American Express Hilton Cards Will Not Earn 6X Bonus Points at Drug Stores From May 2013

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The American Express Hilton card as well the Surpass version both earn 6X Hilton points at drug stores and pharmacies such as CVS.  This is very useful for folks who make large purchases at drugstores.  Or even those who buy gift cards at drugstores and them use them elsewhere.

Hilton Card Bonus Changes

Hilton Card Bonus Changes

And 6X points for gas purchases wasn’t too bad either.  Even if you value 1 Hilton point at about 0.5 cents per points, 6X points per $1 means 3 cents (0.5 cents X 6) per $1 spent.

You currently earn:

  • 6 Hilton points per $1 at Hilton hotels (12 points with the Surpass at Hilton hotels), supermarkets, drugstores, gas stations, and phone/internet/cable
  • 3 Hilton points per $1 for everything else

But starting from May 1, 2013 or whenever your statement starts in May, you won’t earn the 6X points for purchases at pharmacies.

Instead you will earn:

  • 7 points (12 with the Surpass card) at Hilton Hotels
  • 5 points at restaurants
  • 5 points at gas stations
  • 5 points at supermarkets
  • 3 points for everything else

So this will be a bad news for folks who made large purchases at CVS or other pharmacies.  But you can still earn at least 3X points for purchases at drugstores with the American Express Hilton cards.

You can usually buy gift cards to other stores at supermarkets and gas stations.  And 5X points at gas stations and supermarkets could be worth it to some.

The terms & conditions say that eligible purchase do NOT include “purchases or reloading of prepaid cards.”

In my experience purchases from a drugstore or a grocery store are usually coded as originating from a drugstore or grocery store and earn the bonus points.  But it seems that the intent of the terms and conditions is to not award bonus points for those purchases.

The terms and conditions also say that bonus points will only be awarded for restaurants, gas stations, and supermarkets within the US.  But that doesn’t really matter since both the Hilton cards charge foreign transaction fees for using them for non-US purchases and shouldn’t be used for those transactions.

Bottom Line

The American Express Hilton cards will change their bonus categories from May 1, 2013.  But the fee free Hilton card may still be worth keeping for access to discounted Hilton award nights and to help your credit score age.

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22 responses to “American Express Hilton Cards Will Not Earn 6X Bonus Points at Drug Stores From May 2013

  1. goals^n^dreams

    “But starting from May 1, 2013 or whenever your statement starts in May, you won’t earn the 6X points for purchases at pharmacies.”
    My statement is closed on May 11th. Can I earn 6x at drugstore before my statement is closed or not ?

  2. How about AXON? Any news?

  3. my february statement had the 6x removed. so i have been without 6x for about 30 days already

  4. In case anyone was wondering on the changes for Surpass, my recent statement said that it would be 12 points for Hilton purchases, then 6 across the board for gas, restaurants and supermarkets, and then 3 points per dollar for everything else effective May 1st. Paul – I think The Points Guy said that AXON should still be safe?

  5. Hilton AXON will stay but rates will go up. I am dumping all my hilton points now.. Not worth accumulating after devaluation.

  6. My HHonors Amex Surpass card statement dated 03/08/2013 has no mention of these program changes. How was this change communicated to you? If enclosed in your statement materials, what was the date of your statement? I have searched the Amex HHornors Surpass web site and the only information that I can find is in the downloadable benefits guide which still states the 9x, 6x, and 3x categories; it has not been updated with the upgrade to 12x on Hilton properties or the changes you re citing. Thanks.

  7. Has anyone actually received mail from Amex indicating the changes yet, because so far I’ve only read about this online via blogs. While I 100% believe the changes are going to happen, it’d be nice to get the news directly from Amex as well.

  8. @SteveCMI, Wedding Spend or anything still not sure it is true:

    Below is copy+paste from my AMEX Surpass February 15 statement, “Important Information About Your Rewards Program” on page 6

    “Effective with your first billing period that begins on or after May 1,
    2013, you will no longer earn additional points for eligible purchases at
    drugstores, wireless and home telephone services, cable and satellite TV and
    internet service providers. Instead, you will earn 6 points (3 points plus
    3 additional points) on eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants.”

    I don’t think you need to be convinced that the other no-annual-fee Hilton card can only be worse.

    SteveCMI, you may want to read your statements again, or just call.

  9. An indirect way to verify this:
    AMEX HH cards are not in “U.S. Select Major Drugstores ” row

  10. My information is two weeks old, but I called HHonors and asked if the AXON award was going away. The CSR said she didn’t think so, then put me on hold for what seemed like 15 minutes to confer with her supervisor. She came back and said they had gone thru literally everything that HHonors had released on the changes, and there was no mention of discontinuing AXON. Which both she and the sup were convinced meant that AXON will continue as before. She called it a “secret program”, since you cannot book it online, the reservation page for a hotel makes no mention of it, and when they email you with an AXON confirmation, they lie about the number of miles deducted from your account. Even if they only charged 125K points for the reservation, the email confirmation lists the VIP rate of 136K being deducted, and no where is the word AXON to be found. Thus, the “secret program” will continue, but HHonors won’t announce that because they would prefer you didn’t even know about it. But AMEX won’t let them kill it since AXON is the prime reason to have the AMEX HHonors card.

    The only problem is that the amount of miles required is based on the level of your hotel, and some hotels that used to be level 6 or 7 are now level 9 or 10. So even if they offer AXON on level 8- 10 properties, and I think they will, the amount of miles required will go way up. But it will still be better than the VIP rate, much less the daily rate. IMHO

  11. Hi. My wife and I each have the regular Hilton AMEX, and the change was included in our statement for either Jan or Feb 2013. Can anyone confirm that the changes (esp drugstore) will drop from Surpass as well? If it will stay for Surpass, I might upgrade. If not, no more AMEX hilton use for me after May!

  12. with the new extreme devaluation of Hilton points, 10 Hilton point is worth only about 1 cent. you are lucky if you can get ONE NIGHT for your 60,000 Hilton points at one of the Hampton Inn.

    Use your 1% cash backs cards instead of Hilton points earning card.


  13. The Vons gasoline counts for 5x for my Penfed Visa rewards! They are also the least expensive in my area. (by around 15-20 cents/gal). This station is busy at certain times of the day and I usually buy gas there when I also go to the Vons store.

    I used to collect 5% cash back but they gave me 25K pts ($250 GC) for converting to points. No hard pull to convert so done deal! 🙂

    • @goals^n^dreams – My interpretation is that you will earn 6X points up to when your statement closes in May.

      – No news, but I’d guess that they would keep them, but increase the number of points needed.

      @SteveCMI @Wedding Spend – It was in my statement which is where I got the screenshot in the post.

      @Robert Hanson – Very interesting that they refer to it as a “secret program.” Perhaps they can spread word of the secret among their staff so it would be easier to book an AXON award on the phone!

      @SP – It will drop for the Surpass as well.

      @chemist661 – Penfed is a great gas card!

  14. I’ve noticed that you often “churn” multiple credit cards on the same day. What is the advantage of doing things this way? Do the credit card companies you are applying to get delayed hard inquiry data?

  15. This is the first time in a while that bonus categories for an existing card have been adjusted–presumably in this instance to limit cash equivalent purchases. I think it’s a clear sign that Amex knows exactly what’s going on (and perhaps intends to take action against egregious violators?). I’m done earning HH anyway, but even if I weren’t, I’d probably stop using the HH Amex for reloads–particularly since Bluebird is an Amex product.

  16. With the possible exception of the restaurant bonus — and, really, that one is only useful for die-hard HHonors fans — there is no reason to put any spend on an HHonors card after the May changes. This is particularly true if you consider the recent increases in many award prices. I’m not one of the people who is “outraged” by the changes, and there are still some good awards in the program, but accumulating those points through credit card purchases is foolish, IMO. You can simply get “more bang for your buck” using a different loyalty card or cashback card. The new bonus levels are simply not lucrative enough.

  17. The reduction in Hilton AMEX point earnings plus the gross devaluation of Hhonors points makes this card almost worthless, unless they have reasonably priced AXON awards. I’m not holding my breath, though. The only upside is that it will now be that much easier to meet spending minimums for bonuses on new cards or spending thresholds for other cards.

  18. Hilton AMEX becomes as useless as Priority club Visa.

  19. Michael Belisle

    how is prioriyclub visa useless? don’t you get a free night every year with that?

  20. I received the reduction from 6 points/dollar to 3 points/dollar at drugstores starting with my February statement, do you think it is worth pointing it out to AMEX that this was not suppose to occur until May 1 billing statement. Or am I just setting myself up for extra scrutiny by AMEX?