Can you get the Hilton Ascend bonus if you’ve had the Surpass?


All four new Amex Hilton cards are now available with shiny new welcome offers. And each offer says “Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product.”  With respect to the Ascend card, that surprises me.

For background, you can read about each of the cards here: Hilton Amex Cards. Everything you need to know.  The Hilton Aspire, Hilton Ascend, and Hilton business card each offer up to 100K bonus points (but each differs a bit with respect to the spend required).  The no-fee Hilton card offer is for 50K points after $1K spend in 3 months.

Amex has positioned the Ascend card as a “refreshed” version of the old Hilton Surpass card (no longer available).  Accordingly, a few blogs have gone out on a limb to assert that if you’ve ever had the Surpass before, you won’t be eligible for the Ascend welcome offer (here, and here, for example).  I get that.  Amex is definitely not advertising it as a new product, so it must be an evolution of the same product, right?  And that would mean that anyone who has had the Surpass before cannot get the bonus for the Ascend due to the language that states “Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product.”  Right?

Here’s the thing…  Not everyone in the US closely follows everything going on with Amex Hilton cards.  There must be thousands of people (tens of thousands?) who have had the Surpass card in the past who know nothing at all about the conversion of that card to the Ascend card.  And if they see an ad that tells them they can get a 100,000 point bonus with the Ascend card, they’ll have every reason in the world to believe that they’re qualified for it.  If they read the fine print and see “Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product,” they will reasonably believe that they’ve never have “this product” (the Ascend card).  Even if they have the forethought to search the offer’s terms (found here) for the card they remember having had in the past (“Surpass”), they won’t find it.  It’s not there.

If Amex really wanted to disqualify previous Surpass cardholders from earning a bonus with the Ascend card, they should have made that explicit in the terms.  If that’s their intent, the bonus term should state: “Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product or the Hilton Surpass Card.”  But the terms do not say that.

From all of this, I see two possibilities…

Possibility 1: Those who have had the Surpass card before are eligible for the Ascend bonus as long as they cancelled the Surpass before it was transitioned to Ascend.  Given that the terms do not explicitly disallow this, this would be the right thing for Amex to do and would result in the most happy customers.

Possibility 2: Those who have had the Surpass card before are not eligible for the Ascend bonus.  In this case, I guarantee that Amex will lose customers left and right when those customers find out that they aren’t eligible for a bonus.

Imagine this conversation:

Customer: I met the spend requirements, why didn’t I get the welcome offer?

Amex: You are not eligible for the bonus.  The terms state: “Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product.”

Customer: But I’ve never had the Ascend card!

Amex: Our records show that you have had the card. It was named the Surpass card at the time.

Customer: How the #$%$#!!! was I supposed to know that?!


At this point I think it would be completely idiotic for Amex to disallow Ascend welcome offers for those who previously had Surpass cards.  But, I don’t think that Amex is idiotic.  My guess (and please understand that this is just a guess!) is that Amex will allow a new bonus, but that they do not want to advertise that fact.  They don’t want “churners” learning that they have another shot at a bonus here, so they’re staying quiet or even giving out false information about what would happen if a former Surpass cardholder applied for the Ascend card.

Unfortunately, the only way to prove or disprove my theory is for a prior Surpass cardholder (who has not had the Ascend card) to apply for the Ascend card and meet the minimum spend requirements.  Then we’ll see whether they get the welcome offer.  My wife and I are not in a position to test this out since we let our Citi Reserve cards transition to Ascend cards.  Plus, we’re each tight up against the Amex 5 credit card limit.  Any takers?

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Today I received an email offer from Amex for 150K Hilton bonus. I was thinking just to try to apply then stop when that usual warning message popped up. But no, I was approved for a new Ascend card while I am still keeping my old Surpass ( applied in late 2016) . Does that mean I just wasted one slot of my */24? Any new DP that one can get another welcome bonus when they already had their Surpass? If I cancel the new card today, will a new account not be showing on my credit report?


Just as a data point. I did not get the spend bonus and was a previous Surpass cardholder.

I applied for Surpass in 2015 and cancelled in 2016. I applied and was approved for the Ascend card this January/February. I’ve exceeded the spend requirements and just spoke with a rep. She confirmed that I would not be getting my signup bonus because I was a prior Surpass cardholder.

I tried several different ways to get around it but she would not budge. She said because they renamed the Surpass card, it was the same card and therefore I don’t qualify. She confirmed that the Aspire card was a net new card and that I would (have) qualified on that one.

For the record, she also confirmed that the base Honors card is also the same one that they’ve had in the past (but with new branding), and that I would not qualify for that one either.

Disappointing, but hope this helps others.


… and now with a completely unexpected follow-up. Even though I was told _by AMEX_ that I would not qualify for the bonus… after my billing statement that was just cut (where I passed the spend threshold), I confirmed that the 100k bonus (75k + 25k) posted to my Honors account.




No, I didn’t escalate because the rep I spoke with was very clear that there was no chance of getting the bonus because I had previously had the Surpass card. So it’s either something that she did escalate after I hung up (unlikely) or just a weird coincidence and the points took a while to show up. Glad to provide a data point and hopefully AMEX will start to award other previous Surpass cardholders as well!

Brent Y

Greg, Has there been any data points in the last month as to whether anyone who previously had the Surpass, and applied and was approved for the Ascend card, got the bonus? Thanks in advance


I have a question for everyone that has inquired or gone through with the upgrade from either the no annual fee card or Ascend to the Aspire card: Upon upgrading was there any mention of also getting the Free Weekend Night voucher? I see multiple references to the offer of 75k points for $2k spend but none about the reward voucher.

I am likely to pull the trigger on this card in the next 6 weeks or so. I am about $2500 away from the $15k spend on my Ascend, and can easily do so before my next statement closes, and could do an upgrade after. Unlike the Surpass, I was told by multiple Amex reps that with the Ascend the voucher would be issued after the statement closed in the month you reached the requirement. The surpass was only rewarded at the end of the year. I would only upgrade if I were guaranteed an additional weekend night voucher from the Aspire, otherwise I would just apply for the new card.

Nick Reyes

The free weekend night on the Aspire is an annual benefit just like the $250 resort credit and $250 airline fees credit or Diamond status. It’s not part of the signup bonus, just a standard card benefit. The terms when applying for a new account state that you’ll get the Year 1 cert 8-12 weeks after approval, so I would expect the same timeframe on an upgrade — 8 to 12 weeks after upgrading.

It hasn’t yet been 8 weeks since the Aspire debuted, so to my knowledge nobody has received the Year 1 certificate yet, but I expect we will in the coming weeks. I imagine it’ll be a while yet before we have reports on the timing of the cert after upgrade, but as it’s a standard benefit I have no doubt it will post eventually.


Thanks Nick,
I knew it was a benefit, not part of the sign up. I was just wondering if since they sometimes prorate annual fees and such when upgrading if it would affect them giving the voucher for the first year. I guess I’d have to call and ask specifically. But it makes sense that you should still get the voucher.

Nick Reyes

I obviously haven’t done what you’re asking about, so I can’t say with the 100% certainty that you’d like, but I’ve never heard of the benefits getting prorated even if the annual fee had been — that would be like if they said you’d only get a $125 airline fee credit because you only had the card half a year. To my knowledge, they’ve never done anything like that with any other card. I suppose nothing is impossible, but there’s a lot of precedent in terms of getting full card benefits on product changes and I don’t think there is a precedent in terms of not getting full card benefits on a product change. Still, if this were somehow the exception, you’d certainly want to know it before upgrading. Truth be told, even if a phone rep told you that you won’t get it, I’m not sure I’d believe it until we hear some data points one way or another from folks who have upgraded.


I meant more that they prorate the annual fee sometimes. I’ve gone from no fee cards to fee cards and say if I had 3 months left in my cardmember year they would charge me only 25% of rhe AF, then in 3 months charge me the full fee for the upcoming year. That’s what citi offerred me when I inquired about upgrading from the AA Platinum Select to Executive World Elite. The reward voucher benefit without a minimum spend is unique to only a few cards, so I was just inquiring if they had mentioned it specifically. otherwise if your member year ends towards the end of the year you could potentially pay a prorated AF and still get another voucher out on it. Not sure Amex policies are similar to Citi, but it was just something that popped into my head that I thought might be worth asking about.. I’ll probably give them a call tomorrow and ask specifically. But I think you’re probably right.


Hey guys,

So, I currently have the No-Fee Hilton AMEX credit card.

I’m looking at upgrading to the Ascend card. I should qualify for all bonuses, correct?


Only if you never had the Surpass card before.


Has anyone been able to get the sign on bonus after having the Surpass in the past? I am one of the silly people who didn’t realize that the Surpass was the same as the Ascend and applied for the Ascend. When I logged on to my account it showed that I had 2 Ascend cards, 1 of which was cancelled in 2015. When I inquired about this on the chat I was told I wouldn’t be eligible for the sign on bonus since I’ve had the product before. This is BS. Has anyone had success since these posts?

Nick Reyes

I’ve not yet heard of any success stories unfortunately.


I was told that I am not eligible for bonus


Checked the application status for another card, and my Surpass has changed to Ascend there too, even tho I applied middle of last year: “HILTON HONORS AMERICAN EXPRESS ASCEND CARD”

Hopefully Hilton starts targeting formed Surpass card owners with Ascend offers.


Plus under Hilton, checking my point activity, it also now says “AMEX ASCEND BONUS POINTS”


Updated DP:
(Background: previous Surpass cardholder, cancelled more than 1 year ago).

1/18: Applied for Ascend. Instant approval with temporary card number. Finished 3k+ spending on it (NO MS, normal online purchase).
1/19: 3k+ posted.
1/23: Still NO BONUS.

<10% chance a bonus will be posted.


REF abv PTS—Got a call from amx — I will get the points for my upgrade to ASCEND CARD from no fee –75K ON 2K spend

Dave Hanson

That’s great news, Bill. Yours is the only sucessful UG data point I’ve seen.

I’d like to UG my no-fee card to either Ascend or Aspire to harvest the bonus. I’ve had Surpass in the past 10 months though, so it seems like Aspire would be safer.

Mike L Weber

I had the Surpass… now when I login to my account AMEX calls it a Ascend card with the same card # (though they didn’t send me a refreshed card.) Since I also had the Citi Hilton, I did get a new AMEX Hilton Ascend card with a new number and instructions not to activate it until 1/30/18. Will be interested to see what happens at that time … I end up with two Ascend cards???

[…] 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 […]



A similar situation that a couple of readers have already commented on: moving form Ascend to Aspire. Because it is a new card, one can officially apply for it and get the 100K sign up bonus. You then will of course have 2 cards/accounts open, with one not necessary anymore (with a $95 annual fee), which you can ‘transfer over’ vs. close. Or you can just upgrade your card without getting the sign up bonus, keeping your existing account number. As a current Surpass/Ascend cardholder, both options were available to me.

Mike L Weber

I am both a Hilton Surpass and Citi Hilton card holder… my Surpass is already upgraded to an Ascend on my Account page, but they are telling me that there are no offers for upgrades to Aspire, however I should call back on January 30 and they might have something then (which is when my transferred card will be active and I’ll have two Ascend cards.)


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 very same downgraded no AF state. However…oddly enough…my wife’s is now showing as a new Ascend while mine is showing as the new no AF version.

Shouldn’t these have both converted to no AF versions? And perhaps product that was *originally* applied for is what was used for the conversion, not the card’s pre-conversion state?

I finally got what seems like an ironclad answer (spoiler alert: bummer dude):

“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 both shut out of the new Ascend offer as of now. Perhaps another upgrade will come for me down the line, no clue what we’ll do fo the wife’s no AF-to-Ascend conversion gone awry. For now, Aspire and Business cards here we come.


On the bright side, we all know how dependable your avg. customer service rep is when it comes to having correct information on things like this.


JOEY– because you “had” the card?


JOEY–The same thing happened to me- but when I called –see abv post


Had a chat right now with a agent, was told NO.


When in the Amex portal, I clicked on “request for upgrade” to Aspire, I was prompted with two option. Upgrade my basic Hilton or Ascend card – most of the benefits for the Aspire will apply within the upgrade like airline credit, hotel credit, Priority Pass. However, there is no indication of any bonus points for the upgrade.

Safe to say, I didn’t continue at all.



Hope to get more definitive answer Tuesday -will let u know


I called AMX about another card -CSR told he I AM ELIGIBLE for an upgrade to Ascend — 75k if spend $2k in 3 months–I asked about if spend additional $1k do I get 25k — told no-all other ben’s same as new offer
I was surprised by the offer as I have upgraded and downgraded many times over the years and always recvd the bonus “EXCEPT” — last time and that was in Jan. 2017

because of this I had myself transferred to two different supervisor – EACH TOLD ME – you will get the bonus

I still have doubts!! —-I will call today and see if my account is noted -if it is I will do the spendd–if not will down grade

Dave Hanson

Very interesting. Would you see if that upgrade offer shows when you are logged in to your current hilton card, and check out the product online?

Thanks, and good luck. I’m in a similar situation, and would take the same deal.


What will happen to the citi hilton hhonors visa signature card? Will it be converted to no fee card?


Yes, I had that one and the Reserve card. Now i have two new cards from AMEX. Even though I closed them both with Citi.


Hi Greg, I closed my Citi Hilton cards, but still got the new Amex cards in the mail to activate on the 31st. What are my options so i can get the bonus later? Do I call them up and complain that i don’t want my Citi cards converted and i don’t want it to show that I have ever had these cards?

Marilyn B

I closed my Citi Hilton card (the one that will transfer to the base Hilton card) in early December because I already had the basic no-fee Hilton Amex.
I received a new Hilton Amex in the mail two days ago, so I called Amex. They said that they started the conversion in September (!) and if I had closed my Citi account so recently, then my new Amex wouldn’t really be active and I could just destroy the card. I did not bother to try to activate it – just put it in the shredder.
Last month I was notified that an account was cancelled on my credit report, which would correspond to closing the Citi card. So I am not expecting to see a new account added. Better not happen!


Thanks for the update!

[…] 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 […]


Not really seeing option 2 playing out. The same people that do not follow what happens in the credit card world will not recall if they had the Surpass/Ascend/Aspire. all they will remember is they had some sort of AMEX hilton card that cost them about $100 a year. Heck some of them won’t even remember if it was a SPG or HH card they had.
We are the only ones that know all this stuff.


I called Amex and they said I can sign up for the Ascend but since I had the Surpass in the past (two years ago) I will not get the sign-up bonus. Bummer


@ Greg — Maybe I’m confused, but you seem to be mixing the names of the Aspire and Ascend cards in your article. I thought the Aspire card was definitely being treated as a new product, while the Ascend card was supposedly the same as the Surpass.

henry LAX

*raises hand* i had Surpass before and just approved of Ascend today, so let’s see how it plays out. but i’ve already been trying to find an Amex card that is lower than the $195 annual fee i’m currently coughing for the Amex P.R. Gold has more benefits more orthogonal to the other ones in my wallet.

The PRG was great when it had a major M.R. point bonus when you hit $30k spend, but yanking that made it a lot less attractive to me.


I like the way you think. Probably because that’s the way I think. I’m currently working on some bonus spending right now and will have to cancel an AMEX card to fit this new Hilton one in, but definitely going for this one in the next month or two. I’m sure I’ll hear one way or another on the bonus eligibility for previous Surpass card holders, but I’m thinking you’re right. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if they allowed early applications the bonus, but after getting inundated with repeaters eventually shutting it off? So I’m thinking the sooner the better on this one.


I had Surpass before but cancelled. I was approved for the Ascend card in the morning. Got the temporary card number and finished first 2k spending on it. Waiting to see if 75k posted (or if FR arrives earlier……).

Clint yates

Just Applied! I canceled my Surpass card about 1 year ago. I will keep you updated to see how it goes