Earlier this month, American Express announced a refresh of their Hilton credit cards. The highlights of these changes are:

1. Hilton Honors will no longer have foreign transaction fees. If you’re a Citi Hilton Honors cardholder, you’ll be transitioned to this card in 2018.

Hilton Ascend2. Hilton Honors Ascend: Hilton Honors Surpass will transition to this card in 2018. Citi Hilton Honors Reserve card holders will also be transitioned to this card. Changes included:

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 10 complimentary Priority Pass lounge passes per year
  • Free weekend night award after spending $15,000 in a calendar year
  • $95 annual fee (up from $75)

3. Hilton Honors Business Card: This brand new card will hopefully come with a sign-up bonus that we’ll all be eligible for. Highlights include:

  • 12x points on Hilton purchases; 6x points at US gas stations, wireless telephone service providers, US restaurants, flights booked with the airline or Amex travel, and car rentals; 3x points on all other purchases
  • Complimentary Gold Status with the ability to upgrade to Diamond after spending $40,000 in a year
  • 10 complimentary Priority Pass lounge passes per year
  • Free weekend night award after spending $15,000 in a calendar year and an additional night after spending $60,000
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $95 annual fee

Hilton Aspire4. Hilton Honors Aspire Card: This luxury card sounds pretty enticing. Highlights include:

  • 14x points on Hilton purchases; 7x points on flights booked with the airline or Amex travel, car rentals, and US restaurants; 3x on all other purchases
  • $250 annual airline incidental fee statement credit
  • $250 annual Hilton resort statement credit
  • Unlimited Priority Pass lounge access
  • Complimentary Diamond Status
  • One weekend night award per year and an additional night after spending $60,000
  • $100 on-property credit at Waldorf Astoria and Conrad when booked via “the exclusive Aspire Card package”

That was a mouthful! As you can see, most of these changes are very positive. Even if you’ve exhausted all of the current Amex Hilton cards, there are two new products from which you can potentially earn a sign-up bonus!

However, here’s my complaint:

At multiple time points over the past year, Hilton has increased the sign-up bonus on the Hilton Honors Surpass card to include a free night certificate on your cardmember anniversary. This increased the value of the sign-up bonus substantially but requires payment of the $75 annual fee two times in order to get the free night certificate.

Since all Surpass card members are being transitioned to Ascend, we’re forced to pay a slightly higher $95 annual fee to get the free night certificate we were promised. $20 isn’t a big deal since the certificate is quite valuable, but I can’t help but feel slightly duped by this marketing ploy.

Final Thoughts

The changes to Hilton’s credit card portfolio are exciting, but there’s one small issue if you signed up for the Amex Hilton Surpass in 2017. I think the right thing to do would be to honor the $75 annual fee for all current Amex Surpass cardholders who are transitioned to Ascend in January 2018. This will guarantee that we get the sign-up bonus under the terms and conditions we were promised.

2 thoughts on “Changes to American Express Hilton Credit Card Portfolio and My One Complaint”

  1. I’m not too concerned with the 20 bump in annual fees. The opportunity to earn a bunch of new Amex sign up offers more then compensates it for me.

    1. That’s true. I guess I feel like I was lured into getting the Surpass card last year and now I have to keep it open until May to get my free night. I’m afraid that since my card will convert to Ascend in January that I will “already have the product” and not be eligible for that sign-up bonus. Oh well!

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