UPDATE 8/29/18: Amex has (finally) specifically added these terms to the Ascend welcome bonus: “Welcome offer not available to applicants who have or have had this Card or the Hilton Honors Surpass Card.” In other words, now it is official that you cannot get the Ascend bonus if you’ve had the Surpass in the past.
When Amex announced that their Hilton Surpass card would be renamed to “Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express”, I speculated that it might be possible to get a new welcome bonus on the Ascend as long as you closed your Surpass card before the transition. Amex representatives, though, unanimously rejected the idea. The company line was that the Ascend was not a new product. Therefore, current and past Surpass cardholders would not be eligible for a welcome bonus.
Early evidence supported the company line. As I reported in the post “Hilton Conversion Questions Answered: New Ascend bonus? 5/24 effect?,” no one who had applied for the Ascend after having had the Surpass in past had reported success getting a welcome bonus.
Since then, two key things have changed:
- Two readers have reported success getting the welcome bonus, even though they had the Surpass in the past. Both had cancelled their Surpass cards well before the Ascend name was announced. One cancelled in 2016. The other cancelled March 2017.
- Amex will now warn you during the application process if you’re not eligible for the welcome bonus. This is key because it means that there is no risk to trying. If you cancelled your Surpass card before it turned into the Ascend card, you might have a shot at the welcome bonus.
But, should you go for it?
As I write this, there are four distinct Hilton cards available and each has a welcome bonus in the 75K to 125K range. That means that it is theoretically possible to rack up around 400K points through bonuses alone. And a couple could theoretically double that. Since Hilton now allows point pooling, it would be easy to put all 800,000 points together. That’s pretty insane.
On the other hand, there are plenty of reasons not to go for it:
- Except for the business card, each Hilton card will add to your 5/24 count. This will make it harder to get approved for Chase cards in the future (details here).
- You will have to meet each card’s minimum spend requirements to earn the welcome bonus. And, remember that in some cases Amex has started enforcing rules restricting which types of purchases count. Keep in mind, though, that our Manufactured Spending Complete Guide lists techniques that are safe for meeting Amex minimum spend.
- Amex often (but not always) enforces an unwritten limit of 5 credit cards that each person can have (you can have many more charge cards though). And since the Hilton cards are credit cards they will each take up a precious slot that you might want to use for other Amex credit card.
- Hilton points aren’t the most valuable currency out there. Our Reasonable Redemption Values (RRVs) currently pegs Hilton points at only 0.45 cents each. So, while a 100K welcome bonus sounds amazing, it’s good to keep in mind that an average use of those points would be worth about $450. That’s still very good, but pales in comparison to the top offers available. See: Top 10+ Credit Card Offers.
Below you’ll find summary information about each Hilton card. Click the card’s name to go to a Frequent Miler page with more detailed information.