How to maximize the new statement credits on the Hilton Surpass and Aspire cards

In October 2023, American Express made significant changes to its mid-tier Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card and top-tier Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. These changes included higher annual fees and the removal of lounge access. However, Amex also introduced new and revamped statement credits on these cards, which have left many points-and-miles enthusiasts wondering how to maximize their benefits.

Let’s start with the Hilton Surpass card. Cardmembers now receive up to $50 in statement credits each quarter, totaling up to $200 annually, when using the card for Hilton purchases. According to the terms and conditions, these purchases must be made directly with a property within the Hilton portfolio, including bookings and incidental charges. This means that you can receive the credit for bookings made through the Hilton website or app, but not through third-party channels like online travel agencies.

Additionally, incidental charges such as dining purchases, room service, and spa treatments must be charged to your room and paid for with your Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card at checkout to be eligible for a statement credit.

However, there have been data points suggesting that certain purchases have triggered the statement credit even when cardmembers are not staying at a Hilton property. These purchases include gift store purchases at a Hilton property, dining purchases at a restaurant within a Hilton property, and Hilton online gift card purchases. This means that you may be able to maximize the $50 credit every quarter even if you don’t stay at a Hilton property during that time.

Moving on to the Hilton Aspire card, there have been changes to the flight credit. Previously, cardmembers could enjoy a $250 airline fee credit, but this is being replaced with a new $50 quarterly statement credit, totaling up to $200 annually, on eligible flight purchases made directly with an airline or through

Similar to the Surpass card, eligible purchases for the flight credit must be for scheduled flights on passenger carriers and purchased directly from the airline or through Amex Travel. Charter flights, private jet flights, flights that are part of tours, cruises, or travel packages, as well as ticketing or similar service fees, ticket cancellation or change fees, interest charges, or purchases of cash equivalents are not included.

Like with the Surpass card, there have been data points suggesting that certain purchases have triggered the statement credit, including seat upgrades, award ticket taxes and fees, and United TravelBank purchases.

It’s important to note that these data points may vary depending on how the merchant or individual property codes the purchase. It’s recommended to start with a smaller purchase, wait up to a week to see if the statement credit is triggered, and if successful, make a larger purchase.

In addition to these statement credits, there are other benefits offered by the Hilton Aspire card, such as an annual Clear Plus statement credit and a biannual Hilton resort statement credit. However, the biannual resort credit will not be available until January 1, 2024, for new or existing cardmembers.

In conclusion, the new and revamped statement credits on the Hilton Surpass and Aspire cards may seem restrictive at first glance. However, there are ways to maximize these credits by making eligible purchases directly with Hilton properties or airlines, as well as through certain online platforms. It’s important to understand the terms and conditions and experiment with smaller purchases first to ensure the statement credits are triggered. With careful planning, cardmembers can take full advantage of these credits and enhance their travel experiences.

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