Part 2: Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Reserve Card vs Amex Surpass Card

Picture of Item Reviewed
Editor's Rating: 4.5/5.0
To fully analyze this card, we have to compare it with the Surpass Card from Amex (Hilton's elite card issued through them). It turns out the Citi has really upped their game with this card and has taken a lead in more than a few features. Find out more about the differences between the two cards.
Intro Purchase APR Regular APR Annual Fee Issuer Credit Needed
N.A. 15.24%*(variable) $95 Citi Excellent

As part of this review, we have to look at it's closest competition. And that is the American Express Hilton HHonors Surpass Card, which is the elite version issued by Amex. First, we'll chart their features in a table below.
 

 
Earn Points 10 points - Hilton Hotels*
5 Points - Airline & Car Rentals*
3 Points - All Other Eligible Purchases*
9 Points - Hilton Hotels
6 Points - Gas, Grocery, home and wireless phone, cable and internet service providers
3 Points - Regular Purchases
Foreign Transaction Fee No Yes
Chip & PIN Yes No
Anniversary Bonus Weekend Nights After $10,000 in annual spending No
Elite Status Automatic Gold Status
Diamond Status if you spend $40,000 annually
Automatic Silver Status
Gold Status if you spend $20,000 annually
Diamond Status if you spend $40,000 annually
Airport Lounge Access No $99 membership to Priority Pass
Annual Fee $95 $75


  • How You Earn Points
  • - With regards to earning points, the Reserve is slightly better than the Surpass Card when it comes to earning points from Hilton Hotel stays. You get 10 points per dollar versus 9 points for the Surpass Card.

    With Regards to earning points for non Hilton expenses, both cards offer different rewards. Citi offers 5 points on airline and car rentals. Amex offers 6 points (slightly higher) on gasoline, supermarkets and phone, cable and internet expenses.

  • Areas where Citi Beats Amex
  • - The Citi beats the Surpass Card in a few areas. Firstly, they have no foreign transaction fees and their card has CHIP and PIN technology which Amex does not have.

    The Citi also edges out in terms of elite status since you are automatically a gold status with the card whereas with the Surpass, you are just automatically a silver status and you need to spend $20,000 a year on the card to attain gold status. They both have the same criteria to get Diamond status.

    Citi also give a free weekend certificate annually if you meet their $10,000 annual spend criteria. Amex does not have this feature. This perk alone is worth 50,000 points because a one nights stay at a category 7 hotel requires 50,000 points.

    Areas where Amex Beats Citi - The one area where the Surpass Card beats the Reserve is in the area of airport access lounge. They provide card members with the $99 a year membership to Priority Pass which allows you to access their lounges for a $27 fee. But bear in mind that credit card holders with built in Priority Pass memberships will not be able to access most United and Continental lounge. So this benefit is questionable.

    The second area where the Surpass Card is slight better is that the annual fee is lower at $75 vs $95 for Citi.

    Now that we have looked at the main differences between these two elite cards, let's move on to our verdict.
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