Military Money Manual has partnered with CardRatings and OMAAT for our coverage of credit card products. Military Money Manual, OMAAT, and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. Thank you for supporting my independent, veteran owned site.
The card listed on this page is no longer available, but military members can get FREE Hilton Honors Diamond Status at all Hilton properties (Conrad, Hilton, Double Tree, etc.) with the American Express Hilton Honors Aspire card. The $450 annual fee is waived for all US servicemembers on 30 day active duty orders.
AMEX does this under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act law, or SCRA. The most popular article on this site is about the AMEX SCRA benefit and has been featured on multiple news outlets including ABC and Yahoo! News.
While AMEX's interpretation goes above and beyond the requirements of the SCRA law, all servicemembers are grateful for their tangible financial support.
It's one thing to say “thank you for your service,” it's another to waive a $450 annual fee. You can request SCRA benefits online or over the phone. Details on American Express's website here.
AMEX Hilton HHonors Surpass Free for Military
Recently I acquired the American Express Hilton HHonors Surpass card. They were offering 100,000 Hilton HHonors reward points in exchange for $3000 of spending in the first 3 months of card ownership. (As of Dec 30, 2016 the offer is 75,000 points. The highest I have seen is 125,000.)
Meeting minimum spends on credit cards used to be stressful and I went for several years without opening a new credit card account. I did not want the stress of finding ways to meet the minimum spend! Now, I use Plastiq.
Plastiq lets you pay bills that normally only accept checks with a credit card. They charge a fee, usually around 2.5% on the total transaction to cover the fees they have to pay the credit card company. If you are trying to meet a minimum spend, it can be worth paying the 2.5% processing fee.
My rent is $1450 per month, so meeting a $3000 minimum spend in 3 months was pretty easy. I simply scheduled 2 months of rent payments on the AMEX card through Plastiq and then paid off the card with my normal paycheck a day or two after the payment posted. Now I have 100,000 extra Hilton HHonors points that I can use for a future vacation.
After trying to use the online SCRA benefits inquiry tool on the AMEX website and getting an error two days in a row, I gave up and simply called the number on the back of the card: 1-800-297-1000. Mandy asked me a few standard SCRA questions and said AMEX would get back to me in a few days regarding my SCRA application. I should see the $75 annual fee that was charged on my first billing statement returned in the next few business days.
Hilton Military Discount
The AMEX Hilton HHonors Surpass card gives you automatic Gold status with all Hilton branded properties. That means when you check into any of the 13 Hilton brands, you get perks like free breakfast or a welcome gift like a cookie and a bottle of water, which is always a treat after flying all day! Hilton properties include:
- Hilton Hotels and Resorts
- Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts
- Conrad Hotels and Resorts
- Embassy Suites
- Hilton Garden Inn
- Homewood Suites
- Home2 Suites
- Hilton Grand Vacations
When you are TDY or TAD anywhere in the world, there's a good chance that one of the 4600 Hilton branded properties is close by. They usually offer a government or military rate, equal to or lower than the per diem rate for that locale, even at their luxury or high end properties like Waldorf Astoria or Conrad.
It's always worth checking the Hilton website or giving the property a call to see if they are offering military rate rooms. You may be required to show a CAC card or other form of military ID when you check in.
Have you used your American Express SCRA benefit? How much are you saving a year? Between my 3 AMEX cards I'm saving at least $275 a year in annual fees.