4 Benefits That Make Hilton Aspire Card Worth It

Filed Under: Credit Cards, Hilton
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As I often say, I find hotel credit cards to be quite underrated. More so than just about any other cards, hotel credit cards can be worth holding onto just for the benefits they offer.

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 picked up the card over a year ago, and have consistently gotten outsized value from it. Specifically, I’m talking about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.

The card has a $450 annual fee, which is obviously 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.

Specifically, I’d say the following four benefits more than justify the annual fee on the card:

Hilton Honors Diamond status

Just for having this 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, room upgrades subject to availability, 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 their luxury footprint, with more Conrad and Waldorf Astoria properties opening around the globe.

Receive complimentary breakfast with Honors Diamond status

Annual weekend night reward

With the card you receive an annual free weekend 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 on a weekend night (here’s the small list of excluded properties)

Hilton properties retail for up to 120,000 points per night, so you could obviously get a ton of value out of this.

To give an example, Ford and I both have this card, so a couple of month ago we used our certificates at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills for back-to-back nights, where a paid room would have cost over $700 per night. That’s an amazing value.

We used our weekend certificates at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills

We’ve already used our certificates for this year to reserve two nights at the Conrad Osaka, where the nightly rate would have been over $600 per night (this is for our upcoming trip to Osaka & Kyoto).

$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 card. See this link to find all participating resorts.

What’s incredible is that virtually any spending at these hotels should qualify, regardless of whether we’re talking about the room rate, incidentals, dining, 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, when we stayed at the Conrad Bora Bora on points, we used the credit to cover some of the incidentals.

It can take 8-12 weeks for credits to be posted.

Use your resort credit at the Conrad Bora Bora

$250 annual airline fee credit

The Hilton Aspire 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.

This works very similarly to the benefit on the Amex Platinum Card, and you can read more about the Amex airline fee credit benefit here.

The terms state the following regarding what purchases aren’t eligible:

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.

Your annual airline credit can save you money on fees with most major US airlines

Bottom line

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 weekend night, a $250 airline fee credit, a $250 Hilton resort credit, and top tier Hilton Diamond status.

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 a Priority Pass membership, access to Amex Offers, and 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?

Regarding Comments: The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
  1. Don’t need to convince me lol! I want this card really bad haha. Next in line after I get out of Amex 2/90 detention.

  2. Personally, the $250 resort credit, free weekend night, and free breakfast cinch this card for me! The 2nd perk must be worth at least $200, so the card is basically free! And the 34pt/$ return rate is not bad either (20pt for diamon, 14 for this card).

  3. Hey Ben, this looks great. Does already having the Hilton AMEX Ascend card affect the ability to get this one?

  4. Lucky,

    Assume a person already has the Ascend and SPG Personal card, and that person only apply for one more credit card. What’s the better choice with the current bonuses – SPG Luxury (assume 125,000 points) or Hilton Aspire? Even thought he Luxury welcome bonus is better, it seems the Aspire is the card worth getting.

  5. @ Anthony — Indeed the SPG Luxury Card has a better bonus, but I do think the Aspire is more worthwhile long term, so that would be my pick.

  6. The free night is what puts it over the top for me. Can go yearly to the Waldorf Boca Beach Club and that is at least $800/night or in that neighborhood plus $250 and if staying 2 nights an additional $100 (for Conrad and Waldorf only). The airline credit I’m sure is good for those heavy travelers, but baggage fees and on boards drinks, internet fees are what it basically appears to cover and I never have extra baggage fees.

    I know Hilton has been “panned” for giving away their elite status on a card, but it’s a smart corporate move to get people stay at their resorts that travel, but not enough thru stays, nights or dollars spent to qualify for elite status.

  7. I went through the application process and got the pop-up window saying I am not eligible for the Aspire. I had the Ascend previously. I’ve never had the Aspire. My FICO is 820. I currently have 2 personal Amex cards + 1 SPG business + am the authorized user on an Amex Plat.

    Any ideas why I do not qualify?

  8. Would you be able to use the $250 resort fee by walking into your nearest Hilton resort and purchase $250 worth of Hilton GC’s?

  9. @Lucky

    out of curiosity, how many chase cards do you currently have and are you at all concerned about possibly getting a random Chase shutdowns for apparently having too many accounts? I currently have 5 Chase cards (2 business and 3 personal) and I’m most interested in applying for the Ink Business Preferred card and the Hyatt card. However, I am concerned about the reports of Chase shutdowns so I’m interested in hearing what your thoughts are on this.

  10. @ JSEA — I don’t have any firsthand experience with that, but I imagine that may very well work, since the purchase would be processed by the hotel.

  11. @ Andy — At the moment I have seven Chase credit cards. To be honest I’m not worried about the possibility of them getting shut down. I spend a significant amount on Chase cards, and I also keep all the cards open long term, and don’t apply for cards with them too often. In other words, I’m using the cards the way I think they were intended to be used. In general I think you’ll find that most of the shutdown stories come from people who have opened or closed a lot of cards.

  12. Can you use the free weekend pass at a Hilton resort property? Meaning, could I book two nights (Thurs & Fri) at say the Phuket Hilton resort (comes out to about $250, not coincidentally the resort credit amount) and get a third night (Sat night) using the free weekend pass?

  13. Rob,

    Have you canceled an AMEX card recently? It seems like AMEX is not liking it if you cancelled a card (even long ago) – you said that you “had” the Ascend card, which could be the issue here.

  14. You left out another great benefit, the $100 on-property amenity credit on two-night Waldorf-Astoria or Conrad properties. The way to maximize this, IMO, is to stay at a resort so that you can use the $250 resort credit at the same time. Combine that with a free night there, and you’ve got a small, nice, affordable vacation every year. I just wish there were more Hilton resort locations. That is the biggest thing holding me back, though the Virginia Beach property looks pretty good.

  15. Random security note about Amex and Hilton, although this is probably not limited to them. I had over 500k Hilton points and one day I login to my app and notice I had like 600 points. Obviously I panicked and initiated an investigation. Turns out someone somehow hacked my Hilton account (I have a very hard password, for whatever that’s worth), connected my Hilton account to Amazon and redeemed almost 500k of Hilton points for Amazon purchases. I was never notified of any of this. Thankfully Hilton reimbursed my points.

  16. @Lucky @Anthony
    I once had two different Ascend card accounts which I don’t remember how I ended up with two. But I closed one in March and the other in April; and then I tried to apply for the Aspire in September.

    I’m wondering if I am permanently disqualified for the Aspire.

  17. @lucky: ok, I’m sold.

    Question: if you had 24 hours on the ground in Las Vegas and booked 1 night at Waldorf Astoria (formerly MO), which of the following payment methods would you suggest (figure $300 incl room/resort fee):

    1) AMEX Plat w/ FHR benefits + $125 spa credit…..$300 spend

    2) Hilton Aspire free weekend night w/ newly minted Diamond benefits + $250 annual resort amenity credit…..$450 spend (annual card fee)

    3) 62,000 Hilton points (which waives resort fee) and still includes free breakfast as HH Gold……$0 spend

    Just curious, and would welcome any thoughts.

  18. @ Tough Call — My initial instinct was to say book the FHR rate and then pay with the Aspire Card so you can use the $250 credit (you don’t have to pay with the Amex Plat, but rather just have to pay with any Amex. However, it looks like the Waldorf Las Vegas isn’t considered a resort, and therefore wouldn’t qualify for the $250 credit (unless I’m missing something).

  19. I would love to keep an Amex card such as Platinum but once they increased the annual fee to $550, I canceled it. Only if Amex made $200 airline credit as easy as Chase and gave the full $200 Uber credit on January 1st of each year, it would be worth while.

    International flights, I fly business class so no need for the $200 airline credit. Domestic flights, I tend to fly 1st class unless it’s an hour flight so no need for the $200 airline credit.

  20. I selected Southwest as my airline of choice through the Aspire benefits and had to change flight twice to a slightly higher price using my Aspire card and surprisingly received the price difference paid back on my Aspire card 5 days later. I wonder if that would count on a full fare purchase as well since Southwest don’t seems to give a clear mention on what the incidental purchase was? Love this card so far!

    Nice friend referral bonus too at 20000pts!


  21. “While I don’t consider Hilton Diamond to be the most valuable top tier status…blah…blah…blah”

    The problem with travel blogosphere is the tendency to keep repeating dogmatic claims that have been shown to be utterly bogus…

    HGP and SPG are gone and MR is sputtering. WoH has no footprint and its only elite status that is sort worth something sends you to the poor house before you achieve it….So, please do an OBJECTIVE “tale of the tape” of HH Diamond vs. Any other elite status and you will see that none comes close in benefits, especially taking into account how much it costs to achieve the status. Minimizing costs on leisure travel is why everyone plays the mile/point game…right?

  22. I had the Ascend card first, got the 100K points and the applied and was approved for Aspire but an only 100K bonus at the time. I’m on a road trip now and Hilton is throwing me thousands of points for Hilton stays. I talked to a rep before applying for Aspire to make sure I would get the bonus. So, I’ve gone from 0 points to almost 400K points in less than five months bonuses, spend, and stays at Hilton. My only problem now is to make sure I use the Aspire when booking Hilton stays and the Ascend for 6X points on grocery store purchases, spend $15K on Ascend each year for the additional reward night. Left Marriott in the dust. Two months after Marriott’s official merger, and they are still so screwed up with their systems, logins, passwords, merged accounts, you name it.

  23. Lucky – Re: Waldorf Vegas – it *IS* considered a Hilton resort and therefore entitled to the $250 resort credit – correct? I see it on the list but you’re saying it’s not a resort – am I missing something? I have it booked later this year and counting on the $250 credit.

  24. @ Hugh Jassole — I’m sorry, clearly I wasn’t searching correctly earlier. You’re right that it’s there, and therefore should be eligible. My apologies!

  25. @lucky

    Hey Lucky, you have me SOLD! Can I check… I got the Ascend card this year and got the bonus. Would I still be eligible for the bonus on the Aspire if I apply now?

    Thank you!!! P.S. best travel blog ever!

  26. @ James — Thanks for the kind words! Yes, you would still be eligible for the bonus as long as you haven’t had this exact card before.

  27. @DCS that’s your opinion and might be true for you but certainly isn’t for everyone.

    Probably should learn what dogma means before using it… and the only person who has “shown” anything to be “bogus” is you. Citing yourself is super cool though, bruh.

  28. Is there a link to see which property you can use the resort credit? The link provided only takes you to the homepage, not a list. Thank you @ Lucky. Congratulations on your marriage to your hubby, Ford.

  29. @ Stanley — Thank you! The page it takes you to is the homepage for Hilton resorts, all of which are eligible. 🙂

  30. @Matt — Little in what I stated, precisely to suggest that bogus opinions or claims that travel bloggers regurgitate as dogma be laid to rest, was an option:

    “HGP and SPG are gone” — Check
    “MR is sputtering” [just ask its CEO] – Check.
    “WoH has no footprint and its only elite status that is sort worth something sends you to the poor house before you achieve it .” – Check.

    Left unsaid is that Hilton has been the most innovative (too many innovations, in fact, to keep track of), most rewarding (non-stop global and targeting promos), and most stable (when was a programmatic snafu involving HH last reported?) hotel loyalty program out there, with among the cheapest award costs in the business (measured as ‘spend per free night’). None of that is a matter of opinion. You can look it up, or you already know it if you pay any attention.


  31. BTW, @Mattt, are you a reincarnation of poster who went by the moniker of ‘Mike”? If not, he has not been heard from in a good while, but you should know that you sound just as ridiculous as he did.

  32. @Marc
    Have you tried that? I.e. does the free weekend night stay count towards 1 of the 2 nights required to trigger the $100 resort credit?

  33. @ CoachellaValleyFinalSolution — I think the point was that you could make it a two day trip. To get the $100 resort credit you need to book a consecutive two night stay under one reservation, so you couldn’t use the free weekend night as one of the nights.

  34. @ Lucky thank you for getting back to me. So, I plan on staying at Sanya Yazhou Bay Resort, A Curio Collection. Would I be able to use the $250 resort credit here with this property? Also, would I simultaneously be able to use the weekend free night certificate? Would I need to make sure my stay is booked on a Saturday and Sunday or would it also work if it were a Friday and Saturday? I plan on staying there for 4 nights, so I want to know how I should book it to kick in the use of the free weekend night certificate. Sorry if it is confusing. Thank you so much.

  35. @ Stanley — A Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night would qualify. You can use the $250 resort credit for the same stay where you redeem a free night certificate, as long as you’re charging at least $250 to the room.

  36. @DCS: “BTW, @Mattt, are you a reincarnation of poster who went by the moniker of ‘Mike”? If not, he has not been heard from in a good while, but you should know that you sound just as ridiculous as he did.”

    No, DCS, he isn’t, because I have better things to do right now than put up with your drivel.

  37. One thing that hasn’t been called out on the resort credit – it seems like most of the Hilton Grand Vacation Club (HGVC) properties are considered Hilton Resorts. If you are a HGVC owner, this card is great because you can use your $250 resort credit when using your HGVC points to stay! We frequent Valdoro and I love getting a massage after a few days of skiing – this is perfect!

  38. “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.”

    Curious – Quoting the above, it seems that most incidental fees paid to an airline of choice are not qualifying for the $250 credit.

    Forgetting about “gift cards” what incidental fees to airlines qualify for the credit?

    Thanks in advance for an answer

  39. @ dmg9 — Things like ticket change fees (on both award tickets and revenue tickets), close-in ticketing fees, baggage fees, seating fees, etc., would all qualify, just to give some examples.

  40. @lucky Which airlines are available to choose from? American Express doesn’t seem to list them in their marketing brochure

  41. @ milgom — Options include Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Spirit, Southwest, and United.

  42. You are such a hypocrite for ignoring this card for many, many months because you didn’t have an affiliate link and only now suddenly pushing it when you have a link, even though many readers (including myself) told you how good the card was for many months. You obviously knew how amazing the card was (as evidenced by today’s post – nothing has changed between now and when the card first came out). This is why Doctor of Credit is 10 times better than your website. Another example is you pushing your Ink Business Preferred 80,000 point link when it was common knowledge you could get 100,000 points applying in branch. You have no credibility whatsoever. You don’t deserve to have readers click on your affiliate links.

  43. @ Daniel M — For whatever it’s worth, nothing has changed with regards to our links for this card either.

  44. Card sounds great , but when I go to sign up for the card , it said diamond status after 40k spend?

  45. I lucked out and got the Aspire with no annual fee the first year. Obviously this then is an extreme win and I’ll be using the free night during my Japan trip, and as well using the resort bonus at the Tokyo resort hotel for one night.

    But I’ll not be renewing at $450 next year. I mainly stay at Hampton Inns when I travel domestically so Diamond status is relatively unimportant, and I never stay at resorts.

  46. Now that it’s January, you can reset the airline credit I know. Want to confirm I’m reading that correctly that you can ONLY change in the month of January and then would be locked in?

  47. @Zach That’s technically true, but I have contacted Amex customer service to make the change mid-year before. It’s not guaranteed, and they stated it was a “one time exception” but it seems to happen fairly frequently. I would just make sure the credit is unused if you do it- I’m not sure they’d let you split it between 2 airlines.

  48. I got this card late last year, hit the MSR, got the statement that indicated the bonus, and have been waiting over a month for the points to be transferred to Hilton. AmEx says they’re “reviewing” that the spend was good, etc, and it could take 8-12 weeks.

    Everything is so hard with AmEx. I would like to book a trip and use the points, but i have no idea when i’ll actually have them. So frustrating.

  49. @Luis, quit stating your ignorance as fact. If you had any idea what you were talking about, you would know that the credit is easily worth $250.

  50. The card is ok, but its not worth it for everyone. A little too much hype here. The airline credit with amex can be a real pain to use due to all the limitations. Also, the resort credit while nice can only be used at certain properties. I managed to use mine but it was tough to find a property near my destinations that was a decent quality property, so you really need to know ahead of time that you are going to be able to stay at one of these properties. The free night as mentioned is a weekend night, so that already limits the dates you can use it on. Then you need to find award availability on those dates which can be tricky when it comes to luxury properties. The diamond status is nice but if you have the plat or another hilton card that gives gold, the difference in status levels isn’t that noticeable. The airport lounge access is available on many cards. Card can be worth it for the first year. Beyond the first year its not as easy to justify the large AF unless you are able to really take advantage of the benefits. People with more than several hilton stays I can see it being worth it, but for the casual traveler you need to do the math to see if the benefits are going to offset that fee.

  51. For my incidental airline I picked Frontier (since they have so many incidental fees). I joined the Den discount club, or whatever they call it for $59.99. Amex counted it as an incidental and issued credit. It took two days for the credit to hit.

  52. @ Carl WV – thx for the info. I did the same thing with Spirit at the end of Dec. I bought the $59, $9 Fare Club mbrship then a discounted $60 tkt using it. By the time I pd for exorbitant bag fees + the mbrship I’d used my AMEX credit. I like the idea of being able to join these other clubs for free where occasional value can be had.

  53. I am on my second year with Aspire and it’s great! You are treated as a true Diamond member, not a “card member” and the value to cost is phenomenal.

    Earlier this year, we spent a week at the Hilton Fiji resort. We received a free night, an upgrade to a pool suite, free full breakfast and covered all of our other meals and extras with the 250.00 resort credit. WOW! This card is a must!

  54. Just last week we took out free nights at Reach Resort Key West and Bakers Cay Key Largo – normally combined rate of $1800 for both nights on New Years week – free continental breakfasts, $250 worth of dinners on property, free overweight bag and snacks on United – already credited to Amex – great deal!

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