Are Premium Branded Cards the Next Big Thing? Amex May Be Launching One Soon!

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Branded Premium Rewards Cards & Hilton Diamond Amex

Wow it seems like the topic of the moment is the premium rewards credit card. That is quite interesting to me considering that these cards come with high up front annual fees. It is clear that a new generation of consumers is able to look past the cost in order to factor in the benefits they will receive. No doubt over time a game of cat and mouse will ensue between the banks and card users to find the perfect balance of annual fee, bonus and benefits.

For now though Chase has made an incredibly rewarding product with the Sapphire Reserve and as I covered the other day, Amex made a half-hearted attempt to bolster their Platinum products to respond. They also upped the bonus on their Business Platinum card to 100K which is nice if you haven’t had that card before, but the spend requirement is quite high.

The Premium Co-Branded Card

Hilton Diamond Amex

But there is another segment of the premium card market that isn’t being discussed as much. Chase also has another newly launched premium card. It is the Ritz Carlton Visa Infinite. Sure, this card was a refresh of their previous Ritz card, but it is an interesting product in that it comes with a premium $450 fee, offers premium benefits such as lounge access and travel credits and is locked into the Ritz Carlton/Marriott Rewards program.

Is there room on the market for another similar card?  Well, it seems that Amex may be considering a similar type premium co-branded Hilton card. A Doctor of Credit reader recently took a survey where such a card was being proposed. In the survey, the “Hilton HHonors Diamond Card” had the following features:

Annual Fee

  • $395

Earnings

  • 14X on spend at Hilton properties
  • 7X on spend at restaurants, car rentals and direct airfare
  • 3X everywhere else

Other Benefits

  • 500 Hilton HHonors points for booking online and paying with this card
  • Complimentary Diamond status
  • Upgrade to Diamond+ status with $60K in spend
  • 1 free night annually with $12K in spend
  • $250 annual incidental travel credit
  • Priority Pass Platinum Membership
  • No foreign transaction fees

Thoughts

Hilton Diamond Amex

While this was just a survey, this card would roughly be in line with the Ritz Carlton Visa in most areas. The annual fee is similar and it gives lounge access and upgraded status. I find it interesting that you could spend up to Diamond+ status since I don’t even believe that such a status even exists. Maybe Hilton is considering some changes of their own?!?

If this card ever does make it to market, my guess is that at least a few things will change from what is in the survey. There are a ton of questions remaining here including whether Citi will be able to respond with a premium Hilton card of their own. Either way, I think the banks are recognizing that offering an alternative to their own flexible points program may be attractive to some consumers who are brand loyal.

Conclusion

While most “travel hackers” do their best to avoid being locked into a specific brand, a lot of the general public does the opposite. We all know people who only fly “this airline” or stay in “that hotel chain” whenever possible because they feel comfortable. Many of those people are affluent and are in the target audience for a premium card. I think Chase has had success with the Ritz card and I think Amex might have some success with a Hilton co-branded premium card. Only time will tell.

What do you think? Is this Hilton HHonors Diamond Amex card a good or bad idea? What would you like to see in a premium Hilton card? Are there any other brands for which you would like to see a premium card? Let us know in the comments!


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10 COMMENTS

    • Agree completely. Hyatt Diamond status is fabulous. Redemption requirements, even for their highest end properties, are reasonable and their treatment of Diamonds is excellent. Sign me up.

  1. I believe Chase raised the annual fee on the R-C Visa to $450 recently. The $395 was retained for current cardholders. Cheers.

  2. I’m not interested in it. Why?

    #1`I’m already a HH diamond, so I don’t need it.
    #2 HH diamond is simply not that different from gold, so I still don’t need it even if I lose diamond status.
    #3 Diamond is not worth $400/year. Not even close.

    However, Hilton management will pimp itself out to anyone waving a dollar bill, so i suspect some variation on this card is coming. Is the HH credit card market big enough to differentiate 5 credit card products? No. Something’s gonna give.

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