Posted by William Charles on January 18, 2018
Credit Cards

Published on January 18th, 2018 | by William Charles

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Is The American Express Hilton Ascend A New Product? & Other Questions Answered

Update 01/18/18: The Ascend card is now live. Lots of people are asking this question currently. I still think it won’t be considered a new product but one thing that’s interesting is that the fine print states:

  • Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product.

When the American Express Delta Blue card was launched it stated:

  • Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who: Have or have had this product or the Delta SkyMiles® Options Credit Card, or Currently have or have had one of the following products in the last 90 days: Delta SkyMiles Credit Card, Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card, Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card, or Delta Reserve® Credit Card.

I think if American Express wanted to exclude Surpass cardholders the fine print should state: “Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product or the American Express Hilton Surpass card”. That being said American Express are the kings when it comes to denying bonuses despite terms and conditions that state customers should be otherwise eligible. I personally still think that the Ascend won’t be considered a new product. Frequent Miler disagrees with me and thinks it will be a new product and One Mile At A Time received a chat response stating it won’t be considered a new product. I personally put 0% faith in what a front line representative states, I’ve contacted American Express’ media team for comment.

Original post: When we posted about the two new American Express Hilton cards and the two product refreshes one thing a lot of people wanted to know is how the Hilton Ascend card will be treated. More specifically people wanted to know if they would be able to get the sign up bonus on the Ascend card if they have/have had the Hilton Surpass card. It’s important to note that all of the following is my opinion and isn’t based on any inside knowledge, I’ll point out the facts and my own conclusions but you should also be drawing your own conclusions and acting accordingly.

Is The Ascend Card A New Product?

This is the big question, if it is considered a new product then you should be able to get the sign up bonus if you’ve had the Surpass card before. My understanding is that this is a ‘product refresh’ with a new name, rather than a truly new product. We often see cards have their benefits changed and this does not result in card issuers considering this a new product. The difference this time is that the name is also changing. My reasons for thinking this won’t be considered a new product are:

  • Hilton sent an e-mail out stating that “your Hilton Honors Surpass card will become your Hilton Honors Ascend card on 1/18/17”. They did refer to it as a new card, but the title of the e-mail was “Refreshed Card”.
  • Press release states: “Today, consumers are able to acquire the Hilton Honors and Surpass Cards and will automatically be upgraded to the new benefits launching January 2018″

I’d love for American Express to consider this a new product, I just don’t see any reason why they would. All of the language they use is about this being a product refresh rather than a new product.

Hard data points:

  • Closed card before conversion:
    • Didn’t get bonus: 1, 2,
    • Did get bonus: 1,

What Should I Do If It Is A New Product?

If you disagree with me and think it will be a new product then there are a numbers of things it might be wise to do if you want to get the sign up bonus on the Hilton Ascend. Keep in mind American Express credit card applications state:

Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product

Here’s what I’d recommend:

  • If you already have an American Express Hilton Surpass, you should close or downgrade it. As mentioned above these will be turned into the new Ascend card. Keeping this card would prevent you from getting the sign up bonus as you’d “have” the Ascend card.
  • If you have the Citi Hilton Reserve you should close this card. Citi Hilton cards are being turned into American Express Hilton cards and you don’t want this to become the new Ascend card otherwise it would prevent you from getting the bonus. If your near to getting the free night certificate based on spend it might make sense to keep the account open.
  • If you haven’t gotten the bonus on the Surpass card, you should sign up now. Finish the minimum spend requirement as soon as possible and then cancel/downgrade the card. Then you’ll be ready for when the Ascend card launches. As comments point out, this likely isn’t a good idea due to American Express trying to crack down on those ‘gaming’ the annual fees and cancelling within the first year.

Final Thoughts

I’d be very very surprised if the Ascend is considered a new product, obviously this is something I’d be happy to be wrong about. If you disagree with me then follow the above steps. Feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments below.



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Nick
Nick

One exception to your recommendation to those with the current Citi card: if you are close to being eligible (or know you’ve met the requirements) for the free anniversary night, keep the card open until you have your certificate, even though you will end up paying another AF. If you don’t have the Surpass card already, though, definitely apply for it (especially if you already met the anniversary spend on the Citi card).

Hadley V. Baxendale
Hadley V. Baxendale

Nick, many will not have to pay the Citi Reserve’s annual fee in order to get the free night certificate on which they have already met the spend or about to, as the HH Rep on FT is on record stating that in those situations, those who already have met the spend will have their “Citi Reserve Cert” e-mailed to them at the end of February 2018.

If you fall into that category, one might have sufficient time to then cancel the converted Citi Reserve-Amex Ascend when Amex sends you a renewal notice —
should you wish to do so.

The above also goes for those who will finish their Amex Ascend spend on their converted Citi Reserve as Amex is on record stating that one should receive the cert within 6 weeks of completing the spend. This is a welcome change to that of Citi’s policy where you had to pay the annual fee to receive the preceding year’s certificate.

Vakas
Vakas

The thing that would be interesting is will people with the old card will be grandfathered into the new product and keep their lesser annual fee which would make this a great deal for the long term.

Matthew
Matthew

I’m going to assume we would be refreshed into the $95 AF unless the renewal date is before 6/18ish. Amex gave existing platinum cards the grace period of 5 full months to keep the $450 AF. AF went up to $550 after 3/30 and existing Platinum accounts got charged $550 after 9/1.

Blue
Blue

I don’t see any good reason to not downgrade to the no AF card, as long as you have held the Surpass more than 12 months to avoid RAT wrath. Either you’ll be able to get Ascend as a new product or you’ll be prepped for the inevitable upgrade offer from the no-AF card.

Blue
Blue

Edit: Also new card or not I suspect will ultimately hinge on the backend database. My suspicion is that it is far easier to create a new product category and transition compared to modifying the parameters of an existing product.

Vic
Vic

Interesting perspective. As we know many (or all) parts of this game rely on testing the system rather than the stated rules. I agree that it will depend on the software design.

Matthew
Matthew

Can someone remind me, if downgraded, can you get the signup bonus of the no AF card down the road?

I signed up recently with the 100k+1n after first year. Of course now that 1 night free will probably come with a $95 AF vs $75.

Ric
Ric

No, once you have the card, you are ineligible for the signup bonus in the future. This includes getting it via upgrade or downgrade.

BigTex
BigTex

A very peculiar set of data points to share. We’ve upgraded and downgraded between the old no AF and Surpass cards, and as of last week we each had one in the downgraded no AF state. However…and this is pretty wild…my wife’s is now showing as a new Ascend while mine is showing as the new no AF version.

The amex chat reps are utterly confused, and frankly so am I. Shouldn’t these have both converted to no AF versions?

I’m left wondering if the product that was *originally* applied for is what was used for the conversion, not the card’s pre-conversion state.

Any thoughts? Other data points?

BigTex
BigTex

Update from Amex chat rep:

“Your Hilton Honors card has been changed to the new Hilton Honors card however earlier this same account used to be Hilton Surpass which you downgraded to Hilton Honors in 2016. Since the Hilton Ascend card is the new name for Hilton Surpass and you have had the same card before,so like all our cards if you have had the same card before, the welcome offer will not eligible for the same card if you apply.”

So it looks like they know the provenance of the card, and we’re shut out of the new Ascend offer. Aspire and Business cards here we come, I guess!

Blue
Blue

That’s very interesting. I have a no-AF version that I upgraded to Surpass and then downgraded back to no-AF. If it is flagged as the initially created card…maybe I’ve slipped through.

Danielle
Danielle

I’m just about to drop to 4/24 next month and don’t want to waste the spot on the Asprire, but I am a current Surpass holder. Maybe I’ll get lucky and an upgrade offer will come my way? I’m currently Gold with Hilton, but I’d like to give Diamond a test run. Given the total credits offered with the Aspire, I think it’s a low risk to do so.

Ewejay
Ewejay

@Danielle, how long do you want to stay at 4/24? Aspire won’t be available for signup until January and AmEx cards won’t report to personal credit report for at least a month.

Geoff
Geoff

@Danielle,

Before you waste that last slot, please consider that many people regard the jump from Gold to Diamond as pretty insignificant. If you travel overseas a lot, the exec lounge benefit is wonderful, but we are finding that in the US, Hiltons are rapidly closing the Exec Lounges, or offering just a cheap continental breakfast and maybe a few bottles of mediocre wine in the evening. I’m content with Gold.

Study up here: http://tinyurl.com/ybsfobdy

Rob
Rob

“If you haven’t gotten the bonus on the Surpass card, you should sign up now. Finish the minimum spend requirement as soon as possible and then cancel/downgrade the card. Then you’ll be ready for when the Ascend card launches.”

I’m not sure that is a great idea with RAT considering closing an account within the first year as evidence of gaming.

bob
bob

i have a Surpass, but it’s an upgrade from the old blue HHonors Amex, not a “i applied for a Surpass and Got a Signup Bonus” Surpass.

i did not get the “your card will be converted” email.

Blue
Blue

Same situation, no e-mail either.

Brandon
Brandon

I thought it would be a new product until today when I saw this – https://card.americanexpress.com/?s_clid=d5858acfd1b65b6c2f79bbcab2d4e6e3&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI6uyPhpeg1wIVhVqGCh2sGQUqEAAYASABEgLp8PD_BwE

They state how the Surpass fee will increase on 1/18 and they mention a new benefit of free night on $15k will be added.

Based on that product page, I think you’re right Doc.

J
J

So if you’re an existing Surpass card holder, when they “refresh” your card do they charge you the new higher AF prorated? Or does the higher AF not take effect for you until your next renewal?

Kinda a bummer that I was supposed to get 1 night free at renewal but now that will cost more.

Bob
Bob

Question regarding the Citi HIltons becoming American Express. If we can cancel the Citi Hilton, will we lose the 2 free weekend nights we earned? We were planning to use them next spring, but was wondering if cancelling them early would make you lose them.

Also, does anyone have a link to the excluded hotels for the weekend nights? Since the application is dead, the link I had from before is also dead.

Frank
Frank

Well, if you got the offer on the Surpass for 100k and free anniversary night it would be senseless to downgrade since you would lose your free anniversary night

farsighted99
farsighted99

I cancelled my Amex Surpass a month or two ago. Mainly because I wasn’t using it because of the 2.7% forex charges. I am just using my Citi card. If I cancel my Citi card, I won’t have a Hilton card at all.

I already got a bonus for the Amex surpass a long time ago. I sort of doubt they would give me a second bonus on the Ascend product, since I got one one already. Then if I cancel my Citicard, I would have to reapply for another Hilton card and have one less cc to apply for.

I can’t remember if I got 2 free nights or points on the Amex Surpass for the bonus. Not sure if it’s worth the bother if it’s not sure that Ascend might be considered a new product or not.

Glad they are not charging forex charges and still giving a free night (like Citi). I stay in a lot of Hiltons, mostly not in the US.

I’m thinking I’ll just let them switch me into the new Amex product and move on…

Ryan
Ryan

I originally applied for the Hilton Honors card (free one) then product changed to the Surpass to get a PC bonus, then product changed back to the free version. I’ve never actually applied for the Surpass. Would I be eligible for this bonus?

kathy (will run for miles)

sorry if this is redundant. I have the citi Visa signature Hilton – it’s the free one and I never use it. I’m tempted to cancel it, and apply for the current amex Surpass card with the 125K point bonus. Is this a sound choice, or is there something or some step that I”m missing?

Steve
Steve

Sorry to be dense, but in the conversation above, what is RAT?

SK
SK

I recently got upgrade offer on my two Hilton Honors card(no-annual fee) to Hilton Surpass Card for 75K points, which expires on Jan. 17th. Should I take the upgrade offer before it expire?

Thanks!

Johnnyb_s
Johnnyb_s

I’m in the same boat with the same question.

Blue
Blue

Don’t take an upgrade offer until you’ve got the initial sign up offer.

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