Amex Re-branding the Ascend Card & Slightly Devaluing The Aspire Card

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Amex Re-branding the Ascend Card & Slightly Devaluing The Aspire Card

Amex Re-branding the Ascend Card & Slightly Devaluing The Aspire Card

American Express sent out an email with an update on a few of their Hilton cards.  They will be re branding the Ascend card and hopefully changing the card art so it doesn’t look so much like the Aspire card.  They will also make a slight change to the resort credit perk of the Aspire card which is a little bit of a devaluation but nothing major.

Ascend Reverting Back to the Surpass

If I am being honest I still call the Ascend card the Surpass card from time to time.  It is one of my favorite cards on the market because of the $15K free night.  It is probably the second best hotel card for everyday spend, just behind the World of Hyatt card.

I think this is a costly move for Amex for something they launched not too long ago. Reprinting a ton of cards and mailing them out will not be cheap.  But I did find the similar names of the Ascend and Aspire card annoying.  The fact that they look so similar is annoying too.  Hopefully they go back to the card design of the old Surpass so you don’t have to go all Sherlock Holmes on your wallet trying to figure out which card is which.

Amex Re-branding the Ascend Card & Slightly Devaluing The Aspire Card
Please bring this design back so we can tell the cards apart easily!

Change to Aspire Resort Credit Perk

I have said the Aspire is hands down the best perks card out there.  With the change in the Priority Pass membership it has been knocked down a little bit but I still put it in the top spot.  One of the better perks of the card is the $250 resort credit you get each year.  American Express is making a slight change to that perk and it is a little bit of a devaluation:

On August 1, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card Members can continue to use their $250 Resort Statement Credit benefit for purchases made with participating resort properties for all rates, except when booking an Advanced Purchase rate.

All other Hilton rates remain eligible for the $250 Resort Credit benefit for purchases made with participating resort properties.

That is a little bit annoying since the advanced purchase rates are almost always the lowest.  They also usually bill at least a portion of the room right away.  This allowed people to book rooms past their credit’s expiration date since they were billed at the time of booking.  That would be my guess why Amex made the change.  If you have an AAA card then that rate is usually about the same as the advanced purchase rate.

Final Thoughts

Neither of these changes is anything major. I think the Surpass re-branding is kind of a positive just for my sanity.  Overall it won’t make any difference to us though.  I am guessing the Ascend card is not doing as well as it had when it was the Surpass.

The Aspire change is overall a negative change.  It isn’t anything major but it does stop people from gaming the perk a little bit.  They are no longer able to use it for a stay past the expiration date unless they call the hotel and have them bill them in advance.

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19 COMMENTS

  1. Will a room booked with a “Free weekend night” certificate or with Hilton Honors points still be eligible for the $250 resort credit?

    BTW, “Neither of these changes are anything major.” should be “Neither of these changes is anything major.” #grammarmatters

    • If you bill something back to your room it would work if the location is on their resorts list.

      Updated – thanks!

    • Yeah I don’t get this move – the sign ups for the card must have really dropped off for them to revert back to the old name.

  2. As a senior with not so great eyesight, I too have used my Aspire card when I meant to use my Ascend to meet my annual spend for the free night. Fortunately, I was able to call AMEX and they moved the spend off Aspire and over to Ascend. Now, I quickly check the last digit of the card. When it gets to the point I can’t remember the difference between the 4 or the 8, I have bigger problems than meeting annual spend…..

    • I’ve had similar issues, and I don’t think you have to have not-so-great eyesight to get the cards confused. I have the regular Hilton card, also the Ascend, and a Hilton business card. I have to look closely every time.

      • Not a great decision on their part…some times I wonder what type of focus groups these banks use. Or maybe they don’t use them at all….

  3. I’ve heard they’ll be calling it the American Express GoFarr, to stay in line with the Marriott Bonvoy name change.

  4. Do the Amex cards have the card names on them? I didn’t think they did. I pulled my Aspire out of the desk the other day and couldn’t figure out if it was actually the Aspire or my old Ascend (which has been canceled). I don’t think either had identifying text on them.

  5. No names. My Ascend ends in 3 and the Aspire ends in 8. Pretty much the same, basic color. Maybe AMEX figured folks would opt for no fee, standard fee, or premium fee and not two or three of the cards. Had no problem getting the Aspire card after getting the Ascend card four months earlier. Also got both bonuses.

  6. Mark: Did AMEX ever officially communicate the change to the Priority Pass restaurant benefit? I just found out about it when I read it in all the travel blogs and websites. And you say that they sent out an email re. the resort credit change? I never received any notice from them as an Aspire cardholder…this was the first I’ve heard about it. I wonder if others got direct communication from them or if I’m the only one.

    • Sorry should have been more clear about the email. It was sent to us via their PR department so we could cover it. I assume something similar was done for the PP change but we did not receive that one. I imagine they would have to send something to cardholders before the changes go through though.

  7. They have the names on them, but very hard to see. You have to look at the back of the card and it’s in very small print. But one does says “Ascend” and the other “Aspire”. You almost need a magnifying glass to read the names.

  8. My experience with an “advance purchase” rate was it was charged IMMEDIATELY. You stay may be months away but they would charge the day it is booked. I also found out that you could often get a lower rate if you waited until 1-3 weeks before your stay, unless it was a holiday or big event.

    (Tried to use the AP rate to get an AMEX rebate once, but no rebate).

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