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 !

  18. I paid a full year annual fee in advance, but I’ll get only a partial year’s use.
    I’ll need a refund.
    And not a pro-rated refund, since I’m not the one who unilaterally canceled the agreement. And I paid that annual fee in advance in expectation of a full 12 months. Had I known it would be less than 12 I never would have agreed.
    I’ll be looking for my $95 back, Citi.

  19. @Nick. I’ve been following this pretty closely and called before I paid my $95. I was told they will offer me another Citi credit card before the Citi Hilton card expires. If I don’t want it, they will pro rate the $95 based on number of months. However, I also learned that I can earn another free night certificate if I spend $10K on the card before December 31 (since that is based on card member year, not calendar year). The one year expiration on that free night certificate will carry on into 2018 (even though the credit card has gone away). So, now trying to figure out how to generate that much spend on the card before the end of this year to get my free night certificate.

  20. Dsk , consider this please : for $10,000 spend in four months what do you gain ? $200 or $300 room credit maybe ? ( I don’t know the category or usual room rate ) I would probably put that much spend to use elsewhere for a better return . I might be mistaken .

  21. @Dalo–my last three uses of the certificate were $1250, $630 and $430 vs cost of a comparable room at the same hotel the same night. YMMV but I will miss this. Good at virtually any Hilton on a weekend night. To me it is worth it.

  22. DSK : Oops , I didn’t realize they would cover a room that costly . Much more sensible in that case . I thought they covered a limited category of rooms . Thanks for setting me straight .

  23. I am also trying to reach my $10k spending limit before 12/31. I am about $1500 short.
    My aniverssary is in March so if I get a new certificate before the end of the year I have two free weekend nights I can spend almost at any Hilton hotel. Last time I stayed at Conrad New York but would like a little more exotic destination this time.
    And yes, I think there are only 18 Hilton properties where they cannot be used – these includes some all inclusive resorts etc. But most high dollar resorts in Maldives, Bora Bora and Hawaii are available! (if one wants to travel that far …).
    It sucks that this benefit goes away.

  24. Citi has confirmed that I am eligible for a PC to another card. My only option is TYP cards or Double Cash, and most importantly: It will only by a Mastercard. Not ‘World’ or ‘World Elite’ tier, but a plain ole’ Mastercard. Major downgrade from the ‘Signature’ tier. I think a lot of folks are in for a disappointment. And I have not heard anything about Citi selling their portfolio to Amex.

  25. My Citi Hilton card is the oldest one I have. If I change to another Citi card, will that be considered a continuation, or will it be a new card? If the latter, then my credit score will be adversely affected through no fault of my own, both because I no longer have as long a history, and because I have a “new” card. I don’t expect the Citi people to know how the credit bureaus work; how can I find out about this?

  26. Do you have a chase card?
    I know they have something where you can create a profile (if you have an account already) where you can ‘Simulate changes’ to your credit history to see which impact certain actions would have on your score. One of them is ‘close oldest credit card account’.
    I have used it mainly to see if/when I would fall below the 5/24 rule because it also tells how many accouns I have opened the last 24 months.

  27. Thanks for the suggestion. My US Bank card has the same feature. According to that, if I close my oldest card, my score goes down 5%, but if I also open a new card, it only goes down about 2%. Go figure. I just hope someone at either AmEx or Citi can tell me the options before December 31.

  28. @Rosemarina – If you do a product change, then you continue the history from your Citi Hilton card. *It will not count as a new account. This is good because you retain the history from your Citi Hilton card, and the only thing different is the product that you switch to. Always keep your oldest account active if you have any possible options/control over it.

  29. @Rosemarina Totally agree with BAW. Quite a few years ago, I product changed from the Citi Advantage World Elite credit card (after I received the 100,000 mile sign-up bonus) to the Citi Hilton credit card. My credit line remained intact and it did not count as a new account. Surprisingly easy. I am also hoping Citi releases some information soon.

  30. Wells Fargo already messed up my AAoA by suddenly closing down my oldest card (Visa Signature card which I’d had for six years). I half-hope that Citi closes down my Citi Hilton HHonors card (my next-oldest card) so that I can apply for and get the 75K sign-up bonus for the Amex Hilton Surpass instead.

    I wish they would hurry up and let us know what is going on already.

  31. Citi rep confirmed today Amex will get the Citi Hilton’s- this after I called to product change. Was told they cannot product change right now but I was given 5k points if I left the account open.

  32. I just spoke with a Citi rep and she did inform me that AMEX will be acquiring the portfolio and that Citi Hilton cards will be converted to an AMEX Hilton in January, but there is also an option to be converted to a Citi Diamond preferred at a later time. Right now, all Citi Hilton cards are not eligible to product change. A letter will be going out to all Citi Hilton card holders in November. Citi Diamond preferred? Big disappointment, but what more can you expect from an acquisition?

  33. That explains why a separate Honors account (with a completely different number) was opened for me when I applied for the Surpass card to take advantage of the 100K bonus offer.

  34. Because I am obsessing about the credit score aspect of this change, I called Citicard again. A nice lady named Rhonda said that that it will show up as a “conversion”. That means little to me. So then I called AmEx and spoke to a nice man named John. He said AmEx will not perform a credit check when they convert the accounts. He repeated that several times, but it did not inspire confidence. Does this mean the credit bureaus will not see it? The new card will have a new number; hard to miss. He did give me a website – This site provided yet another phone number, so I called and spoke with Hans. I asked again if this changeover would affect my credit score, and he said that was a good question. I guess no one else worries about this! He put me on hold while he asked someone else. He then said AmEx would not perform a credit check, and that my account would show as being “migrated”. This is basically the same thing Rhonda said, so I guess I can believe it. For now.

  35. @Rosemarina–I have no idea what will happen in this situation but I too care deeply about my credit score. In two recent cases that affected me–the transfer of my Fidelity credit card from American Express to Elevan and the transfer of my Costco credit card from American Express to Citibank, I had no hard pulls on my credit , and the accounts did not register as new (important for Chase 5/24). So I am hopeful for the same result here.

    I am very disappointed in the way American Express and Citibank have handled this transfer. Citi earlier told me my account would not be transferred and would be retained by Citi, with an offer of a new credit card to come soon (probably earning TY points). Then, I received an e-mail that my account would be transferred to Citi, unless it won’t be transferred. The headline said “Your Citi Hilton Honors Reserve account is being transferred to American Express” and then the e-mail said “Please note, in some situations, your account may not be transferred to American Express. If this is the case, we will contact you with additional information.” Neither Citi nor American Express had any further information. Seriously.

  36. @DSK – I am also disappointed about the AMEX and Citi information that is available to us right now. I got a notice from AMEX in the mail yesterday informing me that my Citi account will become a Hilton Honors American Express account. There was also a disclosure that said that the account may *still be ineligible for conversion* and if so, Citi and AMEX will notify me. It is almost contradictory in a sense? I do not want another AMEX card, but I do have a feeling that it will be converted.

    The age of the account will not be affected because it is labeled as a “transfer” within the credit bureau’s systems. There is a law that protects consumer reports and scores due to this. This shouldn’t the affect age, score or history of the consumer in regard to the account conversion.

  37. Thanks for your information on the credit bureaus.
    I think they tell everyone some accounts may not be transferred so they can hold in reserve the ability to terminate any scofflaws and deadbeats (is there a difference?). I expect that if you are paying on a regular basis, there will not be a problem. They want as much business as they can get.

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