Hilton American Express Cards Bonus Spending Category Changes Go Into Effect

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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.

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