We already knew that in 2018, American Express would be the exclusive issuer of the co-branded Hilton credit cards. What we didn’t know was if they were going to introduce two new rewards cards to make up for the two Citi Hilton cards that have been discontinued. Now it’s official, Amex is launching two new Hilton credit cards in January 2018, so we will once again have four different options to earn Hilton Honors points on every purchase.
In addition to adding two new cards to the Hilton Amex lineup, American Express is also upgrading its two existing Hilton credit cards. The no-fee Hilton Honors Amex will keep its current name and the foreign transaction fee has been removed. The Hilton Surpass ($75 annual fee) is changing its name to the Hilton Honors Ascend Card.
Here are the details from the press release for each of the four brand-new Amex Hilton credit cards.
Hilton Honors American Express Card
Annual Fee: $0
The Hilton Honors American Express Card will continue to be the zero annual fee credit card for Hilton. To make this card more enticing, the foreign transaction fee has been removed. This is somewhat rare for a no-fee Amex credit card.
Besides waiving the foreign transaction fee, the remaining key details of the card remain the same:
- Earn 7x Hilton Honors points on Hilton Portfolio purchases
- 5x Hilton Honors points at U.S. restaurants, gas stations, and supermarkets
- 3x Hilton Honors points for all remaining purchases
- Receive complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status after $20,000 in annual card purchases
With more than 5,100 hotels around the globe, no foreign transaction fee is a huge benefit and can make this an even better recommendation as a secondary credit card. None of your rewards points will be eaten up by those pesky credit card fees that make other no annual fee travel rewards cards unattractive.
Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card
Annual Fee: $95
The current Amex Hilton card with an annual fee is the Hilton Surpass with an annual fee of $75. You will notice that the annual fee for the brand-new Ascend Card will be $95 per year.
You can still apply for the Surpass until the Ascend launches in January. But, you might be better off waiting as the additional travel benefits of the Ascend can be well worth the extra $20. If you’re an existing Surpass cardholder, your card will be automatically upgraded in 2018 when the new lineup launches.
Here’s why. You enjoy the same tiered purchase rewards as the Amex Surpass, but, you also get the following travel benefits:
- One Weekend Night Reward at any Hilton Portfolio hotel or resort after spending $15,000 a year
- 10 free Priority Pass Lounge passes
- No foreign transaction fee
The new Amex Hilton Ascend will be more like the Citi Hilton Honors Reserve which was the better option if you wanted a Hilton credit card with an annual fee.
Full Marketing Bullets:
- Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
- Plus, earn an additional 25,000 Bonus Points after you make an additional $1,000 in purchases with your new Card within your first 6 months.
- Earn a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
- Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio.
- Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
- Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
- Spend $40,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn Hilton Honors Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
Annual Fee: $450
Ther’s no mention of what the sign-up bonus will be for the American Express Hilton Aspire card yet. One of the trends for travel rewards cards lately is to offer a “premium” airline or hotel rewards card that is similar to the Amex Platinum or Chase Sapphire Reserve, but, is more brand-specific in terms of rewards and benefits. Hilton will join the fray in 2018 with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.
This is another solid offering if you like the Platinum Card travel benefits and would rather earn Hilton Honors points for free hotel nights instead of the flexible Amex Membership Rewards that are most valuable for booking award flights.
Here’s what you get the Amex Hilton Aspire:
- 14X points on every Hilton Portfolio purchase
- 7X points on air travel booked directly from carrier or Amex Travel, car rentals booked directly from select rental agencies, and all U.S. restaurants
- 3X points on all remaining purchases
- Complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond Status
- One Weekend Night Reward at any Hilton property as a new cardmember and each card anniversary
- Earn a second Weekend Night Reward by spending at least $60,000 a year
- Unlimited Priority Pass airport lounge visits
- $250 Airline incidental fee credit (checked baggage and in-flight purchases)
- $250 Hilton Resort statement credit
- $100 on-property credit for Waldorf Astoria and Conrad stays with select Aspire booking packages
- No foreign transaction fee
If you love Hilton hotels, you can easily offset the $450 annual fee. The free Weekend Night Stay alone can come close if you stay at one of the more expensive properties since there are no redemption restrictions. You will also have 24/7 access to the American Express travel concierge.
Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
Annual Fee: $95
Business travelers will also be able to join the fun with the business version of the Ascend Card with a $95 annual fee. If you have the option to apply for either the Ascend of the Hilton Business card, you should consider the second option as you have more opportunities to earn purchase rewards.
These are the benefits of the Amex Hilton Business Card:
- 12x points on all Hilton Portfolio purchases
- 6x points on U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services from U.S.-based providers, and U.S. shipping purchases
- 6x points on U.S. restaurants, flights booked directly from airline or AmexTravel.com, and car rentals booked directly from select rental agencies
- 3x points on all remaining purchases
- Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status
- Upgrade to Hilton Honors Diamond status after spending $40,000 in a calendar year
- One Free Weekend Night after spending $15,000 in a calendar year
- Second Free Weekend Night after spending $60,000 in a calendar year
- 10 free Priority Pass lounge passes
- No foreign transaction fee
This can be a great option if you commonly stay at Hilton hotels for business travel.
What Happens To Your Existing Hilton Credit Card?
If you’re a current co-branded Hilton credit card owner, you might be wondering what will happen to your card. That answer depends on whether you own the Amex or Citi version.
Citi Hilton Credit Cards
If you currently own a Citi-issued Hilton credit card, it will be converted to the appropriate Amex version of the card in 2018. Since both the no-fee Hilton Honors Amex and the $95 Hilton Ascend are very similar to the existing Citi versions, you shouldn’t notice much of a difference between both cards with the exception of owning an American Express credit card instead of Visa. This can affect your payment method with select merchants, but, Amex is waiving the foreign transaction fee on all Hilton cards to make the transition as seamless as possible.
Existing Amex Hilton Credit Cards
If you currently own an Amex Hilton card, it will upgrade to the new version in 2018. For the no-fee Hilton Amex, everything will remain the same. Hilton Surpass owners will be upgraded to the Hilton Ascend and will also begin paying the $95 annual fee (instead of $75) but will enjoy the additional travel benefits.
Summary on the New Hilton Amex Credit Cards
American Express has definitely made the Hilton card lineup better. There truly is a Hilton credit card for every traveler. Whether you want a secondary rewards card or a primary card, you can’t go wrong with any of them. Now, you just have to wait until 2018 to apply!
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