Pros and cons of my Hilton Amex upgrade offer

I got the no-fee Hilton Amex card last year when they were offering a limited time 80,000-point bonus. Although it has no annual fee, it’s also not really worth keeping long-term, since it still takes up an Amex slot I could use for another, better card. For whatever reason, Amex has decided to cap me at four credit cards, so I need to be judicious about which ones I keep. As it is, I haven’t been able to get the Blue Business Plus card, which is a fantastic card for everyday spend (earning two Membership Rewards points per dollar on the first $50,000 in spending each year). Therefore, before I get to any other considerations around the Hilton card, I need to keep in mind that keeping the card at all has an opportunity cost of .5 points per dollar on my everyday spend (the difference between the earning of the Blue and the Everyday Preferred card that I use for everyday spend now). The reason I’ve kept the card at all is that I wanted to see what kind of upgrade offer I would get once I had held the card for 13 months (the timeframe after which Amex starts sending upgrade offers for certain cards). Today, the offer came in, and it’s okay.

When the publicly available bonus on this card is 100,000 points and a free weekend night after the card’s one-year anniversary, why would I even consider this upgrade offer? Well, there are a few reasons.

First, as I wrote recently, setbacks in my churning game have caused me to reevaluate how aggressively I want to pursue additional sign-up bonuses. I’m still considering taking some time off and letting my credit reports cool down for a while. I don’t think I’ll be able to sit on my hands long enough to get back under 5/24, but if I chillax for 5-6 months, I might be able to take another crack at the Alaska Visa, for instance. While 100,000 Hilton points would be great, 75,000 points are almost as good without requiring me to start a new account.

Second, Amex is starting to get worryingly vague about whether they’ll even award sign-up bonuses to churners anymore. Like other Amex cards, the publicly available offer for the Ascend card contains their new “we can deny you a sign-up bonus for any reason and you can’t do shit about it” disclaimer. (For those who aren’t already well-versed in this stuff, this is the actual text of the disclaimer: “We may also consider the number of American Express Cards you have opened and closed as well as other factors in making a decision on your welcome offer eligibility.”) This new restriction has me on edge, since Amex is my golden goose. I need to be really careful that I don’t wind up on their dunzo list, or my last good churning avenue will be kaput.

There are other Amex cards I want in the future, like the SPG Luxury card that they’re releasing in a couple months. At least this is a restriction on sign-up bonuses and not approval for the card itself, but still… it would really suck to be ineligible for any Amex bonuses in the future. If I know I’m going to cancel an Amex card, I always keep it as long as I can while still getting the annual fee refunded, so at least it doesn’t look like I get the sign-up bonus and then cancel the card right away. I don’t know if that makes any difference, though, and until some more data points roll in regarding the new disclaimer, I’m happy to wait.

The bottom line is that I need to move forward carefully now, and it may not be a bad idea to sacrifice some points to avoid putting another tick in the “Amex card I’m definitely going to cancel after a year” column. Especially since I already have three Amex cards I’m definitely going to cancel this year.

I’m still on the fence, but at least I have a couple months to decide. Is it worth giving up 25,000 points and a free weekend night to avoid adding a new account having to cancel an Amex card after a year? Six months ago, I would have said no way. I always thought the people on Reddit who break out in hives at the thought of a “hard pull” were weirdos, but it’s becoming clearer that I’m the weirdo. Or at least that I’ve been cavalier in the past and should pay more attention to my pull in the future, however hard they may be.

Anyone else get this offer from Amex? You gonna take it or what?

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