Approved For The Hilton Aspire Card!

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Now that I’ve applied for the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card and Ink Business UnlimitedSM Credit Card since the beginning of October, my next order of business was to apply for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. This is the other credit card that has been on my radar the longest.

This $450 annual fee card is such a no brainer, as it offers some incredible perks. In particular, I think the following four benefits more than justify the annual fee on the card:

  • Hilton Honors Diamond status for as long as you have the card
  • An annual weekend night reward valid for a standard room at virtually any property (here’s the small list of excluded properties), so that can get you up to 95,000 points of value
  • A $250 Hilton resort credit every cardmember year, which should count towards any spend at a qualifying Hilton resort (including room rate)
  • A $250 airline fee credit every calendar year

That’s $500 worth of credits, plus an annual free weekend night reward, plus Honors Diamond status for as long as you have the card, all for the annual fee of $450. The card also offers a Priority Pass membership with guesting privileges, but nowadays quite a few cards offer that, so I know that’s a redundant benefit for many of us.

Once my approval on the Ink Business UnlimitedSM Credit Card came through I applied for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. To my surprise I didn’t get an instant approval (it’s surprising to me since typically Amex is good about instant approvals).

However, just minutes later I received an email indicating that I had been approved, so I guess this was a glitch, or something.

Within hours my account has been updated to reflect Diamond status, just in time for a Hilton stay I have coming up this weekend, so that’s cool.

As I’ve said before, this is truly one of those credit cards that seems too good to be true. As far as I’m concerned they could eliminate two of the four “core” benefits and I’d still consider the card to be worthwhile, but I’ll gladly take all of them.

At this point I’ve been approved for the three credit cards that I wanted most, so I’m very happy about that. Of course there are still some other cards I’d like to get, but they can wait…

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  1. Welcome to the Aspire club. There’s a lot of talk about the $250 Hilton credit being picked up at any property if you advance purchase. Any truth to this?

  2. so you have 3 new cards since Oct, and 2 are business cards. in the eyes of Chase 5-24, how many do you really have? 3 or 1?

  3. I don’t see the attraction in the Aspire. The SPG Luxury card credit applies to any hotel; the Aspire credit requires that you stay at a resort. And the CSR/US Bank Altitude travel credits apply to any purchase on any airline; the Aspire only covers fees. So, unless you stay at resorts regularly, and run up significant airline fees, the competitor are much easier to benefit from. (Personally, I rarely stay at resorts, and almost never pay airline fees, even though I am traveling much of the time.)

  4. @Lucky. Please, please stop saying things like ‘they could drop two of the four key benefits and this would still be a great card.’ Your site is awesome, love it. But why must you always include musings about just how low a credit card company could go to still retain your business? These little interjections tacitly condoning/ normalizing devaluation are becoming sort of cringe-worthy.

  5. Ha, this is might be the only time and card I’ve obtained before Lucky. Already used the $250 airline fee credit to buy small-denomination AA gift cards. Hopefully Amex continues to allow/reimburse for it in future years, as the airline fee credit is a significant part of the Aspire’s (and Amex Platinum’s) value proposition.

  6. Ben, does one receive the annual weekend night upon approval or only after having had the card for a year? Thanks.

  7. This may sound like a dumb question but what is the best (easiest) way to close out a credit card account? No info or links on card web sites, calls to customer service get transferred around 2 and 3 times to reps trying to get you to stay on, – instant approvals aren’t so instant to close.

  8. I got the Aspire last April, and it worked brilliantly having the diamond status, free night, and resort credit, traveling through Japan and Southeast Asia this past August. A few questions, since my card anniversary is in April, how soon do you think the free night credit will post? My husband and I are thinking of using it for the Beverly Hills Waldorf Astoria, next May, and using their free car service to take us to The Abbey, for a first-time visit. Do you think the WA will have availability that close in?

  9. @ Ryan — It has nothing to do with the OMAAT link, in general they seem to have removed it as a marketing point, though if you look through the T&Cs you’ll still see it listed there. Not sure what to make of it, but as of now those are all definitely still benefits.

  10. @ Andesbrian — Usually I find that hotel is pretty good about last minute availability, though you never know if you’re relying on one specific date. If you keep checking as the date approaches you should have luck, though. Not sure how long after the anniversary it posts since the card hasn’t been around for a year yet. And while I’m sharing my thoughts, skip The Abbey. 😉

  11. @ Brian DeZavala — Usually calling is the easiest way, though sometimes they’ll transfer you to a “specialist,” which can take a minute or two.

  12. @ SEAguy — I appreciate where you’re coming from, though please see it from my perspective. My intent is to analyze the loyalty program and credit card industry. It’s not about normalizing devaluations or anything else. So should I also not do a post about award chart sweet spots to help people get the most value of redemptions, because presumably writing about those would also be sending a message to loyalty programs, no?

  13. Does additional card holder gets a Diamond status and his own Priority Pass too? Does a Diamond status counts for lifetime for primary and additional card holder?

  14. @Lucky – I think @SEAguy is trying to say there are other ways of commenting on the incredible benefits of a card instead of suggesting that a credit card company could remove them and still retain customers. Instead of saying Amex could remove benefits, you could comment that there is more value than the annual fee. I personally feel it was the direct comment about removing benefits that was going a tad far.

  15. Welcome to the Club Aspire! Hopefully, you will be more open-minded now that SPG and HGP are gone and truly enjoy your Aspire Diamond status, as the card’s benefits are designed to be overwhelmingly rewarding for folks who actively patronize Hilton Honors.

    Speaking of benefits, I agree with those who took issue with this musing:

    “As far as I’m concerned they could eliminate two of the four “core” benefits and I’d still consider the card to be worthwhile, but I’ll gladly take all of them.”

    As you said, the Aspire “is truly one of those credit cards that seems too good to be true”, meaning that its benefits would, without a doubt, be diluted at some points. Therefore, let’s not accelerate the inevitable by suggesting that “they could eliminate two of the four “core” benefits and I’d still consider the card to be worthwhile.” They might hear you and do just that sooner than they’d intended.

    I am now at 0/24. I wonder which ‘kool’ rewards cards I should go for… 😉

  16. Super card, but rarely to use for charges. I jumped at the card. It is one of the few that both I have and my wife has so we each have a free night and are each Diamond. We were just in Europe and stayed a weekend in a hotel for 400 euros per night. The Diamond benefits got us a junior suite. We got early check-in. That paid for the card. On top of that already used the airline benefit for Alaska Airlines. Used most of the resort credit. Got over $900 of benefits on my card alone. On top of that targeted spending promotion for 20,000 points for $2,000 spend. I do not normally use the card for purchases, but that makes it worthwhile, even for Hilton points.

  17. Counterpoint?

    (Apologies if this is a duplicate post – the first attempt didn’t upload)

  18. LOL. @Newsky gushes about his great Hilton stays thanks to the incredible Aspire card and then ends with the obligatory and usually mindless ‘apology’ for patronizing what is currently the dominant and most rewarding hotel loyalty program: “…but that makes it worthwhile, even for Hilton points.”

    FYI – Hilton Honors points are as valuable as any other hotel points currency out there. that should have been self-evident by now, so I will not bother showing it, yet again, with the easy math. Just remember that award costs in ‘raw’ points are meaningless without considering the ease of earning points, on which Hilton is simply unbeatable.


  19. I upgraded recently and looking forward to an upcoming stay as a Diamond. 🙂 BTW, Ben, link not working for the short list of excluded properties for the free weekend night.

  20. Hello everyone. Question, when I click on the referral link it takes me to the AMEX website, but there is nothing about $250 airline fee credit over there, only Hilton resort credit. Is that some kind of secret perk that they don’t tell you about? Or I’m the only one who doesn’t see airline credit on AMEX’s website?

    Thank you.

  21. @Christian – You have to find and click the ‘Offer and Benefit Terms’ link on that page to find the airline credit, which reads like this:

    $250 Airline Fee Credit

    *American Express relies on accurate airline transaction data to identify incidental fee purchases. If you do not see a statement credit for a qualifying incidental purchase on your eligible Card after 4 weeks, simply call the number on the back of your Card. See terms & conditions for more details.
    $250 Airline Fee Credit

    Benefit is available to Hilton Honors Aspire Card Members only. To receive statement credits of up to $250 per calendar year toward incidental air travel fees, Card Member must select one qualifying airline at wwwDOTamericanexpressDOTcomSLASHairlinecreditchoice. Only the Basic Card Member or Authorized Account Manager(s) on the Card Account can select the qualifying airline. Card Members who have not chosen one qualifying airline will be able to do so at any time. Card Members who have already selected one qualifying airline will be able to change their choice one time each year in January at wwwDOTamericanexpressDOTcomSLASHairlinecreditchoice or by calling the number on the back of the Card. Card Members who do not change their airline selection will remain with their current airline. Statement Credits: Incidental air travel fees must be charged to the Card Member on the eligible Card Account for the benefit to apply. Purchases made by both the Basic and Additional Card Members on the eligible Card Account are eligible for statement credits. However, each Card Account is eligible for up to a total of $250 per calendar year in statement credits across all Cards on the Card Account. Incidental air travel fees must be separate charges from airline ticket charges. Fees not charged by the Card Member’s airline of choice (e.g. wireless internet and fees incurred with airline alliance partners) do not qualify for statement credits. Incidental air travel fees charged prior to selection of a qualifying airline are not eligible for statement credits. 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. The airline must submit the charge under the appropriate merchant code, industry code, or required service or product identifier for the charge to be recognized as an incidental air travel fee. Please allow 2-4 weeks after the qualifying incidental air travel fee is charged to your Card Account for statement credit(s) to be posted to the Card Account. We rely on airlines to submit the correct information on airline transactions, so please call the number on the back of the Card if statement credits have not posted after 4 weeks from the date of purchase. Card Members remain responsible for timely payment of all charges.

  22. VX Flier – The bloggers all list Diamond status at near the bottom of the list of the benefits of the Aspire card. For most uses, Gold is pretty good.

    I currently have the Ascend card instead of the Aspire and put a decent amount of restaurant and grocery spend on it. Aspire seems to work if you can maximize the airline, resort and the weekend night credits. For me, the weekend night credit is the most useful, followed by the airline credit. The resort credit is worth zero as I may or may not use it every year.

    The real juice in the Hilton program starts when you are a Gold or up, and when you stay at Hilton hotels during their double points promotions. Gold is attainable through Amex Platinum or the Ascend. On top of that, if you pay for any Hilton stays yourself (not on a corporate card or via points), it makes sense to hold one of the Hilton cards. Most people can make Aspire work, but Ascend may be just as good depending on the spend patterns.

  23. Keep in mind this is an airline fee credit, so buying just airfare doesn’t give you the credit. This is limited to a single airlines as well.

  24. @Andesbrian and @Michael – my free reward night posted 2 months after upgrading (I got an offer to upgrade my Ascend to an Aspire and get 150k points) I was shocked because my Ascend free night (I got the card before they added a spend threshold) posted with a month of my year anniversary and now I have two reward certs active with about a 9 month overlap! I received my award approx at the same date my upgrade letter said my Ascend annual fee would be prorated, so the two may be tied somehow, but this may be particular to an upgrade scenario.

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