Hilton Aspire Perks: How They Work

Filed Under: American Express, Credit Cards
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One of the credit cards that I picked up a couple of months ago is the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. This card has a $450 annual fee, and is easily one of the all around most compelling hotel credit cards out there.

This card has many huge benefits, and almost seems too good to be true. Among other things, the card offers the following five benefits, which I consider to be the most valuable:

  • Hilton Honors Diamond status for as long as you have the card
  • A $250 airline fee credit every calendar year
  • A $250 Hilton resort credit every cardmember year
  • An annual weekend night reward
  • A Priority Pass membership

I got this card a couple of months ago and have learned quite a few things about how the benefits work, so wanted to share my experience in this post, since I get a lot of questions about the nitty-gritty of the perks.

Hilton Aspire Honors Diamond status

Just for having the Hilton Honors Aspire Card you receive Honors Diamond status, which is Hilton’s top tier status. There’s nothing you need to do to activate this — it’s automatic. This benefit only applies for the primary cardmember, and not for any authorized users.

Typically once you’re approved for the card you should see your Honors account updated within a day or so to reflect your new status. It’s amazing how fast that happens.

One thing I learned the hard way is that any existing reservations won’t update with your new status without manual intervention. So if you’ve made any reservations before your status is upgraded, make sure you call and have them remove your Honors number and then put it back in your reservation, so the Diamond status shows correctly.

Hilton Aspire $250 airline fee credit

Just for having the Hilton Honors Aspire Card you receive a $250 airline fee credit every calendar year. This follows a strict calendar year definition, meaning you get one credit through December 31, and then another credit as of January 1 of the following year.

You have to specifically designate an airline at this link on which you want this credit to apply, with the choice between Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Spirit, Southwest, and United.

Per the terms, the annual airline credit can be used for purchases made directly with airlines, excluding the following:

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.

As you can see, this excludes a ton of stuff. Anecdotally, however, many report having luck purchasing airline gift cards and having those reimbursed. Read this post for more on how to maximize that.

Hilton Aspire $250 resort credit

Just for having the Hilton Aspire Card you receive a $250 statement credit for eligible purchases made directly with participating Hilton resorts using your card. This is based on your cardmember year (which is calculated as the 12 month period following when you open the card, and so on). See this link to find all participating resorts.

There’s no registration required to activate this perk, and virtually any spend at a participating resort will be eligible. This includes 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.

While the terms state that it can take 8-12 weeks for the credits to post, in my experience the credit posts much faster than that. For example, I stayed at the Conrad Bora Bora, and the credit posted three days after the purchase hit my statement.

The incredible Conrad Bora Bora

Hilton Aspire annual weekend night reward

Just for having the Hilton Honors Aspire Card you receive an annual free weekend night reward your first year and every subsequent cardmember 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 95,000 points per night, so you could obviously get a ton of value out of this.

While you do get a certificate the first year, you don’t get it right away. For example, I still haven’t gotten mine. However, Ford opened his Aspire Card on September 28, 2018, and he received his certificate by email on December 15, 2018, so it took just over 2.5 months to receive.

The certificate is then valid for a year, and you’re given a code to redeem it over the phone. To see if you’ve received it, check your email for the subject line “Your Reward has arrived!”

Hilton Aspire Priority Pass membership

Just for having the Hilton Honors Aspire Card you receive a Priority Pass Select membership, where you can take up to two guests to the 1,200+ Priority Pass lounges around the world as often as you’d like. This is a hugely valuable perk.

You receive it as long as you have the card, though you do need to enroll. You can do this either by logging into your Amex account and going to the “Benefits” tab, or by following this link. Just click the “Enroll Now” button, and the membership card should be sent to your address on file within about a week.

Hilton Aspire welcome bonus

The Hilton Honors Aspire Card is offering a welcome bonus of 150,000 Honors points after spending $4,000 within three months. One common point of confusion is how the airline fee credits, Hilton statement credits, and annual fee play into that spend requirement.

The $450 annual fee doesn’t apply towards the minimum spend, while any spend that is reimbursed through airline fee credits or Hilton resort credits does count towards the minimum spend.

In other words, if you spend $3,500 on “normal” purchases, and then $250 on items that are reimbursed as part of the airline fee credits, and another $250 on a Hilton resort purchase that is reimbursed, you’ll have reached the minimum spend. But don’t forget that the annual fee doesn’t count towards the minimum spend requirement.

Hilton Aspire bottom line

The Hilton Honors Aspire Card is almost too good to be true. I’m thrilled to have the card, and have enjoyed maximizing all the benefits. Since getting the card a few months ago I’ve already used by $250 airline fee credit from 2018, $250 airline fee credit from 2019, $250 resort credit, and Diamond status.

Soon I’ll get my free weekend night reward, which I look forward to using as well.

Non-Affiliate Product Disclaimer: The information for the Hilton Honors Aspire Card has been collected independently by One Mile at a Time. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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  1. Not a Hilton fan, Really not a fan of a program that gives the highest status for simply holding a credit card, not even having to meet spending levels. It seems to me that any benefits that have limited availability, i.e. upgrades, etc. will be swamped and given out simply on a first-come basis.
    It has been said before but bears repeating: If everyone is elite, no one is elite. Meeting stay and/or spend requirements makes for fewer, more loyal elites.

  2. So what´s the benefit of all this? Well, you get a free breakfast but that´s already in as a HH Gold. So then this card can only makes sense if you´re not Gold already as otherwise there´s no notable benefit. But then if you´re not Gold with Hilton it means you´re not staying a lot with Hilton and then why pay a lot to get a Diamond status for a hotel chain you´re not staying at a lot in the first place? Makes no sense whatsoever.

    And all these reimbursements are utter rubbish. There´s a handfull of these Hilton resorts and they´re likely all mediocre alike. And then you find yourself trying to find places and time and occassion to be in one of these mediocre resorts just because you need to burn 250$ for which you already paid. Same nonsense with the airline fees. Who´s paying these nowadays and for what?

  3. @John. While I sometimes have to discount Lucky’s valuations because he’s willing to spend way more time on things than me (I.e. calling Singapore Airlines to book an Alaska Air ticket using Kris Flyer miles) he’s dead on with his analysis of this card. The perks are actually really easy to use if you do a little research and the credits post fast. Only annoyance is delay in receiving the annual weekend night cert. A very solid card.

  4. Lucky, I used cash & points at Hilton PVR last month but I’ve yet to receive my $250 resort credit. I’m worried that all-inclusive properties aren’t included?

  5. After reading that list, what airline fees are officially allowed for reimbursement? It seems like just bag fees, seat selection and maybe food purchases and club fees. Ticket cancellation fees are usually taken out of the ticket price so those won’t post. Maybe an award cancellation fee might work, and only for one selected airline.

  6. Eric and John,

    You guys are off the mark here. As a business traveler, I have switched many of my stays to Hilton just due to their cards and promotions. As a Diamond, you earn more each stay even if you aren’t paying with the Aspire, and status helps with upgrades to better floors and executive lounges. If you have to travel to Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, New York, LA, wherever for work, those $300/night stays at Hilton properties result in a ton of points. Hilton has a good footprint in Europe and some nice resorts globally for redemptions. And while Lucky (and others) discount the value of spending on the card outside of Hilton, a lot of people get value by putting some restaurant spend on the Aspire and putting grocery spend either an Ascend or the no fee Hilton card. Also, Hilton provides promotions for cardholders (triple points when booking Hiltons, extra points for holiday spend). The brilliance of this is that the benefits start accruing from the first night you stay; you can get real value out of this card with 10-20 paid nights at Hilton a year. Awesome product.

  7. Nun – Cash upgrade fees are also generally reimbursed. Basically any charge that AMEX’s system doesn’t recognize as a paid ticket should work.

  8. Do you know if the second annual free night certificate is issued on the anniversary date of the card? What I am trying to find out is if I could have 2 anniversary award nights a one time

  9. Thanks for the detailed article and links. I still can’t figure out what kinds of airline fees actually qualify for the $250 credit, though. Baggage? Food & beverage? I’d be hard pressed to spend that since I have status and those things are free for me. What would I or my friends/family do with $100 gift cards as you describe (which appear to be a fluke since the terms say gift cards aren’t reimburseable) – pay for baggage and drinks? I feel like I’m missing something….thanks.

  10. To each his own, but I LOVE this card. I typically stay each year at one of the resort properties covered by the $250 resort credit so no issues cashing it out (booked for next month) and I have little issues using the $250 airline fee credit. That’s already $500 in value for the $450 annual fee, not including the free weekend night and Diamond status.

  11. Looking forward to seeing the inevitable devaluation of the (already weakest-in-class) top tier Diamond benefits – can’t give away top tier status for free and not have any repercussions

  12. I love this card. Just last year I (1) used the $250 resort credit; (2) used the $250 airline credit to get my family of four into a Delta Club and then used the remaining amount for food on the plane; and (3) enjoyed Diamond status with access to club lounges and free breakfasts on a number of stays. Particularly with a family, the free breakfast is a great way to start the day, and being able to pop into the lounge for drinks and food at any time (and appetizers and adult beverages for the evening reception) saves a lot and is super convenient. I’ve also been upgraded on most stays, even here in the U.S. Additionally, the Diamond status perk of guaranteed room availability — even when a property is sold out — is incredibly helpful. I know that some will say that the price of such a room is high, but particularly when you’re travelling on business and absolutely have to be at a certain place on a certain day, that guarantee can be a life-saver.

    My only negative experience is when trying to use the credit for Waldorf and Conrad properties. While there was plenty of availability at the property on the dates that I wanted on the Hilton website, when I went to the special site needed to book to use the credit, the same property had no availability to use the credit — disappointing.

    @Jackie: Yes, you can have two certificates at once. I received my first certificate in March of 2018 and my second in October of 2018.

  13. Can you use the resort credit at the restaurants even if you’re not staying at the hotel? I’m staying at a non-Hilton hotel but I’d use the credit for dining if it’s allowed.

  14. There’s also numerous DP on the TUG (timeshare user group) forums, that the $250 resort credit kicks in when you pay your annual Maintenance Fees, if you’re a Hilton Grand Vacation Club owner.

  15. Whom should I call about updating my diamond status? The hotel or hilton CS? I ask because I have several Asia-Pacific stays upcoming that I booked before I applied for the aspire card to get diamond (I was a lowly gold). There is no easy free way to call the hotels themselves, and I don’t want to mess with Skype or anything.

  16. The resort credit has been difficult for me to use this last year, and it’s not for lack of trying. I used much of it successfully at a resort in California last July, and tried to use it at another one, which ended up disappearing off of the resort list shortly before my stay there.

    A third stay, at the Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort earlier this month, posted successfully and hit my credit card, but the credit has yet to post. They’re going to give me the 8-12 weeks line, I’m sure, but I am having my suspicions as to whether they’ll actually grant it this year (or even at all).

  17. @Lucky. You are right. Amazing card for the perks. Just hope they last. This is one of the few cards that both my wife and I have separately so we will both be diamond. Also good so we can have two weekend certificates to use for a weekend trip.

  18. Anthony: Hilton has a good footprint in Europe? Hiltons footprint outside of the US is a sorry joke.

    Lucky: If you´re posting multiple comments with fake nicks, dont do it that obvious 😛

  19. Not necessarily true about existing reservations updating with new status. I had an existing reservation for the next day when I applied for the card 2 weeks ago and had already checked in online. I was immediately approved for the card and my status changed in my online Hilton account within minutes. When I arrived at the hotel I was greeted with an acknowledgment of my Diamond status.

  20. @ Lucky I agree with you that it is a great card and I sure love using this card. I am still waiting for my resort credit to hit on my account although it has been over a week. I guess the timing of it is not the same for everyone. Like @Mike has said: they gave me a corporate line answer, but instead of 8-12 weeks I got 14 days. Haha. For the free weekend free night certificate, you do need to call, but apparently the code is not necessary. The agent said he can see it all on his computer, so he can redeeem the night for you without it. I would still hold onto the code just in case.

  21. As is often the case, some hotels will play games with the free weekend night award. I tried using it at Aleph Rome Hotel, Curio Collection to no avail. It’s not on the excluded list in the link above, but I was told by the Hilton reservation line that they don’t have any “standard “ rooms period so not available. No way to ever use it there and I tried calling back and supposedly having the agent check with a supervisor.

  22. Ben-
    I had seen a comment from a post of someone who had a resort credit post for a random Hilton they stayed at (can’t recall which). Indeed it unknowingly happened to me at a ‘city’ property as well. Any rational as to what’s triggering this?

  23. I own at HGVC Las Vegas and the online payment of my annual maintenance fee triggers the resort credit. Also earns the 14x.

  24. The Hilton Aspire is one of the only hotel chain premium cards whose benefits (can) vastly exceed the high annual fee. The only downside for me is that applying for this card blocks me (due to 5/24) from the expiring World of Hyatt Visa 60K bonus point offer, but the Aspire was/is the superior card in my book.

  25. I look at every resort on the list. The odds of us using the resort credit could easily be described as 1 in 3 or more likely 1 in 4. So I value that at very, very little.

  26. Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas is classified as a resort. Also a good use of weekend night awards as weekends tend to be more expensive in Las Vegas.

  27. Nice, but only if you live or have an address in the US.
    Fancy doing an article on UK credit cards as the perks are very, very poor even via Hilton/IHG etc?

  28. @Jackie

    Can you clarify this comment? I haven’t been about to find any info on this work around / hack:

    “Another cool thing about the card is the work around/hack to get 14 Hilton points on all spendings…”

  29. @Mike I was advised that you must stay at a Hilton Resort, have the bill put under your room, and paid with your Aspire card in order to get the credit. It can take a few weeks to get the credit.

  30. Agreed. The Aspire card is simply too good to be true. In fact, for the first time ever I am hoping travel blogger would refrain from telling everyone just how truly incredible something associated with Hilton Honors is for fear that it might be taken away too soon 😉

  31. @ Ben — Does the Hilton resort credit cover taxes and fees on a Hilton resort room? I am seeing a rate of about $230 for a desired stay and if the taxes are covered, I could use the whole $250. (Twice, including the FCQ’s card!)

  32. @SEAguy Before reading this post and your comment, I was curious about the WA LV so I looked it up on the Hilton Resorts page and it did not show up. Did you stay there and receive the resort credit?

  33. can i also apply for the Aspire card if i live in Germany. ?
    The Platinum card of Amex Germany has only the gold status inclusive.
    Thank you for an answer

  34. Love Hiltons. Stay in them all the time. This is a great card. Going to London soon; the Hyde Park Hilton or the Doubletree works for me. Though really like the Waldorf or the Paddington Hilton. Going to Chicago soon… Palmer House? San Francisco early next year Union Sq Hilton? New York, lots of nice Hiltons. Really like the free breakfasts! Maybe going to Las Vegas… Tropicana anyone?

    Diamond status? Why not? Airline amex stuff? Sure.

    Really good card.

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