What to do with a defunct Citi Hilton card?

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Hilton Visa card changes from Citi to American Express

Tony Mecia is a business journalist who writes for a number of trade and general-interest publications. He writes “Cashing In,” a weekly column about credit card rewards programs, for CreditCards.com

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QuestionDear Cashing In,
My
Hilton Visa is switching to American Express and I haven’t yet had an AmEx card
with a bonus. If I let it switch, does this forgo the one time sign-up bonus
you get when you get an American Express card? I have heard that you can get
only one bonus for AmEx, and I haven’t used it yet. Should I close my card or
just let it roll over? – Jenny


AnswerDear Jenny,
Every
now and then, companies elect to switch the brands of cards they offer. And
when they do, be sure to pay close attention.

The
last major switch happened in 2016, also involving Citi and American Express.
That year, Costco decided to switch from American
Express cards to Citi cards
, and for the first time, the warehouse chain started
allowing Visa cards to be used.

In
this case, Citi and American Express have each offered Hilton cards for years.
In June, Citi and Hilton announced that in early 2018, Citi would stop offering
Hilton cards. In November, American Express announced that it would start
offering additional Hilton cards starting in January 2018, and that people who
have existing Citi Hilton cards would receive comparable new American Express cards in their place.

No sign-up bonus for automatic switch

As
of mid-December 2017, it is not possible to apply for the new cards yet, and
American Express has not announced any sign-up bonuses for them. The company
has laid out the terms by which it is
transitioning to the Citi cards. It says it will send out the new cards to
existing cardholders in January 2018, and that they will start working on Jan.
30, 2018. Card balances will transfer to the new cards.

If
you allow yourself to be transitioned from a Citi card to an American Express
card, you won’t receive a sign-up bonus for the card, the company says.
American Express has not said if there will be sign-up bonuses for people who
apply for the new cards, but it seems to be a safe bet that there will be,
since most rewards cards with annual fees have sign-up bonuses, and it is
common for banks to make cards as appealing as possible when they launch them. 

The
American Express policy on sign-up bonuses that went into effect in 2014 is
that you cannot receive a sign-up bonus on a card if you have ever had that
same card before. You would still be eligible for future sign-up bonuses on
other American Express cards, but if you allow yourself to be transitioned to
one of the new American Express cards, then close the account and apply for the
same card again, you would not be eligible for a sign-up bonus on that card
under American Express’ policy. But it is possible that if you went to cancel
that new American Express card that the bank would offer you an incentive to
keep the card open.

Considerations when canceling

One
slight downside to canceling your Citi card and perhaps reapplying for one of
the new American Express cards is that you will have another credit inquiry on
your credit report, which temporarily lowers your credit score by a few points.
If you just allow the card to transition from Citi to American Express, there
is no credit pull. 

It
is tough to give advice in the absence of full information. My guess is that
American Express will release more information on its new Hilton cards in early
January as it makes those cards publicly available. But by then, it is possible
they will have already sent you a new American Express card. 

I
would be tempted to cancel the Citi card and keep your eyes open to new offers
from American Express. That might give you more and better options.


See related: Reward card sign-up bonuses not all created equal

 




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