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The Revamped American Express Hilton Cards

By: John Tunningley

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There’s been a lot of talk about the changes coming to the American Express Hilton Honors credit cards. Let’s take a look at what you can expect going forward.

In January, all Citi Hilton cardholders will be converted to American Express Hilton cards and existing American Express Hilton cards will be modified slightly.

Additionally, American Express will be releasing two new credit cards and rebranding one of the existing cards.

These are the changes you can expect to see:

  • Current Citi Hilton HHonors Card members will receive a new Hilton Honors Card from American Express in January
  • Current Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card members will receive a new Hilton Honors American Express Ascend card
  • Current American Express Hilton Honors Surpass Card members will be switched to the rebranded Hilton Honors American Express Ascend card

Before we dive in, it’s important to remember that Hilton Honors points are not as valuable and lack the flexibility of points currencies such as Chase Ultimate Rewards points and American Express Membership Rewards points.

 

Hilton Honors Card from American Express

Existing cardholders of the Hilton Honors Card from American Express won’t see many changes. The big difference in benefits comes in the elimination of the foreign transaction fee which merely brings it inline with most cards offered by American Express.

The other benefits of the card include:

  • 7x Hilton points on spend at Hilton hotels
  • 5x Hilton points on spend at US supermarkets, US restaurants, and US gas stations
  • 3x Hilton points on all other eligible purchases
  • Hilton Silver status
  • Hilton Gold status if you spend $20,000 on the card in a calendar year
  • No annual Fee

 

The New Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card

The Hilton HHonors Surpass Card from American Express is being transitioned to the rebranded Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card with a slew of new benefits included.

The biggest addition comes in lounge access with 10 Priority Pass lounge passes included each year and the ability to earn a free weekend night.

Benefits with the new card include:

  • 12x Hilton points on spend at Hilton hotels
  • 6x Hilton points on spend at US supermarkets, restaurants, and gas stations
  • 3x Hilton points on all other eligible purchases
  • 10 Priority Pass lounge passes
  • Hilton Honors Gold status
  • Hilton Diamond status if you spend $40,000 on the card in a calendar year
  • 1 weekend night at any Hilton hotel after spending $15,000 in a calendar year
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $95 yearly fee

 

The New Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

The new Hilton Honors American Express Business Card is similar to the new Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card with the addition of some bonus spend categories and the ability to get a second free night based on card spend.

These are the benefits the new business version of the card will provide:

  • 12x Hilton points on spend at Hilton hotels
  • 6x Hilton points on spend at US gas stations, restaurants, shipping purchases, cell phone services, flights booked with airlines or through Amex Travel, and spend at select car rental agencies
  • 3x Hilton points on all other eligible purchases
  • 10 Priority Pass lounge passes
  • Hilton Honors Gold status
  • Hilton Diamond status if you spend $40,000 on the card in a calendar year
  • 1 weekend night at any Hilton hotel after spending $15,000 in a calendar year
  • A second weekend night at any Hilton hotel after spending $60,000 in a calendar year
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $95 yearly fee

 

The New Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

This new credit card will be Hilton’s entrance into the premium card market with a $450 annual fee but a list of features that draw some attention, especially for those enjoy staying with Hilton brands.

The benefits will include:

  • 14x Hilton points on spend at Hilton hotels
  • 7x Hilton points on spend at US restaurants, flights booked with airlines or through Amex Travel, and spend at select car rental agencies
  • 3x Hilton points on all other eligible purchases
  • Hilton Diamond status for as long as you hold the card
  • 1 weekend night stay at any Hilton hotel or resort per year
  • A second weekend night at any Hilton hotel after spending $60,000 in a calendar year
  • Priority Pass Select membership
  • $250 airline fee credit per calendar year
  • $250 Hilton resort statement credit per cardmember year
  • $100 credit at Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts and Conrad Hotels and Resorts when booking the “Aspire Card Package”
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $450 annual fee

 

What You Need To Know About the Hilton Cards Changes

With three new cards coming out there could be a lot of activity coming up with the Hilton rewards program. While there have been no details about what the sign-up bonuses might be for the new cards there are some interesting perks being released for each of the four card offerings.

The Hilton Honors Card from American Express offers an attractive no annual fee card with some bonus spending  categories and silver status. While no foreign transaction fees on a no annual fee card is no longer rare, this card still has some value for someone who stays at Hilton’s occasionally. If nothing else, silver elite status allows you to book five-night award stays for the price of four nights.

The New Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card and Hilton Honors American Express Business Card are very interesting for their Priority Pass lounge benefits. With 10 free passes per year you can easily make back the $95 annual fee in value if you don’t have a Priority Pass lounge membership from another card.

These two cards can give you a taste of the premium benefits for a reduced rate and with the broad categories for bonus spend on the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, spending $15,000 for a free weekend night at any Hilton property may very well be worthwhile.

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is the card to get if you’re a regular at Hilton properties. This card could be a no brainer with the $250 airline fee credit and the $250 Hilton resort statement credit.

On the other hand, if you don’t stay at Hilton properties often and would have to go out of your way to stay at a Hilton resort every year this card probably isn’t the right choice for you. While automatic Diamond status seems like a great perk (no other hotel branded card grants you top status in a tiered program), it’s important to note that their Diamond status doesn’t even guarantee breakfast at all their properties.

When it comes down to it if you’re able to make full use of the benefits this card can be a great deal but if you think you’ll struggle and go out of your way to use the benefits there are likely better options for you.

 

Bottom Line

It’s a great sign that American Express is willing to increase their perks without having to make their annual fees hundreds of dollars more. The no annual fee and low annual fee cards offer a lot of opportunities for both casual travelers and seasoned veterans alike and the Aspire will surely add more competition to the elite level cards trying to keep top paying customers year after year.

Variety is truly the spice of life and having new options on the market always creates a lot of excitement for us. Here’s to hoping you’re able to find the right option for you!

 

Keep traveling,

John

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