With last year’s launch of the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card, American Express – which offers the Hilton Amex and the Hilton Surpass card – was forced to rethink its Hilton co-branded credit card strategy.
First Amex revamped the bonus spending categories so that the card now earns the following:
- 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
While the sign-up bonus on the Surpass card is usually just 60,000 points (40,000 with first purchase and 20,000 when you spend $3,000 in 3 months), Amex is offering a limited-time higher sign-up bonus of 75,000 points when you spend $3,000 in 3 months – you can apply now through February 28, 2014. So, if you’ve been thinking about this card, now is the time to get it while the bonus is this high and the benefits have improved dramatically, just keep in mind the $75 annual fee is not waived.
However, if you do not already have a Hilton card and are trying to decide between this one and the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve, I’d still go with the Citi one for a few reasons, despite its slightly higher annual fee of $95. Yes, the bonus spending categories aren’t quite as high, with just 10X points per $1 at Hilton and 5X points per $1 on airline and car rentals instead of the Surpass’s 6X on restaurants, gas stations and supermarkets, the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card comes with a potentially very valuable sign-up bonus of 2 free weekend night certificates when you spend $2,500 in 4 months. That alone can be worth thousands of dollars – as I found out by redeeming mine for part of my recent stay at the Conrad Maldives (review to come) where a night in a King Deluxe Beach Villa would have cost me $1,400 a night or 95,000 HHonors points- so the Surpass sign-up wouldn’t have even gotten me one free night!
Not only that, but when you spend $10,000 in a membership year on the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve, you get an additional free weekend night certificate bringing your total potential in the first year to three free nights. By contrast with the Surpass’s current bonus, you’d only get 1 night in a Category 10 hotel at 70,000 points…in low season…if you’re lucky. While AXON reduced-level awards used to be a selling point on the Hilton Amex products, those were also devalued in June, as well as the fact that Hilton offers elites (which you automatically have with any of the Hilton credit cards) a fifth night free on award stays that’s often a better value.
For bigger spenders, both the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve and Amex Surpass cards offer Diamond status when you spend $40,000 in a calendar year.
That said, if you already have the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card and are looking for another Hilton points payday to top up your account, this could be a decent bonus offer for you to get in on.
For more information on Hilton HHonors and its co-branded credit cards, check out these posts:
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