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?

The Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card offers:

  • 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

The American Express Hilton HHonors Surpass Card, offers:

  • 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)

  1. November 12th, 2013 at 7:30 am

    Lynn said,

    So Lucky, just to clarify, if I get one of the cards and get the 40,000 HHonors points, I still get the points if I spend the required amount and don’t renew the card, correct?

  2. November 12th, 2013 at 7:46 am

    Charles said,

    Thanks for the new information. I have the AMEX card for a while, worry about I will lose my gold status, now I am fine, don’t need to apply for the Citi one.

  3. November 12th, 2013 at 7:56 am

    FM said,

    I have a SPG Amex card now and would like to know if it is wise to switch to the business card as they participate in the OPEN saving network.

  4. November 12th, 2013 at 8:21 am

    lucky said,

    @ Lynn — Correct, even if you cancel the card you get to keep the points from the sign-up bonus.

  5. November 12th, 2013 at 8:22 am

    lucky said,

    @ FM — Yes, the benefits of both cards are virtually identical, except the business card also has access to the OPEN savings program, so I do think it’s slightly better. Personally I have both cards, since each credits you three stays and five nights towards elite status.

  6. November 12th, 2013 at 8:42 am

    ed said,

    As a Diamond, between this year’s massive point devaluation and the influx of Gold members, I’m thoroughly unimpressed with HH. Next thing they’ll do is introduce another higher tier, demote the golds, and then demote me too.

  7. November 12th, 2013 at 9:22 am

    David said,

    I’m glad of the change — competition breeds improvements!

    That said, I think I’d still choose the Citi card for the possibility of earning a free anniversary night after two trips to my local drugstore. I know it’s a cost of $99 ($79 in reload fees + $20 premium over the Surpass) but if I can find the right redemption, it’d be a good value.

  8. November 12th, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    Jorge said,

    I am debating whether to keep Citi Reserve or dump it because I have the Amex platinum.

    Like David, I would get a free weekend night that would cost me $178. I use other cards for more lucrative deals. But a weekend night at the Conrad HKG is very expensive so decisions, decisions…

    @David Two trips?? Wow that manager must be a great guy!

  9. November 18th, 2013 at 8:59 am

    Charlie said,

    Hilton HHonors Gold doesn’t actually entitle you to free breakfast, does it? Only Platinum?

  10. November 18th, 2013 at 10:00 am

    lucky said,

    @ Charlie – Breakfast is indeed one of the “My Way” benefits you can select as a Hilton HHonors Gold!

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