Two Updates to the Hilton American Express Cards – Bigger Bonus and More Points Earning

American Express is temporarily bumping the bonus on their no fee entry level Hilton card and increasing points earning at Hilton properties on their $75 fee Hilton Surpass card.

  • Through November 30, American Express is offering 65,000 bonus points on their no annual fee Hilton American Express card. That’s an improvement over the 50,000 point offer I was aware of previously. The bonus is awarded as 40,000 after $750 spend within 3 months and 25,000 more after $3000 spend within 6 months.

    Certainly American Express sees that limited-time signup offers are successful for them, they’ve been running offers on the Starwood American Express each of the past 3 summers. And it looks like they’re trying to get more aggressive on the Hilton side as well.

    I have the no fee Hilton American Express which I basically keep for access to discounted “AXON” awards, discounted awards on 4 night stays at category 5 through 7 hotels. But I don’t put any spend on the card.

  • They are also upping the points-earning with the American Express Surpass card will begin to earn 12 Hilton HHonors points per dollar rather than the current 9 points effective November 1. (Existing cardmembers will see the increase during their November billing cycle.)

    Currently the card awards 9 points per dollar which I always thought of as especially generous, but then this summer Citibank introduced the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card which earns 10 points per dollar on Hilton spend.

    The increased earning is great, but doesn’t address the competitive deficiency of the Surpass card — the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card offers Gold status as long as you hold the card. It is a $95 annual fee card. The Surpass card gives you Gold status only the first year, after that you need to spend $20,000 on the card each year to keep Gold.

    Both cards give you Diamond after $40,000 in spend.

    But the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card gives you 2 free weekend nights after $2500 in spend within 4 months, that’s a better signup bonus than the Surpass card offers.

    The Citi offering seems far stronger, and while more points for Hilton stays is good I believe that American Express will need a stronger offering than that going forward.

(Note that the Hilton Reserve card offers referral credit to me if you are approved using my link. The American Express offers do not.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Will Amex match the higher bonus level for a recently-acquired HHonors card? I got 40K points a month and a half ago and would happily run the spend up to $3000 for another 25K.

  2. Gary – just applied for the Hilton AmEx (free version) using your link as a way of saying “thanks” for all the great advice! Now, a quick question: I applied for the card and got approved (yay!) so I look forward to the 65K HHonors points. My wife does not have a HHonors account, so can she apply for the card as well (on a separate application for your benefit of course) and have the 65K points credited to my HHonors account? Looking forward to your response. Thanks!

  3. Hmmmm someones going after the new citibank offering
    Not mentioning any names but it looks like Amex! 🙂

  4. @Alon – your wife would have to credit the points to her own account, you can of course redeem some nights from her account and other nights from yours when you travel together! Not my link, by the way, just the best available bonus I know of. Best, Gary

  5. Got approved! Any idea how long does it take to arrive? I have upcoming stays and a trip this monday. Hoping it will arrive before that!


  6. @WrightHI – I got the 50k points offer about 3 weeks ago. When I called to try and get the new offer they said they could not match to a better offer on Hilton cards. You might try anyway since you were on the 40k offer. They may have told me that just to avoid giving me 75k total points. 🙂

  7. I grabbed the Amex 40k offer a few weeks back and tried to upgrade to the 50k offer when it was posted. I was told that I couldn’t have it, but that they would add 3,000 points to my account as a sign of good faith. I don’t think that they’ll bump people up to 75k if they weren’t doing it from 40k to 50k, but no downside to trying!

  8. Isn’t the Citi Reserve min spend $2500 after 4 months, not months. I checked your link and it stated $2500 within 4 months.

    My wife recently got the Citi Hilton Reserve card and we are working on the min spend. We are almost there (will be there the 1st of November (our 3rd statement will end in mid month Nov).

    She will keep the card as long there is Gold for having the card. I have the Chase Priority Club with PC Plat as long as one holds the card. With the free night every anniversary even at IC’s, that card is a keeper @$49/yr.

  9. No joy on the bump. Back to the sock drawer it goes. Oh well — I need to rebuild my Ultimate Rewards balance anyway.

  10. Gary, would love to get an official clarification on “hotel spend” for the Citi Reserve card. From what I read after getting the card a couple months back, and confirmed by at least one CSR, the 10 points per $ is for a “hotel stay.” The reason I’m drawing a possible distinction is that I’ll be picking up the (reimbursable) tab for a business reception that could run $10k. Would love 10 points per $ but not sure I can get that since i can’t get sales and catering to bill it as part of my stay. My fallback is 6 points per $ thru my non- surpass Hilton Amex.

  11. @Rick C – if the charge comes through as a Hilton it is going to earn the 10 points per dollar. Citi doesn’t know what you purchased, only who ran the charge… At least I can’t imagine how the card company will know the contents of your purchase?

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