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Amex has come out with big offers on its Hilton cards. These are ‘once per lifetime,’ bonuses so if you have already had the cards, don’t bother. If you haven’t, this may be a time to strike.
Disclaimer: I am not an affiliate of Amex or Citi. I currently have the Amex Hilton Surpass card which has a refer-a-friend offer equal to the public offer. I have included that link in the post and thank you for your support. For the other cards mentioned, you can use the public offers or those of affiliate bloggers, should you choose to support them.
Getting just one Hilton card alone, even when the bonus is 100,000 points, is not necessarily useful. That is not even enough for 2 nights at many properties.
You reach critical mass when you have enough points to take advantage of 5th night free on award stays, or at least enough to not tell your spouse or partner on your weekend getaway that you are moving the next night to the Days Inn.
Hilton has 2 cards with Amex and 2 with Citi. If you are starting fresh, this is what I recommend with the current offers.
First, Decision Time:
Do you want to dive in with Hilton or not? There are a lot of places to sleep. There are lot of points programs. If you are really new at this hobby, or dormant, you might even be under the Chase ‘5/24’ rule and want to direct your attentions to more rewarding cards.
Get an Amex Hilton Surpass 100k offer. In addition to 100k, this newly includes a free weekend night certificate upon first anniversary. Best offer ever on this card. $3,000 minimum spend in 3 months. Offer expires May 31, 2017.
Same-day, get the Citi Hilton Reserve card for 2 free weekend nights. $2.5k minimum spend in 4 months. Meet the minimum spend near the end of the 4 months so your weekend night certs will be valid longer into year 2. This is a long-running offer that rarely changes except sometimes includes a $100 statement credit.
You can then pair those certs with the Amex anniversary cert for a 3-day weekend since those are good for Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
Optionally spend the additional $7.5k in the first year to get an additional weekend cert as the Citi Reserve gives one weekend cert per year for $10k spend. Since this cert will be issued on card anniversary, it will time nicely with the Amex to use for a year.
Wait 7 days, then get a no annual fee Amex Hilton. The new offer is 80k for $2,000 minimum spend in 3 months. Other offers are 75k for $1,000 minimum spend. Which you choose depends on how you value 5,000 Hilton points versus generating $1,000 additional spend.
The reason for waiting 7 days is if you submit two credit card applications same-day (difference from charge card), Amex will usually either reject the second, or, more commonly, hold processing for a week. If you apply on the 7th day it should go to auto-approval if you qualify. Yes, you can have both cards.
Completing all this you will have a stash of 180k Hilton points from the bonuses, plus whatever you earn from achieving the minimum spend. At the end of the year you will have 3-4 weekend free night certs.
Do in 12 Months:
Collect your Amex anniversary cert, then cancel the Hilton Surpass in time to avoid the year 2 annual fee.
Keep the no annual fee Amex Hilton. Be on the lookout for an upgrade offer to Surpass that does not have ‘once per lifetime’ language. Recently, I got one.
Consider keeping the Citi Hilton Reserve another year. You can call Citi for a retention offer to offset the annual fee. Because…
Do in 24 Months:
24 months from your Citi Hilton Reserve application, get the Citi Hilton Visa Signature (no annual fee) card if there is a good offer like the current 75k for $2k minimum spend.
The reason you need to wait 24 months is Citi’s current ’24 month rule’ which applies to credit card product families such as Hilton cards.
Immediately upon approval for the Citi Hilton Visa Signature, you are free to close the Citi Hilton Reserve since you are starting a new 24-month clock regardless.
BUT: from day one, be on the lookout for a Citi Hilton Visa Signature offer with no ’24-month’ language. One last appeared in late 2016. If you see it, jump on it regardless of where you are in the 24-month cycle.
By the Way, How Many Amex Cards Can You Have?
Amex distinguishes between charge cards (like the Amex Platinum) and credit cards (like the Hiltons).
You can have as many Amex charge cards as they’ll approve.
For credit cards, Amex has maintained a ‘4 credit card’ rule for several years. This combines both personal and business cards in the count.
The ‘4 credit card’ rule is crumbling. You can get a 5th. I got a 5th last September, and then again in January (in the interim I had closed a card).
If you are at 4, your application for the 5th will be auto-denied. Call in and you should be able to get them to reconsider to approve the 5th.