Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card Review – Replaces the Old Surpass Card.

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Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Review

Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Review

The American Express Ascend card is Hilton’s new replacement for the old Surpass card. American Express recently released four new Hilton cards after taking over the entire Hilton portfolio, Citibank used to also carry Hilton cards.  With the American Express’ Hilton portfolio re-branding they added a few new features to the old Surpass platform.

If you are interested in information on the business version of this card you can see our review here!

Current Sign Up Bonus Vs The Historical High

Since the Ascend is a “new” card the current 100,000 point offer is technically the highest offer on the card by default. The old Surpass card did have a limited time offer of 125,000 points.  You could consider that the historical high since the Ascend is replacing the Surpass card.

The bonus is as follows:

  • Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors points after spending $2000 within the first three months of card membership.
  • Earn an additional 25,000 Hilton Honors points after spending another $1,000 within the first 6 months of card membership.

Click Here to get more details and learn how to apply for this card and other hotel rewards credit cards!


Hilton Honors American Express Ascend ReviewBonus Restrictions

Note that American Express currently has a “one bonus, per product, per lifetime” policy. You are only eligible for this bonus if you have not had this card before.

It is believed that if you have had an American Express Surpass card in the past you may be excluded from receiving the bonus on the Amex Ascend. It is too soon to tell for sure either way.

Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card Earning Structure

The Hilton Honors American Express Ascend card earns points the following ways:

  • 12X Hilton Honors bonus points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio.
  • 6X Hilton Honors bonus points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets, and at U.S. gas stations.
  • 3X Hilton Honors bonus points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.

Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card Member Perks

The American Express Ascend has a couple of very valuable perks of card membership:

  • Earn a free weekend night after you spend $15,000 in a calendar year on your card.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Earn 500 Hilton Honors bonus points when you use your card to both book online and pay for your Hilton stay.
  • A limited Priority Pass Lounge Membership – 10 free visits per cardmember year.
  • As an American Express Ascend card member, you’ll receive Hilton Honors Gold status automatically and can upgrade yourself to Diamond status with $40,000 in spend during the calendar year.
  • This card is eligible for Amex Offers.

Fees

The American Express Ascend card comes with a $95 annual fee which is NOT waived the first year.


Click Here to get more details and learn how to apply for this card and other hotel rewards credit cards!


Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Review

Sign Up Bonus Value – $400 ($305 net)

Hilton points are valued at $0.004 a piece. That would put the value of 100,000 Hilton Honors points at $400. The card charges a $95 annual fee the first year. That leaves a (minimum) net value of $305.

While Hilton Honors has gone partially revenue based, there is still some outsized value in their lower category properties, especially in the developing world.

Summary

The Hilton Honors American Express Ascend card comes with a rewarding earning structure and instant Hilton Honors Gold status (which rivals most other hotel program’s top status). It is unclear at this point if Gold status will be devalued in the near future. Speculation of a devaluation has started with the addition of complimentary Diamond status on the new Aspire card.

With the Ascend card it is possible to quickly amass Hilton points by taking advantage of the 6X earning categories or via paid stays. The Amex Ascend is also a part of the Amex Offers program. Amex offers can help offset, if not cover, the annual fee.

On the downside, not waiving the first year annual fee hurts, however that is becoming more common these days as banks want to see the customer “invested” in their cards.

American Express added a few nice features to the card with the $20 annual fee increase, compared to the old Surpass card.  The free night perk after spending $15,000 within a calendar year is a great addition.  Removing foreign transaction fees is also a long overdue change.  With Hilton’s global footprint it is a shame it didn’t happen sooner.  And then offering you 10 free Priority Pass Lounge entrances per year is more than enough visits for most people.

The free night after $15,000 in spend comes with a chance to really increase the return you get for spending on the Ascend card.  That free night can be worth anywhere from $100-$1000 in value. The perk’s value depends entirely on where you use it.


Click Here to get more details and learn how to apply for this card and other hotel rewards credit cards!


Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Review

Long Term Keep Or Cancel?

If you stay at Hilton Hotels at least a few nights per year then this is a long term keeper. Free breakfast obtained via gold status and valuable Amex offers more than offset the annual fee. The Ascend card is a good way to amass Hilton points quickly, if you use the 6x and 12x categories.

If you don’t find enough value from gold status to offset the annual fee then downgrading may be an option. This would allow you to save on the annual fee and still earn Hilton Honors points. The no fee card does come with slightly lower earning rates and less card member perks.

Make sure you have earned the sign up bonus on the no fee Hilton Honors card before downgrading to it.  Downgrading beforehand may make you ineligible for a bonus on the card down the road.

Conclusion

The Hilton Honors American Express Ascend card is a compelling card that currently has a slightly above average sign up bonus.  Valuable 6x categories make it a possible mainstay in your wallet, making it easy to amass large amounts of Hilton Honors points.  American Express giving Hilton Gold status with card membership and valuable Amex Offers are icing on the cake.

 


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10 COMMENTS

  1. I had the free night each year upon renewal of annual fees that came with my sign up bonus for the Surpass… does anyone know what will happen with that? I was product changed to Ascend automatically.

  2. “Earn 500 Hilton Honors bonus points when you use your card to both book online and pay for your Hilton stay.”

    Per the summary of benefits (for the new card), this perk has been eliminated.

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