Huge changes to Amex Hilton Honors Business Card (No more free night, higher annual fee, and more)

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Overnight, American Express has made massive changes to the Hilton Honors Business Card. The short story is that the annual fee has increased, the free night award benefit is ending on June 30, 2024, and bonus categories are being eliminated in favor of better return on all purchases for the first $100K in annual spend. The welcome offer has increased, but the long-term value proposition has certainly decreased substantially.

The Offer & Key Card Details

Card Offer and Details
175K Points ⓘ Affiliate
Limited-time offer: 175K after $8K spend in first 6 months. Terms apply.
(Offer Expires 6/5/2024)
$195 Annual Fee
FM Mini Review: Easy way to secure Hilton Gold status (which offers free breakfast among other perks). Amex business cards do not count towards 5/24 status so will not hurt chances of applying for Chase cards.
Earning rate: ✦ 12X Hilton spend ✦ 5X on other eligible purchases (on the first $100K in purchases per calendar year, 3X thereafter). ✦ For eligible purchases made from March 28, 2024 through June 30, 2024: 6X on Select Business & Travel Purchases (flights booked directly with airlines or Amex Travel; car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies; US restaurants; US gas stations; wireless telephone services purchased directly from US service provider; US shipping purchases)
Base: 3X (1.44%)
Brand: 12X (5.76%)
Other: 5X (2.4%)
Card Info: Amex Credit Card issued by Amex. This card has no foreign currency conversion fees.
Big spend bonus: Eligible purchases made through June 30, 2024 will count toward a Free Night Award after $15K spend within a calendar year and another Free Night Award after $60K spend. This benefit will no longer be available after June 30, 2024.

Diamond elite status with $40K calendar year spend
Noteworthy perks: ✦ Free Gold status. Diamond status w/ $40K spend. ✦ Up to $240 in annual credits for Hilton purchases (Up to $60 per quarter) ✦ National Car Rental Executive Status ✦ Terms Apply. (Rates & Fees)

Quick Summary of Changes

I’ll share more detailed analysis below, but here’s a quick summary of the changes to the Hilton Honors Business Credit Card:

Annual fee:

  • Now $195 (previously $95)

Gone:

  • Free night after $15K, $60K spend (purchases will count for these through June 30, 2024 — after that, this benefit ends)
  • 10 free Priority Pass lounge visits per calendar year
  • 6X on Select Business & Travel Purchases (purchases made through June 30, 2024 still earn this category bonus, then this bonus ends)

Unchanged:

  • Free Gold status. Diamond status w/ $40K spend
  • 12x Hilton spend

New:

  • 5x everywhere, up to $100K calendar year (then 3x)
  • $240 Hilton Credit: $60 quarterly
  • National Rental Car Executive Status

Quick Thoughts

More bonus points on the welcome offer will be a welcome sight for those who are primarily motivated by an introductory bonus. The required spend in order to earn that bonus has increased substantially, but so has the time period in which to meet that spend and the return on spend for otherwise unbonused purchases.

But that’s where the good news mostly ends.

For starters, the annual fee has increased by a hundred dollars to $195 per year. That might not seem like an awful trade at first glance since the card now offers up to $240 in statement credits annually for eligible Hilton purchases ($60 per quarter). If you stay at Hilton hotels at least quarterly, that change likely would have felt like a net win.

However, the card loses its existing 6x bonus categories after June 30, 2024. That is somewhat offset by the fact that the card now offers 5x on all eligible purchases on up to $100K in purchases per calendar year (3x thereafter).

Regardless of how you feel about category bonuses or lack thereof, the more important change is that this card loses what was arguably its most valuable benefit: cardholders will no longer earn a Hilton Free Night Award after $15,000 in eligible purchases in a calendar year after June 30, 2024 (nor will they earn the additional free night award at $60K in purchases). In a perplexing move that I can’t quite understand, Amex is taking away this benefit mid-year. Purchases made through June 30, 2024 will count toward earning a Free Night Award, but then the benefit ends.

The card also loses its 10 free Priority Pass lounge visits per calendar year, although that happens on a more reasonable schedule:

  • If you enrolled in the Priority Pass Select program on or before June 30, 2023, your Priority Pass membership will continue through June 30, 2024 and will be cancelled as of July 1, 2024
  • If you enrolled in the Priority Pass Select program between July 1, 2023 and June 30, 2024, your membership will continue through March 31, 2025 and will be cancelled as of April 1, 2025.
  • Unused lounge visits will be forfeited at the time of cancellation

That’s more reasonable in my opinion: The precedent for credit card benefit changes had long been that they would be announced far in advance of the actual change — and I assumed that was because banks did not want to run afoul of rules about making changes to the advertised card details within the first 12 months for a new cardholder. While it stinks that this card is losing Priority Pass, the schedule they are using to phase that program out seems reasonable even if disappointing.

But I don’t understand how they can change a key benefit like the Hilton Free Night Award after $15K in calendar year spend in the middle of the year, particularly for people who have recently opened the card. I just don’t see how they can make a substantial change like that overnight while some cardholders are still in their first 12 months with the card. As they have written the terms, you could have opened your card yesterday thinking that you had until December 31, 2024 to make eligible purchases toward a Free Night Award (and the opportunity to earn another one in 2025!) and Amex is now saying that you only have until June 30, 2024 to earn free night awards through spend. That is beyond disappointing and I imagine they will face some complaints over it.

Long-term, maybe this card will work for someone who has a lot of otherwise unbonused spend and who stays at Hilton properties in every quarter of the year. If you aren’t staying at a Hilton property in every quarter, I just don’t think it will be worth paying the $195 annual fee for the small bump on the first $100K in annual purchases.

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satellite

Bought a $50 gift card on 3/29 (+$1.95 shipping).

$51.95 credit for Q1 posted on 4/1. Earned 12x on this spend. Q2 credit shows as unused, so I’ll repeat the process until I close the card.

Last edited 10 days ago by satellite
Jan W

Thanks for posting. Assume you purchased thru the Hilton site?

satellite

[…] Frequent Miler – Huge changes to Amex Hilton Honors Business Card (No more free night, higher annual fee, and more) […]

Jan W

Any thoughts on whether buying points thru Hilton might qualify for the $60 credit? I need a few more to book an upcoming stay.

Yuri

If you value Hilton points at 0.5c, then it’s 2.5% with minus $45 AF, which is better than Alliant Visa, or even BofA 2.625% card. It may be close to 3% card with no AF. To match with Hilton, I will need to spend $5423 on my 3.33% Priceline card. However, I don’t spend that much annually on my Priceline card. If you compare it with 3% card, such as AOD CU visa (discontinued), you will need to spend $9k per year in order to match Hilton. Comparing to upcoming Robinhood card, with EAF of $50, you will need to spend $19k per year.
Comparing to Altitude Reserve with $75 EAF and 4.5% cashback rate, you will need to spend $6k per year on AR in order to match Hilton.

Last edited 22 days ago by Yuri
Omer

Hilton points are worth more to the tune of 0.4 cents per point

Jan W

Just applied for the card on March 1 as I have a June conference at the Washington Hilton. Called today and expressed my sentiment that it seemed “disingenuous and somewhat unethical of them” to change the terms on what I view as a new contract (though I recognize their right to do so). Asked for goodwill points, was told they are not offering them since most changes don’t take place until June 30. Asked her to pass my thoughts up her chain of command and she said she will “write a report based on my comments and send it to the back office.” Doubt that means anything, but will update if I ever hear back.

Tom

I just got on the chat and also voiced my concerns and told them a lot of ppl are pretty damn upset about losing this FNC mid year and to pass that up the chain of command. Hopefully other ppl will as well. Since that benefit has always been based on a calendar year time frame (versus when the annual fee hits), i just assumed I had all year for the spend. I am glad i read this article because I was planning on not hitting the $15k until Dec to give me all of 2025 to use it. Now this screws up my plans for a europe trip in Sept of 2025 because the FNC will have expired if I had to hit the spend by June 30

Tim

I just called into Customer Service and was told that card members who already had the card have until December 31 to complete the 15,000 of spending for the free night. Hopefully I was given the right info, but it certainly is a good data point. Curious if anyone else has any more updates

Yuri

OK, great! My AF is up next month, so it’s another year of $95 + $240 in credits, so basically effective AF will be -$145. Will wait until April 2025 to get $360 in credits, then cancel.
Also, there is 5x on all purchases up to $100k per year, so that’s worth 3% based on TPG valuations, with effective AF of minus $45, that’s better than upcoming Robinhood card. So maybe keep it? However I have Priceline card with effective return of 3.33% and no AF.

satellite

Why do you think you’ll be granfathered into the old AF for another year?

Yuri

They will charge an old fee until June 30th, my fee will post in April.

satellite

The fee is already $195. You might be grandfathered into the old fee, but I don’t see a reference to that anywhere.

Neal

My biz card renews in July and I’ll probably ditch it if indeed the fee increase hits (I know the terms say it should but past experience has been that not all increases hit when they should).

Notwithstanding – usually around the end of the year I decide whether I want to spend $15,000 to earn a FNC (and 45,000 points). Now, if I’m reading the changes correctly, I can spend $15,000 by the end of June and earn a FNC (and 75,000 points). The extra 30,000 points at 5X rather than 3X makes the FNC $100-$150 cheaper depending on how you value Hilton points. For me, that takes something that was previously borderline and makes it a winner.

EruptingLoowit

Churning win

EruptingLoowit

Abdo

Julie Garrison

I’ve been able to churn this card in the past and initially thought of it as an inexpensive card to have PP access and a decent SUB.

Note that you can prepay $60 for a stay with this card by contacting the hotel directly and providing them with your reservation confirmation number and requesting a partial prepayment for a room.

Prepayment to utilize Hilton card credits also works with the $50 quarterly Surpass credit and $200 biannual Aspire credit. Although it can be difficult to track the quarterly credits, when you have all three cards it becomes a little easier. I also have to keep track of the $50 quarterly flight credit on the Aspire.

My annual fee for this card is up next month, thus I will get $95 for another year. After that I will probably cancel the card.

Derek

Is there a list of purchases that will trigger quarter statement credit?

Derek

Also, does the credit starting today?

Alex Z.

Yes, it’s live if you login to your Amex account.

Last edited 23 days ago by Alex Z.
kayexalate

If you have multiple of these cards (P2, P1 and an Aspire card) and have an upcoming stay, how can you utilize the $60 credit per card since the hotel will only let you put one card on the folio? Or can you ask them to split payment between 3 cards at checkout?

Mo m

Hyatt has let me split payment at the front desk before. I don’t see why Hilton wouldn’t.

Stefan Krasowski (@rapidtravelchai)

I was thinking this would be interesting for help earn Lifetime Diamond status until it was pointed out to me that I had missed that in 2024 card spend no longer counts as Base Points.

Lynn

Just wish we’d had a little notice, because just sent my son the link a few days ago and now it says expired.

Not Worth it

5 Hilton points are worth 1.25 cents. Even a single Chase, Amex, CapOne or Citi point is worth more than that, and those points are flexible. And you can get 1.5-2 points per dollar on those cards. So every day spend is out on this card.

Paying $195 up front to tie yourself to Hilton to get the $240 (even assuming you travel quarterly or gift cards work) isn’t worth it because you can probably find better deals than always sticking with Hilton everywhere.

I used this card for every day spend because 3x plus FNC at $15k was a very good sweet spot. Now this card has no value at all, either as a coupon book, as every day spend or for hitting certain categories or sweet spots.

I have the Priority Pass from Venture X, so I don’t care about it, but I’m sure some others will dump this card for this reason also.

Landon

FM’s reasonable redemption value is 0.48 cents per point, so 5x would be 2.4 cents. I don’t recall seeing any reputable source in the points and miles world value them under 0.4 cents. Where’d you get 0.25 cpp?

Chris Wright

I agree, and if you are looking at Conrad, Waldorf, etc, you can get 1.0 cpp+

Nitpicker

I value them .55-.6 based on personal stays I would have paid for. Also factor in that resort and destination fees are waived with awards so the points are slightly more valuable when used that way.

Nitpicker

You’re totally right. I glossed over buying points

Yuri

That’s 2.5% with minus $45 AF, which is better than Alliant Visa, or even BofA 2.625% card. It may be close to 3% card with no AF. To match with Hilton, I will need to spend $5423 on my 3.33% Priceline card. However, I don’t spend that much annually on my Priceline card.
Comparing to Altitude Reserve with $75 EAF and 4.5% cashback rate, you will need to spend $6k per year on AR in order to match Hilton.

Last edited 22 days ago by Yuri
Nitpicker

Maybe the RRV page should have a column to show the price at which each type of point is commonly sold. I don’t know if that’s possible since prices change often. There’s a little bit of chicken and egg story here. We’re putting an upper limit on a point’s value based on the buy-price, but then we also want to consider how much value we can leverage out of that point. For example, maybe I won’t pay more than 1.15c for Lifemiles but I also wouldn’t burn them at close to that value.

Last edited 22 days ago by Nitpicker
Yuri

Also, how many points do you earn, when buying Hilton points? Is it via points.com?

100%

Eh, 0.25 cpp isn’t too farfetched. I assume many people value their time; that time lost spent searching, re-booking, re-arranging should be accounted for. I personally see hilton points around 0.3-0.4 cpp.

Itsme

My AF is 5/1 so if I am understanding this correctly my fee will still be $95.00 but those that have AF after 6/30 will have to start paying the $195.00 AF?

Ryan

The terms say the new AF is immediate.

Itsme

Well, i am two thirds to my spend for the free night so will finish the 5k left in April. And after getting the $60.00 for this quarter and 2nd quarter I will say goodbye when my AF posts

Yuri

You will also get 5x from now on all spend.

Last edited 22 days ago by Yuri
Julie Garrison

My interpretation is that your renewal fee will be $95 on 5/1. Any renewal after June 30 is $195.

Billy

If they end the spending requirement for the FNC to June 30 they should reduce the spending requirements to $7500 and $30,000.