Hilton Ascend Card Won’t Be Considered A New Product

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Last year it was announced that Hilton is entering into an exclusive credit card agreement with American Express (while previously they also had credit cards issued by Citi), and then in November it was announced that Hilton is rebranding their American Express cards.

Next week we’ll see Hilton introduce a suite of new cards. Personally the card I’m most excited about is the Hilton Aspire Card, which will have a $450 annual fee and will offer Honors Diamond status for as long as you have the card, a $250 annual airline incidental fee credit, a $250 Hilton annual resort credit, and an annual free weekend night certificate. In many ways this card seems too good to be true, and I can’t wait to apply for it.

Another change that will be happening is that the Hilton Honors™ Surpass Card from American Express will be converted into the Hilton Ascend Card. This will happen around January 18, and the changes being made to the card are as follows:

  • The card’s annual fee will be increasing from $75 to $95, including for existing cardmembers with an annual fee due on/after February 2, 2018
  • The card will offer no foreign transaction fees, while the previous version of the card had fees for these transactions
  • The card will offer an annual free weekend night certificate when you spend $15,000 on purchases on the card in a calendar year (previously there was no option to earn an annual free weekend night certificate)
  • The card will offer 10 free Priority Pass lounge passes each year

One big question has been whether the Hilton Ascend Card would be considered a new product or not. This matters because American Express has a “once in a lifetime” policy when it comes to receiving the welcome bonus on most of their cards.

So we’ve been curious if those who have the Hilton Surpass Card (or have had it in the past) will be eligible for the sign-up bonus on the Ascend Card. I wrote about this topic last week, and speculated that it wouldn’t qualify as a new product.

It looks like we now have a more definitive answer when it comes to this. Reader Eric shared a chat he had with Amex online, where the representative said the following:

As you currently have or have had the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card in the past, you will not receive the welcome bonus offer for the refreshed Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card, as you will only receive a welcome bonus once per Card product in your Card Membership.

This sounds like their typical official wording for offers, so I’d assume this is accurate information. It seems like there’s not much benefit in canceling the Surpass Card prior to the Ascend Card being introduced, since it won’t be considered a new product either way. Oh well.

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  1. What would you suggest if you already have the Hilton Visa Signature card and the Amex Surpass? I certainly do not need two Ascend cards – so call up Citi and try to dump the Hilton Visa Signature?

  2. When asked why AMEX would not consider the Hilton Ascend Card a new product, Patrick Henry said – “I smell a RAT!”

  3. I take my question back – seems like my no fee Hilton card will transfer to a new fee Amex card. still not sure its worthwhile and may call Citi to cancel. Rather that leave slot open with Amex for the new premium card since those benefits seem too good to be true

  4. It begs the questions why a lot of bloggers are/were speculating rather than just contacting Amex about it like reader Eric did? Do we trust the answer Eric got is the truth (not that anybody has ever gotten different answers from different people at the same company).

  5. Will the bonus points remain the same (gas, grocery, etc.)? That is my main question I haven’t seen answered.

  6. Are Citi card holders that get transitioned going to get the welcome bonus? What’s going to happen with those who have both the Citi card and the Surpass card at this point?

  7. There is no doubt in my mind it’s a new card product
    And any push back from American Express would ever convince me of anything other than
    Fraud and a double standard
    When they say consumers can’t game the system
    They themselves would be gaming the system
    Perhaps leveraging the Citibank Hilton credit card portfolio closing
    It’s a newly named card
    There has never been a cobranded Hilton card with a 450 dollar fee
    An online chat means nothing American Express has some of the worst trained reps in history as nice as they are when it comes down to correct answering of questions with anything related to marketing or promotional
    The supervisors sometimes more marginally so

  8. I think this has been asked before but what happens with the free night that came along with the sign up bonus for Hilton Surpass card holders to receive after their first year of holding the card? Will that still be honored and will I be able to cancel the Hilton Ascend card after I receive it as I am not interested in paying the increased annual fee?

  9. That would not be the case if you just have the no-fee Hilton Amex card now, correct? No reason this wouldn’t be a new product.

  10. I think they are going to have a problem with this position since the website clearly describes the new features as enhancement of the existing Surpass card. If you go look at the page there isn’t even any mention of the word “Ascend”, just a box in the lower right hand corner announcing the new weekend night reward benefit starting 1/18/2018.


    A customer has a right to rely on a companies public announcements and the only thing Amex has announced is that the Surpass card is being enhanced on 1/18.

  11. Will a current Amex Surpass and Citi Reserve cardholder end up with 2 Amex Ascend cards. And would they receive 2 anniversary nights?

  12. Seems to be some confusion in the comments about this. As far as I can tell, all that is being said by AMEX is that if you already have a Surpass card, it will be replaced with a card labeled Ascend. In that exact case, it will not be considered a new product.

    I haven’t seen anything that said that the Aspire card will not considered a new product.

  13. I’ve also heard conflicting reports on the free night as well. I already qualified with Citi Reserve for a free night (billing year in Sept).

    The most recent agent said that I’d get my certif in Sept, and that I couldn’t get another one via Amex Ascend spend.

    Anyone hear otherwise? It sounds mysterious to me.

  14. @Lucky- does it make sense to keep both the Citi and Amex cards that convert to Ascend, as well as the Aspire Card, to triple dip on the free annual night certificate

  15. Please correct me if this is wrong’ …….As it reads , Holders of the current Hilton Honors™ Surpass Card from American Express will be converted into the Hilton Ascend Card and the annual fee of $75 will be going up to $95 on the Hilton Ascend card.

    However,if you’ve NEVER had the Hilton Honors™ Surpass Card ,and apply for the new Hilton Ascend card, you’ll be eligible for the 85K bonus points but also, your annual fee will be $450,as opposed to the $95 annual fee for those being converted from the Surpass card.

    That doesn’t seem correct or am I reading it wrong?

  16. I had a Surpass Card but cancelled it last summer because I didn’t want to pay the annual fee. I also have a Citi Hilton Honors card. I received a letter about my citi card being changed to an Amex Ascend card at the end of January.

    I like the sound of the Aspire card though. Are you saying if I apply for that one when it comes out, I won’t get the bonuses because I already have a Hilton card with Amex?

  17. Are we absolutely certain we will be getting an anniversary certificate with the surpass becoming ascend?

  18. @farsighted. No, I also had confusion on this because the names are so similar. What they are saying is you will not get the sign up bonus on the Ascend/Surpass card now. Even though they are changing the name, and raising the annual fee, they are still treating as an old product, hence you used up your sign up bonus on the Surpass.

    The new card with the $450 annual fee, the Aspire, will not be effected in this at all.

  19. I am starting to lean this way, although why they wouldn’t officially announce (even on flyer talk) is beyond me. Tomorrow we will see.

  20. Just got off the phone with AMEX. Very professional and courteous. He even confirmed if I were a current AMEX cardholder or if I were a Citi cardholder. It seems that they can either upgrade you to the Aspire from Ascend, but currently no special offers or bonuses from Hilton. The other option is to apply for the Aspire outright and be offered 100,000 bonus points after spending 4K in 3 months. Decisions upon decisions. This is so new that they even have to wait for their supervisors to come in to facilitate various options. When I called, it was the first rep who opened the front door to start the day, hehe.

  21. I just applied and got instant approval for the Hilton Honors Aspire Card. They even gave me the card number to start making purchases!

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