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All About the NEW Hilton Credit Cards from American Express!

For a while now, there have been rumblings about a new Hilton credit card, after Citi ended its partnership with the brand. American Express has finally announced not one but TWO new Hilton credit cards, plus changes to their existing card line-up – and the fate of the Citi Hilton Honors Reserve card. It’s mostly good news all around, except for that whole Amex once-per-lifetime sign-up bonus rule and the fact that Amex isn’t quite as ms-friendly as Citi. But I digress. Let’s take a look at the new Amex Hilton card line-up and changes coming in January 2018:

New Hilton Honors American Express Credit Card

The New Hilton Honors American Express Credit Card

The Fate of the Citi Hilton Credit Cards

Citi stopped accepting applications for the Hilton Honors Reserve Card in June. There’s been some speculation about what will happen to existing accounts next year and we finally have an answer: On January 30, 2018 all Citi Hilton Honors Reserve accounts will convert to Amex cards.

Changes to the Hilton Honors American Express Card

The Hilton Honors American Express card will no longer include foreign transaction fees. That’s great news for a $0 annual fee card that has some pretty generous category bonuses – including 7x points on Hilton stays. Other benefits remain the same:

  • 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio worldwide
  • 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points at U.S. grocery stores, U.S. restaurants, and U.S. gas stations
  • 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points on all other eligible purchases
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status; Earn Gold status after spending $20,000 in purchases on the Card in a calendar year
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee

NEW Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card (AKA the Upgraded Hilton Surpass)

The brand new Hilton Honors American Express Ascend card is basically an upgraded version of the existing Hilton Honors Surpass Card. It offers the same category bonuses and elite benefits, with a few notable changes. This card will have a $95 annual fee (as opposed to $75) without the 2.7% foreign transaction fee of the Surpass card. Additionally, cardholders will get a free weekend night after spending $15,000 in a calendar year, along with 10 free Priority Pass Lounge passes. Overall, this is a major upgrade for a $20 fee increase.

  • 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio worldwide
  • 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points at U.S. grocery stores, U.S. restaurants, and U.S. gas stations
  • 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points on all other eligible purchases
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status; Earn Diamond status after spending $40,000 in purchases on the Card in a calendar year
  • One Weekend Night Reward at a hotel or resort in the Hilton portfolio after spending $15,000 in purchases on the Card in a calendar year
  • 10 free Priority Pass Lounge passes to ease the airport experience
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $95 annual fee

NEW Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is meant to be a competitor to premium credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Amex Platinum, Citi Prestige, and Ritz Carlton card. Aside from a $450 annual fee, $250 annual airline fee credit, and Priority Pass Lounge access, it offers increased category bonuses and impressive travel perks.

The Aspire card comes with Hilton Diamond status – no $40,000 spending required. Being able to get top-tier Diamond status without risking a financial review is a major plus. Cardholders also get one free weekend night every year, plus another free night after spending $60,000 per calendar year. The $250 annual Hilton resort credit is incredibly generous. Hilton Diamond members don’t get the same benefits at Waldorf Astoria properties as they do elsewhere, so the $100 credit at Waldorf Astoria and Conrad hotels makes up for this. 

  • 14X Hilton Honors Bonus Points at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio worldwide
  • 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies and at U.S. restaurants
  • 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points on other purchases
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status
  • One Weekend Night Reward at a hotel or resort in the Hilton portfolio with your new Card and each year of Card Membership
  • A second Weekend Night Reward at a hotel or resort in the Hilton portfolio after spending $60,000 in purchases on the Card in a calendar year
  • Unlimited Priority Pass Lounge passes to ease the airport experience
  • $250 Airline incidental fee statement credit
  • $250 Hilton resort statement credit
  • $100 on-property credit at Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts and Conrad Hotels & Resorts when booking the exclusive Aspire Card package
  • Access to 24/7 American Express concierge
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $450 annual fee

NEW Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

Hilton finally has a business credit card! The card features are a mix of what the Ascend and Aspire cards offer:

  • 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio worldwide
  • 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points on U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service producers and U.S. purchases for shipping
  • 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points on U.S. restaurants, flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, and car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies
  • 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points on all other eligible purchases
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status; Earn Diamond status after spending $40,000 in purchases on the Card in a calendar year
  • One Weekend Night Reward at a hotel or resort in the Hilton portfolio after spending $15,000 in purchases on the Card in a calendar year
  • A second Weekend Night Reward at a hotel or resort in the Hilton portfolio after spending $60,000 in purchases on the Card in a calendar year
  • 10 free Priority Pass Lounge passes to ease the airport experience and get work done more easily and comfortably while waiting for a flight
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $95 annual fee

“Where’s the Sign-up Bonus?”

By now you’ve probably noticed there’s no mention of a sign-up bonus. Understandably, American Express hasn’t publicized anything yet because they aren’t accepting applications yet. But I imagine to give their initial application round a boost, it’s going to be big. Either in the form of multiple free nights (i.e. 3 or more) or a massive number of points. You can’t go wrong with a 100,000 point bonus. Since American Express is trying to compete with Chase and Citi, it would make sense for them to roll out sign-up bonuses exceeding what those banks have offered for their premium cards in the past. Time will tell.

I for one am excited for this new card line-up, especially the Aspire card. I was pretty annoyed at myself for cancelling my Citi Hilton Honors Reserve card. Citi stopped accepting applications for that card in June and since they’re much more MS-friendly than American Express, I thought “goodbye Diamond status”. Now I don’t have to worry about the consequences of putting $40,000 worth of manufactured spending on an Amex card. The Aspire card’s annual fee is high, but the benefits more than off-set it. Overall, I’m excited about the new Amex Hilton cards. My only concern? That this basket of awesomeness will turn into D-Day 2.0.

What are your thoughts on the new Amex Hilton credit cards? 

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Ariana Arghandewal

15 Comments

  1. If I cancel my Citi Hilton cards now, do you think I can get the signup bonus for the new Ascend card even though I’ve had the Surpass card in the past?

    • You should be able to. I definitely think cancelling the Citi and applying for the Amex card is the way to go to ensure you get the sign-up bonus (whatever that may be).

  2. If I cancel my Citi Hilton, would I get the sign-up bonus when getting new card at Amex. Can I still hit the 10K this year and get the free year if done before 12/31/2018? Need a strategy.

    • Yes, since it’s a totally different product issued by a different bank. I don’t know, though, if they’ll deny future sign-up bonuses to people who have their Citi accounts transferred over. Time will tell.

  3. So,,, MS $59k on ascend then UG to Aspire then hit the 60k. I wonder how many free nights that would earn? 355k pts for the MS + 1 night for the 15k + 1 night for the 60k + 1 night for your new card?

    Overall seems like Aspire is not worth spending money on sadly.

    • I totally think the Aspire is worth it. You not only get Diamond status outright, but the $200 airline fee credit, $250 Hilton resort credit, $100 Waldorf Astoria/Conrad credit is incredibly generous. I totally would pay the $450 annual fee for these perks alone. With the free nights and $60k worth of spend, you’re almost earning enough rewards for a combined 4 nights at a top-tier hotel.

  4. I don’t travel enough to value the resort credit or Waldorf credit above $0. Ive never stayed at either type of hotel. And the airline credit is specific to 1 airline like AmEx Plat, meaning that is really not terribly valuable to me.

    The Aspire is risky for MSers (maybe not as much for higher volume MSers) since you’d be MSing at only 3pts/$… you either want to spend exactly $0 on that card , or exactly $60k and nothing between. MS on the Ascend at least guarantees 6pts/$ as well as the 15k free night with no other hoops to jump Through. MS on Aspire and get stuck at 59k for whatever reason, and you’ve got terrible ROI on your actual spend.

    But I realize just holding the card might make sense for some.

  5. Totally agree that we shouldn’t be surprised to see another devaluation of award chart.

  6. The idea that Citi is more MS friendly than Amex is completely backwards. Tons of people get Citi cards shutdown for cycling a few X. Amex on the other hand let’s people do 500k+/mo on a single card. People fear the FR, but as long as you didn’t significantly overstate income on the application, you’ll be fine. I MS Diamond on Surpass without batting an eye.

  7. I guess I’ll let my Surpass card roll into the Ascend. The Surpass is my oldest card, so I don’t want to cancel. Keeping 6x at the grocery lets me earn some nice vacation stays at a reasonable cost.
    The Aspire sounds good , but I can’t walk away from my grocery 6x.

    • No I mean once the change goes through. If you pull your credit report at some point after and are able to check the account age, I’d love to know whether the Citi open date transferred over.

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