American Express becomes the exclusive Hilton co-brand credit card issuer in 2018. If you currently own either of the Citi Hilton credit cards, your card will be automatically be upgraded to the Amex equivalent in 2018. If you currently own the no annual fee Citi Hilton, should you keep the Amex Hilton Honors credit card after the conversion to Amex?
Fyi- I plan on my keeping my Citi Reserve once it’s converted to the Amex Ascend card.
What Does the All-New Amex Hilton Honors Look Like?
Starting January 18, 2018, American Express is launching four new Hilton credit cards. Your Citi Hilton HHonors credit card will upgrade to the revamped Hilton Honors Credit Card from American Express after this date.
Amex is pulling out a lot of stops to entice you to keep the Amex Hilton Honors once Citi upgrades your account.
No Foreign Transaction Fee
Before you call Citi or Amex to cancel your card, the merge is actually improving the no-fee Hilton credit card. Not only will you continue to not pay an annual fee, American Express is also waiving the 2.7% foreign transaction fee effective January 18, 2018! This change even applies to current Amex Hilton Honors members.
In fact, Amex will not charge the annual fee on any of the Hilton credit cards.
Earn 7x Hilton Honors Points on Hilton Stays
With the Amex Hilton Honors credit card, you will earn 7x Hilton points on all Hilton purchases. Citi only pays 6x points on Hilton stays, so you will earn an extra 100 points for every $100 spent at Hilton.
Earn 5x Points for Gas, Groceries, and Food
The Amex Hilton Honors will award 5x Hilton points for the following U.S.-based purchases:
- Gas Stations
Remember, you will only earn the bonus points for purchases that take place in the United States, otherwise, they will only earn the base rate of 3 points per $1 spent. You will still earn more with the Amex Hilton for all purchases because of the more robust purchase rewards.
Earn 3x on all Regular Spending Instead of 2x Points
Since the Citi Hilton only pays 2 or 3 points for all non-Hilton purchases, you should actually earn more points for each dollar spent because every Amex Hilton purchase will always earn at least 3 points per $1 while the Citi Hilton only guarantees at least 2 points per $1.
Since you can earn between 3-7 Hilton points (instead of 2-6 Hilton points) on each purchase with the Amex Hilton, you can accrue Hilton points a little bit quicker than before.
Complimentary Hilton Honors Silver Status
This benefit remains unchanged for current owners of the no annual fee Citi and Amex Hilton card owners. By simply owning the Amex Hilton Honors, you will always have Silver Hilton Honors status that lets you enjoy the 4th night free on a 5+ night stay, and a 15% elite status bonus.
Without the Amex Hilton, it takes 4 stays or 10 calendar nights per calendar year to earn Silver status.
By spending $20,000 a year in total card purchase, you Hilton Honors will automatically upgrade to Gold status for the upcoming calendar year. Being a Hilton Gold member lets you enjoy a 25% elite status bonus and a few extra amenity perks. You can also upgrade to Gold status with 20 stays, 40 nights, or earn 75,000 Hilton points each calendar year.
A 500-Point Online Booking Bonus
Amex also currently offer a 500 point bonus when you book a Hilton stay online with your Amex Hilton credit card. Even though you will be using your Hilton Amex to pay for all Hilton stays, this perk is a nice touch compared that rewards cardmember loyalty.
Why You Might Cancel Your Amex Hilton Honors
Understandably some existing Citi Hilton owners will cancel their card in 2018 because they simply do not want an American Express credit card.
If owning an Amex, instead of a Visa or Mastercard, is your primary gripe, remember this is 2018 and not 1998 when significantly fewer merchants accepted American Express. Digital wallets and smartphones didn’t exist 20 years ago, and rewards credit cards were a novelty; times have changed indeed!
In my opinion, if you are going to cancel your Hilton Amex it’s only for two reasons:
- You don’t like Amex
- You no longer stay at Hilton properties on a regular basis
Alternatives to the Amex Hilton Honors
If you don’t care for the no-fee Amex Hilton Honors you have three different alternatives based on why you want to cancel your card:
- Upgrade to a better Hilton credit card
- Use a credit card that earns Membership Rewards (Hilton 1:1 transfer partner)
- Apply for a non-Amex flexible travel rewards card
Let’s cover what credit cards you can apply for instead with the three options listed above:
Upgrade to a Better Hilton Honors Credit Card
Amex is relaunching the entire Hilton credit card lineup on January 18, 2018. The Amex Hilton Honors card is the only co-brand card without an annual fee. The other three credit cards have an annual fee with better perks:
- Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card ($95 annual fee–One free reward night after spending $15,000, 10 free Priority Pass Select passes, and up to 12x Hilton Honors points
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card ($450 annual fee–One free weekend night each year, up to 14x points on Hilton stays and 7x on airfare, and $250 air travel credit)
The all-new Amex Ascend is like the old Citi Hilton Reserve. If you want a premium travel credit card that offers posh air travel perks yet gives you the opportunity to earn Hilton Honors on every purchase, choose the Aspire instead. With either option, you can also qualify for the Amex welcome offer again.
Use an Amex Membership Rewards Credit Card
The Platinum Card from American Express and the Amex Premier Rewards Gold give you the opportunity to earn bonus points on every travel purchase. You can then transfer your points on a 1:1 basis to many airline and hotel travel partners including Hilton.
Since hotel points aren’t always the most valuable travel rewards currency, this additional flexibility can boost your award travel potential. You can still redeem your Amex points for Hilton stays whenever you want and also for flights when you don’t want to pay cash for a plane ticket.
Use a Non-Amex Travel Rewards Card
If you don’t want to own an Amex credit card (even for Hilton Honors points), you can also apply for a non-Amex travel credit card. A top-notch recommendation is the Chase Sapphire Preferred when you want to earn flexible travel rewards that can be transferred to your favorite airline and hotel loyalty programs, including United, Southwest Airlines, Marriott, and IHG (Hilton isn’t a Chase partner).
While you will no longer earn Hilton Honors points with every purchase, you can still use your rewards points to earn free nights and flights for any hotel and airline you want to use.
If you’re pleased with your current Citi Hilton credit card, it’s worth keeping the Amex Hilton Honors credit card. That’s my plan on my Citi Reserve which is a credit card I’ve kept in my wallet for several years even though it has an annual fee.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.