Amex Hilton 100k Upgrades with No ‘Once Per Lifetime’ Language and Why Amex Updates are Great

In February I reported on targeted Amex Hilton Surpass 75k upgrade offers with no ‘once per lifetime’ language.

At the time, I upgraded my no annual fee Hilton. Despite having had the Surpass many times, I received the 75k points immediately upon completion of the $3k minimum spend.

New 100k and 80k Public Offers

For people who have never had the Amex Hilton cards, yesterday I wrote Big Amex Hilton Offers and a 24-Month Hilton Credit Card Strategy. Here’s my refer-a-friend link for the Amex Hilton Surpass 100k + first anniversary free weekend night.

Amex Hilton Surpass 100k Anniversary Weekend Night

100k Upgrades Without ‘Once Per Lifetime’ Language

Doctor of Credit is reporting that targeted offers now are 100k, also without ‘once per lifetime’ language. Unlike the public offer for new applicants, this offer does not include the first anniversary weekend night.

If you have never had the Surpass, you may choose a direct application rather than upgrade.

Or not. Why?

Amex Upgrades are Great

1. Amex account upgrades do not result in a hard credit inquiry. Each new inquiry makes it that much harder to get new cards in the short-term future. Getting a solid bonus without an inquiry is an easy win.

2. I haven’t heard of Amex denying upgrades. Since you are not requesting an new account or new credit, there will need to be something very odd in your account for an upgrade to be denied.

3. Amex account upgrades also do not report as a new account. Think of it like when you lose a card: a new card number is issued but the account is reported as the same. If you are tracking accounts such as for Chase ‘5/24,’ an upgrade won’t hurt you.

What I Would Do If I Had Never Had the Surpass

If I had never had the Surpass, I would ditch the free anniversary night and just take a 100k upgrade. No credit inquiry, no new account. Easy peasy and move on.

Since I Just Upgraded, What I Will Be Doing

I upgraded to Surpass in February. I already got the bonus. I will immediately downgrade back to the no annual fee card (yes, you can, that used to be a great rinse and repeat move). Through May 31 I’ll be on the lookout for the 100k upgrade offer.

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  • Bob

    to clarify, i have had the no fee amex for more than a year, am i eligible for the 100K bonus if i were to upgrade?

  • Norman Cabanilla

    I just got approved for the Amex Surpass 100K + Free Weekend Night Certificate offer.

    I logged into my American Express online account today and there is an offer to request an upgrade from my existing Hilton Amex (no-fee) to the Amex Surpass 100K offer (not free weekend cert). Can i theoretically upgrade my no-fee card to the Surpass, after just being approved for a new Hilton Surpass card, and get 200K points for $6000 spend in 3 months?

  • Elijah

    Can you comment an it more about “rinse and repeat?” I too upgraded in Feb with the 75k. Can I downgrade and immediately apply to upgrade again? How would I know if I have the 100k offer? What about the annual fee I just paid?


  • Go ahead. There is no minimum time an account needs to be open. If you have an upgrade offer you are good to go. Sometimes upgrades appear as early as a month after opening.

  • Go for it. I saw one other report like this. Amex doesn’t usually approve multiple of the same card, however upgrades may be different. No downside other than your effort on the spend. If they don’t give the bonus you can downgrade it back and get the annual fee reversed. Take screenshots of everything that shows the specific card you are upgrading. Usually bonuses post immediately after spend, not wait till statement, so hit it fast and let us know!

  • Without ‘once per lifetime’ language it was/is possible to upgrade-downgrade and so on. With some speed.

    If you downgrade quickly they either won’t bill the fee or refund it back, just like the grace period on any annual fee.

    The upgrade offer is targeted so there is no guarantee it will reappear for you.

  • Pat F of DCA

    Does the upgrade from no fee card to Surpass require payment of the $75 annual fee now, or is the fee waived for the first year?

  • Norman Cabanilla

    That’s my fear lol. The opportunity cost of that additional $3000 spend on an upgraded Hilton Amex is another sign-up bonus from another credit card. I don’t do manufactured spending so to spend $3000 hoping for another 100k Hilton points only to find out they won’t honor it because I already got the new Surpass would sting quite a bit lol

  • It seems pretty solid, if the upgrade is processed fine then it should be good. Over on the DoC post I reference, some have alreday started seeing 2 Surpass cards in their accounts. You can wait a little track their upgrades, always with the chance the offer doesn’t last in your account.

  • Gene

    Stefan, can i just say that you have the best blog and advice.
    from the experian freeze to this upgrade. very solid.
    im 100k hhonors points richer.

  • Gene, thank you, I am committed to posting more regularly.

  • Gene


    so you upgraded to the surpass in february, received the 100k bonus, downgraded to the no-fee hhonors, and you will try to upgrade to the surpass again before may 31st and receive ANOTHER 100k?

  • That’s the hope. Note: Feb was 75k offer. This 100k just came out.

  • miamimanny2

    How and where does one downgrade from the Surpass card?

  • You need to call number on the back of the card. Card replaces old and is effective immediately. By the time you hand up your online account may already show the new card.

  • Prorated based on your cardmember year from the prior card.

  • Mike Hammari

    Before I upgraded I was considering the Amex SPG card. How long should I wait to be approved for that one or can I apply immediately?

  • Amex will approve up to 2 credit cards in a 90-day period, if those are the 2 you want, go for it. They usually won’t process 2 credit cards same day, if you apply together, then 2nd will be held and processed on the 7th day. Calling usually won’t help expedite. To me, SPG is more valuable, and certainly is more likely to go away, so I would start with that. I would get SPG personal and SPG business before I would do anything with Hilton.

  • Manny

    You were absolutely right…it was already showing up when I finished. So once you call the number then you can go back to the no-fee card…do they mail you new ones or you can use the ones from before. i was glad to see the account number does not change, as that would be a nightmare for me.

  • They keep mailing you cards, however the change is immediate for spend and annual fee purposes.

  • Manny

    Stefan, I followed your instructions and upgraded to the Surpass card from the no fee card on March 27. I’ve already spent the $3,000 and I’m told my points are waiting to be posted…probably this upcoming billing cycle, along with the $75 fee. As you said, I called to downgrade to the no fee but they are telling me that if I downgrade prior to the fee being posted (not even the points), that I will lose my points. Should I ask for a supervisor? (Even though the person I spoke with was off line for a while supposedly speaking to one).

  • Always wait for the points to post, and if you are not in a hurry, waiting till that statement closes and the annual fee is billed is a safe play, once you downgrade they will prorate the refund annual fee so you’ll get almost all of it back. Since they go buy cardmember year from your original account, they will prorate the initial amount they charge you as well.

  • Manny

    I see. Thanks. I was hoping to upgrade again before the May 31 deadline. Not sure if that deadline is to simply upgrade or if it’s to spend the $3,000 by. Do you know?

  • No guarantee you would even have the upgrade offer without ‘once per lifetime’ language to try again. If you do, it would be just upgrade by deadline, not meet spend.

    Back to your current upgrade, usually the points post right after your spend if you are eligible. If you have had the Surpass before, as you sure your offer had the no ‘once per lifetime’ language?

  • Manny

    Okay. Yea, it had no such language. I assume the points will post soon enough. I will wait until they do and then see if the upgrade offer is made again. Otherwise, I guess 100,000 points will have to suffice. Now the real question is whether the Surpass card is worth the Diamond status…I can make the $40,000 requirement in 12 months. I’m thinking the $75 fee is worth it…do you agree?

  • If grocery spend is no issue for you, and you have a chunk of Hilton stays with family that can enjoy the diamond benefits, I can see the case for $40k spend. For me, $40k is a big piece of work that I would rather get airline miles. I get what hotel elite status I can from credit cards and matches, otherwise am a free agent.

  • Manny

    Well that’s just it, I am a retired Delta employee so I have flying benefits for life. So I accumulate points just for hotel stays. Just not sure diamond benefits are that much better than gold status.

  • Not really, I have been both, upgrades don’t seem to be different. I think Gold only gives lounge access if you are upgraded to club floor, while Diamond is any room. Then it is how many properties you stay at that will have lounges, are they worth it, and how much will you use them.