Why I Turned Down Both Amex Surpass Retention Offers & Still Closed The Cards

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Amex Surpass Retention Offers
Hilton Lake Buena Vista.

Amex Surpass Retention Offers – My Results & Why We Still Closed

Amex has dominated credit card rewards headlines the past few months for both good and bad reasons.  They offered inflated perks and bonus earning on many of their credit and charge cards, including Hilton cards.  Just last week, they swiped back a lot of those bonus points and miles.  However, for hobbyists like us, the four credit card limit Amex recently implemented may turn out to be the most consequential move they have made yet.  So, it was with great interest we prepared for our hopeful Amex Surpass retention offers.  Our analysis and the ensuing calls made the decision easy, but we begrudgingly accepted a rather large consequence.

RELATED: All Current Retention Offer Data Points For All Banks In One Place

Our Current Standing with Amex Credit Cards

Prior to our retention calls, my wife and I each had five credit card accounts with Amex. Among those accounts, we each held two Hilton credit cards for a total of four Hilton card accounts.  I had the Aspire and Surpass cards, while my wife had Surpass and no-fee cards.  We each had enjoyed playing the upgrade/downgrade game and receiving predictably frequent promos as lucrative as new card welcome offers.  We enjoyed that play and planned to continue.

Amex Surpass Retention Offers

But then came Amex’s implementation of the four credit card rule.  While lowering the limit by one seemed like no big deal at first, we later realized the rule threw a big wrench into our future Amex card application plans.  We had each spent just over $15k on our Surpass cards in the past year, but our interest in the inflated 12x grocery earning on the Surpass cards had (luckily) waned as our annual fees were upcoming on both cards.  We have Hilton free night certificates coming out of our ears and no concrete plans yet on how we will use them, which made earning more certificates with Surpass spend less appealing to us.

Also, we have our eyes on other Amex credit cards.  We’ve only had one Delta card between the two of us so far, and we are also focused on a few other business cards.  Paying two Surpass annual fees would just take up two more credit card slots for no good reason, especially since we weren’t planning to spend substantially on them, anyway.  Nonetheless, I was interested to see what Amex would offer in our retention calls and open to keeping the cards if the right offer appeared.

RELATED: Should We Game Plan Our Free Night Certificate Earning Better?

Our Retention Calls

A few weeks ago, my wife was up first.  She was offered a $95 statement credit for keeping her Surpass account, which would cover her annual fee for the next cardmember year.  There were no requirements to receive the credit.  Meh.  She politely turned down the offer and closed her account.

Earlier this week, I called regarding my Surpass account.  When I was asked why I wanted to close, I mentioned that I was interested in other Amex cards and noted their new four card limit rule.  Perhaps I could’ve been more coy.  Regardless, the CSR didn’t have much of a comeback to that statement.  The CSR offered 15k Hilton Honors points if I kept the account open.  Double meh.  I, too, declined the offer and closed my account.

Amex Surpass Retention Offers
We each have different decisions to make on the Aspire card in the future.

Fallout and Next Steps

By closing these two Surpass accounts, my wife and I are left with one Hilton card account each.  The big consequence to this move is that we can’t be as productive in the upgrade/downgrade game.  While we can still be players, it will be a much slower game with two cards rather than four.  Nonetheless, we accept that consequence so that we can be more positioned to obtain new cards and welcome offers while adhering to the four credit card limit.

The next step we each need to take is to close one more account to get down to three cards.  This is where we are really feeling the new four card limit the most.  I’m not in a good position to close another Amex card until March 2021.  I have a Blue Business Plus that I could close any time, but I won’t of course; that’s a long-term keeper as a 2.5% cash back card.  I could close my Aspire in January 2021, but I will probably keep that one around for use in the upgrade/downgrade game (I’ve held all Hilton cards).

My wife could close another account now, but that would be her Hilton no-fee card.  We are letting it lie for a bit while we see if she gets an upgrade offer soon.  If not, we will close, and she will always be able to apply for an Aspire account in the future.

Hilton Amex Surpass Retention Offers – Conclusion

Closing our Surpass cards was an easy decision, but we have needed to put much more time and effort into future plans due to Amex’s obfuscation.  More variables exist now with Amex, and they are all seemingly moving faster and in more nuanced ways.  We’ll be back for more, though, Amex!  How have your Amex plans changed or stayed the same over the past few months?

Benjy Harmon
Benjy is a fan of points, miles, and financial independence. An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently focuses on roaming throughout the USA expense-free (or close to it). He enjoys helping others achieve their travel goals, Disney-related and otherwise.

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6 COMMENTS

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Benjy

    When you downgrade your card (I presume to the no-fee card) how long does it take to get an upgrade offer?

    Would you downgrade the $450 annual card to a no-fee and upgrade? Or to the $95 fee card and wait for an upgrade offer?

    I currently have both and have yet to pull the trigger on the downgrade/upgrade move.
    Thanks
    TD

    • Traveler Dave,
      There’s really no pattern to how slowly or quickly you will get an upgrade offer, but they usually show up with some patience. If you haven’t held the no-fee card yet, I would apply for it as normal in order to get a welcome offer. Regarding which card to keep – the Surpass or Aspire – which card’s benefits mean more to you? Are those benefits worth the respective annual fee? If not, consider a downgrade of one or both, but ensure you apply for a welcome offer with the no-fee card if you haven’t already, and do so prior to downgrading to a no-fee card.

  2. Benjy, as u stated ‘our interest in the inflated 12x grocery earning on the Surpass cards had (luckily) waned’, sounded that u got 12x pts posted; for mine, after using up $250 RC, will pc mine to $0 fee cc for a prorated fee reimb… not worth to keep anymore after their shenanigans

    • Dan,

      Yeah, I didn’t push as hard on the 12x as I had planned due to some other elevated earning that later showed up for July. Downgrading to no fee and waiting for another upgrade seems sensible, as well.

  3. I just got a mailer from Hilton for an offer of 175,000 Hilton points if approved for the Surpass card. I have been working on getting below 5/24, and have 7 Amex cards total. I thought my chance of being approved would be pretty slim, but bingo, got approved. That is alot of points too. We are also going to a timeshare presentation in August and get another 100K Hilton points there. I had the Surpass 4 years ago, but no lifetime language in this offer. I will see in a year if they offer me a big points upgrade to the Aspire, and then will cancel my wife’s Aspire or downgrade it.

    • Byron,

      Good stuff! That 175k offer is great for those who got it. Sounds like you got good plans for the upgrade/downgrade play in the future. Thanks for reading!

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