Revamped AmEx Hilton Offerings

The news has been making its way around the blogosphere this morning that American Express is going to be reworking their Hilton-branded credit cards. While a lot of these changes were not surprising, they are all most definitely welcome.

No Annual Fee

The no-fee card is finally free of foreign transaction fees! No other changes, but this has been long overdue.

Earning Structure
  • 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio worldwide
  • 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. restaurants, and U.S. gas stations
  • 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points on all other eligible purchases

Surpass → Ascend

While there was a $20 increase in annual fee ($75 to $95), you get a free Weekend Night after spending $15,000 on the card in a calendar year. As with the no-fee card, this card had its foreign transaction fees removed. You also get 10 free Priority Pass visits. The Priority Pass perk isn’t too special since so many cards offer it, these days, but it isn’t bad to have. The earning rates don’t seem to have changed, so nothing new there, either.

Earning Structure
  • 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio worldwide
  • 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. restaurants, and U.S. gas stations
  • 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points on all other eligible purchases

Business

In hindsight, I have no idea why this wasn’t offered before given the presence of both Delta and Starwood co-branded cards having both personal and business variants. As milestomemories points out, it might have been because Citi also had a contract with Hilton. This card is virtually identical to the Ascend card with the option of a second Weekend Night after spending $60,000 in a calendar year. There are some changes to the earning structure from the Ascend card, however, which should appeal to small businesses.

Earning Structure
  • 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio worldwide
  • 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points on U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service producers and U.S. purchases for shipping
  • 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points on U.S. restaurants, flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, and car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies
  • 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points on all other eligible purchases

Aspire

This is the really interesting one… for an annual fee of $450, you get quite a few perks.

First off, you receive Diamond status as long as you hold the card. This is probably going to be the most appealing and most controversial perk offered by the card. While it definitely offsets the annual fee for frequent guests that can’t attain the status organically (or even occasional guests, for that matter), I can see it leading to frustrating more frequent travelers who attain the status by spending nights at hotels. I don’t know if Hilton will add a new top tier, similarly to what IHG did with Spire vs. Platinum, to offset this. We’ll have to wait and see on that…

Similar to the Business card, you receive a Weekend Night when you spend $60,000 a calendar year, but the first Weekend Night is complimentary instead of having a $15,000 price-tag associated with it.

As with other premium offerings, you receive quite a few credits:

  • $250 airline incidental fee statement credit (the way the Platinum card credit works)
  • $250 Hilton resort statement credit
  • $100 on property credit at Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts and Conrad Hotels & Resorts when booking the exclusive Aspire Card package

You also receive a Priority Pass membership on top of it all, and naturally there are no foreign transaction fees.

 

Earning Structure
  • 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

Final Thoughts

I am really impressed with the Aspire offering, and while the airline incidental fee isn’t the easiest to use (if it is implemented the same as with the Platinum card), it does help make that $450 annual fee easier to swallow. As I already hold the Citi Prestige and AmEx Platinum, I am not sure I will pursue the Aspire, but it is very tempting… What about you?

A tip of the hat to Doctor of Credit, milestomemories, and pointswithacrew.

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