I receive compensation for many links on this blog. You don’t have to use these links, but I am grateful to you if you do. American Express, Citibank, Chase, Capital One and other banks are advertising partners of this site. Any opinions expressed in this post are my own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by my advertising partners. I do not write about all credit cards that are available -- instead focusing on miles, points, and cash back (and currencies that can be converted into the same).
With American Express getting exclusivity to issue Hilton co-brand credit cards in the U.S., and Citi’s Hilton cards retired, Amex will be launching new cards and improving benefits this week — expected for Thursday the 18th.
The base Hilton Honors American Express Card remains the same but eliminates foreign transaction fees.
The Hilton Honors Surpass® Card from American Express is going to become the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card. The annual fee goes up from $75 to $95, but it adds 10 Priority Pass free visits per year and a free weekend night each year after spending $15,000 in purchases on the card in a calendar year. And the card looks attractive, too.
It’s important to note that if you’ve had the Surpass card, the Ascend card will not be considered a new product. Reader Eric F. shared an online chat with American Express where they copied the terms of the new product. Notably,
As you currently have or have had the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card in the past, you will not receive the welcome bonus offer for the refreshed Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card, as you will only receive a welcome bonus once per Card product in your Card Membership.
There will be however a new small business version of this card as well. And that’s a new product.
This was already a good card giving you Gold status just for having it and letting you earn Diamond based on spend. And it’s getting better, rewarding spend not just with points but a free weekend night.
However the card I’m really excited for is the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. It’s a $450 annual fee card that comes with complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status and also a free weekend night each cardmember year. $60,000 in purchases in a calendar year earns another weekend night.
Offsetting the fee are:
- $250 airline incidental fee credit per calendar year. This runs on the same rails as American Express’ current fee credit system. You’ll choose one airline, and presumably certain electronic gift cards will continue to work for reimbursement even though they aren’t supposed to.
- $250 Hilton resort statement credit per cardmember year. So be sure to stay at one resort per year and pay with the card to maximize value from the product.
- $100 on-property credit at Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts and Conrad Hotels & Resorts but to receive this you have to book “the exclusive Aspire Card package” which I expect to be a competitive rate but higher than paying a corporate or AAA rate.
Conrad Koh Samui
The card comes with Priority Pass with unlimited visits and no foreign transaction fees.
Points earning is greater, but you’d expect that:
- 14X Hilton Honors Bonus Points at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio worldwide
- 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies and at U.S. restaurants
- 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points on other purchases
Hilton Honors points are pretty clearly worth 4/10ths of a cent apiece making actual spend on the card not super compelling outside of paying for actual Hilton stays (worth a 5.6% rebate based on my points valuation) where I see this as roughly equivalent to paying with a Chase Sapphire Reserve which is slightly better at 3 points per dollar worth a 5.7% rebate under my points valuation..
This strikes me as a great card to have for Diamond status if you value that, and then to use at Hiltons if you don’t have a Chase Sapphire Reserve.