There Are Changes Coming to the Hilton American Express Cards — But They Aren’t What We Thought

Yesterday I reported on the speculation that American Express was no longer offering bonuses on drugstore and telecommunications spend for their Hilton co-branded credit card products.

First I confirmed that no changes had been made to those cards at this time. The cards are indeed still earning.6 points per dollar spent in those categories.

But given the specificity of changes that Frequent Miler reported being told by American Express, I went back with a “wait — so there are no changes, but will there be changes?”

And I was promised the scoop today. And now I have the update.

Six points per dollar on drugstores and telecommunications is going away. But it is being replaced. And it isn’t going away until at least May 1. Strictly speaking the changes will go into effect for each cardmember with the first billing period that begins on or after May 1 (so folks whose statements close on, say, the 28th of the month will have until May 29 to earn the bonus).

So effective May 1 (and for all cardmembers, the statement beginning on or after May 1), here’s what the new earn rates for the cards will look like.

Hilton HHonors Card

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

Hilton HHonors Surpass Card

  • 12 points per dollar at Hilton Worldwide properties
  • 6 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants
  • 6 points per dollar at U.S. gas stations
  • 6 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets
  • 3 points per dollar for all other eligible purchases

They’re making these changes because they think the bulk of their customers will prefer them.

They aren’t making the changes as a reaction to taking a charge on their financials for increased redemption costs of Membership Rewards, remember they’ve bumped up the number of points earned at Hilton HHonors prroperties. They used to offer 9 points per dollar with the Surpass card, Citi introduced the Hilton Reserve card with 10 points per dollar and they didn’t just match they beat the Citi offering by 20% in that category of spend.

And they aren’t making it as a result of too many drugstore purchases (such as prepaid cards or gift cards), they could have just capped the drugstore bonus. Remember they still bonus supermarket spend.

So really not a conspiracy, though some will prefer the new bundle of points earning and others will find it less rewarding for their particular spending habits. But these are the actual changes coming down the pike, with a few months’ notice.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. How does existing cardholder get Surpass bonus?
    I have the no annual fee HHonors Amex card now.
    Terms on Surpass signup bonus say not available to existing HHonors cardholders. So I need to cancel the no annual fee card to get Surpass bonus? How long after cancelling should I apply? Thoughts? Thanks

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