Hilton Surpass American Express Now Gets HHonors Gold Status Without Spending Requirement

The information below was accurate when posted in November, 2013. Some details in the post may no longer be accurate.

The Hilton Surpass card was pretty revolutionary four years ago when it first introduced Gold elite status included the first year and let you earn it based on spend in subsequent years (and allowed you to earn Diamond status with $40,000 spend). The card has a $75 annual fee.

Then last summer the Citi Hilton Reserve Card was introduced and it came with Gold status as long as you remain a cardholder and had a $95 annual fee (and also let you earn Diamond after $40,000 in spend in a year).

Hilton Gold is pretty darned available. You can get it now with the American Express Platinum card as well and the cheapest way at the moment is to sign up for the $49 Milepoint Premium membership (which also includes United miles, National Car Rental status, and other benefits).

So American Express needed to make a competitive response with their Surpass Card product.

American Express emails to let me know that there is no longer a spending requirement to keep Hilton Gold. And they’re offering this at a lower price point than the Citibank card ($75 vs $95).

Beginning November 10, 2013, American Express Hilton HHonors Surpass Card Members will receive complimentary Hilton HHonors Gold status. The previous benefit was Gold status for the first year of Card Membership.

This new addition to the Hilton HHonors Surpass Card is the latest in a series of updates to the Card that help Card Members get more out of their Hilton stays. As you know, in May, we added restaurants as a bonus category so Card Members could earn 6X the HHonors points for U.S. restaurant purchases, and last year we also increased the bonus points to 12X Hilton HHonors points for eligible purchases at properties within the Hilton HHonors portfolio of brands.

The Hilton HHonors Surpass Card already helps Card Members earn reward stays faster, by earning HHonors points for their everyday spend. Now, with complimentary status, Card Members can enjoy an even better experience while away from home.

It used to earn 9 Hilton HHonors points per dollar. Citibank introduced their card with 10 points, and Amex bumped theirs to 12. I love competition!


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. They say they added “U.S. restaurant purchases” as a 6x bonus category. That is incorrect. They substituted drugstore purchases for U.S. restaurant purchases. You now no longer earn 6x for drugstore purchases.

  2. Excellent news.

    I was thinking I was going to have to pay the $95 AF to renew the Citi HH Res just to keep Gold status. I’d much rather pay $75 to renew the AMEX Surpass instead. Post devaluation, I don’t really spend much on HH cards anymore. But if I needed to top off my HH account, I’d rather use the AMEX with it’s 6 points per $1 at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations, compared to 3X with the Citi Res.

  3. Seems to be a lot of Hilton Gold floating around…I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Hilton created a Platinum level between Gold and Diamond that somehow devalues the benefit of Hilton Gold. Or possibly this is a response by Hilton to keep customers who have dropped their business due to the gutting of HHonors earlier this year.

  4. I hope Hilton’s giving away Gold status because it lost many elites with the destruction of their loyalty program.

  5. I have the regular Amex Hilton card now. Their website offers 50K points if I upgrade to the Surpass version. Is there a better upgrade offer or method to upgrading available? Please help. Thanks!

  6. Interesting. Any word on whether the Amex Platinum will keep Hilton gold beyond Dec 31? If not I may upgrade my no-fee HHonors card to the Surpass.

  7. I am currently enjoying my last stay as a HHD, it seems now that every man and his dog can be gold or diamond, without showing any of the loyalty to the brand. What with the recent devaluation in the points, HH in itself has become a bit of a dog. I think it is unfair quite frankly that any US based credit card holder can be a gold or diamond for basically $100. It devalues the reward I get from Hilton twhilst trying to remain loyal and build up my benefits. They’ve lost me. Goodbye Hilton.

  8. @Robbo – I am just curious, aside from the point devaluation (which has nothing to do with elite tiers), have you seen any specific and measurable degradation in the benefits that YOU have received as a diamond over the past years? Fewer upgrades, measurably more crowded lounges, etc.? I am just curious because I hear this complaint (“Everyone can get it”) all the time, but that in itself is not a valid complaint in my mind unless negative effects are resulting which diminish your experience. It doesn’t hurt me any if other people get free internet and breakfast!

  9. I just contacted AMEX about this, and they are showing no change to the terms of the Surpass card. So, apparently it seems only some people are getting this change.

  10. I just spoke with AMEX, and they don’t have any record of the change. So, maybe only some people are getting this benefit?

  11. Oh brilliant, yet more points and status devaluation for everyone else who can’t apply for these cards – 12 HHonors per USD? You guys don’t know how good you’ve got it – lucky to get 1-2 everywhere else, with 15k annual spend to get Gold!

  12. @CW – Diamond guarantee on award nights is pretty much gone, with the introduction of premium room awards. But of course Diamond was never really that rewarding to begin with, suite upgrades aren’t ever a real guarantee of the program.

  13. Although Diamond does guarantee Exec Lounge access even if not upgraded, which outside the US (in particular Asia) can be pretty useful. For those earning it via stays I find its worth the small extra number. Obviously if you have Gold free via a credit card things are a bit different!

  14. @Robbo – So how do I become a Diamond for $100?
    My last stay at a Hilton Garden Inn as a Gold came with a lovely free breakfast and the front desk that bent over backwards to ensure a pleasant stay. To me, that was worth something.

  15. @Gary – Exactly. There are a lot of things that suck about Hilton’s program (I say this as a Hilton person). But Robbo is asserting that it’s getting worse directly as a result of more people having Gold. I’m arguing that I haven’t seen this effect myself.

    My experience has been more like that of Apt2Roam. Sure, at enormous business hotels I’m somewhat down the ladder a bit, but at the vast majority of Hilton properties I stay at I am still treated quite well.

  16. @CW Understandable position, but opening the flood gates does suggest the writing is on the wall, and will lead to worse service. Maybe not today, but soon. It’s not elitism, it’s economics.

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