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American Express issues three personal co-branded Hilton Honors credit cards and two of those three credit cards are about to see a change put through in the next few weeks. One change is purely cosmetic while the other represents a small devaluation to the credit card’s offering.
First the immaterial and highly insignificant change:
From 18 July 2019, the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend credit card will go back to being known as the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card (the name it was known by before the Hilton credit card portfolio got a re-boot).
Amex hasn’t said why it’s changing the name back to what it was called less than a year ago but I’m going to guess that having one Hilton credit card called ‘Ascend‘ and one ‘Aspire‘ was causing confusion amongst customers.
I know that I sometimes have to double check that I’m using the correct name when referencing one of these credit cards so perhaps Amex feels that the new name (Ascend) just wasn’t working.
Now the slightly more material change:
From 1 August 2019, the $250 ‘Resort Credit’ that the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card currently offers will no longer be valid on Advanced Purchase rates.
Amex says that all other Hilton rates remain eligible for the $250 Resort Credit benefit for purchases made with participating resort properties but Advanced Purchase rates will not qualify for a rebate.
On the face of things, this may seem like pretty bad news but the reality is that this probably won’t affect all that many people.
Advanced Purchase rates are usually the cheapest rates offered by hotels and resorts so invalidating such rates for the purposes of the resort credit would suggest that Aspire credit card holders will now have to book more expensive rates if they want to use their resort credit….but that doesn’t take a few important things into account.
Advance Purchase Rates At US Properties Already Fail To Trigger The Credit
As far as I can tell, Advance Purchase rates at US properties haven’t been triggering the credit since the credit was introduced because only rates billed directly by the resorts will trigger it – Advance Purchase rates booked for US properties are usually billed by Hilton Corporate and that appears to invalidate the credit.
Most Hilton Resorts Outside The US Often Don’t Offer An Advance Purchase Rate
I haven’t found very may Hilton Resorts which offer a rate called an ‘Advance Purchase’ rate but, despite that, the very best rates are sometimes offered by AAA/AARP (which qualify for the resort credit)…like at the Hilton Los Cabos Resort:
Even when I’ve found an Advance Purchase rate (like at the Hilton Barbados Resort – below) there have still been other equally priced rates available to use:
On the face of things, the change to the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Resort credit looks like a bad devaluation but the reality appears to be very different.
I suspect that the overwhelming majority of Aspire credit card holders haven’t been getting a resort credit on their Advance Purchase bookings anyway so, while a few people may be affected by this change, the bulk of Hilton Honors members probably won’t see a difference.