Hilton Surpass vs. Hilton Aspire: Do you want Gold or Diamond status? - The Points Guy (2024)

If you're in the market for a personal Hilton card and are willing to pay an annual fee to receive a great welcome offer and benefits, you may be wondering whether to apply for the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card (see rates and fees) or the benefits-heavy Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card (see rates and fees).

Let's walk through the ins and outs of both cards to help you decide which is right for you.

The information for the Hilton Honors Aspire Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Hilton Honors Surpass vs. Hilton Honors Aspire comparison

Hilton Honors SurpassHilton Honors Aspire
Annual fee$150 (see rates and fees)$550 (see rates and fees)
Welcome offerEarn 130,000 bonus points and a free night reward after spending $3,000 in purchases on the card in the first six months of card membership. Offer ends July 31Earn 175,000 bonus points after spending $6,000 in eligible purchases on the card in the first six months of card membership. Offer ends July 31
Earning rates12 points per dollar on eligible Hilton purchases

6 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants (including takeout and delivery), U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations

4 points per dollar on U.S. online retail purchases

3 points per dollar on other eligible purchases

14 points per dollar on eligible Hilton purchases

7 points per dollar on U.S. restaurants (including takeout and delivery), select flights booked directly with the airline or at AmexTravel.com and car rentals booked directly from select car rental agencies

3 points per dollar on other eligible purchases

Statement creditsUp to $50 Hilton statement credit each quarter (up to $200 per calendar year); terms applyUp to $50 credit every quarter for eligible flight purchases (up to $200 per calendar year)

Up to $200 Hilton resort statement credit biannually on purchases made with Hilton Resorts (up to $400 per cardmember year)

Up to $100 property credit on eligible stays of two or more nights at Waldorf Astoria and Conrad hotels

Up to $189 Clear Plus membership statement credit

Enrollment is required for select benefits; terms apply

Elite statusHilton Honors Gold; upgrade to Diamond by spending $40,000 in a calendar yearHilton Honors Diamond
Free nightsFree night reward after you spend $15,000 in a calendar yearOne free night reward within your first year and another every year after you renew

A second free night reward after you spend $30,000 in a calendar year, and a third free night after you spend $60,000 in a calendar year

Other benefitsNo foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees)

National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive Status

Travel and shopping protections

Complimentary ShopRunner membership

Enrollment is required for select benefits; terms apply

No foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees)

National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive Status

Travel and shopping protections

Cellphone protection (up to $800, subject to a $50 deductible, for two approved claims per 12-month period)*

Enrollment is required for select benefits; terms apply

*Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for details. Policies are underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.

Hilton Honors Surpass vs. Hilton Honors Aspire welcome offer

The Hilton Honors Surpass is currently offering new applicants 130,000 bonus points and a free night reward after spending $3,000 in purchases on the card in the first six months of card membership. TPG's June 2024 valuations peg Hilton points at 0.6 cents each, so the points you'll get with this welcome offer are worth $780 toward travel. Offer ends July 31.

Hilton Surpass vs. Hilton Aspire: Do you want Gold or Diamond status? - The Points Guy (1)

THE POINTS GUY
Meanwhile, the Hilton Honors Aspire is currently offering new applicants 175,000 bonus points after new cardmembers spend $6,000 in purchases on the card in the first six months of card membership. Using TPG's June 2024 valuations, this welcome offer is worth $1,050 toward travel. Offer ends July 31.

Winner: Hilton Honors Aspire. Thanks to its increased welcome offer, this card has an edge over the Hilton Honors Surpass. However, if you can maximize the Hilton Honors Surpass's free night reward, you may get more value out of its welcome offer versus the Aspire's.

Hilton Honors Surpass vs. Hilton Honors Aspire benefits

Both cards are geared toward those who stay at Hilton or Hilton portfolio properties, so you can expect to find a variety of benefits relating to Hilton property stays, among other benefits.

The Hilton Honors Surpass has a $150 annual fee (see rates and fees) and provides complimentary Gold status, which includes perks like a fifth night free on standard room stays and an 80% bonus on all base points. Cardmembers can upgrade to Diamond status by spending $40,000 in a calendar year.

Hilton Surpass vs. Hilton Aspire: Do you want Gold or Diamond status? - The Points Guy (2)

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You'll also receive a free night reward for use at eligible properties after spending $15,000 in a calendar year. Cardmembers also receive up to $200 annually in statement credits for purchases made directly with a property in the Hilton portfolio. The credits are split up into quarterly increments of up to $50.

Hilton Surpass vs. Hilton Aspire: Do you want Gold or Diamond status? - The Points Guy (3)

On the other hand, the Hilton Honors Aspire has a $550 annual fee (see rates and fees) and provides complimentary Diamond status, which provides free premium Wi-Fi, a 100% bonus on base points and space-available room upgrades, among other perks. The Hilton Honors Aspire also offers a free night reward every account anniversary, with the ability to receive a second free night award after you spend $30,000 in a calendar year and another after spending $60,000 in the same time frame.

Where these cards greatly differ is the slew of credits the Hilton Honors Aspire card has to offer. These include an up-to-$200 annual credit for airline purchases ($50 quarterly), an up-to-$400 Hilton resort statement credit ($200 biannually) each cardmember year valid at participating resorts, an up-to-$100 property credit on eligible stays of two or more nights at Waldorf Astoria and Conrad hotels, purchase protections and baggage loss and damage insurance.

Cardmembers also receive up to $189 in statement credits for a Clear Plus membership and cellphone protection that reimburses you for repair or replacement. Cardmembers are limited to two claims every 12 months with a limit of $800 per claim. Enrollment is required for select benefits.

Meanwhile, both cards have no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees for Aspire and Surpass) and offer elite status with National Car Rental. Both cards offer robust travel and shopping protection perks, but the Aspire wins in this category.

Winner: Hilton Honors Aspire. Thanks to its slew of statement credits, automatic Diamond elite status and travel protections.

Earning points with the Hilton Honors Surpass vs. Hilton Honors Aspire

The Hilton Honors Surpass earns 12 points per dollar on eligible purchases at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio. The card also earns 6 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants (including takeout and delivery), U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations. Interestingly, for a hotel card, the Hilton Honors Surpass also earns 4 points per dollar on U.S. online retail purchases and 3 points per dollar on other eligible purchases.

Hilton Surpass vs. Hilton Aspire: Do you want Gold or Diamond status? - The Points Guy (4)

The Hilton Honors Aspire offers slightly better earning rates with 14 points per dollar on eligible purchases at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio, 7 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants (including takeout and delivery), U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations and 3 points per dollar on other eligible purchases. In addition to these rates, the card earns 7 points per dollar on select travel, including flights booked directly with airlines or AmexTravel.com and car rentals booked directly with select car rental companies.

It's worth noting that the Gold and Diamond status the Hilton Honors Surpass and Hilton Honors Aspire provide, respectively, will earn you extra points on eligible Hilton charges. That means using your Hilton Honors Surpass on eligible Hilton charges will net 20 points per dollar while using your Hilton Honors Aspire on eligible Hilton charges will earn 24 points per dollar.

Winner: Hilton Honors Aspire. The higher earning rates on the card allow you to earn points faster.

Redeeming points with the Hilton Honors Surpass vs. Hilton Honors Aspire

Both cards allow you to earn Hilton Honors points through credit card spending, which are automatically deposited into your Hilton Honors account. You can redeem points for free nights (no blackout dates), Lyft rides, rental cars, transfers to airline partners, shopping and experiences.

Hilton Surpass vs. Hilton Aspire: Do you want Gold or Diamond status? - The Points Guy (5)

Hilton Honors doesn't have an award chart for hotel redemptions. Therefore, the number of points you need varies depending on the hotel, room type, booking and stay dates. The Points Explorer tool offered through Hilton is an excellent way to determine how many points you need. Plug in how many points you're working with, where you wish to travel or a destination type and the tool will provide you with a list of results that match your criteria.

TPG managing editor for credit cards Matt Moffitt was able to redeem 256,000 Hilton points for a stay at the Hilton Sydney the week before Christmas. Thanks to the Diamond status his Aspire card awarded him, he was able to get his fifth night for free.

Winner: Tie

Should I get the Hilton Honors Surpass or the Hilton Honors Aspire?

The Hilton Honors Surpass is one of the best mid-tier hotel credit cards out there and offers outsize value with a moderate $150 annual fee. However, you can easily get value out of the higher $550 annual fee on the Hilton Honors Aspire if you maximize the statement credits and can take advantage of Hilton Diamond status by staying at Hilton properties a few times a year.

How to upgrade from the Hilton Honors Surpass to the Hilton Honors Aspire

It's easy to upgrade from the Hilton Honors Surpass to the Hilton Honors Aspire by calling American Express customer service. However, switching to the Hilton Honors Aspire won't allow you to earn a welcome bonus unless you're targeted for an upgrade offer. This may make you ineligible to earn one in the future due to Amex's one-bonus per-lifetime policy.

Bottom line

The Hilton Honors Aspire has an incredibly compelling value proposition and can pay for itself (and then some) over time, but there's no way around the upfront $550 annual fee. That said, frequent travelers can easily take advantage of its benefits. The Hilton Honors Surpass has great benefits with a lower annual fee, so it may be a better choice for those who don't stay with Hilton too often.

To learn more, read our full reviews of the Hilton Honors Surpass and Hilton Honors Aspire.

Apply here: Hilton Honors Surpass
Learn more: Hilton Honors Aspire

Related: Hilton Surpass vs. Hilton Amex

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, click here.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Hilton Surpass vs. Hilton Aspire: Do you want Gold or Diamond status? - The Points Guy (2024)

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