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Hilton American Express Cards Bonus Spending Category Changes Go Into Effect

by on May 2, 2013 · 33 comments

in American Express, Citi, Credit Cards, Hilton

If you have either the Hilton card or the Hilton HHonors Surpass cards from American Express, you’ll be noticing some changes on your statements from now on. Starting with the first billing cycle that starts after May 1, both the Hilton HHonors card from American Express and the Hilton HHonors Surpass card, will be reconfiguring their bonus spending categories to exclude drugstores and replace that category with restaurants as well as changing the earning ratios on their spending categories.

Here’s how the bonus spending on each card has looked versus how it will look from now on:

Hilton HHonors Card From American Express

Old Categories:

  • 6 points per $1 at Hilton Worldwide properties
  • 6 points per $1 on grocery stores, drugstores, gas stations, home and wireless phone, cable and satellite TV, and Internet service providers (less returns).
  • 3 points per $1 for all other eligible purchases

New Categories:

  • 7 points per $1 at Hilton Worldwide properties
  • 5 points per $1 at U.S. restaurants
  • 5 points per $1 at U.S. gas stations
  • 5 points per $1 at U.S. supermarkets
  • 3 points per $1 for all other eligible purchases

Hilton HHonors Surpass Card

Old Categories:

  • 9 points per $1 on Hilton spend
  • 6 points per $1 on grocery stores, drugstores, gas stations, home and wireless phone, cable and satellite TV, and Internet service providers (less returns).
  • 3 points per $1 on all other spend
New Categories:
  • 12 points per $1 at Hilton Worldwide properties
  • 6 points per $1 at U. S. restaurants, gas stations and supermarkets
  • 3 points for all other eligible purchases

So while  the Surpass gets an extra 3 points per $1 at Hilton and the Hilton Amex gets an extra 1 point per $1 at Hilton now, I would say the big changes here include the replacement of drugstores with restaurants for that bonus spending of 6 points per $1 on the Surpass card, and the drop from 6 points per $1 to just 5 points per $1 on the Hilton Amex.

If you’re in the market for a new Hilton credit card and in light of the recent HHonors devaluation and the fact that Hilton has gutted AXON awards for Hilton Amex cardholders, now might be the time to consider getting the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card instead.

Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Visa Signature

Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Visa Signature

The Reserve card’s bonus spending categories are:

-10 Hilton HHonors points per $1 spent on hotel stays within the 3,800 properties in the Hilton HHonors Portfolio in addition to base points normally earned for stays
-5 Hilton HHonors points per $1 spent on airline and car rental purchases
-3 Hilton HHonors point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Although this card earns 2 points less per $1 at Hilton properties than the Surpass card and its $95 annual fee is higher than the Surpass card’s $75, I’d still say it’s a better value proposition. First, that’s because the sign-up bonus is two free weekend night certificates at almost any Hilton in the world.
Second, the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card comes with automatic Gold status whereas the Surpass card only confers Silver status. With the Surpass card you have to spend $20,000 in a calendar year to get Gold status, and on both cards if you spend $40,000 in a calendar year, you get Diamond status.
However, when you hit the $10,000 mark annually with the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card, you get an additional free weekend night certificate. The card also carries no foreign transaction fees and has a SmartChip for easy use abroad.

Despite the lower category spending bonuses, all those added benefits bump the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card higher in my value estimation and that’s the reason I personally carry it.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author.s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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  • YesMissWin

    Did they announce this anywhere? I never got a notice in my bills or anywhere on any statements?

  • http://www.facebook.com/iansalmonmusic Ian Salmon

    I’m intrigued.. would this turn the Surpass into your dining out card of choice? I have been using gift cards (bought w/ Ink) when possible, and Chase SP otherwise. Do you value the 6 pts/$ greater than the Chase UR points?

  • Singapore Flyer

    We got a notice in the mail about 2+ weeks ago. Changes were discussed quite a bit on many of travel sites/blogs.

  • Bill

    So sad. :( I get most of my gift cards at CVS. Are there any other credit cards where I can earn points/miles at drugstores?

  • Juno

    I’ve had my AmEx Hilton Surpass for over 5 months now and I’ve always received 12/6/3 points in those classes. Drugstore for 6 points is the only change I see.

  • Sergey

    Does this change starts on May 1? My HH AMEX statement for this month closes on May 15. Will I get 6x points at drugstores until May 15 or it is over already?

  • Mark

    Sergy: “Starting with the first billing cycle that starts after May 1″

  • Wolfgang

    My billing period just ended April 28. Does that mean I’ll get 6x from drugstores on the Surpass card until May 28?

  • thepointsguy

    Yes, according to Amex.

  • thepointsguy

    No, I’d value Ultimate Rewards points higher – at about 2 cents each instead of the 0.5 or less I value Hilton points at.

  • thepointsguy

    Amex claims that they sent notices to cardholders in February.

  • Andrew Hoover

    So my billing period is up next week for the Surpass card. In light of the devaluation is it worth it to go and buy lots of Vanilla Reloads to maximize the 6x bonus one last time or to put those Vanilla Reload purchases on another card like the Amex PRG or United Mileageplus?

  • Dusan

    Hilton Maldives Iru Fushi Resort & Spa is no longer within Hilton Hotels. I am still a bit in disbelief and waiting for an official confirmation. It would be interesting to find out why. Certainly makes loyal Hilton guests even more confused given a spiral of devaluations and other negative changes.

  • Rob

    This may be a silly question, but does any spending within a Hilton property count towards the bonus? What if I rack up a large tab at the hotel bar or restaurant and pay with my Amex Hilton?

  • thepointsguy

    Yes as long as the charge is coded as a Hilton Hotel charge on your credit card statement.

  • Andrew Hoover

    I realize this is more based on specific goals, however i’m just looking for ideas as to what others would do?

  • Rob

    Thank you! I’m trying to top off my HHonors points acct to cash them in on a cat 9 or 10. Need about 100k more. I was thinking of getting the BofA Virgina Atlantic card and converting those points over and just sucking up the annual fee. Any better ideas? I currently have the Amex Hilton and opened/closed the Citi Hilton in the past, so I can’t get those bonuses anymore.

  • Lively

    I received a notice in the mail and my husband received a separate notice…even though he was only an authorized user.

  • Scwam

    You have to bill it to you room otherwise it may not show as Hilton

  • disqust101

    The notice sent two weeks ago was about the AXON rewards devaluation, which is the third devaluation Hilton/Amex pushed down our throats this year. First was HH devaluation in Feb and adding 3 new categories (8,9,10). Second was Amex getting rid of 6x this month. Third was Amex significantly increasing AXON reward requirements (doubled top tier reward requirements).

    Add them all up and they gutted the HH program. Now costs me 4x more to get same reward as it did last year. Obscene. Now everyone is looking at Carlson, me included. I’ll make one last run at 6x and call it quits on Hilton.

  • disqust101

    The notice sent two weeks ago was about the AXON rewards devaluation, which is the third devaluation Hilton/Amex pushed down our throats this year. First was HH devaluation in Feb and adding 3 new categories (8,9,10). Second was Amex getting rid of 6x this month. Third was Amex significantly increasing AXON reward requirements (doubled top tier reward requirements).

    Add them all up and they gutted the HH program. Now costs me 4x more to get same reward as it did last year. Obscene. Now everyone is looking at Carlson, me included. I’ll make one last run at 6x and call it quits on Hilton.

  • disqust101

    The notice sent two weeks ago was about the AXON rewards devaluation, which is the third devaluation Hilton/Amex pushed down our throats this year. First was HH devaluation in Feb and adding 3 new categories (8,9,10). Second was Amex getting rid of 6x this month. Third was Amex significantly increasing AXON reward requirements (doubled top tier reward requirements).

    Add them all up and they gutted the HH program. Now costs me 4x more to get same reward as it did last year. Obscene. Now everyone is looking at Carlson, me included. I’ll make one last run at 6x and call it quits on Hilton.

  • disqust101

    The notice sent two weeks ago was about the AXON rewards devaluation, which is the third devaluation Hilton/Amex pushed down our throats this year. First was HH devaluation in Feb and adding 3 new categories (8,9,10). Second was Amex getting rid of 6x this month. Third was Amex significantly increasing AXON reward requirements (doubled top tier reward requirements).

    Add them all up and they gutted the HH program. Now costs me 4x more to get same reward as it did last year. Obscene. Now everyone is looking at Carlson, me included. I’ll make one last run at 6x and call it quits on Hilton.

  • disqust101

    The notice sent two weeks ago was about the AXON rewards devaluation, which is the third devaluation Hilton/Amex pushed down our throats this year. First was HH devaluation in Feb and adding 3 new categories (8,9,10). Second was Amex getting rid of 6x this month. Third was Amex significantly increasing AXON reward requirements (doubled top tier reward requirements).

    Add them all up and they gutted the HH program. Now costs me 4x more to get same reward as it did last year. Obscene. Now everyone is looking at Carlson, me included. I’ll make one last run at 6x and call it quits on Hilton.

  • disqust101

    The notice sent two weeks ago was about the AXON rewards devaluation, which is the third devaluation Hilton/Amex pushed down our throats this year. First was HH devaluation in Feb and adding 3 new categories (8,9,10). Second was Amex getting rid of 6x this month. Third was Amex significantly increasing AXON reward requirements (doubled top tier reward requirements).

    Add them all up and they gutted the HH program. Now costs me 4x more to get same reward as it did last year. Obscene. Now everyone is looking at Carlson, me included. I’ll make one last run at 6x and call it quits on Hilton.

  • Michael Heffner

    I’ve been on the look out for this same notice and did not receive one yet, and my mail doesn’t go randomly missing, never has. I was curious if they were going to make an official communication to share this info. I’m torn about keeping my No Fee version, I like it has 2 years history, but if the CL and having the card are keeping me from another AMEX card in the future it may be the one to go. Though my SPG is coming due soon…

  • mw

    If I qualified for diamond with the surpass card (via spend) but cancel it, do I lose my diamond benefits with the card cancellation? Anyone know?

  • mw

    If I qualified for diamond with the surpass card (via spend) but cancel it, do I lose my diamond benefits with the card cancellation? Anyone know?

  • Efrem

    I like to get gift cards at Safeway. You get 6/now 5 points per $ with Amex Hilton and usually extra credit toward Safeway gas. Last time I purchased gas I had $.70 off a gallon primarily because of gift card purchases.

  • Efrem

    I like to get gift cards at Safeway. You get 6/now 5 points per $ with Amex Hilton and usually extra credit toward Safeway gas. Last time I purchased gas I had $.70 off a gallon primarily because of gift card purchases.

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  • DWC

    I had been using AMEX for my gas, groceries, wireless and cable. Wireless and Cable alone were earning me about 20,000 points per year. I learned yesterday when I got my statement that AMEX took the cable/wireless bonus away, which prompted me to start shopping around for a new card. Now I’m looking at the CITI Reserve card for all my purchases to earn 3 free weekend nights plus points! Had AMEX not changed the program, I wouldn’t have known about it. Thanks AMEX!!!!

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