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Know the rules before you apply for your next Hilton card

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Know the rules before you apply for your next Hilton card

Jason StaufferKnow the rules before you apply for your next Hilton cardMillion Mile Secrets Team

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Even though the value of Hilton points is lower than some other hotel points, it’s incredibly easy to earn Hilton points. There are four Hilton cobranded American Express cards and a handful of travel credit cards that earn points you can transfer to Hilton, so you’ve got options.

Navigating the Amex application rules is fairly straightforward now that Amex shows you during the application if you’re eligible to earn the welcome bonus. But you need to know a few qualifiers before you apply for a Hilton credit card.

It’s easy to earn and use Hilton points all over the world. (Photo by josefkubes/Shutterstock.)

Amex Hilton application rules

If you like Hilton points, you can do well with any of the Hilton hotel credit cards:

Here are tips on how to complete the minimum spending requirements. Before you submit an application, consider these factors.

Each card is considered a different product

You can only earn the welcome bonus on any given Amex card once per lifetime. But there are four Amex Hilton cards, and they’re all separate products as far as Amex is concerned. That means you are eligible to earn the bonus once for each card.

Amex limits you to five credit cards

All the Amex Hilton cards are credit cards, as opposed to charge cards. That means they offer revolving credit lines and you aren’t required to pay the full balance every month (although you should). Amex will typically only issue each person four or, at most, five of its credit card products. Amex has lots of excellent credit cards, so keep in mind opening these cards will count as a credit card slot and pick and choose wisely.

You can only open two cards per 90 days

Amex typically only approves two new card applications per 90-day period. However, most of the reports of people being approved for two cards within 90 days involve a combination of charge cards and credit cards. So you’ll mostly likely only be approved for a single Hilton card within that time period as they are all credit cards.

The Amex Surpass card has history

Before you fire up your application for the Hilton Surpass card, think carefully about other Amex Hilton cards you’ve had.

This card used to be called the Amex Hilton Ascend card and before that it was the Surpass. If you ever opened any Amex version of it, you aren’t eligible to earn the welcome bonus on the current Hilton Surpass card. That’s because Amex kept this card mostly the same, but updated the name. In Amex’s eyes it’s still the same product.

Beware of the Chase 5/24 rule

Amex personal cards count against your Chase 5/24 status. Luckily, the Hilton Business credit card doesn’t count against you. So if that’s a concern, be sure to stick to these business credit cards from any major bank except Capital One and Discover.

Bottom line

With 5,000+ locations under 15 Hilton brands, it’s not hard to make good use of your Hilton points. And thankfully, Hilton points are easy to earn with any of the four cobranded Hilton rewards credit cards.

But before you apply, keep in mind:

  • Each card is considered a different product
  • You can only have four (or five) Amex credit cards at once
  • Amex will only approve, at most, two cards per 90 days
  • The Hilton Surpass card use to be called the Hilton Ascend card and if you had it, you can’t get the Surpass product
  • All Amex personal cards count against your Chase 5/24 status, but Amex small business cards don’t

Hopefully this clarifies exactly which Amex Hilton cards you’re eligible to open.

Will you earn bonus Hilton points with these offers while they’re still around?

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Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

  • Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
  • Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio.
  • Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Spend $40,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn Hilton Honors Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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My wife just tried applying for the Ascend card today and was told that she was not eligible for the bonus. She only has two Amex cards – the basic Hilton Amex (since 99)and the Delta Gold Amex (since 2015) and has never had the Surpass. Also has never closed any other Amex cards.
Why would she not be eligible for the ascend bonus??

I only have 1 amex card which is the Delta Amex I applied almost a year ago. Amex wouldn’t give me a sign up bonus for the Hilton card and that’s annoying. I tried spending, waiting for months before reapplying and it’s the same. Any ideas?

The issue with Hilton cards is that the value just isn’t there, and I’m a Hilton loyalist, but the cards are terrible compared to Mariott or Hyatt, etc. For example, to get a free night, you either need the ridiculously expensive Aspire. The Surpass requires you spend a TON to get a free night. By contrast, Mariott and others offer a free night on their cards with a $95 annual fee, making the fee more palatable. And the Amex Airline reimbursement structure is cumbersome, to say the least. So it’s another reason the Aspire (that I currently have, but will not soon) isn’t worth it.

I, too, have tried twice in the past three months to get the Aspire card and was told I was ineligible for the bonus. I suspect the reason for the bonus denial is I had not used my AMEX green card much, but I just upgraded to gold after being offered a 40,000 MR point bonus. Hoping that putting several thousand a month on that card will help my eligibility for the Aspire bonus

I’m sorry for some reason my auto correct butchered that sentence.

I was trying to say, I have 2 great referral offers that get you an extra 25k points for either the NO FEE Hilton card or the Acsend Hilton Card. So first offer is 100k honors points after 1k dollars spent in 3 months. And the Ascend Card 150k points after 3k dollars spent in 3 months. Message me for referral send your email to Casey53555@yahoo.com

Does Amex match current offers? I just received the Aspire card a few months ago when the bonus was for 100,000 points. Im wodering if they will match to 150,000 points?

Hi UC,

I’ve read online that some people have been successful in getting them to match an offer. It’s worth a call. The worst that can happen is they say no!

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