As I often say, I find hotel credit cards to be quite underrated. These cards can be worth holding onto even if you don’t intend to spend a lot of money on them.
For example, I’ve written about how the World of Hyatt Credit Card (review) is great — the card has a $95 annual fee, and I think the Category 1-4 free night certificate offered by the card more than justifies the annual fee in and of itself.
But there’s one even more premium hotel credit card that I find to be at least as valuable. I’ve had this card for a few years now, and have consistently gotten outsized value from it. Specifically, I’m talking about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card (you’re potentially eligible for this card even if you have another card in the Hilton Honors portfolio).
The card has a $450 annual fee, which is on the high side for a hotel credit card, though this is a card that’s ridiculously rewarding.
The Hilton Aspire Card is offering a welcome bonus right now of 150,000 Hilton Honors points after spending $4,000 within the first three months, though what makes this card so worthwhile is the long-term benefits it offers. In no particular order, I’d say the below five benefits more than justify the annual fee on the card.
Hilton Honors Diamond status
Just for having the Hilton Aspire Card you receive Hilton Honors Diamond status. That’s valid for as long as you keep the card, and this is Hilton’s top tier hotel status. That’s right, you get top tier status just for having a credit card.
This gets you bonus points, breakfast or club lounge access (or a food & beverage credit within the US), room upgrades subject to availability, premium Wi-Fi, and more.
While I don’t consider Hilton Diamond to be the most valuable top tier status, getting it just for having the card is a phenomenal deal, especially as Hilton has a huge global footprint. I’ve been especially impressed by how Hilton has been growing its luxury footprint, with more Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, and LXR properties opening around the globe.
Annual free night reward
With the Hilton Aspire Card you receive an annual free night reward your first year and every subsequent year. This can be redeemed at virtually any Hilton Honors property in the world where there’s a standard room available (here’s the small list of excluded properties).
Historically this has been a weekend night reward (meaning it has to be redeemed on weekend nights), but those issued through December 31, 2022, are valid for stays any days of the week.
Hilton properties retail for up to 150,000 points per night, so cardmembers can get a lot of value out of this. Just to give some examples of the last two places that I’ve redeemed these free night certificates:
- I’ve redeemed them at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, where the nightly rate would have been over $700
- I’ve redeemed them at the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal, where the nightly rate would have been over $1,800
Suffice it to say those are some amazing uses of the certificates, and I can’t wait to see where I redeem them next.
$250 annual Hilton resort credit
Every cardmember year you receive up to $250 in statement credits for eligible purchases made directly with participating Hilton resorts using your Hilton Aspire Card. See this link to find all participating resorts.
What’s great is that virtually any spending at these resorts should qualify, regardless of whether we’re talking about the room rate, dining, spa treatments, activities, etc. So as long as you spend just $250 per year on the card at Hilton resorts, you should be able to make full use of this benefit.
You could even redeem your anniversary free night certificate at a top Conrad or Waldorf Astoria resort and then use the $250 to get massages, a nice dinner, etc. For example, I just redeemed points for a stay at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives, and was able to use my $250 credit toward incidentals. It can take 8-12 weeks for credits to be posted, but in practice the credit generally posts much faster than that.
$250 annual airline fee credit
The Hilton Aspire Card offers a $250 airline fee credit every calendar year. You need to designate an airline, and then eligible fees will automatically be reimbursed. Technically these post within four weeks of an eligible purchase, though in practice they typically post much faster than that.
Airline tickets, upgrades, mileage points purchases, mileage points transfer fees, gift cards, duty free purchases, and award tickets are not deemed to be incidental fees.
Priority Pass membership
The Hilton Aspire Card offers a Priority Pass membership for as long as you’re a cardmember (enrollment required), making it one of the best cards for Priority Pass. Priority Pass is the world’s largest network of independent airport lounges, giving you access to 1,300+ lounges around the globe.
Getting this as an additional perk on top of all the other benefits offered by the card is pretty awesome.
The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card in many ways is too good to be true, and I’ve gotten so much value out of the card. For a $450 annual fee you’re getting an annual free night reward, a $250 airline fee credit, a $250 Hilton resort credit, top tier Hilton Diamond status, and a Priority Pass membership.
Personally I get more than $450 of value out of the free night certificate alone, so as far as I’m concerned the rest of the benefits are just the icing on the cake.
And I’m not even talking about all of the benefits of the card, as the Hilton Aspire also offers access to Amex Offers, and much more. See this post for more details on how all of the benefits of the card work, and see this post for a detailed review of the Hilton Aspire Card.
Anyone else love the Hilton Aspire Card as much as I do?