American Express Overhauling Their Hilton Lineup – Will Introduce New Cards

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Changes to the American Express Hilton Portfolio

Changes to the American Express Hilton Portfolio

Some information is being reported about changes American Express is making to their Hilton credit card portfolio.  They will be revamping their card lineup and they will be introducing some new cards to the fold. American Express will be the sole Hilton credit card provider at the beginning of 2018 and these new cards will be released to coincide with that change.  The proposed ultra premium $450 card looks very interesting if all of the details being reported are true.

The American Express No Fee Hilton Card

This card is currently offer by American Express and it will be pretty much staying the same. The only change with this card is that it will no longer have foreign transaction fees (finally Amex!). If you would like more info on the card you can read our REVIEW.

The American Express Ascend (AKA The Old Surpass)

It looks like this is a new card Amex will be releasing that is going to be replacing the current Surpass card. There has been rumors about this card for a while but it was unclear if this was a new offering or if it would replace the Surpass card.

The earning structure is the same as the current Surpass card.  The annual fee will be increased from $75 to $95. With the increase in the annual fee you get the following additional perks:

  • 10 free Priority Pass lounge passes
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 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

I think those perks are worth the $20 increase in the annual fee.  The weekend night should be worth at least a couple hundred dollars.  The elimination of the foreign transaction fees has been long overdue.  It was a shame that American Express didn’t do this sooner since the Surpass has an annual fee and there are a ton of Hilton hotels overseas. I don’t put much value in the Priority Pass lounge passes since most people have entry into those lounges via another credit card.

Changes to the American Express Hilton Portfolio

American Express Hilton Honors Business Card

I was surprised to read about this one, I did not see a business card coming. It makes perfect sense though and they probably should have done it sooner.  Maybe with Citi involved in the portfolio they were limited on what they could offer?

The details look very similar to the Ascend card (old Surpass) but here is a rundown of the card.

Earning Structure:

  • 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

Annual Fee: $95

Card Perks:

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 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
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors gold status. Earn Diamond status after spending $40,000 in purchases within a calendar year

Pretty much a business version of the Ascend card but it does open up a new “once in a lifetime” sign up bonus!  The only place it really differs from the personal version is the 2nd free night after $60,000 in spend. I don’t think this will be feasible for most but some small businesses may find it valuable.

Changes to the American Express Hilton Portfolio

American Express Hilton Honors Aspire

This is the one I find most intriguing.  Don’t be scared away by it’s $450 annual fee.  The card comes with a lot of perks. I am not sure if the sign up bonus will be as rewarding as the lower end cards because of that though.  Similar to the $450 Delta Reserve which usually comes with the worst sign up bonus of the three Delta cards because of the perks it offers.

Here is the earning structure for the card:

  • 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

And here are the cardmember perks:

  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status for as long as you hold the card
  • One weekend night at any hotel or resort in the Hilton portfolio upon account opening.  You would receive a free night each anniversary as well.
  • $250 airline incidental fee statement credit
  • $250 Hilton resort statement credit
  • Priority Pass membership -unlimited access
  • A second weekend night at any hotel or resort in the Hilton portfolio after spending $60,000 on the card within a calendar year
  • $100 on property credit at Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts and Conrad Hotels & Resorts when booking the exclusive Aspire Card package

This sounds a little too good to be true and I wonder if some of these perks will be dropped before launch or shortly after, similar to the Citi Prestige.  Guaranteed Diamond status is a nice perk but will probably upset the Hilton faithful since it will flood the system with elites. I would think the airline incidental would work the same as the PRG and Platinum charge cards (one can hope at least). The $250 resort credit is also very generous.  Those two credits pretty much cover the annual fee.  The Priority Pass membership is meh at this point. If the PP membership comes with free guests then it would have some value. I don’t see many taking advantage of the 60k spend offer or the $100 Waldorf credit offer.

Conclusion

New cards are always a great thing because it leads to more opportunity to maximize your travel budget.  It will be interesting to see if all of these details are the same come launch time.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see some changes.

There are still a few questions out there. Does the Ascend count as a new card offering or will having the Surpass in the past count against you?  Does the PP membership for the Aspire card come with guest privileges, my guess would be no. Will American Express introduce sign up bonuses higher than the 100,000 offers we have seen lately to kick off roll out?

I am always in need of more Hilton points so count me as someone who is looking forward to the new year!

 

Hat tip to DoC


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