Here’s What Happens To Existing Citi Hilton Cardmembers In 2018

Earlier I wrote about the big news that American Express and Hilton will be entering into an exclusive credit card agreement starting in 2018. Currently both American Express and Citi issue co-branded Hilton cards, though it seems like American Express was willing to pay a high enough price for exclusivity.

For now it’s business as usual for the Hilton cards issued by both American Express and Citi, though we’ve been told that later this year more details about this change will be announced.

One big question has been about what happens to existing Citi Hilton cardmembers. Typically in situations like this we see one of two things happen — either Citi could sell their Hilton card portfolio to American Express, or Citi could convert cardmembers to other Citi products.

View from the Wing reports that Citi will be product changing Citi Hilton cardmembers to another Citi product, rather than selling their portfolio to American Express. Generally this is the default move by issuers in such situations.

However, arguably it’s not terribly efficient, since it doesn’t get cardmembers the types of cards they were looking for when they applied. In other words, if Citi converts those with co-branded Hilton cards to cashback cards, American Airlines cards, etc., they’ll likely lose a lot of cardmembers in the process. After all, presumably there’s a reason people wanted that Hilton card to begin with.

The alternative is that Citi could decide to sell their card portfolio to American Express. Sure, Citi would lose customers, but they’d get paid a big sum of money, and it could be mutually beneficial — these are largely consumers who want a co-brand Hilton card, and there’s a decent chance they’ll be good customers for Amex’s product going forward.

For example, when American Express lost their Costco co-brand agreement to Citi, they sold Citi their cardmembers for about a billion dollars. That’s a lot of money! However, that decision was only reached about a year after the initial agreement was made.

Bottom line

As of now Citi is saying that they’ll convert existing cardmembers to other Citi products. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see American Express and Citi reach a mutually beneficial deal, where we’d see Citi Hilton cardmembers converted into Amex Hilton cardmembers.


  1. Ben – do you know what happens to the Citi free weekend night certificate if your anniversary date is after 1/1/18? For example, a 3/1/18 anniversary date, if you spend the $10k by 12/31/17, would you still receive the free weekend night certificate? If it goes away, seems like incentive to stop spending on that card immediately.


  2. @ Greg — Unfortunately there’s no way to know for sure. If it’s issued before the partnership ends then it should definitely still be valid, but I’m not sure what happens to those certificates that are due to be issued after the partnership ends. Hopefully they honor them.

  3. I have citi and amex Hilton cards.
    The amex hilton was for sign up bonus only years ago, I never used it after I spent the required minimum for bonus. I use Delta Amex whenever I can and where they don’t accept amex, I use the Citi hilton. Perfect balance.
    I cancel the citi cc account unless it is a superior cash back cc account.

  4. In the past when this has happened, were people given any options for other cards, or were they simply switched by the issuer to a predesignated card?

  5. Would you recommend applying for the Citi Hilton Card now if you don’t already have it, especially since Amex only lets you get the sign-up bonus for a card once in your lifetime?

  6. Ben–since I have spent $40K on the Citi card in 2017, would it be customary for Hilton to honor my Diamond status through the end of 2018? That is the only reason I put that much spend on the card. I would guess there would be a lot of unhappy Hilton fans if they don’t.

  7. I hit the lower annual spend for a free night on my Citi Hilton Reserve, but I am up for renewal in June (maybe July), so assume (hope!) I will have no issues.
    If I hadn’t already canceled my AMEX Surpass, this certainly would have led me to keep it and drop my Citi Hilton Reserve.

  8. Definitely would not want to be converted to another Citi product and would not want to be given an Hilton Amex card without the bonus. I would figure out a convenient time to cancel and wait for the new Amex card with bonus offering.

  9. I just noticed the Hilton Honors Surpass from AMEX has a 2.7% Foreign Transaction Fee?? So I will go from a no foreign transaction fee credit card to a 2.7% fee credit card? Honestly looking at switching hotel loyalty programs with this mess. Unless they get rid of that ridiculous foreign transaction fee! Sorry for my venting!

  10. This is awful and devastating news for my family given between my wife and I for years have divided all of our spend / expenses on either the CITI Visa Hilton card ($40k) and enjoyed Diamond and the yearly Cert. and the AMEX DL Reserve card and enjoyed those offerings as well from Delta.
    No way we can have 3 cards given we can’t use AMEX (DL and now Hilton) and 1 Visa for places that don’t take AMEX and reach each millstones.
    If we hit the $40k will be still be Diamond for 2018?
    Also our Hilton CITI anniversary is Sept so I assume we will still get the cert for 2018?
    Any advice?

  11. Dump it unless they convert to , say new Hilton La Quinta with some freebee.

    I am so tired of Hilton points , plus I get gold thru Amex plat.

  12. @Endre do you use the Delta card to get MQM’s because if you are looking simply for Skymiles a MR earning card is a much better way to go imo

  13. I really need to know what will happen with the 10k spend and the free night as a result. I made calculations with my card apps based on that very thing. Had I known citi was maybe getting rid of this card I would have rethought my applications. I obtained my card in 2017 so this is annoying to say the least.

  14. One Citi card that may be useful for some is the ATT Access More MC, that gives 3X for online purchases with a 10000 TYP bonus for spending $10K. Although its no longer available for new apps, but its easy to do a product conversion from other Citi cards.

  15. @DSK…..

    I’m in the same boat and sure hope that the Honors program stays true to its name and truly “honors” the terms that govern their relationship with Citi clients.

    As far as AMEX is concerned, I got rid of the Surpass card in favor of SPG because of those dreaded foreign transaction fees.

  16. I think that it also has to do with when your card expires. For example, I formally had the United Presidential Plus credit card, United and Chase’s highest level card and it was partnered with MasterCard when I received the card. Both Chase and MasterCard honored the card as long as I was a cardmember because it was “grandfathered” down, but if I applied for a new card or downgraded my card, it would be a Visa card. In this case, it does not make much difference because generally in places that accept MasterCard, Visa is also accepted, but can be more problematic with American Express.

    I wonder if all of Hilton branded properties worldwide will be able to accept the new cards. I once was at an IHG property in France that was unable to accept the IHG credit card, and I am often at Marriott or SPG properties where the staff have never seen the Ritz Carlton or SPG credit cards.

  17. After Citi gets the big payout for their accounts from American Express they will be able to afford
    to make a good offer for Marriott . You heard it first right here at OMAAT !

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