Reader Mail: Should I Get a Hilton Amex, Should I Redeem an Award to CDG?

Reader Robert writes:

Hilton Amex talked me into upgrading from Hilton Amex Plat to “Surpass” mostly because of Gold status; it’s $75/yr + ~ 15k bonus miles?; I have Plat Amex and Plat Intercontinental (ambassador); I almost never stay w/Hilton. Should I back out? and just ask for a match?

Should I use US Air winter discount (60k ea) for Envoy to CDG from BOS for my mom & me just to burn? we ea have ~65k dividend mi or is there something better? (membership rewards, CO, Delta, AA)

So here’s my rather rambling reply, a bit off-the-cuff and unedited.

The value in the Hilton Surpass card is $40k in spend gets you Diamond (top tier) status with Hilton. If you can put $40k in spend on the card, it’s great. Otherwise not worth a ton. Although the signup bonus is usually 40k Hilton points and that has to be worth double the annual fee (plus additional bonus points for Hilton stays in the first 18 months). So may be worth keeping the card for a year. By the way the gold status only lasts a year, you only keep gold if you spend $20k on the card.

The best cards now are
* Starwood Amex, because Starwood points are the most flexible, I expect a new card and new offers by the second quarter of next year
* British Airways Visa from Chase, 1.25 miles per dollar and when you spend $30k on the card in a year you get a certificate good for 2-for-1 award redemption
* the new Amex Premier card first year free, 15k amex points at signup, earns 3 miles per dollar on airline tickets and 2 on groceries
* Asiana American Express from Bank of America, 2 miles per dollar so $40k in spend gets you business class from the east coast of the US to Europe with up to 4 stopovers in addition to your destination (using the distance based chart and traveling less than 10k miles)

Europe in business for 60k is a good deal. Of course that means you have to fly US Airways. I’d rather get up to 120k in the account and fly first class to north asia (including all of china and hong kong)… e.g. ANA ORD-NRT in F, continuing on somewhere… includes a stopvoer as well…

By the way, the ANA distance-based chart is a good one, 63k Amex points -> All Nippon Airways gets you Virgin Upper Class JFK-LHR roundtrip.

Still, I like my Amex points transferred to Air Canada Aeroplan (but wait until you need them, the transfer is instantaneous). 120k gets you US to South Asia via the atlantic, the pacific, or both, and 2 stopovers are permitted…. eg JFK-IST- (stopover) – BKK in Turkish First (suites with doors), BKK-HKG in Thai First for the first class spa (stopover), HKG-IST in Turkish first, IST-FRA in business, then Frankfurt back the US on Lufthansa for a visit to the First Class Terminal….

How would you reply?

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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