Hilton Cards – Diamond Status & More

Both Citibank and American Express give you a shot at amazing benefits from Hilton. The American Express Hilton Surpass Card and the Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Reserve Card both provide outstanding benefits including a substantial upfront bonus, instant Gold Status and the potential for the coveted Diamond Status (requires $40k spend). Of course, not everyone can spend so much, but those who can get serious benefits such as free internet, executive floors and suite upgrades.


  • Visa Reserve gives 2 weekend nights at most Hiltons after spending $2,500 in 4 months
  • Amex Surpass gives 60,000 points (40,000 on the first purchase and 20,000 more after spending $3,000 in 3 months)

Advantage: Visa (for most people)

2 weekend nights at a Hilton in a big city would generally cost 100,000 points. However, if you plan to use them at rural Hampton Inns, your Amex bonus would probably get you further)


Both give you the same 3 Hilton points per dollar you, but differ on the bonus categories.

  • Visa Reserve gives 5 points on airfare and car rentals and 10 at Hiltons
  • Amex Surpass gives 6 points on gas and drug stores and 9 at Hiltons

Advantage: Tie (depends on what other cards you have for bonuses)

Foreign Transaction Fee

  • Visa Reserve – 0%
  • Amex Surpass – 2%

Advantage: Visa


  • Visa Reserve – Automatic Gold Status Every Year, Spend $40k for Diamond
  • Amex Surpass – Automatic Silver Status Every Year, Gold Status for First Year, Spend $20k to keep gold status, spend $40k for Diamond

Advantage: Visa (unless you plan to spend $40k, then it is a tie)

Annual Fee

  • Visa Reserve – $95
  • Amex Surpass – $75

Advantage: Amex (minor)


  • Visa Reserve – comes with a chip which could help in Europe, but not really since it is “Chip&Signature” not “Chip&Pin” and Visa is accepted more places than Amex
  • Amex Surpass – personally, I have had a better experience with Amex’s customer service than most other banks, especially when I needed someone to have my back against a merchant

Advantage: tie

Dialogue & Discussion