Posted by William Charles on October 6, 2016
Credit Cards

Published on October 6th, 2016 | by William Charles

53

American Express Considering Hilton HHonors Diamond Card & Other Changes To Existing Cards (And Diamond+ Status?)

Hilton HHonors Diamond Card

American Express are considering a new card to their Hilton line up, called the Hilton HHonors Diamond Card. The idea is to better compete with the Ritz-Carlton offering from Chase. Here is what the details of the card would be:

hilton-hhonors-diamond-card

It’s also interesting that it says this card would come with Diamond status and the ability to earn Diamond+ status (something that currently doesn’t exist as far as I know?).

No Annual Fee Card

They are also considering some changes to this card:

  • 5x points on all purchases at U.S restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations (increased to 7x)
  • $25 Hilton gift card with every $2,500 spent
  • 50% certificate for meeting specific spend thresholds ($10,000 or $12,000)

Surpass Card

  • Add priority pass basic membership
  • Add priority pass basic membership + 10 free visits
  • Add a travel credit of $75 or $100
  • Change earning categories to higher levels
  • Other random changes

Our Verdict

This information comes from a survey a reader took, obviously there is no guarantee that any of these changes will come to fruition but it’s somewhat strange they were presented with a fully thought out card in the Hilton Diamond card. It’s also weird to see mention of Diamond+ status. Obviously not all of the changes would be made to the Surpass and no annual fee card.

Hopefully American Express does launch a new Hilton card, as that means everybody would be eligible to get the card again as American Express limit you to one bonus per lifetime. What sort of sign up bonus would this card need to entice you? Would you consider keeping it long term? Let us know in the comments.

Thanks to reader Jordan C for sending through this information



53 Responses to American Express Considering Hilton HHonors Diamond Card & Other Changes To Existing Cards (And Diamond+ Status?)

  1. Garrett says:

    Seems like another lackluster AMEX play to answer the recent Chase offerings. Most glaring is the absence of any free nights on sign up. Not to mention the minimal difference between Hilton HHonors Gold and Diamond Status.

    Whether it’s this card or the slightly shinier Platinum, AMEX likely would have been better off doing nothing rather than marginally increasing their expenses for what will likely be an appropriately sad payoff.

    • I’m sure it’ll come with some sort of bonus, I wonder if Citi has an exclusive on giving away free nights as a sign up bonus.

      • Jim says:

        Hope not. That this HH Diamond card gives a free night after 12k spend should be a good sign. Hoping for a sign up offer like Chase’s RC card of 3 free nights or 250-300k HH points.

  2. Miki says:

    They should have just released this yesterday. Would have satiated the Amex haters. That being said I’m looking for a 200k bonus!!!

  3. James says:

    whatever amex offers, they will take it away from your account with some ridiculous reasons!!

  4. JoJo says:

    200k is not even enough for 3 nights at top tier hotels. It is interesting to see what kind of benefit they can comes up for the new elite level. Look at this earning rate it looks like Hilton will soon devaluate points value to lower than .4 cents. Probably not worth of playing any more.

  5. PSL says:

    AMEX really has to step up big-time to compete with Chase, and this won’t do it.

    • atxtravel says:

      They can’t afford to compete properly. The real money nowadays probably comes from the average consumer masses who carry balances and are too clueless to maximize rewards. Fighting for savvy, middle or affluent class consumers will just cost money. Everyone’s a travel hacker now LOL.

  6. Jim says:

    stay away from amex!!

  7. George says:

    Weak offerings from a declining company #ripAmex

  8. PedroNY says:

    My guess this will launch when Hilton announces new Diamond+ level later in Q4 or Q1. I believe Surpass launched in February, so maybe it would be the right time to do it in Q1 for this card as well. That will avoid an ability for people to double dip on $250 travel credit in Q4 and Q1, and will also restart the spending requirement of $60k for 2017. When Surpass launched and you upgraded to it from regular card, spending for the year carried over, so I assume same will happen here if you upgrade your card.

    My guess, just a guess, Diamond+ will have guaranteed suites upgrades similar to Hyatt and Fairmont, I just hope it will not be only for paid stays. 100,000 point or 120,000 point sign up bonus is my guess, just a guess.

    Did you notice that supermarkets are missing for 7x, it will be a huge blow to us who MS $40k via VGCs at supermarkets, 1/2 the points as it will now only yield 3x. That helps with transaction costs a lot.

    Strategy thinking in the fly: if you already got Surpass and spent $40k, maybe spend more to $59k this year in case the card gets released in Q4. Get upgraded to. Ew card in mid-Dec, spend $1k, get new status, spend $250 in Dec, and $250 in early January for free travel credits, downgrade to Surpass, keep Diamond+ through 3/31/2018. Spend on Surpass via grocery stores, assuming it still gets 6x there, get back to $59k for 2017, upgrade again in December, get Diamond+ via last $1k spend, downgrade after $250 travel credit is spent. Just an idea, a few moving parts like closing statement date should be moved towards 20th of the month so you get you status with Hilton early enough before close of the year, but and annual fee late enough that you can hit that $250 spending in early January before downgrade. As you have 30 day window to get your annual fed back, but with downgrade that may not even matter, I think they still prorate it in that case.

    I do love the fact they may have a Diamond+ status and willing to allow attainment of it via CC spend, no other hotel program allows that for their top tier status except Ritz(Marriot) at $75k.

    Thoughts?

    Best,

    PedroNY

    • Great comment as always Pedro, I agree it’ll probably launch Q1 to avoid the early double dip (although it will still be possible the following year). If they offer suite upgrades, I’d expect them to only be on paid stays. Bonus of 100k/120k is low considering the Surpass is already at that level, I’d expect 200k+ personally. Supermarkets missing is on purpose, making it more difficult to MS to that Diamond+ tier I’d imagine.

    • abby says:

      interesting post but this level of manipulation and ‘taking advantage’ falls into the category of ‘why we can’t have nice things’. further, Amex has clearly sent a rather loud signal that people who are gaming them hard are on notice. doing this level of product change to take advantage of the $250 credit double dip more than once is really falling into the dirty pool category. i MS more than nearly anyone, i would imagine, but i also make a point of trying to be profitable (or at least neutral) to the issuers. if you’re an outlier like me, you should take the approach of trying not to draw undue attention to yourself, imo. $250 or even $500 is nothing compared to what one can lose if Amex takes the approach of Citi and Chase of shutting you down for life with no ability to reason with them. i know… i am banned by both- neither reason was even remotely justified, as the majority of my MS is Amex.

      my 2 baht…

      • PedroNY says:

        You got your 2 baht and I got my 2. I talk nicely with all bankers that I deal with, and things tend to work out alright. You don’t have to follow that strategy, it’s just an idea.

        Cheer up,

        PedroNY

        • abby says:

          no offense but…. you talk like a newbie who thinks he knows. it’s all chill- well…. until it’s not. ‘i talk nicely with all bankers’??? lol. wow. oddly enough, the person who shuts you down is someone you will never talk to (and can never talk to), who ‘your bankers’ can’t/won’t even try to reason with, and who see’s you as nothing more than a data point that raised a flag and… gone. if you think otherwise, you’re naive af and a danger to your own points earning potential.

          i don’t need to ‘cheer up’- i was giving sound advice. the only blog that existed when i started this was VFTW- that’s it. pointsguy, mms- none of them even existed. it was easy back then because we were truly under the radar. i’ve been doing this a long time.

          be creative, be (smartly) aggressive, but pick your battles and don’t be dumb. oh… and never bank with a CC issuer. words to live by.

          • Yeshu says:

            @abby: how much do you MS? just curious.

          • Mser says:

            Crikey you sound like a first class know-it-all twat.

          • NinjaX says:

            yuuup… pretty much…

          • NinjaX says:

            well.. although he may sound like a know-it-all, hes not telling lies. there are some good points to be aware of. and oh yea “talk nicely to the bankers”? haha.. cmon man. I mean yea I do that to get their number later and try to avoid a SAR, but the Matrix doesnt give a crap about you..

          • abby says:

            for those who called me a ‘know it all twat’… usually the people who do actually know a lot, on a particular topic, are branded twats (or the like) by people who don’t know much but want to think that they do. ehhh….

            as one person conceded- the advise i gave was sound. the cavalier attitude of Pedro was, shall i say, not from a learned position; for if it were, he would not have posted such foolishness. i responded because DoC commended him on his post- thus validating it to the readership. i was doing a public service by casting a critical light on his post. his ‘idea’ is doable, sure- my point was that it is reckless in the larger scheme of things.

            thus far, Amex has put up with A LOT from us. when you can easily MS your way to make $250,000++ a year tax free on a single card, and the issuer inexplicably lets it go on, well publicized, for >3 years… that’s crazy. in stark contrast: products are now 1 bonus in your lifetime and they’re now clawing back sign up bonuses. seems like there’s a new sheriff in town, and you don’t have to be Magellan to chart out the direction Amex is headed. They haven’t fired people like Chase and Citi (and Barclays), but would that surprise anyone? if you do big #’s, deliberately and super obviously gaming them hard (Pedro’s idea) for a few hundred dollars is comically stupid and short sighted. that may sound harsh… but it’s the truth. unfortunately, millennials have grown up as special flowers and anything that bursts that bubble is met with vitriol. but it doesn’t change reality. truth… the new hate speech.

            DoC: genuinely, just trying to help- the newbs who read this stuff need a counter point reality check for their own good. he may very well provide good info on your site- in this case, however, imo it was a. reckless b. something you don’t advocate in a public forum with lots of impressionables and, c; over the top in terms of abusing the issuer/system. the more blatant and pervasive the abuse, the more attention, the more countermeasures. too many dumb people doing dumb things that are/were publicized way too much. true or false?

      • If you’re MSing, you’re likely not profitable for the card issuer. Unless you’re earning under 1.5% per $1 spent.

        • abby says:

          i’d disagree on certain products- particularly Amex that is still clinging to their higher merchant fees relative to V/MC. the key for a win/win is MSing where, the way you use the points, you get outsized value. an obvious example would be SPG. if you can MS for .001, or even .0012, you should be able to easily get 2x value, and usually 3x IME. it’s a 1x card- Amex MUST be making money, i’m guessing good money, on spend like that.

          now products like Ink with 5x office supply being maxed out yearly… they gotta be taking a serious bath on MSers. the 2x cards too, to a lesser degree.

          thing is, it’s a numbers game. with so many carry balances and using credit 100% wrong (the masses), we never used to matter enough to even show on the radar. now, with sooo many people doing it due to FT, reddit and blogs… they’ve moved the needle, and now we do matter. damn Al Gore for inventing the internet!!!!

  9. Tommy says:

    Amex is too big to respond quickly. Often it will take years from concept to finished product. Unless Amex has a new product in the works already, it will be well into 2017 before they can release a direct response to the Chase Sapphire Card. Look how long it took them to get marketing dollars budgeted to come up with the recent (lackluster) promotions to reduce the loss of customers to Chase.

    The Amex clawback is most likely the result of them not having budgeted all the bonus points. They should have just informed applicants that they won’t get the offer and waived the annual fee along with some goodwill points. But the machine is moving too slowly so at that time it went through their process it was already too late. Crazy that they took points from some people well over 3 months after they posted, which puts them outside their quoted 6-8 rule for point posting to be final.

    • Bodiddely says:

      Refusing the honor the signup bonus T&Cs on what was a publicly accessible offer would have gotten them into a LOT of trouble with the CFPB. Which is why they took the route of individual reviews to make sure applicants had REALLY fulfilled all the requirements to get the bonus, rather than deny it flat out to everyone, including those who did no MS and had never had any flavor of Platinum before (who would have had a very strong case to CFPB and/or sue for breach of contract).

  10. Tim says:

    No AF card looks amazing! Hope it has spend req to get gold still

  11. Mordechai says:

    What’s most interesting is that since the Sapphire Reserve launched, there’s been lots of chatter about who exactly is applying for the Sapphire Reserve. Of course it’s those who are willing to pay $450 on an annual fee, but most interestingly, it’s the “millennial” generation – as it’s being quoted. For the first time, someone in the loyalty space has tapped into an unmet need – simplicity and a straight forward reward earning structure and usage system, perks that make one feel “elite” and a consumer friendly travel credit – and it’s a nice card with some physical heft to it.

    If AMEX’s response is the recent changes to the Platinum card – which, outside of our “hobby” – is coveted as a premium card because of the prestige associated with it, then AMEX will probably not tap into that unmet market need like chase did, garnering “100,000 sign-ups” in such a short and record amount of time.

    AMEX, typically associated by merchants to have high transaction fees and associated with consumers as cards that have prestige and high annual membership fees, AMEX is hurting real bad. First they lost a lot of people in their prepaid dept on both the corporate and customer service level; they lost Costco, couldn’t retain jetBlue and will most likely lose SPG to Chase.

    It feels like they’re grasping at straws. The only solid change to the Platinum cards is to the Business product, essentially allowing you to redeem 50% less points for flights. BUT, they are not even letting it be that simple. It has to be with the airline you chose for that calendar year. AND, it’s restricted to small business owners – which may or may not include that unmet segment in the market.

    … Then again, this may all be guesswork, as banks send our surveys all the time 😉

    • Agreed, CSR is popular because it’s easy to understand. Something I think American Express is failing to adapt to.

      • atxtravel says:

        Not to mention UR points are more and more useful, while MR points have become largely useless outside of a few fringe redemption sweet spots. Millenials are just better educated about what the points are worth.

        On a recent trip, I’ve seen two incidents of middle aged men who bitched about their AMEX cards to someone else while talking in the hotel lounge 🙂

  12. abby says:

    very interesting.

    do you have a screen shot of all the benefits for the surpass and no-fee card also? if so, could you upload those to the post also- nice to see everything. thanks.

  13. Mark O says:

    Sucks that grocery would not be a part of the 7x bonus like it is with the surpass.

    150k or above sign up and I would be in…burned through all of the cards to get hilton sign ups already.

  14. rc says:

    I just took this survey and there were a lot of variations on all three cards. I believe I was presented with close to 25 comparisons and probably 3-5 different variations of each card presented. Unfortunately I can’t go into details because I promised Amex I wouldn’t disclose them. However, what I can say is that some of the options presented were in my opinion very competitive while other options left my head scratching at why they would consider this. Also, when comparing the new card offerings versus a visa infinite card mentioned at the beginning of this post they failed to mention the $100 airline discount when purchasing 2-5 tickets in the US which will likely skew the survey results they received since this is a major perk of that aforementioned card and one reason I would consider applying for it.

  15. NinjaX says:

    omg. cant wait to get this CC. SO AWESOME. haters gonna hate…

  16. Mser says:

    I’m a big fan of the Surpass card but not sure I’d be interested in a Diamond card with the proposed mediocre additional benefits. Diamond+ status is intriguing but that’s first I’ve heard of it. Honestly don’t need yet another card with airline credits and PP lounge access. Nor do I like night certificates – they expire while points don’t. Rather have earning thresholds similar to the Delta Plat – spend $30K get 15K MQM and 15K points. Spend $60K and get the same.

  17. Ric says:

    Great discussion here guys and some valid points. Really enjoy this blog 🙂
    I’m still sour towards Amex for my recent 100k clawback and think I’ll be laying low for a while

  18. AB says:

    So here’s my rough calculations. First off, I get about 0.6cpp value on my redemptions so I’ll avg that with the 0.4cpp others report for a half cent value.

    Surpass+Reserve has a combined AF of $170. That is $225 less than this card. Spending $60k on this card gets you D+, PP, $250credit, and a free night. But it also likely gives you the bulk of your spending at 3X. Spending $40k on surpass primarily at 6X, and $10K on Reserve at 3X, plus another $10k on a 2%cb card gives you D, a free night, $200 cash, and approximately 70k more points (value at $350).

    So you are getting $225 – $250 + $200 + $350 = $525 of net cash/value in exchange for a tier up in status plus PP.

    I’m not sure what Hilton could really offer in increased value for D+ that would give it that kind of value for me.

    Guaranteed suite upgrades if available? We basically get that with Diamond. Maybe guaranteed at time of booking? But how much extra value is that really worth? If you are just sleeping in that room and not using it for work, do you need the space?

    Probably 100% earning bonus on your stays. So if you stay 100 paid nights at ~$150/night, you’ll see 75k extra points over D. But then again that would probably get you D+ anyway!

    Maybe you’d actually get more than an hour of extra late check out?

    Overall it seems like this is an obvious pass. Only apply if the bonus is amazing.

  19. atxtravel says:

    5x at supermarkets and $25 gift cards for the no fee card? I can get on board with that. I can easily “spend” 5-10k per week at grocery stores.

  20. atxtravel says:

    This about sums it up:
    http://blogs.barrons.com/stockstowatchtoday/2016/10/06/american-express-no-business-is-not-getting-better/

    ” In a digital era in which the transparency of reward values is high, and many consumers are increasing savings amid lackluster income growth, many investors have expressed concern that American Express’ high annual fee and low reward value products are no longer right for the times.”

    Main problem with AMEX is they painted themselves into a corner of relying on high annual fees and very wealthy consumers spending a ton. Their MR points are now much less useful compared to Chase/Citi.

  21. Hadley V. Baxendale says:

    As someone who does not MS, the changes to the no annual fee card of 7 points at supermarkets could make this my go to card for that relatively minor spend for me ~ 2.8 cents/$1.00 spent is not bad at all.

    Since I have Diamond thru 3/31/2018 as a result of the most recent status match, I would not consider this card until early 2018 or so — especially since sign up bonus would likely be once per lifetime.

    Not going to put $60K on the card, that is for sure. But as a non-MS-er,if the carry cost is $150/year for Diamond status, I might consider the card as it would be nice to have guaranteed lounge access for the annual free night and points accumulated thru the Citi Reserve as one only wants to use those at the best places anyway where the lounge is key and prices can be high = London, etc.

    Will wait and see for the Diamond card, but looking forward to revamped no fee card.

    Partner and I were both targeted for the free AMEX HHonors night like Citi Reserve, but for only $1,000 spend.

    AMEX needs to do something as it is being ditched by many households, including mine. Those who retain, either know the sweet spots of MRs — and are willing to live with non-US redemption partners — or are dinosaurs who still think that Platinum AMEX signifies your are an elite — like my dad. They will never learn.

    In any event, I think the jury is out with SPG — they just signed a contract and I think they are playing nice with Marriott hoping Marriott does a AAdvantage like it did with Citi and Barclay’s — How else do you explain AMEX not offering 30,000 point semi-annual increase of the SPG cards, which would currently translate into 90,000 Marriott points, eclipsing Chase’s own offerings currently at 80,000?

    I think that AMEX is hoping to influence Marriott to have 2 card issuers in the future — not sure it will work, but since AMEX signed up for presumably a multi-year deal with SPG, I expect that AMEX could be around for some time — hence the rumors of a Chase SPG card, as well.

    Even though Hilton has a deal with Citi, AMEX’s US travel partners are really Hilton and Delta, with a minor player being Choice and that’s it!

    Since HHonors has to now deal with the changed SPG/Marriott landscape and AMEX has to deal with Chase and Citi eating into their market share for high end cards, AMEX and Hilton are perfectly placed to offer a compelling card to the masses — who don’t MS.

    We’ll see if they really step up to the plate.

  22. Chad says:

    I think there is a chance rumors of AMEX new trademarked “Tier 1” have to do with this possible upcoming card. Just occurred to me when I received an unrelated promotional email from Hilton about and saw them referring to their status program levels as “Tier”.

  23. Joseph N. says:

    I’m going to have to side with abby on this one. MS is the reason why we can’t have nice things. The categories on this card are more evidence that American Express has clearly decided to clamp down on the small number of users who are gaming their system, although all the crying about points that got clawed back make me think AmEx has already been successful on that front.

    Comparing this card to the Ritz Carlton card has one huge flaw: the Ritz card does not have the Marriott name on it. If AmEx really wants to rake in the cash from people looking for bling, they need to cut a deal to put the Waldorf-Astoria name on the card. If you don’t think there are a bunch of people who would spend $400 just to have a card with the Waldorf name on it, look at all the fools who beg AmEx to let them have a Centurion card.

    • AB says:

      RC technically has its own reward program. WA does not.

    • farsighted99 says:

      Damn, I love the Waldorf’s. Just stayed at the Caledonian in Edinburgh; what a lovely hotel… I want that card!!! 😀 Can sit right next to my Mercedes Benz Plat card! 😀

      I’m just being silly, but the Waldorf Astoria name would up the card status a bit. Maybe they could even make it a metal card. Silly me.

  24. P says:

    Hopefully they will also entice existing card members to upgrade with upgrade offers.

  25. Ian says:

    Where do you get this survey? Is it from those survey for miles or points, like those from Survey Sampling International LLC?

  26. farsighted99 says:

    I’m just about to ditch my AX Hilton Surpass card, because I find it totally useless since they charge forex charges and Citi’s card doesn’t. Just came back from 4 Hiltons stay in the UK. So I hardly use it; I use Citi’s Hilton card. If only they’d fix that part of the card, I’d be happy. I’d rather use Amex than Citibank.

    The Diamond card sounds OK, but unless they change it so you can buy airline tickets with it, I feel that $250 credit is just annoying (signing up for specific airline, and then buying seat upgrades or airline gift cards sucks). They are just hoping a lot of people won’t bother … at least they won’t have Forex charges.

  27. Hadley V. Baxendale says:

    Doc,

    Any more word on this or other developments?

    It would seem that this was truly in the works since AMEX was intent on securing all of Hilton’s business with its bid and the only way this card could fly were for AMEX to eliminate the Citi HHonors Reserve — which it did!

    Many thanks!

    Had

    • Haven’t heard anything yet unfortunately. Will update when I do.

      • Hadley V. Baxendale says:

        Thanks.

        If one can dispose of the travel incidentals like one can with the Platinum AMEX with various airlines, I might bite,

      • Faisal says:

        Any word on this? Also, can US citizens apply for the AMEX Ascend Credit Card in Canada? Wonder if one day, residency requirements can be eliminated and one can apply cross borders for a credit card in another country…what if? could a game changer…

  28. Neutralist says:

    CALLED IT.

  29. cp says:

    Never liked Am EX, Visa is my choice. I’ll probably deal out of this change. I think someone is making a mistake. In this world of buying out and all the mumbo jumbo.. Stick with Visa………

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