Hilton Conversion Questions Answered: New Ascend bonus? 5/24 effect?

Note that this post references a card that has since changed in name to the Hilton Honors Surpass card from American Express. The card was previously known as the Hilton Honors Ascend card, but that name has now expired.

In January, Amex revamped their Hilton credit card lineup and took over Citibank’s Hilton credit card portfolio. Amex rolled out four cards (click the links for more info about each card):

Can we get the Ascend welcome bonus if we’ve had the Surpass card?

The biggest question we all had was whether or not those who have had the Hilton Surpass card in the past would qualify for the welcome bonus on the Ascend card.  Amex reps were on record saying “no”, but I had a hard time believing it.  You can read my arguments here: Can you get the Hilton Ascend bonus if you’ve had the Surpass?  It appears that the reps were right and I was wrong.

A number of people who have had the Surpass card before applied for the Ascend card as soon as it was available.  None have reported success in getting the welcome bonus.  Lack of evidence is not proof, but I’m sure we would have heard by now if people had success.

Luckily there are a few work-arounds that may make it possible to get a bonus for the Ascend card:

  1. Wait 7 years from the time you closed your Surpass card.  While there is no hard and fast rule about this, some data points suggest that Amex “forgets” that you’ve had cards after about 7 years.
  2. Look for a targeted offer that does not include the lifetime language.  In other words, look for an offer that does not say: “Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product.
  3. Look for a targeted upgrade offer from the no-fee Hilton card to the Ascend.  When you find such an offer, make sure there is no language preventing you from getting the bonus.  In other words, make sure it does not say something like “offer not available to those who have or have had this product.

How will the transition from Citi to Amex affect 5/24?

In the post “Playing the Hilton Citi to Amex Conversion,” I wrote:

It will be very interesting to see how Amex reports the Hilton cards to the credit bureaus.  Will they back-date the account open date to match the date you opened your Citi card?  If so, that would be ideal. If they report a new date then this would be a disadvantage to keeping your Citi card open.  For the record, it seems that when the Costco cards went in the other direction (Amex to Citi), Citi backdated some accounts if not all.

The reason I cared about whether or not Amex back-dated the accounts is that I was concerned that the transition would negatively affect the cardholder’s 5/24 status.  If you were waiting to drop under 5/24 and suddenly had a new account with a new date show up, that could seriously mess up your plans.

Chase's 5/24 Rule: With most Chase credit cards, Chase will not approve your application if you have opened 5 or more cards with any bank in the past 24 months.

To determine your 5/24 status, see: 3 Easy Ways to Count Your 5/24 Status. The easiest option is to track all of your cards for free with Travel Freely.

Well, there’s good news and bad news.  The good news is that Amex did back-date the accounts.  In my case, for example, I had originally signed up for the Citi Hilton Reserve card in June 2017.  And now, my converted Hilton Aspire account shows up on my credit report with that same date.

The bad news is that the old Citi card shows up as closed.  Chase’s 5/24 rule counts all cards opened in the past 24 months even if they are now shown as closed.  That means that if you had signed up for the Citi Hilton card less than 24 months ago and you allowed it to transition to an Amex card as I did, then your 5/24 count just increased by 1.  That’s what happened to me and my wife.  If you signed up for your Citi cards more than 24 months ago, then it’s all good news for you.

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[…] evidence supported the company line.  As I reported in the post “Hilton Conversion Questions Answered: New Ascend bonus? 5/24 effect?,” no one who had applied for the Ascend after having had the Surpass in past had reported […]


Has anyone seen an Ascend upgrade offer for a citi-converted hilton basic card yet? I’ve got two that I’m hoping to upgrade. I’ve just completed an upgrade on an existing amex hilton card that I had downgraded from surpass at the beginning of the year, but nothing yet for the other two.

[…] It appears that no signup bonus for the Hilton Ascend card can be had if you had the Surpass card in the past, sad! Here are more details: Hilton Conversion Questions Answered: New Ascend bonus? 5/24 effect? […]

Dale R

Did an online chat with AMEX to see what cards they show me having or have ever had. This has always worked to determine whether they will see my card application as truly new (and allow me to get the 1x lifetime bonus) or applying for a 2nd time (no bonus). Although I have held the Citi Honors “Basic” (no fee) and the Citi Reserve and AMEX Surpass in the past and currently hold the AMEX Hilton Basic (no fee), their system showed only the AMEX Basic. I asked if that included the held and cancelled accounts and they said it did. And, the list contained other non-Hilton AMEX cards that I’ve held and cancelled. Now I have to decide whether it’s worth the gamble to apply for Ascend for the bonus (seems pretty safe). Any thoughts?


Confirmed the Ascend bonus despite having Surpass in the past. Got mixed answers by online chat wether or not the welcome bonus is attached to my new account. Got the initial 75K points posted after 2K spend.


You cancelled the Surpass and applied for the Ascend, or downgraded?


On a related subject, what can we expect from upcoming AmEx Starwood changes?
My current SPG card has posted the AF, and I’m trying to decide whether to pay it or cancel.


one good thing about being 18/24 is you don’t have to worry about 5/24. : )


No but you need to be cautious with Chase! Shutdowns have been increasing.


I downgraded my Surpass to the no-fee Hilton in January and received an upgrade offer to upgrade to the Ascend in February with the standard bonus language (i.e. no exclusion from the new Amex welcome bonus rules). My 75,000 bonus points posted just fine after 2,000$ spend – FYI. Very much YMMV.


As did we! Nice surprise!