Should you apply for the new Hilton 100K offers?

Last week Amex unveiled their new lineup of Hilton credit cards with the following welcome offers:

  • Hilton Aspire: 100K after $4K spend in 3 months
  • Hilton Ascend: 100K after $3K spend (75K after $2K in 3 months + 25K after additional $1K in first 6 months)
  • Hilton business card: 100K after $4K spend (75K after $3K in 3 months + 25K after additional $1K in first 6 months)
  • No-fee Hilton card: 50K after $1K spend in 3 months

Good offers, but not amazing

Three 100K offers sounds impressive, but keep in mind that the median redemption value of Hilton points is only .45 cents per point at the time of this writing [see: Reasonable Redemption Values (RRVs)].  If you get similar value, then 100K points will get you $450 in hotel stays.  That’s good for a welcome offer, but not great.

Due to the low value of Hilton points compared to many other reward currencies, plus the fact that annual fees are not waived the first year, none of these Hilton cards currently appear in the top 25 of our automated Top 10+ list which is sorted by estimated first year value.

The fact that many other offers have better estimated first year value does not mean that it’s a bad idea to apply for these cards.  Most of us are not limited to just one welcome offer altogether, so it makes sense to look at all offers the provide substantial value.  Plus, your expected travel patterns may make these offers more or less valuable than our estimates.  For example, if you know that you’ll have opportunity to stay at a number of Hilton properties in the coming year, then the elite status alone that you get from these cards may make them more valuable to you.  Elite status benefits are not included in our estimates of first year value.  And, of course, depending upon your situation, the card’s benefits may be worth paying for regardless of the it’s first year value.

Are you eligible for the bonus?

Amex infamously has a once in a lifetime bonus rule.  Each application states: “Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product.”  So, if you’ve had Amex Hilton cards before, you need to be careful…

The 5 Credit Card Rule

Amex limits cardholders to having 5 primary account credit cards.  Charge cards (most of Amex Platinum and Gold cards are charge cards) are not counted towards that limit.  And authorized user cards are not counted.  All of the Hilton cards are credit cards.  So if you currently have 5 or more credit cards, you won’t be approved for a new one.  You’ll have to close cards first to make sure that you have 4 or fewer Amex credit cards.

Wondering which cards are credit cards vs charge cards?  This page has the answer.

Are the offers as good as they’ll get?

A major thing to keep in mind before applying for an Amex card is to guess whether or not the current offer is the best that will be available.  After all, unless you get targeted with an offer that doesn’t have the lifetime exclusion language, you only get one chance at a bonus with these cards.

Here are my guesses as to the likelihood of better offers within the next year or so for each card:

  • Hilton Aspire CardChance of better offer: Low. Between the 100K point bonus after $4K spend and free weekend night upon approval, this card already has an excellent welcome offer.  Plus, it has several super-valuable perks such as automatic Diamond status, $250 in resort credits annually, and $250 in airline incidental fee credits annually.  I don’t think that Amex is going to have to offer more than that to get people to apply for this card.
  • Hilton Honors American Express Ascend CardChance of better offer: Medium. For quite a long time, the high water mark welcome offer for the previous version of this card (the Surpass) was 100K points.  More recently, Amex has had short term better offers: One was 100K +  a free weekend night upon renewal; and another was 125K without a free night.  Given the fact that Amex has experimented with better than 100K offers with the Surpass card, it seems likely to me that they’ll try out better offers with the Ascend card.
  • Hilton Honors American Express Business CardChance of better offer: Medium.  This business card is very similar to the consumer Ascend card.  It’s likely that if the Ascend has a better offer, the business card will too.
  • Hilton Honors Card from American ExpressChance of better offer: High.  With the old version of the no-fee card, the welcome offer occasionally popped up to 75K or 80K.  I’d be willing to bet that we’ll see similar bonuses with this card going forward.

Other factors to consider

One major consideration is how likely you are to get good value this year from the card’s welcome offer and perks.  For example, if you have a trip coming up where you know that Gold status would be valuable (for free breakfast, for example), it would be worth applying for the Ascend or Business card in advance so that you’ll get that benefit in time for your trip.

Similarly, if you know that you’ll be staying at a Hilton resort, it would probably make sense to apply for the Aspire card in order to make use of the card’s $250 in resort credits.

Another question is whether you are trying to get or stay under 5/24 in preparation for future Chase card signups.  If so, the business card won’t add to your 5/24 status, but the other cards will.

Chase's 5/24 Rule: With most Chase credit cards, Chase will not approve your application if you have opened 5 or more cards with any bank in the past 24 months. Some exceptions that are NOT subject to the 5/24 rule include: British Airways, Hyatt, IHG, Marriott Business, and Ritz Carlton.

To determine your 5/24 status, see: 3 Easy Ways to Count Your 5/24 Status.

Finally, if you’ve never had the no-fee card before, but you have plans to downgrade from the Ascend to the no-fee card, you should consider applying up new for the no-fee card instead.  This way you’ll get a bonus, albeit a small 50K bonus, rather than none at all.

Bottom Line

Assuming you are eligible for these offers (see the relevant sections above), here’s my advice for whether or not yofu should apply for each:

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.

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20 Comments on "Should you apply for the new Hilton 100K offers?"

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Lin Harvey
Guest

I cancelled my citibank Hilton card and told them I was cancelling it because I did not want it transferred to American Express. They did cancel it but I just got an American Express Ascend card in the mail. The reason I cancelled of course was because I didn’t want a new credit card without a bonus. Do you have any idea what I should do? I’m afraid it will always show on their records that I had the card now and I will never be able to get a bonus. I haven’t confirmed receipt or anything.

Peter
Guest

In the same boat with 4x the no-fee card. Really annoyed. Reached out and learned that (1) I can’t activate them until next week, and (2) Amex has no ability to cancel them because it is currently still a Citi product. These new cards have not yet gone through the full conversion, and here’s hope that by next week Amex will realize that no soul is being transferred into these plastic bodies.

Tom Riddle
Guest

I have 7 Amex credit cards atm. (Yes I know the diff between a charge and cc) All are mine applied over the last 2.5 years

JL100
Guest

at 19/24 I”m not worried about Chase lol. I was going to get the Aspire but now not sure, really don’t stay at HIltons, but could use the points for experiences, like the grammys!

Jim
Guest

Greg,

“$250 Resort” credit. Can this be applied towards any type of Hilton hotel stays, or does it have to be applied specifically towards a Hilton Resort stay?

Thank you, Jim

Larry
Guest

I cancelled my Hilton Surpass card Jan 15 2018. It was showing as cancelled Hilton Surpass card on the Amex mobile site since then until today. Now on the mobile site it still shows it’s status as cancelled. However the title of this cancelled card has been changed to Hilton Ascend. I smell a rat!

Larry
Guest

Correction on the above. I checked and the date I cancelled the Surpass was 1/11/18.
Also my wife cancelled her Surpass card much earlier, 7/24/17. On the Amex mobile app today it still shows as cancelled but card title has been changed from Surpass to Ascend.

P
Guest

If I had $15k to spend on groceries, which would be better to spend it on?

Hilton Ascend
$15k spend in groceries and paying annual fee of $95
This gets you a free weekend night certificate plus 90,000 Honors points

OBC
$15k spend
$6500 @ 1% cash back
$8500 @ 5% cash back
This gets you $65 plus $425.

If I redeemed the free weekend night on properties that cost 50k-70k points, is it even worth spending $15k to get it? Of course, some of these properties could cost $300-$500 per night after accounting for taxes and resort fees.

David
Guest

Does the 5 credit card limit also includes business cards?

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Marshall
Guest

Greg, which of the cards other than Platinum and Gold, are charge cards? Not able to find that info.

Thanks

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