Over the last few years, Amex has started a trend with their credit cards which has been disconcerting to many. On one hand, we’ve seen them increase annual fees across many of their credit cards. On the other hand, they’ve added credits that offer customers some sort of rebates. Sounds okay right? The only catch is that Amex has been, much to the chagrin of many customers, breaking these credits down into monthly, quarterly, bi-annual and annual credits. Hilton sent out an email to all their cardholders about the most recent revamp. So what’s happening here? Let’s have a look.
Amex revamps Hilton credit cards
No Annual Fee Hilton Honors Card
American Express has changed the card design for all the consumer credit cards with Hilton. For the no annual fee credit card with Hilton, other than the design update, we’re seeing an elevated welcome bonus of 100,000 points.
With the offer, you’ll earn a welcome bonus of 100,000 Hilton Honors points after you spend $2,000 in the first 6 months of card membership.
Hilton Surpass Card
Amex has made some significant changes to the Hilton Surpass card. Firstly, they’ve now increased the annual fee to $150 from the current annual fee of $95. In addition, they’ve added new benefits and are removing some existing ones.
With the Hilton Surpass card, you can now earn up to $200 in Hilton credits. However, you can earn $50 in credits each quarter. Whenever you make a purchase with a qualifying property in the Hilton portfolio, you’ll automatically be credit $50 each quarter. In order to earn the credit, you must make a booking directly through a Hilton channel, which means that third party bookings won’t qualify. If you stay regularly at Hilton, then you should be able to make use of this credit easily. What we don’t know yet is whether simply purchasing a gift card at a Hilton property would also trigger the credit.
New 4x points category
You’ll also earn 4x Hilton Honors points for each dollar you spend with US retailers online. This can be really useful for people who make a lot of online purchases quite regularly.
Car Rental Elite Status
You’ll also earn complimentary Emerald Club Executive Status with National Car Rental for simply keeping the card account open.
What’s going away
American Express will be removing the Priority Pass lounge access benefit with this card. If you’re already enrolled and did so on or before January 31, 2023, you can continue to use the benefit until January 31, 2024. If you signed up for the benefit on or after February 1, 2023, then your membership will be active until October 31, 2024.
170,000 points bonus
Even if you plan to try the card out for one year, you can now sign up with a welcome bonus of 170,000 points. Bear in mind, the card will still carry some of the awesome benefits like complimentary gold elite status with Hilton as well as the complimentary free night after you sped $15,000 in a year.
With this offer, you’ll earn a welcome bonus of 170,000 Hilton Honors points after you spend $3,000 in the first 6 months of card membership.
Hilton Aspire Card
$400 Hilton Resort Credit
With the Hilton Aspire card, American Express is increasing the annual fee from $450 to $550. Starting January 1, 2024, you’ll now earn $400 in Hilton resort credits. These credits will be split half way through the year equally. You’ll earn $200 in credits between January and June and another $200 between July and December. In my opinion, I see this as a massively negative change as Amex is basically making people spend twice a year a what Hilton defines as ‘resort’ properties. Bear in mind, even if a property has the name ‘resort’ in it, it may not qualify. As per Hilton’s website, only properties that are a part of this list will qualify.
$200 Airline Credit
I see this as a largely positive change. Amex is removing the airline fee credit beneift and instead replacing it with a simply airline credit. This credit, however, is broken into 4 parts. You’ll earn $50 in credits for qualifying purchase you make directly with an airline or via Amextravel.com during each quarter. In my opinion, this is a better replacement to the airline fee credit since it makes it easy to use the benefit by simply purchasing flight tickets.
New Metal Design
Similar to the Amex Platinum card and other premium cards, the revamped Hilton Aspire card will be made of metal.
180,000 points bonus
American Express is now offering a welcome bonus of 180,000 points on this card. That’s a 20% jump from the standard welcome bonus of 150,000 points. With this offer, you’ll earn a welcome bonus of 180,000 Hilton Honors points after you spend $6,000 in the first 6 months of card membership.
Free Night Certificates
In addition, you’ll also get two complimentary free nights with Hilton. One, upon approval and another, after you renew the card. You’ll also continue to enjoy complimentary top tier Diamond elite status with Hilton as long as you keep your Hilton Aspire card active.
Moreover, you’ll earn another complimentary night once you spend $30,000 in a calendar year. If you spend $60,000, you’ll earn another complimentary night. In effect, you’d earn three complimentary free nights with Hilton if you were to spend $60,000 in a calendar year and then renew the card as well.
$189 Clear Credit
You’ll now earn up to $189 in credits for purchasing a Clear membership during each calendar year with your Hilton Aspire card.
Car Rental Elite Status
Similar to the Hilton Surpass card, you’ll earn complimentary Emerald Club Executive Status with National Car Rental. Similar to the Hilton Surpass card, Amex will be doing away with the Priority Pass membership with the same expiration dates for existing members.
The Pundit’s Mantra
For Hilton Surpass and Hilton Aspire card members, these new benefits will kick in from October 19, 2023. For Hilton Aspire card members, the new $400 resort credit benefit will come into effect from January 1, 2024. However, you can still continue to use your $250 resort credit until the end of the year.
For current cardholders, these changes offer some opportunities to double dip and then make a decision about renewal when the annual fee hits your card next. For new cardholders, you can sign up for these cards before the end of the year with these elevated bonuses. Thay way, you can earn the welcome bonuses and also use some of the old benefits and then use the new benefits when they kick in next year.
I’ve carried the Hilton Aspire card in my wallet since it was launched. I see these changes as largely neutral. While I’m not happy about the bi-annual resort credit, I like the simplicity of using the airline credit to buy flight tickets. Moreover, I’ll still continue to bank most of my stays with Hilton, thanks to complimentary top tier Diamond status that the card offers.
Do you see these changes as largely positive or negative? Tell us in the comments section.