Should you cancel your Hilton card before January 18th?

cancel hilton cardHilton has ditched their credit card relationship with Citibank and has signed on exclusively with American Express.  And Amex is preparing to roll out a new lineup of Hilton cards.  On January 18th 2018, existing Amex Hilton cardholder accounts will be converted to similar cards within the new lineup.  And, by January 30th, Citi Hilton cardholders will be transitioned to similar new Amex Hilton cards.  Here are the details of the conversions:

Current Card
New Card
Hilton Honors Card from American Express (no annual fee)

Hilton Honors American Express Card (no annual fee). The new version will have no foreign transaction fees.

Conversion expected Jan 18 2018

Citi Hilton Honors (no annual fee)

Hilton Honors American Express Card (no annual fee). The new version will have no foreign transaction fees.

Conversion expected Jan 30 2018

Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express ($75 annual fee)

Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card ($95 annual fee). The new version will have no foreign transaction fees and new benefits.

Conversion expected Jan 18 2018

Citi Hilton Honors Reserve Card ($95 annual fee)

Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card ($95 annual fee). If you were putting spend on the card to earn a weekend night award after $10K membership year spend, and your membership year ends after the transition, your spend to-date will transition to Amex and they will honor the free night after $10K spend.

Conversion expected Jan 30 2018

For complete details of the new cards, please see: Hilton Amex Cards. Everything you need to know.

Should you cancel before January 18th? Or before January 30th?

If you currently have any Hilton cards, time is running out to cancel the cards before the conversions.  Whether or not it is a good idea to cancel the cards before the conversion depends on many factors.  The primary advantage of canceling is to maybe make it possible to get a signup bonus for the equivalent new card in the future.  There are many reasons, though, to consider keeping your cards instead.  I covered these topics in-depth in the following posts:

Here are my summarized recommendations (please read the original posts for full details):

  • If you currently have a no-fee Amex Hilton card, keep it.  Chances are that the lifetime exclusion will apply despite the slight product change.
  • If you have the Amex Hilton Surpass card, consider downgrading it to the no-fee card in the off chance that this will make you eligible for a bonus with the new Ascend card (as long as you’ve already earned the full signup bonus for the Surpass card, including the end of membership year free night)
  • If you have never had the no-fee Hilton card before, there’s no reason to hurry to get it.  I recommend waiting to see what Amex offers when they introduce the new cards.
  • If you sign up for an Amex card before the new cards roll out, do not cancel the card before January 18th.  Instead, wait until you’ve had the card a year to decide whether it is worth keeping or cancelling.
  • If you’ve made significant progress towards spend for the Citi Hilton Reserve annual free night and haven’t received the certificate yet, then keep the card.
  • If your Citi Hilton Reserve card anniversary is late in the year, then consider keeping the card so that you can double-up: After the conversion, spend $10K before your original card anniversary date in order to get one free weekend night, and spend another $5K before the end of the calendar year to get a second free weekend night.
  • If you’ve never had the Amex no-fee Hilton card before, then cancel your no-fee Citi Hilton card so that you’ll (hopefully) be eligible for the new Amex no-fee Hilton signup bonus (we don’t yet know what the bonus will be).
  • If you’ve never had the Amex Hilton Surpass card before, then cancel your Citi Hilton Reserve card so that you’ll (hopefully) be eligible for the new Ascend Card singup bonus (we don’t yet know what the bonus will be).
  • If you’re worried about your 5/24 status, then cancelling your Citi cards may make sense. There’s a good chance that the converted cards will appear as new accounts on your credit report.

Is it too late already?

In November, Amex mailed notices about the upcoming transition to Citi Hilton cardholders along with the new cardmember agreements.  Those notices included the last 5 digits of our new Amex account numbers.  That’s concerning because it appears that in the Amex computers we may already have the new cards.  And since Amex signup offers usually state “Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product” it’s possible that those who cancel their Citi Hilton cards still won’t get the bonus for the new cards.  To be clear, if this happened, you would have a solid argument for calling Amex to insist on the signup bonus.  But no one wants that headache.

Those with current Amex Hilton cards are even more likely to be out of luck since Amex has been describing the product change as a change in benefits rather than as new products.

My take: Closing your current Hilton cards before January 18th gives you a chance to get a new signup bonus with the new cards, but it doesn’t at all guarantee it.

More Info from Frequent Miler regarding the Hilton card transition:

More info from official sources:

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »

Pingbacks

Comments

  1. Just to clarify, If we currently have an amex Hilton Card that will be transitioned to one of the new ones, this will not count against us for chase’s 5/24 right?

      • Greg,

        This answer contradicts what you say in the article: “If you’re worried about your 5/24 status, then cancelling your Citi cards may make sense. There’s a good chance that the converted cards will appear as new accounts on your credit report.”

        Do you have any knowledge one way or the other? I just cancelled three Hilton Citi cards (hoping for new signup bonuses) but got an unexpected surprise when my score dropped because my average length of card membership declined below 5 years. Something to consider if you need to hold onto cards for longevity’s sake. Since I have never had this happen to me, I’ve been going down the rabbit hole all day trying to figure out how serious this infraction is and how long it will take to work off the score drop. Any data points on this?

        And one more related question: if I cancel some cards I’ve only had for a year or two, will that help this problem go away by bringing up my average, or will those short-timers remain on my report, dragging down my score? If so, how long before they drop off? I’m in uncharted waters here.

        Thanks!

        • In the article, I was writing about the change from Citi to Amex. The Amex to Amex transition should not appear as a new account, but the Citi to Amex transition likely will.

          I’m not sure how long it takes for cancelled credit cards to affect (positively or negatively) your average age of credit. My guess is that in your case your score went down because of suddenly having less credit available. Credit utilization ratio is a big component of your score and when you cancel a bunch of cards, you lose available credit and that can hurt your score. That’s one reason to either move credit to other cards before cancelling or product change cards to different cards. When you sign up for new cards and (hopefully) get large credit lines from them, I’d bet your score will go back up.

  2. Amex has also been known to offer compelling upgrade offers, so holding a no-fee Hilton Amex may position you to get the upgrade to an Ascend or an Aspire.

  3. Quick question that I don’t think I saw in the article. If I cancel my Citi hilton card will I lose my certs I haven’t used yet that expire in August?

  4. I tried cancelling my Citi Hhnors card around a month ago but Citi customer service representative (over chat) said that they are not allowed to make changes due to “business transformation” and I should contact Amex once the business transformation is complete. Anybody successful in cancelling their Citi Hilton cards recently ?

    • I cancelled three cards yesterday, no issues like that from Citi. You got a bad rep. The one thing that galled me was my wife and I had over $70K in approved credit vanish because Citi (unlike Chase) will not move credit from one card to another.

      Anybody know of an appeal process for this? I called three reps and got the same line.

  5. I already canceled my Citi Hilton reserve since I was nowhere near the annual spending bonus. I called yesterday to cancel my Amex Hilton Surpass (hoping to be eligible for the new Ascend card). On the phone I was told that it isn’t a new card and that I wouldn’t be eligible for the sign up bonus. I don’t know if this is official, but I figured it would be worth sharing.

  6. I called Amex end of Dec concerning cancelling my Surpass card and if I would get bonus if I apply for the new card. “She” checked my account and revert that I will get the bonus if apply for the new card after cancelling the Surpass card. I also asked about bonus for keeping the Surpass and wait for the “transition bonus” and “she” replied there was none at the moment. However, I had already cancelled my Citi Hilton cards months ago so I didn’t ask about Citi Hilton cards.

    Any idea if we can apply for both/all the new cards and get bonuses for all of them?

    • Can you apply for all of the new cards and get bonuses for all of them:
      I don’t think you’ll get the bonus for the Ascend since you had the Surpass but I could be wrong. For any the others yes it should be possible.

  7. One question. I signed up for the Surpass card last year when part of the sign-up bonus was a free night at the first anniversary. With these changes I probably should hold onto the card to get the free night (in April). But now it will cost me $95, instead of $75 – different than the original sign up bonus offer (as Ascend annual fee is $95, not the Surpass AF of $75). Do I have a case with Hilton to get the free night at $75 or can I get the free night, use it and then cancel within 30 days of the 1st anniversary?

    • It will be interesting to see if Amex really increases your annual fee in the first year that you have the Ascend card. I know that they said they would do so, but when the SPG cards increased in price, existing cardholders were charged the previous annual fee after the change.

      If they do charge you $95, then yes I think you can wait until the free night posts and then cancel the card within 30 days of the annual fee posting.

  8. On my last Surpass statement at the end of December, my card was already listed as an Ascend. Which makes me think the conversion is already in the works internally. In which case I assume all the machinations of when and whether to cancel would likely be for naught. Plus there is the issue of the free night upon renewal for the Surpass card and the slightly lower annual fee grandfathered in. Too many variables and too much for my brain. I’m not cancelling.

  9. we cancelled our citi cards a couple of months ago and cancelled our surpass with amex a couple of weeks ago…they offered 10k points with a small spend or a statement credit of $75 or $95 (sorry I forgot which) with no spend, just for us to keep the card through the transition. I cancelled surpass with because there is a good chance this will have a new signup bonus to generate interest, and with AMEX’s rule of 1 bonus per product per lifetime, there is no chance of getting a new bonus if I keep it….if worst comes to worst (and there is no signup bonus) I can always sign up and get the new benefits that are afforded to all who kept it.
    Hilton plays games with blacking out standard rooms or creating a standard room category with very limited inventory (the 2 garden facing rooms that they never rent to anyone, suddenly become the “standard room”) with no room catagories, they have free reign to jack up award prices…I just paid 678,000 HH points for 2 rooms for 3 nights, because only premium room awards were available for 6 weeks starting Feb 1st in Jamaica..and I started checking the end of Oct for availability….so with less than 200 points left in our combined HH accounts, I don’t mind taking a break and waiting to see what Amex does with them.

  10. oh and I had been sent a letter by CITI , just after the first announcements of the change, that clearly stated that any Hilton Reserve card closed on or before Jan, 26th would not be transitioned.

  11. I have the Citi and Amex cards slated to transfer to the same new Amex card (ascend). Will I actually end up with 2 of the same card? If so I can get 2 free weekend nights…

    • We don’t know yet for certain what will happen, but I expect that you’ll end up with two Ascend cards and that you would be able to get 2 free weekend nights, but you would still have to spend $15,000 on each card.

  12. I apologize if this question has already been asked. My wife and I both have the Amex Surpass Card and we both have the Citi HH Reserve and the Citi HH Honors no fee card. We both have met the $10,000 spend on the Reserve Card and our Card member year ends next summer so we want to keep these cards until then to get the annual certificate. The question is, I’m already at max Amex cards and my wife only has one more spot. Will Amex ignore their policy of five or four cards max to convert the Citi cards? We could easily cancel the regular Citi honors card, but can’t/won’t cancel the Reserve cards. Any ideas?

    • A couple of things. The Hilton rep on FlyerTalk has said that those who have qualified for the annual free night on the reserve card will get their free night by the end of February, regardless of their anniversary date, so you may not have to hold onto it as long as you expect.
      Second, some people were not transitioned to AMEX, they will be getting Citi Thank You cards, so if you received the letter saying you were going to AMEX, pretty sure they will give you more than the usual number of credit cards. After transition, I will have 6 Amex credit cards and my wife will have 8 and all 5 of our citi cards have received transition letters to AMEX

  13. We have no restriction 75K / $3K upgrade offer to Surpass from the Blue, expires on 1/18/18. Offer specifies the fee is $75 if apply no later than 1/18/18.

    We already took a 100K upgrade offer in 2016 and at anniversary downgraded it back to Blue.

    Not sure we would take the offer because I suspect AMEX would bring out better offers once new cards are introduced.

    Thoughts?

    • Hard to say. For me, the question to ask is how much better than 75K for $3K would I be hoping to see? The best signup offer we’ve ever seen on the Surpass is 125K. The question becomes how much better than 75K you think the upgrade offer might get. If they offer 80K, it’s roughly the same since you’ll be paying $20 more for the first year. If they offer more, you’re coming out ahead by waiting. When I took an upgrade offer to the Surpass, I only got an offer for 50K — so it’s not as though the 75K is the standard always-there offer to my knowledge (though I haven’t had the no-fee Amex Hilton in a while).

      Personally, I’d take the $75K and $75 fee. I wouldn’t expect an offer significantly better and would trade a gamble at getting another 25K points for a guaranteed easy $75K now. But I’d love to be wrong and see a huge upgrade offer. I’m interested in seeing what they offer in terms of an upgrade from Ascend to Aspire vs the new signup bonus as well.

  14. My head is hurting.

    I have the Citi Hilton Reserve. My anniversary date is 4 January. Is that early in the year (2018), or very late in the post 18 or 26 or 30 January switchover? In other words, is it possible that now that 4 January has passed, and I still do not have my new Amex card, that I am among those who can re-qualify for a free night after $10,000 spend (before 4 January 2019); as well as another free night were I actually to do that spend and an additional $5,000 by 31 December 2018?

    • Yes, that’s my understanding.

      The conversion from Citi to Amex is expected on January 30th. You want to do $15K in spending after January 30th and I expect you’ll get 2 free weekend night certs in 2019.

  15. Greg, I am trying to understand the spend needed in 2018 to get the two bonus nights on the new Ascend card. My anniv. date for my Reserve card is Nov. I made enough spend on that card in Oct., Nov., Dec. to get the free night and Diamond. If I spend another 15K before Jan. 18 on the Reserve card, will I meet the criteria for getting two more nights in 2018? Or, must I wait and spend this on the Ascend card?

  16. You can close the Citi Hilton card through automated prompts using the number on the back of the card. No CSR required. Just say “close account” when prompted. Just did it.

  17. I currently have the AmEx Surpass and the Citi HH Reserve. According to the chart both of those are being converted to the Ascend. However, my Citi HH Reserve has a significantly higher Credit Line that my Surpass. Does anyone know how that will be handled in this transition?

  18. When I called Citi about my Hhonors card, the CSR told me it was bring replaced with a Citi Thank You card with no bonus. Said I wasn’t interested, was told I could replace my Citi Hhonors card with any Citi card. But still no bonus, and for Prestige card would have to pay the AF. FWIW, that’s what the dude told me.

    • Most customers are being transitioned to the equivalent Amex cards, but there are some people who are not being converted to Amex (I’m not sure what the criteria is on that). Those who aren’t being converted to Amex are being converted to a Citi ThankYou card as you were told. Product conversions don’t come with a signup bonus, so if you convert to something the rep is correct that there would not be a bonus.

      Those who are being converted to Amex (most customers) can no longer convert their Citi Hilton cards to other Citi cards. That ended at the beginning of October.

  19. Greg or Nick,

    You never responded to this gentleman’s comment, but I’d also be curious to hear your thoughts on his situation. Thanks in advance.

    Greg,

    This answer contradicts what you say in the article: “If you’re worried about your 5/24 status, then cancelling your Citi cards may make sense. There’s a good chance that the converted cards will appear as new accounts on your credit report.”

    Do you have any knowledge one way or the other? I just cancelled three Hilton Citi cards (hoping for new signup bonuses) but got an unexpected surprise when my score dropped because my average length of card membership declined below 5 years. Something to consider if you need to hold onto cards for longevity’s sake. Since I have never had this happen to me, I’ve been going down the rabbit hole all day trying to figure out how serious this infraction is and how long it will take to work off the score drop. Any data points on this?

    And one more related question: if I cancel some cards I’ve only had for a year or two, will that help this problem go away by bringing up my average, or will those short-timers remain on my report, dragging down my score? If so, how long before they drop off? I’m in uncharted waters here.

    • Thanks for the reminder. I answered as follows:

      In the article, I was writing about the change from Citi to Amex. The Amex to Amex transition should not appear as a new account, but the Citi to Amex transition likely will.

      I’m not sure how long it takes for cancelled credit cards to affect (positively or negatively) your average age of credit. My guess is that in your case your score went down because of suddenly having less credit available. Credit utilization ratio is a big component of your score and when you cancel a bunch of cards, you lose available credit and that can hurt your score. That’s one reason to either move credit to other cards before cancelling or product change cards to different cards. When you sign up for new cards and (hopefully) get large credit lines from them, I’d bet your score will go back up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *