Just a couple of quick credit card updates in this late-morning post…
75,000-Point Bonus for Hilton HHonors Surpass
From Million Mile Secrets, there is news that American Express has temporarily raised the sign-up bonus on the Hilton HHonors Surpass to 75,000 miles instead of the usual 60,000 miles. A minimum spend of $3,000 in three months is required.
Existing cardholders of the no-fee Hilton Amex can usually get an offer of 40,000 miles after $3,000 in three months when they choose to upgrade their account and pay a prorated annual fee. Megan and I just did this at the start of the year and had an easy time meeting the spend requirements. It can be a good deal to give up 20,000 points considering that no additional credit pull is required (it updates the existing account rather than opening a new one). However, the higher bonus currently offered may make a new card application worthwhile for some.
I happen to think this card is better than the Hilton Honors Reserve card from Citi for some people. It offers more points per dollar on Hilton stays and, like the Reserve card, also offers complimentary Gold elite status. The bonus points can be used more flexibly and for mid-week stays. The free nights offered by the Reserve card are limited to weekends but can be more rewarding at particularly expensive properties.
Priority Pass Select a Benefit of Hilton HHonors Surpass
This may not be new but is news to me. I received a free Priority Pass Select card in the mail linked to my new Hilton Surpass. Normally this membership costs $99. The Amex Platinum Card offers a similar benefit, which I use to access the Alaska Airlines Board Room in Seattle for free since the $27 per visit fee is waived for the primary cardholder. However, the new card apparently does not waive the visit fee. No thank you.
I cut it up and will continue to use my original Priority Pass Select card. I don’t know why Amex and Priority Pass sent me a second card when I already have a better deal with them, yet it didn’t send Megan a card at all. But it shows that it pays to read your mail closely as I might have otherwise thought this was a replacement for my original card.
Up to $149 Annual Fee for Chase Sapphire Preferred
Wandering Aramean found that Chase is doing some research on its new applicants, offering variable annual fees that range from $95 to $149. All of them still waive the fee the first year, but it is worrying that they may be planning to make this card more expensive. What’s next, raising the annual fee for existing cardholders? The 7% annual dividend, calculated from the total points earned in the past year, doesn’t justify even a $95 annual fee for all but the biggest spenders.
I think the Sapphire Preferred is a great card for “lazy” frequent travelers who don’t want to manage points and miles in multiple accounts or juggle lots of credit cards, each with their own category bonuses. The Sapphire Preferred is simple in that all travel and dining purchases earn double points that can then be transferred to a variety of airline and hotel loyalty programs almost instantly. But those points are becoming less valuable as their partners devalue their award charts.
Chase closed my Sapphire Preferred card over a year ago, and I have to say that I don’t miss it at all. There are lots of good alternatives if you’re willing to juggle a portfolio.