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!