I’ve had the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card for a couple of years. This card has a $450 annual fee (Rates & Fees), 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 wrote about the basic benefits of this card that make it worthwhile recently, but in this post wanted to take a closer at how each of these work, since aspects of the perks can be confusing. That’s especially when you consider the valuable limited time rewards that have been added to this card.
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. 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 on which you want this credit to apply (if you’re an existing cardmember you need to do this in January of each year), with the choice between Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, 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.
Admittedly this does exclude many kinds of purchases, though personally I consistently am able to max this out.
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 spending at a participating resort will be eligible. This includes the room rate, incidentals, dining, spa services, 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, when I stayed at the Conrad Bora Bora, the credit posted three days after the purchase hit my statement.
The incredible Conrad Bora Bora
Limited time: use your $250 Hilton Aspire credit for food
In light of current circumstances, the Hilton Aspire $250 resort credit can be used towards eligible purchases at US restaurants, including takeout and delivery:
- This is valid between June 1 and August 31, 2020
- There’s no registration required for this, and any eligible restaurant purchase will automatically be reimbursed, up to the $250 credit limit (you can use this for as many separate transactions as you’d like)
This is a phenomenal way to get a lot of short term value out of this credit. If you get the card now you’d essentially be able to use this $250 credit towards dining purchases without even traveling.
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). Weekend nights generally include Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
Hilton properties retail for up to 120,000 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. In my experience the first certificate arrives a bit over two months after you open the card.
Certificates are generally valid for a year, and you’re given a code to redeem it over the phone (you can’t redeem it online). To see if you’ve received it, check your email for the subject line “Your Reward has arrived!”
For some context, I was approved for the Hilton Aspire Card in early November 2018, and I received:
- My first weekend night reward on January 9, 2019
- My second weekend night reward on January 2, 2020
That lag after opening the card and after the anniversary seems to be pretty consistent.
Limited time: more flexibility with your Hilton Aspire free night award
In light of current circumstances, the Hilton Aspire weekend night reward is more flexible than ever before:
- Unexpired and new free night rewards issued through December 31, 2020, can be used for stays any night of the week, and not just weekends
- New free night rewards issued between May 1 and December 31, 2020, will be valid for 24 months from the date of issuance, rather than for 12 months
There’s nothing you need to do to take advantage of either of these generous policies, as they’ll apply whenever you’re ready to redeem.
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 1,300+ Priority Pass lounges around the world as often as you’d like (though Priority Pass restaurants are excluded). This is a hugely valuable perk, at least during times where people are traveling a lot (which understandably may not be now).
You receive it as long as you have the card, though you do need to enroll. You can do this 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 minimum spending requirement.
The $450 annual fee doesn’t apply towards the minimum spending requirement, while any spending that is reimbursed through airline fee credits or Hilton resort credits does count towards the minimum spending.
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 spending requirement. But don’t forget that the annual fee doesn’t count towards the minimum spending requirement.
My first year with the Hilton Aspire Card
Just to give a sense of the value I got with this card in my first full year of card membership, here’s a quick recap of how the benefits worked out for me. I paid a $450 annual fee, and I got value out of the following:
- I got $250 of American Airlines purchases reimbursed as part of the airline fee credit
- I got $250 reimbursed from a stay at the Conrad Bora Bora, as part of the resort credit
- I used my free weekend night certificate at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, where a standard room would have cost over $700
- I got value out of Hilton Honors Diamond status across many stays, including complimentary breakfast, room upgrades, lounge access, and more
I’d say that’s a reasonably good value. 😉
I used my free weekend night at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills
Hilton Aspire bottom line
The Hilton Honors Aspire Card is phenomenally valuable, and I’ve enjoyed maximizing the benefits for the first year, and look forward to continuing to get full value out of the card.
If you don’t yet have this card, it’s seriously worth considering. While I realize many aren’t traveling right now, in many ways there’s more value than ever before in getting this card ASAP, since you can take advantage of the limited time $250 restaurant credit, and your first free night reward will be valid for 24 months, and for any day of the week.
The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card (Rates & Fees).