American Express is currently offering a great sign-up promotion for the Hilton Surpass Amex, which provides 100,000 bonus Hilton Honors points after you spend $3,000 or more. You’ll also get a free weekend night after your first card anniversary (next year). That’s a hell of a deal for a card that only carries a $75 annual fee.
What’s even better is that if you or a friend already has this card, you can refer others to apply and get 25,000 bonus points upon a successful application. There is a cap of 80,000 referral points per year (25,000 for the first three, and 5,000 points for the fourth referral).
To refer a friend, click on this link or log into your American Express account and select “Rewards” > “Refer a Friend.”
I generally value Hilton Honors points at about 0.5 to 0.6 cents each, which makes this deal worth about $600 to new cardholders (not counting the free anniversary night) and $480 to existing cardholders.
Hilton’s sign-up bonus isn’t the most generous out there, given that some cards offer much more valuable points worth $1,000 or more. But I still think a Hilton card is worth carrying. The Hilton Surpass Amex confers immediate Gold status, which includes free breakfast, and lets you earn up to 12 points per dollar when you use it to make purchases at a Hilton hotel. That’s the highest earning rate of any Hilton-branded credit card.
You can also get 6 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants, gas stations, and supermarkets. That’s like getting 3.6 cents in value. Other purchases earn just 3 points per dollar.
It’s not quite the same as getting 3 points per dollar with a card that earns Membership Rewards points (like the Premier Rewards Gold Card), since Membership Rewards points can be used in more places and transferred to a variety of airlines. I also think Membership Rewards points are worth a little more. But if you already stay at Hilton and know how to maximize the program, then the value could be equivalent.
Perhaps the most unique perk of the Hilton Surpass Amex is the ability to upgrade to Diamond status after spending $40,000 in a calendar year. Without a staying a single night at a Hilton hotel, you can earn top-tier status just through credit card use. Of course, you want to stay at a hotel eventually to take advantage of it. But I appreciate that there is such a clear-cut path that recognizes loyalty, whether it’s at the hotel or using a particular card.