Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card Review

The Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card Credit Card is a travel rewards credit card with a lot to offer. It has a low annual fee, an average interest rate, and an impressive variety of benefits. Most of these are centered on Hilton Honors bonus points, but there are quite a few advantages to carrying the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card – ones that make it well worth a modest yearly membership fee for the right cardholder.

Note that this card was recently revamped. The big change was the name. The card’s new moniker is the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, which is also its original name. The key benefits and perks are largely the same. American Express debuted the Surpass® Card then changed its name a few years ago. It became the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card Credit Card. However, American Express opted to change the name of the card back to Surpass® in July 2019. The official name of the card is now the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card.

The Essentials of the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card Credit Card

  • APR: 17.49%-26.49%
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Primary Feature: Hilton Honors bonus points
  • Introductory Bonus Offer: Earn 125,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 within three months of card membership

What’s Interesting about the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card Credit Card

The Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card Credit Card, aka the “Surpass® Card,” is a powerhouse of travel rewards – all centered on Hilton hotels. Cardmembers earn 12 points for every dollar they spend on hotel or resort stays within the Hilton portfolio of properties that are booked directly through the company. Account-holders earn six Hilton Honors bonus points for every dollar they spend on groceries, dining out, and fuel – as long as the supermarket, restaurant, or gas station is located in the United States. Members earn three points per dollar for everything else.

Unlike some other travel rewards cards, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card has an abundance of other advantages. Members earn complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status just for signing up for the card. They also receive a Free Weekend Night Reward when they spend $15,000 in a calendar year and free rental car collision coverage. The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card rewards cardholders who fly as well. Card membership entitles them to a complimentary Priority Pass™ Select membership and ten free lounge visits every year.

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card comes with shopping benefits, too. Like many American Express credit cards, the Surpass® gives its cardholders extra warranty protections and Purchase Protection. The latter covers theft and accidents for up to 120 days from the purchase date, and up to $1,000 per occurrence. The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card comes with its own return policy as well. Within 90 days of purchase, members can return any item up to $300 and receive a full refund – even if the retailer won’t accept the return. Cardholders also get complimentary membership with Shoprunner, fraud protection, and Entertainment Access®, which gives them access to ticket presales and the ability to attend special members-only events.

Things to Consider

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card offers many advantages for someone who likes to stay at hotels within the Hilton family of properties and spends most of his or her time stateside. The card rewards its members with twice as many Hilton Honors bonus points for spending at restaurants, supermarkets, and grocery stores, but only if they are located in the United States. Otherwise, members receive three points for every dollar spent. It may sound like a lot, but the benefit is minimal compared to other offers with the same annual fee and interest rate.

The best approach is to examine your personal spending and travel tendencies, then determine whether the benefits you earn outpace the annual fee you will have to pay to be a member. The costs will outweigh the benefits for some people.

Furthermore, consider whether a different credit card may be a better choice for your needs. The rewards the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card provides are substantial, but they are really only for specific people. You may find that you’ll get the most advantages by choosing a card that more closely fits your lifestyle.

How to Get the Most from this Card

If you think that the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is the best option for you, you can get the most from this card by planning your travel and spending strategically. Make sure that you’re staying at a hotel or resort within the Hilton family of properties whenever possible. You will earn the most points this way and have the most opportunities for points redemption. In addition, you can look at how much you put on your credit card. Reaching the $15,000 threshold will earn you a Free Weekend Night Reward.

Other Card Options that Might Interest You

There are many reasons to love the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card. From 12x points for every dollar spent on Hilton hotel stays to substantial travel and shopping benefits, the Surpass® Card has several reasons to be on your shortlist, but they make different credit cards for a reason.

If you want a card with more travel benefits, consider the American Express Platinum Card®. It has a steep $550 annual fee, but it also comes with $15 in Uber Cash each month, $200 in airline credits per year, free room upgrades, reimbursement for Global Entry, access to the complete American Express Global Lounge CollectionSM, and much more.

For travel rewards without the annual fee, check out the American Express Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card. The interest rate is the same as the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, except that you’ll earn miles instead of Hilton Honors bonus points. Members get two miles for every dollar spent with Delta or at restaurants in the US plus many of the same shopping benefits offered by the Surpass® Card.

The Final Word

Choose the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card if you often travel, stay at Hilton hotels, and use your credit card frequently. While there is an annual fee, the card rewards its members with enough benefits to cancel that out – the Free Weekend Night Reward or the Shoprunner membership easily cancels out the $95 annual fee. Keep in mind that the points structure favors money spent at Hilton hotels, and its redemption options focus on using Hilton Honors bonus points.