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How To Churn The Hilton Surpass Card Without Opening A New Account

Hilton Surpass
Written by Charlie

If you want Hilton HHonor points, here is a quick and easy way to churn the Hilton Surpass card for 50K points a pop – without opening a new account.

Hilton points are far from the most valuable hotel points around, but they do have great value in the fact that they are pretty easy to accrue. Not only are there numerous credit cards available, but they are actually available from both American Express and Citibank as well as being a transfer partner of the Citi Thank You program and Virgin Atlantic miles.

How To Churn The Hilton Surpass Card – Without Opening A New Account

11/03 – Edit: It appears that Amex has recently added language restricting upgrades to not getting the bonus if they have had the card before. So, it appears that this avenue may be closed. Please comment if you have recently upgraded and did get the bonus! Thanks!

American Express has two cards available – the regular Hilton card and the Hilton Surpass card. The base Hilton card is a great card to have as a placeholder in your American Express portfolio as it has no annual fee and it gives you yet another source for your Amex Offers and Small Business Saturday use. It also has one other key advantage – it can easily be upgraded to the Hilton Surpass card.

The Hilton Surpass card comes with an annual fee of $75 but it also has pretty generous sign-up bonuses on occasion (as well as Hilton Gold status). The regular bonus is 60,000 points but it has jumped to anywhere from 75,000 – 85,000 points. As with all American Express personal cards, if you have ever had the card before, you are not eligible to get the sign-up bonus again – but this little method is not the sign-up bonus so you will be fine!

How It Works

Hilton Surpass

American Express lets you upgrade various cards to better products (which I have written about in the past). The card that I have received the upgrade offer most often with is the Hilton Surpass card. It has offered me the upgrade on the basic Hilton card as well as Delta cards.

The Upgrade Offer – Open Even If You Had The Card Before

The upgrade offer is for 50,000 Hilton points after spending $3,000 in 3 months. The annual fee of $75 will be prorated based on your cardmember year and if you have already paid an annual fee on the card you are upgrading from.

Here is the great thing – if you have ever had the Surpass card before, it will not matter! The language for the upgrade does not preclude you from getting the bonus being offered (which is 50,000 points) and it doesn’t even preclude you from receiving the bonus if you already have the Surpass card!

Upgrading Your Card

American Express Hilton Surpass Upgrade Link

To see which of your cards are eligible for the upgrade, simply follow this link – here – and it will take you to a page detailing the terms of the upgrade. Note: this upgrade does not do a hard pull (credit check) on your credit report as you are simply upgrading the card. 

Once there, you will login and it will tell you which of your cards are eligible for an upgrade to the Hilton Surpass card. Simply select one of them and click Continue.

Hilton Surpass


It will bring you to one more page and then you click to Apply For An Upgrade. Wait just a moment and you will receive your answer.

Hilton Surpass

That’s it! The card you are upgrading from will have the same details as the new Hilton Surpass card so you can go ahead and use the current card to start your spending even before the Surpass card arrives. Within a couple of days, the upgrade will reflect in your online account summary with the change of the card art and name of the card you have.

Ready To Use

If you are upgrading from a Hilton card, then you do not need to do anything about your Hilton account – it will carry over from the previous card. If you are upgrading from a different card, like the Delta card, it will open a Hilton account for you. You can have it merged with your current Hilton account or, if you do not have one, you can setup an account online when you receive your number.

My Churning Strategy

Here is what I have done and my experience with it.

I had the Hilton Surpass card a while back and dropped it to the basic Hilton card to avoid the annual fee (I already had Hilton Gold). After a while, I went ahead and initiated the upgrade and got the Surpass card again (and the 50,000 point bonus). After about a year, I downgraded it again. I have just recently upgraded it again and received confirmation of the 50,000 point bonus.

I had a Delta Platinum card that I no longer had a use for and would not pay the annual fee on. I dropped it to the basic Hilton card just a few months ago. As an experiment (and to bulk up my Hilton points again), I went ahead and upgraded it to a Surpass card recently as well (while I already had the one from above). No problem – upgrade approved and 50,000 point bonus tied to the account.

Technically, you could do this on a rolling basis. Upgrade the card and then downgrade before the annual fee becomes due again. At the same time, if you have annual fee cards that you are wanting to downgrade, consider downgrading them to the basic Hilton card (if the upgrade to the Surpass is not available) and then upgrading that card to the Surpass card a few months later.

Earning 50,000 points in any program without even having to do a credit pull and just meeting the minimum spending is great! If you are wanting to collect some Hilton points, consider trying this out to roll your points.

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • Will it work the other way? I got the base Hilton Amex 2.5 yrs ago, then upgraded to a Surpass, and have now downgraded to the base card again. Would I be able to apply for a Surpass (i.e. not upgrade) and still be eligible for the sign up bonus? Or am I now stuck just cycling back and forth between base Hilton and Surpass Hilton? I ask because the sign up bonus for the Surpass is typically higher than the upgrade bonus offer.

    • Good question. Unfortunately, Amex’s language for the sign-up bonus is that you must never have held the card before (for personal cards) so you would not be able to do it. The good news is that 9 out of 12 months of the year it is only 60K for new sign-ups! 🙂

  • Do you know if Amex will let me change my existing Premier Rewards Gold Card to the Hilton card? I have the annual fee coming due soon on my PRG and will probably cancel it if I can’t change it to a no-fee card

  • The basic card doesn’t offer Diamond with $40K spend? I have realized if I hit the $40K spend target in the last statement period of the year, the Diamond status hits in January and is good for 2 years. (Or at least it was last time) I assume I can keep the earned Diamond status if I downgrade to basic card after status applies in the new year.

    • That’s right – the basic card only offers Gold with $20K in spending. To be honest, I don’t know the exact answer to that because it is a feature of the card, but you did earn it with the required spending. I would guess YES because hotels are not very good at tracking elite status by other than regular earnings (especially with Hilton – I knew someone who had Gold status for 4 years AFTER closing the card that gave it to him!)

  • Charlie,
    I have Surpass now, annual fee is coming up so I want to downgrade to basic one….in the future can I upgrade to Surpass again and receive the 50k bonus? And recycle like that?

    • @ Charlie,
      I saw your response to other commenters who posted after me but haven’t received your reply yet to my question. Will really appreciate your reply. I check this page every day in hoping to see your reply to my question. Thanks!

    • Sorry I missed this before, John! As of the way it works right now, yes, you can do that. That is exactly what I did on one of mine and my wife’s.

  • Charles, i have an 11 yr old Blue Sky that’s taking up space as I already have 4 “credit cards”. If I can upgrade it, will the account number stay the same, and the acct history as well? Or will they change the acct # on the new surpass? Tia!

    • Yes, it will stay the same! Not only that, but Amex cards all show the date that you were first a member with them (check your other cards, it should show the same year as your Blue Sky).

  • Strange…I accessed the link you provided and got a reply that it’s an invalid offer. Also, I called Amex and the representative told me that he is not aware of such an offer. I asked him to double check and after placing me on hold for a while he came back and told me again that such an upgrade offer does not exist. In any event, assuming that he just did not know the offer, I can reassure you that it does not work if you already have the Surpass card and wish to still upgrade one of your other cards. Please correct your blog so you don’t induce people in error.

    • Sorry for your problem accessing it. It most definitely does work if you already have the Surpass card as I have done it with already having a Surpass card and had no problems with it (on more than one account as well). What card are you trying to upgrade?

      • I just got charged the $75 annual fee for my Hilton Surpass. I am just finishing my first year with the card and was planning to cancel. I just tried the link and it said the offer wasn’t available on my account. I know this is an older blog post but do you think if I keep the card and pay the annual fee I will be offered the upgrade of 50k if I try the link next month? The only reason I can think to keep the card is for status to take advantage of the 5th night free.

  • thanks. Just got 50K Hilton points for less than a year’s annual fee without a credit inquiry. A free night for 1 minute’s work. (Plus the cost of the annual fee) Awesome.

  • Message: We are unable to process your request for a product change @ this time. They gave me a # to call. Maybe because I only opened the 60K Hilton HHonors card three weeks ago? I’m Putting 20K spend to get Gold status. Have a Club Carlson Aruba 8 nighter in February and would like free breakfast & maybe an upgrade. Upgrading to the Surpass now would be like getting 110K when you combine both within a month. I saved the link.

    • Yes, that would be it. There is a rule about changing products within 12 months where there is an annual fee applied so it sounds like you bumped up into that.

  • Awesome to know! I just upgraded from the no fee to the Surpass in April and received the bonus. Weird thing is I wasn’t charged the annual until just last week, time for retention call!

  • Well, that was easy. And I have a large bill due in a couple of days that should cover the whole spend. Being able to use my existing Amex as my new Hilton is a big plus. Thanks for the tip!

  • I have the basic Hilton Amex. If I upgrade, will I have to pay $75 or can I downgrade as soon as I hit the $3k spend?

    • Normally, the fee is assessed at the end of the first billing statement. But, it is prorated, and I have found that they have even prorated it according to the cardmember year of no fee cards (meaning that if you are halfway through the year, you may only pay $37.50). Of course, there are exceptions. One of the commenters mentioned that he never had to pay the fee.

  • I don’t fully understand the 12 month rule. I do know that you have to keep a new card at least 12 months before changing it to something else. I’ve had my regular AMEX HH for 3 years now so I have the option to upgrade to Surpass. But if I downgrade that back to the regular HH card after 10 months, do I have to keep that regular HH card for another 12 months before upgrading again?

  • I got approved! Thought I was never going to get a bunch of Hilton points again! What a bragain. Almost makes bill paying fun! Thanks!

  • CRIKEY. You’re brain dead to follow this strategy. The value isn’t in the few points you get from churning and cycling. The value is in the extremely good Diamond perks which you can earn with $40K spend on the Surpass. HH Diamond is hands down best top tier hotel status if you understand how amazingly generous HH Diamond can be…

  • @charlie
    very cool!
    so the card which is being convertred to surpass must be at least 12months old?
    i have the everyday & spg, both under 12mos, clicked your link, no option to convert to surpass.

    • Yes, because it has to do with the issuer not being allowed to change the fee part of a card within the first 12 months – so you would be going from a no fee card to a fee based card. It is a consumer protection thing that we would just as soon like to waive for this! 🙂

  • So when I click the link I get to the login page to see if I’m eligible. On the left-hand side where it says “Earn 50,000 Hilton HHonors…” at the end of that paragraph there is a little (1), I click that and it has a big long explanation and the very first sentence says: “(1) Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product.”

    So you have been able to get the bonus again despite having had (or currently have?) the card? I have a surpass now and I have the regular Amex Hilton HHonors (no annual fee), if I upgrade the regular Amex Hilton HHonors card I should be able to get the 50,000 points or is this a YMMV type thing?

  • I have been enrolled with Surpass for 3 years (I was Diamond for years 1 and 2, but not for the current year … which ended in march, I recall) , and I have $40k in spend from May 1 2015 to May 1 2016. I DO NOT have $40K in spend from Jan 1 2016, to current. Will my status be moved from Gold to Diamond at the conclusion of the next billing cycle or 2?