Welcome to 2020! Here’s what will happen next…

Welcome to 2020!  This year Amex will increase fees on their Hilton and Marriott ultra-premium cards while Chase will keep the Sapphire Reserve fee unchanged.  Hilton won’t fulfill the long predicted promise of new elite perks, while Bank of America will finally allow point transfers.  Maybe.

A look back at 2019

In past years, many of my predictions have come true.  In 2018, for example, I got 3 out of 4 correct when Delta introduced basic economy awards (as predicted), Marriott expanded elite free breakfast to resorts (as predicted), and the new combined Marriott/SPG program looked a lot like the old Marriott program (as predicted).  My record came to a crashing halt, though, with my 2019 predictions.  Let’s take a look:

  • Bank of America will offer point transfers to miles from their Premium Rewards card
    Sadly, this didn’t happen.  Fortunately, it can still happen any time going forward.
  • Virgin Atlantic will eliminate the 120K sweet spot to Tokyo
    Luckily, this didn’t happen.  Sadly, it can still happen any time going forward.
  • Delta will introduce a new elite option for upgrading to premium economy
    This guess was actually pretty good, but I got the airline wrong.  Rather than following Delta’s lead as they’ve done for a few years now, United stepped up with a new points based system for elite upgrades.  And this system includes point pricing for premium economy upgrades.  I think I deserve partial credit for this one.
  • Hilton will introduce a new elite perk… possibly some kind of suite upgrade instrument, but more likely guaranteed late checkout.
    Again, it didn’t happen.

The most optimistic view of my predictions is that I got 1 out of 4 correct.  More accurately, I got one out of 4 partially correct.  So, let’s all agree that I had a bad forecasting year in 2019 and let’s move on.  I’m going to do better this yearGuaranteed… or your money back.

Before I introduce my own 2020 predictions, let’s look at the predictions from the other Frequent Miler authors, along with my take on the chance that each prediction is right…

Nick predicts: 2020 vision

  • At least one chain eliminates resort fees. Greg’s take: I predicted this in 2018, but it didn’t happen (that was my one wrong guess).  I still think it will happen eventually, but I’d bet that it won’t be in 2020.
  • American Airlines becomes a transfer partner (with Citi).  Greg’s take: I want this to happen, but my bet is that it won’t.
  • Loyalty programs will become more aggressive in targeting “gamers”.  Greg’s take: Yep. This is likely.
  • We’ll see another credit card offer an “entertainment” bonus category.  Greg’s take: I’m sure this will happen eventually, but I’d put the probability of it happening in 2020 as low.
  • Amex will offer an awesome new benefit on the Platinum cards.  Greg’s take: Yep, I bet they will add at least one new benefit to the Business Platinum card.  Some will be happy, but I doubt we’ll all agree that it’s awesome.
  • Capital One will shake things up with its rumored Ultra-premium card.  Greg’s take: Nope.  I’m betting against this one even while I hope it’s true.
  • Chase or Citi will have a $150-250 card.  Greg’s take: Chase already has a Southwest card in this price range, and so they might add other co-branded “premium plus” cards to their line up.  I don’t think it’s likely that we’ll see an Ultimate Rewards card or Citi ThankYou card in this range (even though it would be nice).

Click here to read Nick’s full post.

Stephen’s 2020 Credit Card, Hotel & Airline Predictions

  • Capital One To Add Virgin Atlantic As Travel Partner.  Greg’s take: This is very likely.  I’m surprised it hasn’t happened yet.
  • Amex Membership Rewards To Transfer To JetBlue On A 1:1 Basis.  Greg’s take: Yep, very likely.
  • Free Breakfast For IHG Spire Elite Members.    Greg’s take: This is one that ought to happen, but I’m not going to put my money on IHG doing the right thing.  My bet is that it won’t happen.
  • Citi To Allow Card Referrals.  Greg’s take: Citi has previously targeted some Citi Premier cardholders who could earn points for referrals.  Will Citi expand this to all cardholders or to more cards? Maybe eventually, but I think we’re unlikely to see much more of this in 2020.
  • Chase And/Or Amex To Increase Referral Limits.  Greg’s take: Nope. This won’t happen.
  • Chase To Remove Priority Pass Restaurant Access.  Greg’s take: The optimist in me says no.  Chase will continue to offer the good version of Priority Pass membership.
  • Marriott To Offer Poor Promotions.  Greg’s take: Is the sun likely to come up tomorrow?  Yes, this will happen.

Click here to read Stephen’s full post.

Greg’s 2020 Predictions

Finally, here are my predictions for 2020…

  • Chase won’t increase the Sapphire Reserve annual fee.  This prediction is notable because it goes against a rumor published by Doctor of Credit (who usually gets these credit card rumors right).  Doctor of Credit wrote “Some links are already showing this $550 annual fee, but I believe those are part of tests Chase plans to run.”  In other words, Chase was testing the effect of a higher annual fee on successful signups.  My bet is that they saw a significant dip in applications with the higher fee.  If I’m right, they’ll choose to keep the fee as is ($450).
  • Amex will increase the Hilton Aspire annual fee to $550.  A few years ago, Amex increased the consumer Platinum card annual fees to $550.  Now we know that the Amex Delta Reserve card’s annual fee is going up from $450 to $550.  I expect they’ll do the same to the Hilton Aspire.  This card is loaded with valuable perks that make it worth more than the current annual fee.  I’m afraid that Amex will decide that we’ll be willing to pay more to keep those perks.
  • Amex will increase the Bonvoy Brilliant annual fee to $550.  The Bonvoy Brilliant card isn’t as loaded with perks as the Hilton Aspire, but it’s still pretty good for Marriott loyalists.  I don’t think that Amex will leave this card behind in their quest to eke out more money from their ultra-premium cardholders.
  • Bank of America will offer point transfers to miles from their Premium Rewards card.  I’m rolling this one forward from last year.  I still think it’s likely to happen eventually.
  • Hilton won’t introduce a significant new elite perk.  This is the opposite of last year’s prediction.  I think now that Hilton considered adding elite perks and decided against it.  Part of their business model seems to be this: Sell elite status cheaply (sign up for the Surpass card to get Gold status; or sign up for the Aspire card to get Diamond status) and enjoy the fact that these elites will then pick Hilton over other brands for the promise of free breakfast and the possibility of an upgrade.  My bet is that they’ve seen that they don’t need to offer more perks to keep us coming.


Across all three authors, here are the predictions that I think are most likely to come true in 2020:

  • Loyalty programs will become more aggressive in targeting “gamers”
  • Amex will offer an awesome new benefit on the Platinum cards
  • Capital One To Add Virgin Atlantic As Travel Partner.
  • Amex Membership Rewards To Transfer To JetBlue On A 1:1 Basis.
  • Marriott To Offer Poor Promotions.
  • Amex will increase the Hilton Aspire annual fee to $550.
  • Hilton won’t introduce a significant new elite perk.

What do you think?

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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Regarding comments: Comments posted at the bottom of Frequent Miler pages and posts are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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I’ll bet any amount that Bonvoy Brilliant AF isn’t going up. It’s a pretty garbage card for a garbage program. The value prop is nowhere close to the Aspire. I doubt they are happy with the signup numbers as it is. Aspire I could see, though I would bet against that too. The benefits are either mostly paid for by Hilton or with high breakage. As you say, Hilton wants to give away status for an upfront fee in hopes you’ll want to utilize it as much as possible.

My predictions:
1. In a weird twist, another airline, maybe Delta, copies AA by nuking accounts of “gamers”. Of course losing skypesos won’t sting much.
2. Hilton adds a new top tier above diamond. They will break with the precious metals/gem theme and rival Hyatts status names as stupidest ever. People will stop one night short just to not be called it.
3. Chase Freedom will be discontinued and converted to CFU.
4. A flag carrier introduces free stopovers on all award flights, maybe even revenue flights, in an effort to boost local tourism. Frankly I don’t understand why all flag carriers don’t do this.

Carl Pietrantonio
Carl Pietrantonio

Man, I like the idea there in number 4 of yours!

Jim Lovejoy
Jim Lovejoy

I’d disagree that the Brilliant is a garbage card. But I’d probably downgrade if they raised the fees. I also disagree that the Aspire has a much better value proposition. You mentioned the breakage on the airline credit, but in addition they also restrict the Hilton credit to resorts. Plus you can’t apply their free night from the website like Marriott. We had 2 one each from my wife and me and it was a pain to get them applied.
If they raise both fees, I’ll save $805 a year.


Hilton credits have higher breakage, but if you know what you are doing, for one $450 AF you can get $750 (or even $1000 is possible) in credits, 150k SUB and 1 FN, in addition to Diamond status. The first year for Brilliant you can get $600 travel credits (easier to use of course), 100k points, and useless Gold status. No FN first year. The 2nd year for both cards is a much weaker value prop, you can do better with both cards by playing the downgrade game 2nd year, but still, the winner is clear. $750minimum + FN + 150kHH + Diamond > $600 + 100kBV + Gold.

But you say anyway that you would cancel if they raised the fees, which is why I don’t think this prediction would happen…many others would too.

Ed. C
Ed. C

I’d be interested in getting your take on targeting gamers. How extreme of a gamer will make you a target? I currently do about $35,000 per month in MS “gaming” (thanks to SM) and feel like I am small time compared to the extreme gamers…..


Good for u I do None ..How many points u got ?/


Agree – Hilton doesn’t seem to feel the need to add perks thanks to Marriott’s disastrous SPG integration. Think Hilton had record membership gains the last few years as a result of disgruntled SPG loyalists looking elsewhere. What I don’t understand is why Marriott has such terrible earn rates on their cards. Surpass has 6x at gas/grocery/drug and at 0.4cpp, that’s a generous 2.4% net. Best Marriott offers is 2x for a mediocre 1.4% net. Marriott needs to offer 3x in select bonus.categories to compete.

Jim Lovejoy
Jim Lovejoy

Bonvoy brilliant does offer 3x at US restaurants, but they could use a few other bonus categories. I put some heavy spend on it last year, but only because when I already planned to upgrade with a 100k pts for $5,000, I got an offer for 25k pts for $25,000 spend. That meant that I was getting 3.25 pts per dollar, and 4.25 pts per dollar for restaurant spend. Now it’s going back to the sock drawer.


Massive Amex banhammer on gamers is my prediction.


My prediction – Chase will add a transfer partner. Maybe etihad or lifemiles?