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

In October 2023, American Express revamped the mid-tier Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card and top-tier Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.

Along with higher annual fees (see rates and fees for the Surpass and Aspire) and the removal of lounge access, Amex has introduced new and revamped statement credits on the two cards.

Savvy points-and-miles enthusiasts have probably wondered the best strategy to get the most out of these credits. On the surface, they seem somewhat restrictive, but as you’ll read below, they may have more flexibility than you think.

The information for the Hilton Aspire card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Hilton credit on the Surpass

With the Surpass, cardmembers now receive up to $50 each quarter in statement credits (up to $200 annually) when using the card for Hilton purchases.

The terms and conditions state:

…for eligible purchases charged directly with a property within the Hilton portfolio on their Card Account, including bookings and incidental charges. For a booking to be eligible for a statement credit, the booking must be made directly through a reservation channel operated by Hilton. Bookings or purchases made through a third party other than Hilton, such as an online travel website, will not be eligible for statement credit(s)…For an incidental charge (including charges made at restaurants, spas, and other establishments within the hotel property) to be eligible for a statement credit, the incidental charge must be charged to your room and paid for with your Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card at checkout.

AMERICAN EXPRESS

That means that you can receive the credit for:

  • Bookings directly through the Hilton website or app (but not through third-party channels like an online travel agency such as Expedia or the Chase travel portal)
  • Incidental purchases charged to the room, including dining purchases, room service and spa treatments

This indicates that you must stay at the hotel to receive the statement credit.

However, we have received data points that the following purchases have also triggered the statement credit, even when you’re not staying at a hotel:

  • Gift store purchases at a Hilton property
  • Dining purchases at a restaurant in a Hilton property
  • Hilton online gift card purchases

For example, TPG managing editor Clint Henderson recently went on a trip to Montreal, Canada. He wasn’t staying at the Hampton Inn By Hilton Montreal Downtown but popped in for a quick bite, and his purchase triggered the credit two days later.

Of course, your mileage may vary depending on how the merchant or individual property codes your purchase. However, it does give hope that you can maximize the $50 credit every quarter even if you don’t stay at a Hilton property every quarter.

Revamped flight credit on the Aspire

Firstly, if you had the Aspire before Oct. 19, 2023, ensure you’ve maximized your $250 airline fee credit before the end of this year because, come Jan. 1, 2024, it is disappearing.

In its place is a new $50 quarterly statement credit (up to $200 annually) on eligible flight purchases made directly with an airline or through amextravel.com. This credit is already available for both new and existing cardmembers for the October-December 2023 quarter.

The terms and conditions state:

…for eligible purchases of airfare made directly with an airline or through amextravel.com. To be eligible for this benefit, an airfare purchase must be for a scheduled flight on a passenger carrier and purchased directly from the airline or through amextravel.com. Eligible purchases do not include: charter flights, private jet flights, flights that are part of tours, cruises, or travel packages or ticketing or similar service fees, ticket cancellation or change fees, interest charges, or purchases of cash equivalents. 

The Aspire now has a new card design. AMERICAN EXPRESS

That means that you can receive the credit for:

  • Airfare purchases directly with the airline
  • Airfare purchases through Amex Travel

This indicates that incidental charges such as award ticket taxes and fees, seat upgrades and change or cancellation fees do not trigger the credit.

However, we have received data points that the following purchases have also triggered the statement credit:

  • Seat upgrades
  • Award taxes and fees
  • United TravelBank purchases

TPG director of content Nick Ewen received the credit for a seat upgrade to Delta Comfort+ (received after seven days). Points and miles reporter Kyle Olsen was able to trigger the credit with a $50 United TravelBank purchase (after seven days). And I received the credit by using my Aspire card to pay for the taxes and fees on an American Airlines flight redemption using Etihad Guest miles (after six days).

Again, your mileage may vary depending on how the individual airline codes your purchase.

Other Aspire statement credits

The new up to $189 annual Clear Plus statement credit is now available.

However, the up to $200 biannual (every six months) Hilton resort statement credit will not be available to new or existing cardmembers until Jan. 1, 2024. If you had the card before Oct. 19, 2023, make sure to maximize the current $250 annual Hilton resort statement credit before Dec. 31, 2023.

Bottom line

Unsurprisingly, the new and revamped statement credits on the Hilton Surpass and Aspire cards seem to have stricter terms and conditions on paper than in practice.

If you’re a Surpass cardmember and don’t want to be forced to stay at a Hilton property four times a year, it seems you can max out your $50 quarterly credit by visiting a Hilton hotel and either dining there or picking something up from the gift store. Alternatively, you could try buying a Hilton gift card online.

And if you have the Aspire, the easiest way to max out your $50 quarterly flight credit is to reload your United TravelBank balance. You can also try to use your card to purchase seat upgrades or pay for the taxes and fees on an award ticket.

It all comes down to how a property or airline codes your purchase, so we recommend trying a smaller purchase first, waiting up to a week to see if the statement credit is triggered, and, if so, making a larger purchase.

Related: How to get maximum value from Hilton free night certificates

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Surpass, click here

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Aspire, click here