Targeted Amex upgrades


UPDATE: The process for finding upgrade offers has changed.  Please see the updated instructions here.

Note: American Express is a Frequent Miler advertiser

Instead of applying for a new credit card, it is sometimes possible to earn bonus points simply by upgrading an existing card.  Here’s how to find upgrade offers from American Express…

In a recent post I discussed my desire to upgrade from my Amex Hilton HHonors card to the Hilton Surpass card, but I thought that my Hilton card was too new to qualify for an upgrade.  A few readers said that I should see an offer to upgrade simply by logging into my American Express account.  I tried several times, but never saw such an offer.  Then, reader AdamH suggested that I log in and enter the word “upgrade” into the search box.  It worked!  Here are the steps to get targeted upgrade offers:

1. Log into your Amex account and search for “upgrade”:


2. Look for the blue box at the top of the results that asks if you want to upgrade your card.  Click upgrade:


3. At first, you’ll see a banner saying “Get Additional Cards”.  Just wait a moment for other stuff to appear.


4. After a short wait, you should see a screen similar to this:


5. Click on “Upgrade your membership”.  If you were targeted for an upgrade to the Surpass card, you should see an offer like this one:


Of course, now that Hilton has dramatically increased the number of points needed for free nights, you might not value 50,000 Hilton points much, but the general idea of upgrading cards can still be worthwhile.

Update: Not the whole story

Commenter Elizabeth notes that just because an offer appears does not mean that you qualify for it.  And, in my case, this was the case.  I clicked through to “upgrade now”, entered my log-in credentials, and got the message “We’re sorry, your existing Cards are not eligible for this upgrade. Please call the number on the back of your card to apply for an American Express Card.”  Oh well.  I wasn’t too excited about this offer anyway…  Regardless of my situation, it can’t hurt to click through for yourself to see if your offer is valid.

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Is this dead now?

[…] Targeted Amex upgrades […]


Trish: I don’t know, but it may be worth a phone call to ask. Make sure you’ve had your prior account for at least 13 months though.


I clicked on amex acct and got the Amex Plat offer for upgrade, but no bonus point advertise on the offer. Do you know if we can get the 25,000 bonus offer for upgrade?


it says, “Earn 50,000 HHonors Bonus Points after you make $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first 90 days of Cardmembership”. i wonder when they will charge the annual fee (before i can downgrade back)? thanks.


allen: I’m not sure when the fee hits, but I think that $75 for 50,000 points is a great deal even after the recent Hilton devaluation.

Chris B.

I get ti, I think. No search required. Just went to the “Cards” page, and they were all on the left.

Chris B.

How do I get the search box to appear? It isn’t there when I log in, and the Contact us link just takes me to a page where it advertises the mobile crap! This is frustrating!!


Does upgrading cause a credit pull?


sam: No, it shouldn’t cause a hard credit pull


now that hilton announced another worst devaluation of their points.

many Hiltos require more than 50k hilton points a night.

at one hampton inn, it requires 60k HHorrors points a night. so Using hilton card for me is out of the question.

it is so bad now that 1 cent is equal to 10 HHorrors points. will cancel my citi hilton cards by converting to a different card.


Thanks for the shout out. Sorry it didn’t work for you though!


The reason why you are not eligible is because you need to hold the no-fee Hilton Card for one full year. Might as well apply for surpass separately.


If I’m coming up to the annual fee for my business gold card, can I upgrade to the business plat to avoid the gold fee?


Check carefully on the Surpass still giving you Gold status for 1st year. I think they changed it to just Silver with the chance to get Gold if you spend $20k in a calendar year (and $40k for Diamond). I was pretty sure based on my application for this card back in Jan that I’d get Gold but all the literature that came with the card says Silver.
I’m Gold anyway so don’t know how this transacted.


russell: They still advertise first year free Gold status (see last image in this post) so I think that even if they didn’t award it automatically it should be possible to get them to fulfill that promise.

Henry: Yes and no. You can switch to the Platinum card to avoid the Business Gold card annual fee, but the Platinum card doesn’t waive it’s first year fee so you would have to pay its higher fee. That said, the Platinum card has some terrific features that make its fee worth it, including the ability to recoup $400 via airline fees.


I’m new here, but love it…I thought I did well with points until I saw this community.

Have you covered the Amex Simply Cash Business Platinum card? It’s got a lot of the seemingly desirable features of some of the Visa’s you discuss. I don’t know if it would qualify as an ‘upgrade’ or not, though.


yurd: There are two separate cards: the Platinum card and the Simply Cash card. They both have some great features. The Platinum card has great benefits, but doesn’t earn much on spend. The Simply Cash card has some great benefits for spend such as 5% back at office supply stores and cell phone plans, and 3% back at gas stations. Are there other features you thought worth highlighting?


Guys, Surpass dont give 6X on drugstores. ie. CVS.
a good upgrade say post May but thats also after the change in redemption values at end of March.

Anyone upgraded before know how long it takes to get the 50K?


Under a new law passed last year, a person who extends you credit cannot change your account to one that has more onerous terms within the first year. That’s why you are getting the error message. The higher fee qualifies as a more onerous term. For what it’s worth, I called in and asked to upgrade over the phone, saying I was trying to do it on line but couldn’t. They tried it a few times and then explained the one-year issue to me. But, they did throw me some points (6k or so) for trying. So, give it a shot.


Larry: Thanks, great info!
Elizabeth: I’ve updated the post accordingly. Thanks for the info!


I received the basic HH Amex card in December, and when I apply for the upgrade, I get this message: “We’re sorry, your existing Cards are not eligible for this upgrade. Please call the number on the back of your card to apply for an American Express Card.” Oh well, worth a shot, I already have the Citi HH Surpass card.


was looking forward to upgrade, but since you tried and didnt work, no need to strain my fingers, however I do need to an easy Gold Status for up coming stay in the summer. got to unload the points but need the gold to enjoy it while I can.


didn’t see any for my single amex plat card i got last month.


webazoid: I don’t think there is an upgrade path from the Platinum card anyway


If you click on the “Upgrade Now” button, the system will ask you to input the credit card number of your existing Hilton HHonors credit card. If it has been less than a year since you received the card, then you will get an error message. I tried this for months until I finally hit the 1-year mark and it let me upgrade our cards to Surpass. Just because you are targeted for an upgrade does not mean the system will let you upgrade. As I mentioned on 2/18, they are not legally able to let you upgrade to the Surpass within the first year because of the Card Act. When we did our upgrades last year there were no hard pulls. The pro-rated annual fee did not post until 3-1/2 months later, but by then we had already downgraded and we were able to get the annual fee reversed.


Elizabeth: You are correct. When I click through to upgrade, I get a message that says “We’re sorry, your existing Cards are not eligible for this upgrade. Please call the number on the back of your card to apply for an American Express Card.” Oh well! I wasn’t too excited about getting more Hilton points anyway….


Good little tip. I have the gold delta AmEx but was only offered 5k+5kEQM for upgrading to plat/reserve cards so probably not worth it in this case, but always good to have an option to earn a last minute EQM or two and maybe save a hard pull but earn a few miles in a pinch, and dodge an annual fee while you’re at it.


Despite the devaluation I plan to upgrade to surpass shortly. I want Gold for an award stay in June. $75 for breakfast + internet, no hard pull, and 50K thrown in, sure, why not.


You get gold status with the surpass card, you can upgrade and get the points and downgrade the next year to avoid the fee


Is it worth it? I don’t know, because upgrading means you’ll now have an annual fee of $75, and who knows how much Hilton points are worth now

Do you guys think I’d be able to downgrade it after I got the bonus points?


I got 25K MR points also going from Business Gold to Platinum after first purchase. No hard pull. The offer was right at the top of the screen whenever I logged in. Unfortunately I had to practically beat the bonus points out of AMEX. I would suggest using the link if you do upgrade and not calling it in. I think that is why I had such a problem collecting my bonus.


Is this upgrade worth it?


I upgraded from Business Gold to Platinum and earned 25k bonus MR points.


In my experience, upgrading from free HHonors Amex to Surpass to get 50,000 bonus points, it did not require a hard pull.


Does this cause a credit pull, if you upgrade?


Thanks for the tutorial, I’m going to try again.

The Deal Mommy

They also do a fair number of targeted upgrades on the Gold rewards to Platinum, in my experience.