UPDATE: Gary reports that changes are coming, but not until May. Plus he has details about other changes: some good, some bad. Read the details here.
I was notified recently by a few readers, this TravelBloggerBuzz post, and this FlyerTalk thread, that American Express no longer shows drug stores or telecom charges as bonus categories on their online application. Up until now, both the American Express Hilton HHonors card and the Hilton HHonors Surpass offered 6 points per dollar at grocery stores, drug stores, gas stations, and telecom (phone, internet, cable). Recently, though, the online applications leave out most of those categories. For example, the Hilton HHonors application landing page currently shows no hint of bonus categories at all other than Hilton properties:
Earn 6 Hilton HHonorsTM Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at any participating hotel within the Hilton HHonors portfolio of brands. You will receive 3 HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar of other eligible purchases
Meanwhile, the application landing page for the Hilton HHonors Surpass card shows 6X for groceries and gas stations, but does not mention drug stores or telecom:
Earn 12 Hilton HHonorsTM Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at any participating hotel within the Hilton HHonors portfolio of brands. Earn 6 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. stand-alone supermarkets and on gasoline at U.S. stand-alone gas stations. You will receive 3 HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar of other eligible purchases.
I called the customer service line to ask what was up. The rep told me that for the Hilton HHonors card, as of Feb 1, American Express will no longer offer 6X for drug stores or telecom, but would continue to offer 6X for groceries and gas stations. She said that, as a cardholder, I should receive notice of these changes from American Express soon. Yes, if she’s correct, that means that existing cardholders will lose this benefit.
I asked her if the same was true with the Surpass card. She admitted that changes were coming to that card too, but for some reason she didn’t seem willing to spell them out. Either that, or the changes are not yet final. I suspect we will see the same changes to both cards.
Oh no, not drug stores!
As most of you know, many in the points & miles community have been visiting drug stores frequently to buy reload cards. Many have been paying with Hilton Amex cards in order to earn 6X points per dollar for these purchases. Sadly, it looks like that particular opportunity will be gone by the end of this month.
You may now wonder what other cards offer bonus points at drug stores. According to my “Best Category Bonuses” page, the only other options are the US Bank Cash+ card which can earn more than 2% at drug stores, and the Chase Amazon Rewards card which earns 2 points per dollar at drug stores. I don’t know much about the Amazon card. Are 2 points worth two cents? If so, the Cash+ card has that one beat. Unfortunately, the Cash+ card is also being devalued soon. You can read complete details about the Cash+ devaluation tomorrow.