I tend to give American Express a hard time about how they treat cardmembers. It’s not so much AMEX policies that I have a problem with, but their ruthless punishment of any perceived transgression of the rules.
Despite this, I am a satisfied AMEX cardholder. I stay in the relationship because I think it’s worthwhile to put up with the hassles for what I get back from them. I just don’t expect more from AMEX than precisely what they tell me I’m going to get. I stay within the framework they’ve set for me. There are also times every now and then where AMEX will give me a hard time about getting what I was promised. That’s how things work and I’ve learned to live with it.
So I was thrilled when I saw that American Express was going to make it easier to use the hotel credits provided by their premium co-brand products. These credits aren’t difficult to use under normal circumstances but it’s harder to justify paying a $450 annual fee when you aren’t able to use the $250 or $300 statement credit.
There’s just one catch. The changes to these benefits don’t take effect until June 1st.
Despite the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant AMEX coming with a hefty $450 annual fee, I think it’s one premium card that’s worthwhile having if you stay at Marriott hotels. If you’re able to use all of the benefits of the card, you can end up getting more value than the cost of the annual fee. One of the most valuable benefits is $300 in statement credits each year of card membership for eligible purchases at Marriott Bonvoy hotels. This benefit is amazingly easy to use as almost any hotel expense counts, including paying for your room.
But what if you’re not staying at hotels? Using that credit has become a little more complicated, hasn’t it? In response, AMEX has amended the benefit and will reimburse your spending at U.S. restaurants for three months starting on June 1st.
From June 1, 2020 through August 31, 2020, eligible purchases on take-out and delivery from U.S. restaurants qualify toward the $300 Marriott Bonvoy Statement Credit benefit
This change will make it harder for people to call in and ask for a retention offer or give less reason to cancel the card because they’re not getting to use the credit.
Not surprisingly, American Express also added a similar benefit to its premium Hilton co-brand card.
The Hilton Aspire AMEX also has a $450 annual fee. For people who like staying at Hilton properties, this is also a great card as it provides automatic Hilton Honors Diamond status.
To offset the annual fee, the card offers a $250 statement credit each year for eligible expenses at Hilton Resorts. This credit is a bit harder to use than the one provided on the Bonvoy Brilliant because it only works at properties designated as resorts, not all Hilton hotels.
For three months starting on June 1st, AMEX is going to let you use this credit at U.S. restaurants.
From June 1, 2020 through August 31, 2020, eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants will qualify toward the $250 Hilton Resort Statement Credit benefit.
Several of the other benefits from the Hilton Aspire AMEX have changed, including making it easier to use the annual free night and having points earned through spending count to lifetime status. These benefits all started on May 1st, so the only one you’ll need to wait for until June 1st is the restaurant credit.
American Express’s changes to the hotel credit benefits of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant and Hilton Aspire premium cards are great for cardholders. Instead of having to try and find inventive ways to spend money at hotels (or Hilton resorts) to use the credit (and possibly anger the AMEX RAT Team), you can use the credit to support local restaurants.
Just don’t get too excited and remember that these benefits don’t start until June 1st, 2020.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary