Posted by William Charles on November 1, 2017
Credit Cards

Published on November 1st, 2017 | by William Charles


Citi Hilton Cards Will Become American Express Cards

Hot off the heels of the announcement of two new American Express Hilton cards is the announcement that American Express has purchased the Hilton back book from Citi. This means that existing Citi Hilton cardholders will be converted to American Express Hilton cards. Update: Citi now has a full F.A.Q found here regarding the change. The change will officially happen on January 30th, 2018. If you’re a Reserve cardholder then American Express will give you the full 12 months to meet the $10,000 spending requirement for the free night certificate. The product changes will be as follows:

  • Citi No Annual Fee Hilton becomes American Express No Annual Fee Hilton
  • Citi Hilton Reserve becomes American Express Hilton Ascend (replacing the Surpass)

It might make sense to cancel your Citi Hilton cards if you don’t want the product changes to go through. I suspect we will see new bonuses on both cards when they are released in 2018. According to this you will need to keep your Reserve/Ascend card open until you receive the free night certificate (for spending $10,000).

89 Responses to Citi Hilton Cards Will Become American Express Cards

  1. Aditya Shrivastava says:

    Any idea what will happen if I already have the American Express No Annual Fee Hilton?

    • EO says:

      Haha. Great minds think alike, I suppose.

    • David says:

      From the FAQ:

      Q: What if I already have the Hilton Honors Card from American Express and/or the Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express?
      A: If you already have a Hilton Honors American Express Card, you will still receive an additional Hilton Honors American Express Card if your Citi Hilton Honors Card transfers to American Express. Please contact American Express after your account transfers to discuss options for your accounts.

  2. EO says:

    What happens if I currently have both the Citi and AmEx no fee versions? Will I have two of the same AmEx card come 2018? I realize you/others may not know definitively, but any experience with past precedent of a similar nature would be helpful. Thanks!

  3. P says:

    Oh, I wonder how this affects Amex’s 4/5 card limit? Hopefully they don’t close cards.

  4. Alex says:

    My biggest concern is what happens to spend $10K get a free night Citi Reserve benefit. I hope they follow Chase footsteps and reduce the spending requirement for those who did not have a full year of spending but it also might be the opposite and they refuse to award the night even if the spending is complete because they’re selling the portfolio and will not care as much.

    • Ascend has spend 15k get free night, so I suspect that’s what will happen

      • Alex says:

        What do you mean – they’ll transfer current spending from Citi to Amex and make people spend $15K instead of $10K to get the night?

        Sounds way too complex to me. And it’s a material change in the requirements that many people won’t be happy with. Finally, big part of spending might have already been done on Citi so I doubt Amex will want to be on the hook to provide the benefit.

        • Ah sorry, I didn’t understand your question. I think for those cardholders the $10k spend requirement will stay this year, replaced by 15k in following years.

        • Citi has just put up a FAQ. #17 is what you’re interested in:

          Q: I am supposed to have a full “card year” of 12 months to spend $10,000 to receive a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors. What if I haven’t met the $10,000 spending requirement before my Citi Hilton Honors Reserve Card becomes a Hilton Honors American Express Card?
          A: American Express will include the spending on your Citi Hilton Honors Card to calculate when you reach the $10,000 spending requirement. If you meet the spending requirement, you will receive a Weekend Night reward from Hilton Honors according to the program’s terms and conditions.

          • NinjaX says:

            woooow. this is ridic on so many levels. im gonna hit 10k with citi and get it over with. no way im going to rely on two massive companies being smart about this. noooo way.

          • Alex says:

            Thanks William!

            I guess it’s neutral. Not as good as the Fairmont conversion but fair enough.

          • Alex says:

            @NinjaX – problem is you still have to wait till the anniversary to get the free night so might as well just spread the spending in whatever way is convenient.

          • Alex says:

            Interesting though, I only see 14 points on the FAQ right now. Looks like it’s work in progress. If you see a version you like in particular, might as well take a screenshot 😉

          • Jamie says:

            Does this mean if you have a January renewal date and hit the $10,000 spend before that, you’d get free night as usual and then for the 2018-2019 card year, you will only have to spend $10,000 instead of the new $15,000 for another free night…since you wouldn’t have time in the less than a month period from card renewal with Citi to AMEX takeover to hit the spend requirement again?

          • Hadley V. Baxendale says:

            Like Ninja below, I plan to close out 2017 by spending the needed 10K to get the card.

            Although uncelar from # 17 above, it seems that AMEX will track whatever shortfall you had up to your original Citi renewal date so that you can spend $$ on the Ascend to attain the Citi Reserve night.

            If so, that is exceedingly generous of AMEX as the major difference betweent he 2 cards (besides the amount needed for the free night) is that the Reserve worked on a Cardmember year, whereas the Ascend works on a calendar year towards earning the free night.

            If AMEX will track the $$ needed for the Citi Reserve free night up to your renewal date, then it would seem that depending on one’s Citi Reserve renewal date — if one has not put any $$ on the Citi Reserve this year, that your new Ascend could be used to earn 2 FREE weekend nights by participating in a dual track earning process.

            $10,000 spent on it would earn you the Citi Free night and it would also take you 2/3 of the way towards earning the AMEX free night for calendar year 2018.

            Of course, the devil is truly in the details, and with Citi being its usually unclear self — one does not really know what this shakeout will bring.

            I recall seeing on FlyerTalk in either the Hilton forum, or the AMEX Hilton credit card forum (I think the former) that the Hilton rep said that if you spent the 10K before the end of the year, you would still get the free night on your “old” anniversary date of the Citi Reserve card.

            I opearated on that premise.

            If however, one can get towards 2 free nights, by spending on the Ascend card — the Citi Reserve Free night and the Ascend’s own free night, well, I guess I should have waited, but them’s the breaks.

            If I had not spent almost the entire 10K by now, I would wait, but since I am only $138 short, I will spend the rest before the end of the year.

            Nevertheless, I expect to contact Citi at the end of January for a pro rata refund of my $95 annual fee for a card that no longer exists! However, I will have to find out from them how that might or might not affect my expected delivery of the Citi Reserve free night next year!

            So many questions left unanaswered!!!

          • NinjaX says:


            yea, you still have to wait till the anniversary to get the free night, BUT my point was a FYI warning to everyone that in no way do I trust two massive companies to keep tabs on my 10k spending and issuance of a free night “behind the scenes via database tracker”. hence, my strategy is spend 10k before 2017 is over. that way, there is NO question about meeting spend. then amex will get my info with a “flag of yes, he met spend, issue cert”. dont like this custodial transfer reliance crap. yea you can spread the spending in whatever way is convenient, but thats your call. in theory, it should work right? but i dont like the sound of the potential issues.


            exactly. im glad you see potential major issues. AMEX will track whatever shortfall with the Citi renewal date so that you can spend $$ on the Ascend to attain the Citi Reserve night which is no longer a Citi card to begin with??? Dude. Thats a damn IT nightmare. will i trust such a complicated IT challenge? no. Citi IT and Amex working on something like this makes me wanna throw up. i advice everyone to get the 10k done during the holidays. should be easy.

            yes, there is a potential double dip spending fulfillment if you wait for the PC, but the follow-up req risk is way too high for me. i dont want endless phone calls and escalations just to get one cert. YMMV on this but you only have $138 in spend left. the answer is obv. for others, they can roll the dice and test out the waters after the PC. and my gut tells me it should work since Amex will code it so that it keeps two separate trackers active.

          • Hadley V. Baxendale says:

            NinjaX and others —

            Just received an e-mail from Citi and it truly seems that they are contemplating the AMEX Ascend to pick up any shortfall towards your free night if you have not achieved it by 12/31/17.

            They state:

            “All purchases made with your Citi Hilton Honors Reserve Card and on your new American Express card will count toward achieving your anniversary bonus of a Free Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors, consistent with applicable terms and conditions.”

            The key is the conjunctive “and” with respect to the Ascend card.

            Now, I am only $138 short so I am going to close it out by the end of 12/31/17.

            However, keeping in mind Ninja’s admonition, I think that if you are quite far away from reaching the 10K goal by the end of the year, and if I had to do it over again, I would simply wait and try to “double dip” on your spending with your new Ascend towards earning the 2 free nights with the separate spend requirement – 1 Citi HHonor Reserve/Ascend earned free night by your old renewal date for the Citi Reserve after spending the required 10k, and a second free night from 15K spend on the Ascend during calendar year 2018.

            Good luck to all!

            Of course, Citi is silent as to whether one will receive a pro rata refund for the $95 annual fee you paid for 12 months use of the card wherein most will not get 12 months use!

            If anyone gets any info on this or any other issue of import, please post or notify DOC!!!

            Many thanks, William and Chuck!

  5. Abey says:

    I have a 3 Citi Hilton basic cards. Two were downgraded from Reserve. I guess i will try quickly to product change them to DC or close them. If they get converted to Amex it will give me too many Amex cards to get approved for another Amex and be within the 5 cards limit.
    Its interesting though if Amex matches credit limits.

  6. WR says:

    If I cancel early, will I still get the prorated AF refund?

  7. Highsky says:

    I have a Citi hilton card, but never applied for a Amex hilton card. Will this conversion make me ineligible for the opening bonus from Amex?

  8. NinjaX says:

    Crazy talk. This is AMEX hitting back Citi for Costco. I hope the book of business was HUGE. Probably not as crazy as Costco, but I hope the transition is not a disaster like Costco. I was included in that transition and I will go thru this headache again with Hilton. Gonna cancel so I can apply fresh. Floodgates have now been opened. No sense to keep Citi to go to Amex when Amex will let you on even with 5 CC. Almost certain Amex has a lot riding on this.

  9. Adam says:

    hmm the most pertitnent Q is if them PC’ing your existing Citi Hilton to an equivalent AMEX will preclude you from getting a bonus on the AMEX side?

    I dont wanna yet cancel my Citi Hiltons cause this presents unique opportunities for holding 6-7 cards with AMEX for possible leverage purposes later on.

    • NinjaX says:

      the answer is simple:

      1) given how amex is with all other CC, PC will NOT get you another bonus if you app fresh later. that wouldnt even make sense and IF, you get the bonus, its a glitch and the locust swarm of reddit will make sure it closes ASAP. Do you not know about the RAT and the PC Special Operations Command (SOCOM) headed by the FBI CIA and Russia? so you need to close ALL your Citi HH CC and make sure nothing goes to Amex. No reason to risk not getting the insane bonus. What insane bonus? I have no clue but im sure it will be good given where Amex is now.

      2) you think the risk of forgoing the bonus allows you “unique opportunities for holding 6-7 cards with AMEX”? no man. say u have 5 CC with amex and none are HH. then you will have 7 AMEX CC after PC. then what? u think you can PC to OBC or EDP or whatever? no. but maybe you really want to keep the 5 CC that you already have and no room for HH so giving up the bonus is actually OK since you will at least get the 7 amex CC when u couldnt before? if thats the case then I agree with you, but let me ask you this. if you EVER cancel one of your original 5 CC, then you wont be able to app for another CC again cuz ur still over the max. is that OK? if u churn then no. thats not OK.

  10. Curmudgeon says:

    It will be interesting to see what happens to those with Citi Hilton cards that are on the Amex blacklist.

  11. T says:

    I already have 5 AMEX cards. Do you think that will push me into having a 6th card

    • dan says:

      probably; will likely cancel citi hilton cc to get almost full refund of AF; mine 2nd yr AF has een for 2 months; had to pay the AF while waiting for the conf of the free night cert

    • Electroman says:

      I have six AMEX credit cards now. I’m sure you’ll be joining the “AMEX over 5” club soon.

  12. Jay says:

    Please Help: If I get the Surpass card now.. then later get Ascend after it comes out? would I be able to get this card based on the once in a lifetime?… Since this is a complete New Product that replaced the Surpass? Thx.

    • It’s not a complete new product AFAIK.

      • Alex says:

        Do you mean that someone who has had Surpass will not be able to get sign-up bonus on Ascend?

        That’s a pretty important point to understand to make a decision on whether to allow Citi to Amex conversion or cxl Citi.

        • Do you mean that someone who has had Surpass will not be able to get sign-up bonus on Ascend?

          Yes, I’ll do a dedicated post on this.

          • NinjaX says:

            doc. you just need to tell these guys that the SURPASS AND ASCEND are the same damn product with different words and colors. then they will get it. everyone thinks this is Amex Plat Schwab vs MB.

          • Alex says:

            @Ninja @William

            I think it’s an opinion unless you have facts. I don’t disagree with you but FM thinks Ascend will be considered a new product. I’m looking forward to read your thoughts in the dedicated post.

      • AL says:

        My email from amex says “refreshed card coming Jan 2018”. That def makes it sound like it’s not a new product.

  13. Biggie F says:

    I’m confused. I’m on track to hit the $10K on HIlton Reserve by something like 6 January, my traditional renewal date. I usually qualify by skin of my teeth near that date, and certificate shows up late February or beginning of March.

    But let’s assume I cancel my HIlton Reserve just after 6 January, because I don’t want the new Amex product and/or would rather get a bonus with it when I do get it.

    Who — Citi? Amex? Hilton? — is going to produce that certificate? Or no one, since I will no longer be a cardholder?

  14. Slim says:

    There’s a potential sweet spot with a Reserve to Ascend conversions. You should still be eligible to get your Reserve free weekend night after $10k spend next year (cardmember year) along with the free night for $15k spend on the Ascend (calendar year). So $15k spend should get you two free nights next year.

  15. Nick says:

    I think I will finish my $10k spend before January 31 to be safe. I’ll have two Ascend cards, so I’ll probably cancel the converted card after I receive my weekend certificate and keep the Surpass card I just received (since I get an anniversary free night). I assume the certificate will remain valid if I cancel that card after I receive the certificate?

    As for the conversion, the $15k threshold is definitely a major downgrade, especially since merchants hesitate to accept AMEX. I don’t think I’ll be going for that anymore as I used to (when I would put general spend on the Reserve Visa, even if I gave up extra rewards).

    • NinjaX says:

      yes. that is one strategy that could work. cert after issue is fine if u close the CC. i will also have many Amex HH CC. i need to think about next steps.

  16. BJ says:

    If your Citi Hilton card is converted to an AMEX Hilton card, will that count as a new card for purposes of Chase’s 5/24 rule?

  17. Dan says:

    chatted with Citi and they are indicating that you cannot product change to stop the conversion

  18. VM00 says:

    I have 2 Amex Hilton Reserve cards and 1 Citi Surpass card.
    Does this mean I will now have 3 Amex Ascend Cards?

  19. Darv says:

    My wife closed hers in anticipation of this about a month ago. She has five Amex credit cards so we did not want it interfering with opening new cards. It was a no-AF Citi Hilton.

  20. JR says:

    I have this Citi hilton card, but never applied for a Amex hilton card. With this automatic conversion, I will have AMEX card so I will not be able to get the bonus for AMEX hilton card in future if it comes..correct?

    So should I just cancel my Citi Hilton card now so that i can avail the bonus for AMEX hilton card in future?

  21. Jason says:

    “you Hilton Honors Surpass Card will become your Hilton Honors Ascend Card on 1/18/18” via email today.

  22. Vincent says:

    Anyone tried to convert a Citi Hilton card to Costco card at this moment?
    I called in today for a product change, but was told not applicable any more since it has already been sold to Amex. Citi can do nothing even it is still a Citi credit card.

    • Nick says:

      I think the Costco portfolio is separate from the rest of the Citi products. They wouldn’t let me move credit from Hilton to Costco earlier this year. They didn’t cite the Hilton portfolio transition but rather that the Costco card wasn’t eligible for credit limit transfers.

  23. Dave says:

    Looks like many people in same boat as me, already have the AMEX HH and will have Citi HH convert to another one. Like others, I already have 5 AMEX credit cards (plus 2 charge cards). What happens then?
    Also, I’ve had my Citi HH card for 5+ years. When it converts to AMEX, will it count as a new card and hurt my AAOA? Or will the system realize that this is the same account? Will it count against 5/24? Those who had the AMEX Costco convert to Citi Costco, did this count as a new account? And the age of the account?

  24. Alex says:

    I’ve been thinking about various options and it’s not 100% clear how things will play out but I’m leaning towards keeping Citi Hilton Reserve and let it convert. I’ll stop spending on it for now in hopes of double-dipping the spending requirements and getting two free nights. I don’t think I’ve got much to lose because I already have Amex Hilton Surpass and waiting for the free night at the anniversary so at the end of the day I likely won’t be eligible for Ascend signup bonuses even if I don’t let Citi convert.

    • Cytraveler says:

      I’m in the exact same boat. I got the Citi Reserve and Amex Surpass around May 2017, so it doesn’t look like I’d be able to get a bonus for the Ascend anyway. So my current plan is to do like you- spend my $10k in February. Making those painful estimated tax payments will have a sliver of a silver lining.

  25. NinjaX says:

    this is just a random guess, but the amount of info given to customers this early for this massive take over is WAY BETTER than Amex Costco to Citi. Tons of useful info and most of it makes sense. Unlike the Costco nightmare. Its almost as if Amex wanted to show off and tell Citi to suck it. or maybe its because Amex now has Costco experience. Not sure.

  26. Alex says:

    I don’t see why people are taking about pro-rated refund, unless they cxl the Citi card. I expect Amex will not charge their annual fee until the card’s anniversary date provided by Citi.

    • Hadley V. Baxendale says:

      First, your contract was with Citi, not AMEX.

      Second and more importantly, a number of people will wind up having 2 Ascend cards, one from the Citi switchover and the second from the Surpass conversion to the Ascend.

      Who needs 2?

      Yes, you can spend 15K on each and I suppose earn a free night on each — although AMEX could scotch that.

      In any event, there is a law of diminishing free nights, I suppose, and if the HH Aspire appears to be as good as it seems to be, I would prefer not having to shell out $95 twice, for the honor of having 3 AMEX HHonors cards — 2 would be more than sufficient, especially if my wife does likewise.

      After all, many probably also have a duo combination of the IHG MC with its free night, and as I am a Marriott guy, I have free nights from their credit cards, as well!

      And don’t even get me started on the fact that many probably also have the Hyatt credit card!!

      So, if I can shave a $95 fee off a superflouos HHonors AMEX credit card, I will do so!

      However, I will agree with you that your observation that AMEX might not bill you until your Citi renewal date could be correct.

  27. E Dantes says:

    Will – I’m sure you’re already planning this, but just wanted to add that it would be of great interest to me (and I’m sure others) if you can do a follow-up post on what best strategies are for people with Citi or current AMEX cards are.

    I guess a lot depends on whether AMEX does consider all of these new products.

    For example: Would it be wise for current Surpass holders to downgrade/cancel right now? Should Citi people hold onto cards or cancel, etc.

    Lots of comments on this thread, but would so much appreciate a separate post that breaks down the options once you get more info. Thanks!

  28. Christine says:

    I just spoke with a Representative from Citi about the email sent to me regarding my Hilton Signature card with them. She told me “I just spoke with my supervisor this morning about this issue and not all cardholders will be switched over to AMEX. Due to your class of card, Your card will not be switched over to AMEX. You will still be able to use the card and earn Hilton points”, where-after she went into how many points I earn for each category. She did not state whether it was because of my class of card for Citi or AMEX (in both cases I have the Signature & Surpass)

    I found this odd being that they sold the entire portfolio. I am going to give another call this evening to see if I get the same response.

  29. Bob says:

    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.

  30. J.M. says:

    Called to see whether I could product change my standard Citi Hillton card to something else or at least transfer the credit limit to my Double Cash card if I wanted to cancel.

    Was told “No” and “No.” 🙁

  31. Yudel says:

    Can I still apply for a citi Hilton card?

  32. Citi DP says:

    Interesting DP – I just called in to close the Citi no-fee HHonors and was given 5k courtesy points to keep it open. The operator said I could “continue using the card to earn HHonors points through the end of the year”, which should still leave time to close the card once the next statement posts. Worth calling in and trying for anybody that holds this.

  33. NinjaX says:

    Doc. Doesnt look like all Citi CC will be going to Amex. While this was mentioned in the Amex E-Mail about the transition:

    “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.”

    I just thot this meant worthless accounts with bad history will not be moved over. But after a talk with a supervisor, looks like I am also on a list to NOT go over to Amex. Very interesting if true. No idea whats up with this list.

    If there is any credibility to what the supervisor was saying, then I guess there are other criteria and everyone worrying about various future bonus aspects are completely wasting their time since they will remain with Citi anyway. They should all check.

    This could be because I already have 5 CC with Amex and I have no space left. Who knows. Maybe you have contacts to get more details.

    • Mike A says:

      According to a Citi supervisor my Citi Hilton Reserve will not be transferred either. This is despite the fact that my account is in good standing with more than enough spend to earn me Hilton Diamond status in 2017. I also have an AMEX Surpass and suspect that AMEX didn’t want to acquire Citi accounts that would not result in the net addition of a new AMEX account (since I’d have to close one of the duplicative accounts)

  34. Shyam says:

    DP on Amex credit card limit.

    Already have hit the 5 credits cards limit with Amex including one no-annual fee Amex Hilton.
    Received mailers from American Express that both my no-annual fee Citi Hilton will be transferred to no-annual fee Amex Hilton cards. This would raise the bar from 5 to 7.

  35. Suzy says:

    Have Citi Hilton Honors, so does husband. We both have the Amex Hilton Surpass and my husband has the Amex Hilton Honors. I’m an AU on his card. I just noticed my credit line on my Citi HH is $68,500. Should I close it or let it go to Amex? As I was typing this, I just noticed that I also had the Amex Hilton card but cancelled it in May. Yes, too many cards to keep track of. Should I cancel husbands Citi card?

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