provided in this post. Always be responsible when applying for credit)

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  • Paul

    I did the fee-free version for 60K, waited a year, and then upgraded to the Surpass for the 50K bonus. Of course, at the time, the fee-free was giving 5x at drug and that was a bit better cpp than 6x at grocery (as the fees were lower), so there was little reason to do the Surpass with the $75 AF. But don’t get bonus at drug any more, so those wanting to MS for HH points have a more difficult decision to make.

    With 6x grocery, it’s the best card for MS if you want HH. Hilton seems to value HH at 0.4 cpp when you look at the award rate vs paid rate. At grocery, you effectively get 0.2 cpp, so net effect is you save ~50% on paid rates.

    Nice thing about grocery if you are Safeway/Kroger area, you can play the Catalina game every few months and do MS for negative cost (assuming you need lots of groceries)

  • What’s annoying to me about the Reserve is the weekend part. I’ve been hesitating to get it for that reason alone for there is no way to combine two awards into one stay. Chase Hyatt and Fairmont are gold standard of a 2-night promotion.

    • MilesAbound

      That is a very good point. If you have a stash of points too you can “sandwich” two sets of awards around a 4 night stay (i.e 2 free weekend nights, 4 points nights, 2 more weekend nights), but for sure just a straight up two free nights would be better. But this is Hilton after all!!

  • Alex

    Something I’m interested in that doesn’t always come up is the cost of the MFG spend. Mind if I ask you for an estimate of your out of pocket cost to generate the $40k at grocery stores?

    • MilesAbound

      This is something I will definitely cover in my manufactured spend series, but in general for me grocery store spending has been costing 0.1333 cents per point (buying $500 Reloadit cards that earn 6x at $3.95 a card and unloading via pre-paid debit cards). Not all of the $40k was MS but if it were it would have cost $320 (I would say in my case about 80% was MS)

  • pier11

    No upgrade options for me. My Amex HH is less than 1 year.
    But I think it’s better to have an additional card. It’d double MS capacity.
    Also the no fee card serves as an anchor for the length of credit history. So the second card WITH fee can be closed at any time if decided so.

    Dunno, might add to my next AOR. Or another SPG, or both 🙂 In need for hotel nights.

    • MilesAbound

      Definitely a YMMV on the upgrade. Remember the Citi HH cards are still churnable though only at 50k each. Also note with Amex as long as you keep one card open at all times, ALL your cards will report as being open from your “member since” date. So like me you can have 6-7 open accounts all that have been open for no more than two years and yet they all report as being open since 1999. Which is hilarious because I only moved to the USA in 2006!

      The Surpass with the grocery multiplier is a pretty decent MS card.