Strong Moves from American Express on Hilton Credit Cards

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Hilton Credit Cards

Strong Moves from American Express on Hilton Credit Cards

Recently, many of us have read and heard about upcoming improvements to American Express credit cards in May.  Today, Amex has promptly delivered several welcome additions to their Hilton credit cards.  In my view, most cardholders will find increased value by moving more spend to their Hilton cards.  Let’s get to the changes!

Limited Time Offerings for Hilton Credit Cards

Hilton Aspire Card

  • Earn 12 Hilton Honors points per dollar spent at grocery stores from May 1 through July 31, 2020.
  • Free weekend night rewards issued through December 31, 2020 can now be used any night of the week.  New free weekend night rewards issued from May 1 through December 31, will be valid for 24 months from the issuance date.
  • All points earned through card purchases between May 1 and December 31, 2020 will be considered base points, counting toward elite qualification, including Lifetime Diamond Status.
  • Cardmembers who have unused Hilton resort statement credits will be able to have the remaining credits applied to US restaurant purchases, including takeout and delivery, from June 1, 2020 through August 31, 2020.

Hilton Surpass Card

The Surpass card has the same offers as the Aspire card above, except for the Hilton resort statement credit at restaurants.

Hilton No-Fee Card

Amex considers cardholders’ spend on the no annual fee card as base points, counting toward elite qualification, including Lifetime Diamond Status, between May 1 and December 31, 2020.

Hilton Credit Cards
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Breckenridge. Breckenridge, CO.

My Initial Take

Amex has come out strong with their elevated, limited-time offers on the Hilton credit cards.  I find the improved 12x grocery earning for the next three months on the Aspire and Surpass cards to be particularly impressive.  Even better, Amex instituted no caps to this higher earning on grocery spend.  This is superior to Chase’s offer that came out today in every single way.

Aspire cardholders’ resort statement credit turning into basically a no-strings-attached $250 for any restaurant spend is a welcome improvement, as well.  Some of us may have trouble using the entire resort credit, even without a global pandemic.  Instead, most Aspire cardholders should have no problem using this $250 at restaurants over three months.

I expected the free weekend night reward certificate extension.  Amex surprised me by lifting the weekend stay requirement, though.  I like that cardholders’ points earned from all spend count as base points for elite qualification; this is a solid secondary benefit. It makes reaching the 2 million point cap needed for lifetime status that much easier.

My Plans Moving Forward

My near-term plan is to spend exactly $15k on my Hilton Surpass card at grocery stores by July 31.  By doing so, I’m taking advantage of three parts of the elevated offer simultaneously.  Through this $15k spend, I accomplish the following:

  • Earn 180k Hilton Honors points
  • Earn a free night reward certificate good for 24 months from issuance; this certificate is also valid for any night of the week until December 31, 2020.
  • My 180k points from spend on the card count as base points for elite qualification, including lifetime Diamond status.

My wife is also a Surpass cardholder, so we will plan to implement the same strategy for her account.  Given the limited time nature of these offers, I will refocus more immediate grocery spend on my Surpass cards;  Amex Gold spend at grocery will become secondary, as I have the rest of the calendar year to use the Gold’s 4x capacity.

Final Thoughts

From my perspective, Amex has knocked it out of the ballpark with their elevated offerings on the Hilton cards.  Amex is getting users like me to immediately move more spend to their Hilton cards, and in significant amounts (unlike Chase).  I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Amex extend these offers down the road, but I will definitely take advantage of them near-term as I described.  What is your opinion on Amex’s moves with the Hilton credit cards?

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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32 COMMENTS

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32 COMMENTS

  1. Has anyone received a restaurant credit yet? I made a charge on 4 May (Hilton Aspire) & 5 May (Bonvoy) my Hilton card statement was issued on 11 May but still have not received any restaurant credit.

      • Ahhh got me! I’ll try again next month I misread it and though it started 1 May along with the other perks. Good thing I only did small test and did not splurge.

        • Mike,

          It happens to us all. I came very close to doing a test at a restaurant the other day before catching myself. And I wrote the freaking article.

  2. Amex Hilton Surpass card annual fee is due in a couple days. Unable to get any kind of retention offer, no matter what. Same for AmEx Delta Platinum card. Nothing!

    • Robert,

      Bummer! Just my opinion, but if you can get outsized value out of the benefits (both temporary and permanent ones), it may be worth paying the AF.

  3. I called to book my Aspire night, and I got through right away. I also called to talk about how COVID cut my travel to nothing, and if they could do something for me about the fee for my personal Platinum. The agent countered with the UBER credit but I said I live in an are where I don’t use it, and I only use it where I travel-so it was no use to me. So she credited my account with $200. And that was before they announced the personal Platinum credits for wireless and streaming services, so my fee is more than paid for this year.

    • Stephanie,

      Well done! This is a great reminder that a simple call and discussion can lead to good things! Thanks for reading.

  4. I talked with Amex about resort fee I was didn’t use last membership year. My new year started today. I had plans to use it, but that changed They said they had rolled it over, so I have $500 resort fee to use. That was after the person had me on hold a while checking, so I am not clear if this is for everybody, and whether it is automatic.

    • If I’m not mistaken I believe the resort & airline $ credits refresh on the calendar year (1 Jan)? Only certificate free room & airline (delta) are issued at the card renewal?
      I thought this was standard for all AMEX cards, $ credits renew on 1 Jan & certificate renew with the card but I could be wrong as its a hard task to track all benefits and when they renew etc..

        • Ouch & thank you, I better contact AMEX as well to see if I can get my $250 back as well. I just received my free weekend night 31 Apr (card year) which means I must have lost my $250 credit which I believed refreshed on Jan 2020, as did the airline credit. I need to make myself a good chart of all AMEX cards and when my benefits expire.

          • Carl I guess I did not have the smartest rep as you did. My feedback CS interaction report. I did find out my Credits renew in March. I asked of I used my Mar 2019-2020 credits I was told, “I can only see your recent statement but you can go online to download your annual statement” wow so that’s no help. Then I wanted to verify the $250 credit at “ANY U.S. restaurant” the rep sent me the Hilton resort link said I can use it at a resort. I asked again I heard there was an update. The rep then copy pastes me Hilton terms about using the resort credit only at resorts. Then I copied pasted him the updated terms from the blog comment, he said let me check. He came back and reposted the same terms I just sent him and told me I was correct!! OMG not best customer service, I learn more from blogs and I had to teach the rep their own terms!! I give up!!

  5. I can sell Home Depot cards for 95% from Dillons/Kroger’s so this is a no brained with the 4x Furl points and the Hilton Surpass.

    • That sounds like a great plan easier then visa GCs but, where can you sell HD GC for 95% when buying them at FMV from grocery stores? I sell some GC on a couple of sites (raise & GC granny) but they either don’t buy HD GC or they give poor rates around 80% of FMV. I could use some better sources if your willing to help?

  6. Can I make use of this promotion if I apply for the Hilton Aspire card now? Or is it for existing card holders only?

  7. If I use the $250 restaurant credit, I can still claim the $250 Hilton resort credit later in the year. Is that right?

    • Michelle,

      Nope, you don’t get $250 for each. It’s $250 total. For instance, if you use $150 at restaurants in June through August, you could use the remaining $100 at a resort in the Fall.

      • I follow regularly just have not seen any grocery stores that sell over $300 visa GC. $15k ÷ $300 = 50 GC x $6.95 processing fee = $347.50 + (Walmart MO fees 25 x $.88) = $22 + $347.50 = Grand total of $369.5 in fees. Plus Gas, Time & risk of COVID infection. Will Earn us 1 free night + 180,00 points. I guess the 180,000 points makes it worth it but if you can find $500 GC fees would be reduced to around $230.
        Biggest worry with AMEX RAT on the prowl and increased claw backs I would be a little worried if that large amount of GC in short time would count as “eligible spend”, I dont see much in AMEX terms whats eligible spend for free nights?

        • It’s a little unclear how long rewards can be used on weekdays. The email from Amex
          states: “Unexpired Free Weekend Night rewards as of May 1, 2020 and new Free Weekend Night Rewards issued until December 31, 2020 on the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card can now be used any night of the week (not just on weekends).”

          Does this mean they can be used on weekdays through 2020 or that any rewards issued through 2020 can be used on weekdays until they expire (potentially through 2022)? A literal reading would suggest the latter, but I don’t think that’s what they intend.

  8. Also, it’s NOT just any restaurant. I talked to AMEX today. It’s an eligible restaurant that includes most of the delivery service places like Grubhub, Seamless, Door Dash, Uber Eats, Cavier and Chow Now, Postmates.

    • Mike,

      Per the terms, “From June 1, 2020 through August 31, 2020 (“Purchase Period”), purchases made at restaurants located in the U.S. on your Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card qualify toward the total amount of statement credits you can receive as part of the $250 Hilton Resort Statement Credit benefit.” This sounds pretty broad to me. It’s interesting you heard more limiting language according to the talk with Amex you cited; I’ll be taking the written terms at face value.

      • Hi Benjy,

        Yes, it seems very broad to me. That’s why I couldn’t believe it and did an online chat with a representative. She said that only those that I posted are considered eligible restaurants. I asked her to direct me to somewhere that pointed out that narrow limitation and she said she didn’t have anything. She said that they had that internally to reference to anyone that asks about it.

        Hopefully she was wrong and it’s ANY restaurants but that seems too good to be true. Let’s see how it plays out.

        • Mike,

          Thanks for the additional context. My gut tells me you got an ill-informed CSR, but I guess we won’t know until we experiment. For what it’s worth, I’m planning to do one small restaurant transaction on the Aspire in June and then waiting for the credit. That should then leave me plenty of time for using the rest of the credit more confidently. Thanks again for reading!

  9. For an Aspire cardholder, these changes are exciting to me.

    Does not address the inability to use the $250 airline fee credit. Was already difficult to use, nearly impossible to use now.

    I’ve already redeemed the $250 resort credit this year…changes are no value.

    The free weekend night now available on weekdays… hotels are empty; this was an easy change for them. Unfortunately, still requires calling to redeem…not sure how long the phone wait times are.

    The supermarket bonus is useless… 12 X 0.04 = 4.8% rebate. Vs Chase Sapphire is 5X 1.5c = 7.5% rebate. I’ll be using my Chase Reserve card at the supermarket.

    My free night expires next January. No extension for me. My new one will be issued in January…no deadline extension on that one either.

    • Jason,

      Thanks for the comment. It will be interesting to see if Amex offers some additional benefit/use of the airline fee credit if/when current events prolong. Regarding the grocery bonus, I’m glad you’ll get use out of the extra 3K spend at the elevated earning rates with the CSR. Some of us spend much more than that at grocery, though, and this is where the Surpass/Aspire news particularly shines given there is no cap.

    • Jason, your reward due to expire in January should be good through next August, if I’m correctly understanding the email Hilton sent last month. It states: “For all unexpired Weekend Night Rewards as of March 11, 2020, and all new ones issued until August 30, 2020, we are extending the expiration date through the end of next summer (August 31, 2021). There is no need for you to do anything, as your certificate(s) are being automatically updated in our systems.”

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