Hilton points are far from the most valuable hotel points around, but they do have great value in the fact that they are pretty easy to accrue. Not only are there numerous credit cards available, but they are actually available from both American Express and Citibank as well as being a transfer partner of the Citi Thank You program and Virgin Atlantic miles.
How To Churn The Hilton Surpass Card – Without Opening A New Account
11/03 – Edit: It appears that Amex has recently added language restricting upgrades to not getting the bonus if they have had the card before. So, it appears that this avenue may be closed. Please comment if you have recently upgraded and did get the bonus! Thanks!
American Express has two cards available – the regular Hilton card and the Hilton Surpass card. The base Hilton card is a great card to have as a placeholder in your American Express portfolio as it has no annual fee and it gives you yet another source for your Amex Offers and Small Business Saturday use. It also has one other key advantage – it can easily be upgraded to the Hilton Surpass card.
The Hilton Surpass card comes with an annual fee of $75 but it also has pretty generous sign-up bonuses on occasion (as well as Hilton Gold status). The regular bonus is 60,000 points but it has jumped to anywhere from 75,000 – 85,000 points. As with all American Express personal cards, if you have ever had the card before, you are not eligible to get the sign-up bonus again – but this little method is not the sign-up bonus so you will be fine!
How It Works
American Express lets you upgrade various cards to better products (which I have written about in the past). The card that I have received the upgrade offer most often with is the Hilton Surpass card. It has offered me the upgrade on the basic Hilton card as well as Delta cards.
The Upgrade Offer – Open Even If You Had The Card Before
The upgrade offer is for 50,000 Hilton points after spending $3,000 in 3 months. The annual fee of $75 will be prorated based on your cardmember year and if you have already paid an annual fee on the card you are upgrading from.
Here is the great thing – if you have ever had the Surpass card before, it will not matter! The language for the upgrade does not preclude you from getting the bonus being offered (which is 50,000 points) and it doesn’t even preclude you from receiving the bonus if you already have the Surpass card!
Upgrading Your Card
To see which of your cards are eligible for the upgrade, simply follow this link – here – and it will take you to a page detailing the terms of the upgrade. Note: this upgrade does not do a hard pull (credit check) on your credit report as you are simply upgrading the card.
Once there, you will login and it will tell you which of your cards are eligible for an upgrade to the Hilton Surpass card. Simply select one of them and click Continue.
It will bring you to one more page and then you click to Apply For An Upgrade. Wait just a moment and you will receive your answer.
That’s it! The card you are upgrading from will have the same details as the new Hilton Surpass card so you can go ahead and use the current card to start your spending even before the Surpass card arrives. Within a couple of days, the upgrade will reflect in your online account summary with the change of the card art and name of the card you have.
Ready To Use
If you are upgrading from a Hilton card, then you do not need to do anything about your Hilton account – it will carry over from the previous card. If you are upgrading from a different card, like the Delta card, it will open a Hilton account for you. You can have it merged with your current Hilton account or, if you do not have one, you can setup an account online when you receive your number.
My Churning Strategy
Here is what I have done and my experience with it.
I had the Hilton Surpass card a while back and dropped it to the basic Hilton card to avoid the annual fee (I already had Hilton Gold). After a while, I went ahead and initiated the upgrade and got the Surpass card again (and the 50,000 point bonus). After about a year, I downgraded it again. I have just recently upgraded it again and received confirmation of the 50,000 point bonus.
I had a Delta Platinum card that I no longer had a use for and would not pay the annual fee on. I dropped it to the basic Hilton card just a few months ago. As an experiment (and to bulk up my Hilton points again), I went ahead and upgraded it to a Surpass card recently as well (while I already had the one from above). No problem – upgrade approved and 50,000 point bonus tied to the account.
Technically, you could do this on a rolling basis. Upgrade the card and then downgrade before the annual fee becomes due again. At the same time, if you have annual fee cards that you are wanting to downgrade, consider downgrading them to the basic Hilton card (if the upgrade to the Surpass is not available) and then upgrading that card to the Surpass card a few months later.
Earning 50,000 points in any program without even having to do a credit pull and just meeting the minimum spending is great! If you are wanting to collect some Hilton points, consider trying this out to roll your points.