Last July the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card was introduced, which was pretty revolutionary at the time. It offered Hilton HHonors Gold status as a benefit just for having the card, which has a reasonable $95 annual fee.
And unlike many other mid-tier status levels, Hilton HHonors Gold status is actually useful, as it offers complimentary breakfast/club lounge access and free internet, which I consider to be the two most valuable hotel perks.
The Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card really surpassed (no pun intended) the American Express Hilton HHonors Surpass Card, which offered HHonors Gold status for free for the first year, though required $20,000 in spending in subsequent years to maintain it. Meanwhile both cards offer Hilton HHonors Diamond status for spending $40,000 per year.
Anyway, American Express has just announced that HHonors Gold status will become a standard perk of the Surpass Card, with no spending requirement. The card has a $75 annual fee, so it’s $20 lower than on the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card.
At this point there’s no reason for anyone not to have Hilton HHonors Gold status. Not only can you get it just by having either of the above cards, but you can also get it just by having an American Express Platinum Card, or by purchasing a Milepoint Premium membership for $49.95.
So what are the selling points of the Citi Hilton Reserve vs. American Express Surpass Cards now?
- A better sign-up bonus of two free weekend nights at any Hilton hotel, vs. the 50,000 points offered by the Surpass Card
- No foreign transaction fees
- A free weekend night certificate when you spend $10,000 on the card per year
- 5x points on airline and car rental purchases
- 12x points per dollar spent at Hilton properties (vs. 10x points)
- 6x points at US supermarkets, gas stations, and restaurants
- Access to Hilton’s AXON awards, which admittedly aren’t nearly as useful as they used to be
- The annual fee is $20 lower
And both cards offer:
- Hilton HHonors Gold status just for having the card
- Hilton HHonors Diamond status after spending $40,000 on the card in a year
So this finally makes the Surpass Card at least somewhat competitive with the Reserve Card, in my opinion.
(Tip of the hat to Gary)