Showdown: Hilton Aspire Vs. Hilton Surpass

Filed Under: American Express, Hilton
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American Express and Hilton have a portfolio of co-branded credit cards, all targeted at different consumer bases. Personally I think there’s an “obvious” winner when it comes to the personal cards, though I was surprised recently by some comments from readers who have a different take.

In this post I wanted to provide an in-depth comparison of the Hilton Aspire and Hilton Surpass.

Comparing the Hilton Aspire & Hilton Surpass

The two premium Amex and Hilton personal credit cards are as follows:

There are pros and cons to both cards, but which card is better all around? Let’s compare various aspects of the cards, and then I’ll share my take. Upfront I should mention that the Surpass has a much lower annual fee, giving it an obvious advantage in that regard.

Welcome bonuses

Here’s how the welcome bonuses on the two cards compare:

  • The Hilton Aspire Card is offering a welcome bonus of 150,000 Hilton Honors points after spending $4,000 within three months
  • The Hilton Surpass Card is offering a welcome bonus of 130,000 Hilton Honors points after spending $2,000 within three months

Winner: The Aspire has a bonus that’s 20,000 Honors points better, though with double the minimum spending requirement.

Bonus categories

While the cards offer the same return on “base” spending, the bonus categories differ.

The Hilton Aspire Card offers:

  • 14x points on Hilton spending
  • 7x points on flights booked directly with airlines, car rentals booked directly with select car rental companies, and US restaurants
  • 3x points on all other purchases

The Hilton Surpass Card offers:

  • 12x points on Hilton spending
  • 6x points on US restaurants, US supermarkets, and US gas stations
  • 3x points on all other purchases

For context, I value Hilton Honors points at ~0.5 cents each, if you’re trying to do the math on the return on spending you get with these cards. By my math:

  • Both cards offer an excellent return on Hilton hotel spending
  • Both cards don’t offer terribly compelling returns on everyday spending
  • I’d say right now the Surpass 6x points categories are more useful than the Aspire 7x points categories (since travel spending is down)

Winner: I’d say this is roughly a tie. The Aspire offers a better return on Hilton spending, while the Surpass has more useful bonus categories for 6x points. Personally I wouldn’t be using either card for everyday spending, though.

Status perks

One of the most valuable perks of each card is the ability to easily earn Hilton Honors status. What status do the cards offer?

  • The Hilton Aspire Card offers Hilton Honors’ top-tier Diamond status for as long as you have the card, with no spending requirement
  • The Hilton Surpass Card offers Hilton Honors’ mid-tier Gold status for as long as you have the card, with no spending requirement; on top of that, you can earn Diamond status by spending $40,000 on the card in a calendar year

Both of these are valuable perks for the respective annual fees. Gold status already gets you many great benefits, like free breakfast and lounge access subject to availability. I would note that the Amex Platinum also offers Hilton Gold status, so that’s another pathway to status.

There are some incremental benefits to Hilton Honors Diamond status, like more bonus points, potentially better upgrades (including to standard suites), and guaranteed lounge access (rather than subject to availability).

Winner: The Aspire offers top-tier Diamond status just for having the card, which is awesome. However, given the significant annual fee difference, the Gold status offered with the Surpass is great as well.

Free night certificates

One of the other most valuable benefits of co-branded Hilton credit cards is the potential to earn weekend free night certificates. How does the potential for that differ across these two cards?

  • The Hilton Aspire Card offers a free night certificate annually just for having the card (this includes the year where you get the card), plus a second free night certificate when you spend $60,000 on the card in a calendar year
  • The Hilton Surpass Card offers a free night certificate when you spend $15,000 on the card in a calendar year

Note that free night certificates issued through December 31, 2020, are valid for 24 months, and can be used any night of the week, which is awesome.

Winner: The Aspire offers a free night certificate just for having the card, with no spending requirement. Since I primarily have this card for the perks rather than spending, that’s ideal. However, if you do have the Surpass, it could be worth spending $15,000 on the card per year to earn a free night certificate.

Other perks

While the primary benefits of both of these cards is status (and in the case of the Aspire, the free night certificate), the Hilton Aspire Card, in particular, has some additional perks that really set it apart, including:

  • A $250 annual Hilton resort credit
  • A $250 annual airline fee credit
  • A Priority Pass membership

Winner: The Aspire has some incredible additional perks, though they’ll be of different value to different people. The Hilton resort credit is good as cash if you stay at a Hilton resort at least once a year and spend $250, while the airline fee credit can be tougher to maximize, given the restrictions.

Which Hilton credit card should you apply for?

The Hilton Aspire Card is my single favorite hotel credit card, and in my opinion, offers an unbelievable amount of value. However, many disagree with me and think the Hilton Surpass Card is the better option. So let me address that.

Yes, there’s some “sticker shock” with the $450 annual fee Hilton Aspire Card, but let me share how I’ve done with the card so far this year.

I’ve taken full advantage of the $250 Hilton resort credit for a hotel stay, as even room rate at a Hilton resort qualifies towards this. Through August 31 you can even use this credit towards restaurant spending, given you even more flexibility.

Then I also got $240 worth of value out of the airline fee credit. While there are restrictions placed on the airline fee credits (and typically upgrades don’t qualify), I ended up buying some American Airlines “stickers,” and those were automatically reimbursed.

I’m already at $490 worth of value on my $450 annual fee, and that’s not even accounting for:

  • Hilton Honors Diamond status, which typically gets me excellent treatment, especially outside the US
  • The free night certificate, and those issued in 2020 are valid for 24 months and for stays any day of the week, making them more flexible than ever before

While I haven’t used my free night certificate for this year, late last year I used it at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, where a night would have otherwise cost $700+.

While there’s never going to be “one size fits all” advice, let me say that I think the Hilton Aspire card makes perfect sense if:

  • You could use the $250 resort credit (which can be used towards any spending at a Hilton-family resort)
  • You can use the free night certificate at any nice hotel that would cost $200+ per night; many of us use it at hotels that cost significantly more than that

Between those things you’re “breakeven” on the $450 annual fee, by my math, and that doesn’t even account for the Diamond status, the airline fee credit, the Priority Pass membership, and more.

That being said, I understand there are people who are put off by high annual fees. In those situations getting the Hilton Surpass Card to get Gold status could make sense. If you’re someone who does a fair bit of credit card spending, it could even be worth spending $15,000 to get a free night reward.

Bottom line

The Hilton Aspire Card and Hilton Surpass Card are both excellent hotel credit cards.

Personally, I think the Aspire is almost across the board the better option, assuming you can get good value from the free night certificate. While the $450 annual fee might sound like a lot, the card offers top-tier status, up to $500 in credits, and an annual free night, and between those you can get outsized value.

There aren’t many cards that I put in the “too good to be true” category, but for me, that’s exactly where the Hilton Aspire falls.

Where do you stand on Hilton cards — do you prefer the Aspire or the Surpass?

The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card (Rates & Fees), and Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card (Rates & Fees).

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Comments
  1. @ Lucky…is the resort credit for this year on the Aspire good for restaurants thru 8-31? I applied for the Aspire thru your site was approved and received by overnight mail next BTW.

  2. I picked up the Aspire card last March based on your research and advice. Looking forward to taking advantage of its status overseas since there doesn’t seem to be much Diamond value with it here in the states like yourself and others say. My Amex Platinum at certain Hiltons offers better perks than the Aspire card itself. Waiting for things to open back up enough to use my free night.

  3. @ EC2 — Thanks for the support, and for the data point on how quickly the card arrived (that’s great!). Yes, through August 31 the credit can be applied towards US restaurant purchases, including takeout. There’s no registration required, and that offers a lot of flexibility. 🙂

  4. You’re welcome on the support. The least I can do. Took a month trip to Penang, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand with 3 day stopover in Fiji all (with the exception of 2 nights at a BNB north of Brisbane and one way tickets from Penang to Singapore for timing and to not have to got thru KL) on points, free night certificates and miles from following your posts. Took Business to SIN on Cathay, but had to take economy from AKL to Fiji and LAX. Learned never economy again.

    You’re recent post on the Aspire got me to re-prioritize what cards to get as just cleared 5/24 and had been holding off on cards for last 2+ years. )I can use the free night down your way at the Waldorf or Conrad.) Went Alaska, Aspire and next will be Chase Freedom to complete Chase family of personal cards, then one of the higher end Citi cards is ne t then lastly the Radisson VISA – then a break for a while.

  5. I think I was one of those that said that the Surpass may be a better card for many. Here are my reasonings

    1) The resort and airline credits for the Aspire are normally hard to use. I stay in Hilton hotels every (normal) year, but I may not stay in a Hilton resort any given year. So in those years, the resort credit may go unused. And the airline credits are hard to use in any year. So in a worst case scenario, you may not get any value out of the credits, leaving you with a full $450 fee. In contrast, the Bonvoy Brilliant Marriott credit is easier to use at $300 as it is for all Marriott spend.

    2) Diamond and Gold are functionally the same in many situations, especially in the US. Diamond does guarantee lounge access, and is more likely to get you a better upgrade in some situations. However, Gold almost always gets you an upgrade to a lounge eligible room, the earnings bonus for Gold is pretty good. At the much loved Waldorf Beverly Hills, treatment of Gold and Diamond elites seemed to be identical.

    3) Spend category bonuses for Surpass may be better. I’ve noticed that Ben doesn’t put much value on the grocery spend category. That is huge for a lot of people. Many families can easily spend $15,000 on groceries annually, which gets you 90,000 Hilton points plus a free night. Plus, Aspire doesn’t earn that much more on Hilton or restaurant spending.

    4) Priority Pass is overvalued and widely available. Many readers will have multiple Priority Pass memberships, so they may not put much value on an additional membership. Plus, Surpass also gives you a few Priority Pass visits

    I think the Aspire is a good card in the first year, but longer term, Surpass will be just fine for many, especially those that don’t want to commit to staying in a Hilton resort annually. Even the no fee Hilton card could work for many if you also have an Amex Platinum card (through which you get Gold status)

  6. I will say that for those that are absolutely committed to Hilton (meaning you pay for a lot of Hilton stays, stay in Hilton resorts every year, etc) having an Aspire card makes a lot of sense as you can take advantage of the resort credit, you will run into situations where being a Diamond does make a difference, you will earn more points (both from the credit card multiplier and a bigger bonus for just being a Diamond) etc. But it that situation you still need a grocery solution – it could be in the form of a Hilton Surpass or even an Amex Gold.

  7. If you have the Amex Plat and can get Gold status from that, the Surpass is best used for the sign up bonus and then get rid of it.

    I don’t think the Aspire is worth it for most people, especially with the airline credits. I’ve gotten more upgrades with gold status than I have with Diamond. At least domestically.

    Pre-virus, I think most people’s main goal was getting the free breakfast since it can be convenient and decent (depending on the hotel).

    Oh, the days when your biggest worry was if you were getting a room upgrade (never really my big concern but you know what I mean).

  8. I think I was one of those that said that the Surpass may be a better card for many. Here are my reasonings.
    – Anthony

    Yes, you are the one and the claim remains just as bogus, no matter how many times you repeat it.

    To borrow a phrase, the Aspire card is simply “too good to be true” 😉 …really, making this, yet again, time for providing the canonical list of perks to debunk the wishful thinking and bogus claim (*** denote Aspire Diamond perks not available to Surpass Golds):

    — elite rollover nights
    — guaranteed *premium* wifi [***]
    — guaranteed free continental breakfast on the ‘continent’; free FULL breakfast almost everywhere else, optionally in the restaurant, and not just in the Club or Executive lounge
    — guaranteed upgrade to the Executive floor when there is one [***]
    — unlimited complimentary suite upgrades based on availability [***].
    — late checkout with no time limit, based on availability [hint: request late checkout at check-in!]
    — put Diamond status on hold [***]
    — C+P awards ‘on steroids’, i.e., unlimited
    — a $250 resort credit [***]
    — a $250 airline credit [***]
    — no resort fee on award stays
    — “Diamond Force” when the chips are down [***]
    — 5th award night free
    — Annual weekend night reward [***]; gotta spend $15K to get this one as a Gold.
    — an additional free night certificate for use at ANY category hotel after spending $60K [***]
    — 10K bonus points after reaching 40 nights, and…award nights count!
    — 10K bonus points every 10 nights after reaching 40 nights with NO CAP
    — 30K additional bonus points at 60 nights [one earns Diamond so not a Golds perk]
    — ability to gift Gold status at 60 nights and to gift Diamond at 100 nights [ibid]
    — ability to pool points with up to ten (10!) people; obviates need to transfer points.
    — Priority Pass lounge access.
    — industry-leading 14X for on-property spend paid with the Aspire [***]
    — 100% elite bonus points on base points [***]

    It guess it depends on what the meaning of “better” is

  9. Am I the only one who imagines DCS spending his days surfing the points blogs looking for anyone who dares question the value of an aspect of Hilton’s program?

    The copy/paste button must be wearing off of his keyboard.

  10. @DCS: “Yes, you are the one and the claim remains just as bogus, no matter how many times you repeat it.”

    Because, yet again, DCS (who firmly established himself as the Donald Trump of travel blog commenters long, long ago) cannot allow anyone to have an opinion that differs from his own.

  11. Got the Hilton Aspire Card and have made good use of the benefits, to the point that I’m gonna sign my wife up for it so we can enjoy more benefits. That said, it has been a bit jarring to compare Hilton’s top-tier Diamond status to Hyatt’s top-tier Globalist status, which I also have. Consider two of our recent stays in two similar high-end resorts, Hyatt’s Huntington Beach Resort & Spa versus Hilton’s Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort.

    With the Hyatt Huntington Beach Resort & Spa as Globalists, we received the following on a 20,000 point stay, which will come out to just 15,000 points after we receive the 25% points rebate under their current promotion:
    * An upgrade to a two-room ocean view suite with two huge televisions (my kids favorite feature)
    * A hot sit-down breakfast at the excellent “Watertable” restaurant for all of us that was supposed to cost $111 plus tax but cost us nothing since we’re Globalists
    * Free valet parking
    * Check-in lady saw our kids and gave us a S’mores kit

    At the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort, on 80,000 points stays and as top-tier Diamonds, we received:
    * no upgrade on two different stays. After booking I received e-mails inviting me to spend more money to upgrade my experience in various ways. indeed as a Diamond I have *never* been upgraded in any of the Hiltons I’ve stayed at, while as a Hyatt Globalist I am commonly upgraded to $1000+/night suites in California, New York, Shanghai, etc. , staying on both points and paid stays.
    * no hot breakfast or sit down meal-service, though were were given $15 in credit to use at their convenience store
    * a sliding door on our room that didn’t lock. When I told the front desk about this, the gentleman asked “do you want this fixed now?” I advised him that I had valuable camera equipment inside. He sent someone over who did something to the door to make it impossible to open, which meant we could no longer use our patio.
    * paid parking ($30)
    * I was offered a 1 p.m. late checkout for the first stay and a 2 p.m. late checkout on the second stay upon request. Around 1:30 during the second stay a manager guy came by pounding on my door and saying that I wasn’t on the late checkout list; yet the lady had granted it and entered it on check-in. Hyatt commonly gives me checkouts between 2pm and 4pm at the Huntington Beach property, though to be fair this has been curtailed somewhat during Coronavirus (Hyatt guarantees 4PM checkout for Globalists only on their non-resort properties, which represents most of their portfolio.)

    I like the Hyatt way better: the premise is that you’re a top-tier elite and they try to do the best for you once you’ve booked a room, no matter what price you got it for. With Hilton, I felt like the room booking was a starting point and if I spent more money, they might give me a better experience.

    To HIlton’s credit they let me park my car gratis for a few hours after checkout, and some staff went the extra mile to make things pleasant for us. The AMEX Aspire credit for resort fees paid for our meals just as Lucky promised. But overall the Hilton experience felt a lot more transactional and less warm than the best-managed Hyatts.

    I’ll keep my Hilton Diamond status via the Aspire card, but I’m not really feeling the love, yet. World of Hyatt reigns supreme for our needs, but your mileage may vary: differences are to be welcomed. Next time I’m in Asia I’ll see how Hilton Diamonds fare there.

  12. @Kendor — N=1 is hardly a basis for extrapolating and generalizing, and a HH Diamond who has never gotten a suite upgrade, especially in Asia, isn’t playing the game with “a full deck.”

  13. I am in my second year of the Aspire card and year one was a charm. On our trip to Fiji, the resort credit covered all of our lunch/dinner spending for the week. We were upgraded to a suite with a plunge pool as a Diamond member through the card. I used my free night for the 6th night and we were thanked for our loyalty as a Diamond member at every turn. Geeat first year!

    Last week, I came between inches of downgrading my Amex Business Platinum and saving the money as the Aspire card offers everything you get from Amex business except for admission to the Centurion Club which I could not care less about. The Priority Pass is the lounge value which I use all over the world. The ONLY reasons I kept it for now it the $40.00 per month savings on my cellphone bill each month and the $200.00 thank you credit just added. Next year, it’s gone unless the Amex wizards do something exciting to the business card.

    Happy Friday all.

    ps: As above, what are AA stickers?

  14. AA “stickers” are the 500-mile upgrade stickers that Platinums and Golds can use to manually upgrades domestic seats. At least in the past, you got four 500-mile “stickers” for each 10,000 miles you flew, meaning that you could upgrade a 2000 mile domestic flight to the next class of service using 4 stickers. A hypothetical 4000 mile domestic flight would require 8 stickers. And you could give stickers to your traveling companion: I upgraded my baby so he could fly in X. Executive Platinums on AA neither earn nor require stickers for their unlimited domestic upgrades. If you aren’t a perma-EXP, it’s nice to have a little stash of stickers around.

  15. @DCS – It’s not a competition. I wasn’t extrapolating or generalizing about Hyatt/Hilton, I was reporting my own personal experiences, just as you’ve frequently reported yours. (That’s what I meant by saying things like “our needs” and “your mileage may vary.”) Both perspectives are worth hearing, particularly if experiences change in the future, or we collectively substantiate that benefits are indeed richer in places like Europe and Asia or particular regions of America.

  16. @Kendor — Considering the medium, you did make it into a competition

    That said, it has been a bit jarring to compare Hilton’s top-tier Diamond status to Hyatt’s top-tier Globalist status, which I also have.

    and you did extrapolate and generalize

    But overall the Hilton experience felt a lot more transactional and less warm than the best-managed Hyatts.

    …based on N =1.

    I could turn around and make the same but diametrically opposite claims about the two programs based on limited experience as a WoH Globalist, and the claims would be just as unreliable and unhelpful to anyone as your passing judgement on Hilton Diamond when you cannot even get upgraded to suites in Asia…

  17. @DCS It’s my experience. I described it. I made it clear it was my experience. I used phrases like “your mileage may vary” to suggest other people may have different experiences. My next experience with Hilton may be different, in which case I’ll write different things. But I’m not going to lie about what happened or what I thought.

    My Hilton Aspire card isn’t going away, nor is my half-million points with Hilton. I’ll have plenty of opportunities to evaluate how Hilton serves me better, or not.

    One positive i can offer is that in a trip up the PCH through coastal California, Hilton had more properties available which we utilized — Hampton Inns and the like. One negative I can offer is that Hilton seems sloppier with its maintenance: I had the door locking issue in Santa Barbara, and in San Luis Obisbo, the A/C didn’t work — a call to the front desk yielded a deflection (“lots of people are checking in right now, that’s why it’s hot”) rather than an actual solution to the fact that the A/C was broken and the room was way too hot.

    I look forward to evaluating HIlton properties in China and Taiwan and other places in East Asia whenever that becomes possible.

  18. Before running out to apply for the aspire card do some research. The airline credit isn’t the easiest to use due to restrictions. It only works with certain US airlines and you have to pick the airline in advance and then you are locked into that airline for the year. The resort credit only works at properties on their particular list. That resort credit is useless (for current card holders they let us use it at restaurants so it paid off but for new card holders I dunno if they are doing that) if you aren’t going to be using one of those particular properties. I have found for places I travel that most of the properties on the list are further away from the action than other hiltons, or that the properties are much less well reviewed than competitors in the area. Look at the list first before even applying for the card to understand because that resort credit could be completely worthless to you if you don’t stay at a designated property. Gold status isn’t bad so the markup to have diamond isn’t worth it. The free night cert is limited to weekends and ive had problems being able to snag award availability to use the cert in some choice destinations. Better off going with the surpass card unless you know you are going to be able to use the credits, if you can max out one of the credits and get enough value out of the cert it can be worth it, but do the math.

  19. @Kendor — You miss the point. There is nothing wrong with your experience other than it is too limited for you to be making the claims you made *in this medium.*

  20. @DCS: “You miss the point. There is nothing wrong with your experience other than it is too limited for you to be making the claims you made *in this medium.*“

    What DCS is really saying is that he is discounting actual experience because your opinion does not agree with his.

  21. Bill hits the nail on the head. If the Aspire offered a Hilton credit instead of a resort credit, and if Diamond was consistently and meaningfully better than Gold, the Aspire would be the home run you guys (Ben, Lucky) claim. Right now, it is really only worth it for those that make Hilton resorts central to their strategy.

    Also, a lot of people talk about “top tier status,” but Hilton Diamond is by far the weakest top tier status of the major brands. In contrast, Hilton Gold may actually be the strongest mid-tier status of the major hotel brands (Marriott Platinum is also good). You get free breakfast, likely lounge access, much better earnings on paid stays, upgrades and late checkout based on availability, all for holding a $95 credit card or an Amex Platinum. Diamond only gets you slightly better earnings, guaranteed lounge access (But remember Hilton has removed a lot of lounges from US properties) and maybe better upgrade odds. But it is a crapshoot. You don’t even get real late checkout.

    Most traveler should be carrying one of the Hilton cards – but it doesn’t have to be Aspire

  22. The wisdom of this is going to depend hugely on where you are. For the many people who live in the LA/Orange County/Inland Empire/SD nexus, getting the Apire card is a no-brainer. Like Santa Barbara? Get the Aspire card and have some fun. The Hilton Santa Barbara Resort & Spa is a designated Hilton resort, so you can get the resort credit there, and enjoy your points and your meal (such as it is) and your free room(s) yearly without looking back.

    The Hyatt Huntington Beach Resort & Spa is a much better resort property (better food, better beach, better rooms, better suites, better landscaping, better management) and SoCal folk are well advised to get the Hyatt card as well.

    If you aren’t proximate to a Hilton resort that you like, then the Hilton Aspire card is a much harder proposition. Will you travel and make use of it? If the ultimate target of the resort spend isn’t obvious to you, think twice. Unlike Hyatt, whose top-tier status translates directly into money saved (in the form of free parking, free confirmed suite upgrades, and waived “resort fees/destination charges”), Hilton’s top tier depends a ton on where you are and where you’ll stay. Status is great if you can use it and if it assures you good stuff, useless and expensive if you can’t.

  23. @Anthony — The Aspire is a great card for those who can make of its benefit. Your inability to make the most of the card does not make it inferior. In other words, the perks that make the card “too good to be true” do not disappear simply because you, @Anthony, cannot take advantage of them. I scratch my head when people complain about how tough the resort credit or airline credit is tough to use because I have no difficulty spending mine! But there will always be people like you who attribute their own shortcomings to some external force, e.g., there are actually folks you complain the CSR $300 travel credit is too tough to spend!!!

    I have provided a non-exhaustive list of perks that make the Aspire ‘too good to be true’. Comments like

    If the Aspire offered a Hilton credit instead of a resort credit, and ifDiamond was consistently and meaningfully better than Gold, the Aspire would be the home run you guys (Ben, Lucky) claim. Right now, it is really only worth it for those that make Hilton resorts central to their strategy.

    do not diminish those perks simply because you, @Anthony, cannot benefit from them. The resort credit is still a real credit that many out there find valuable. No matter how often you repeat it to try to convince yourself, Hilton Diamond is always and consistently better than Gold, your inability to make the most of the former is no one’s fault. The perks are there. You cannot wish them away simply because they do not benefit you.

    In short, I suggest you and anyone else who is constantly tempted to look a gift horse in the mouth to read and reread this post by at @Lucky that exposes your mindset:

    Dear Frequent Flyers: Please Stop Whining
    April 15, 2020 by Ben
    “…we’ve seen airlines and hotel loyalty programs extend status by 12 months and introduce other initiatives to take care of members. In most cases I’d say the solutions from airlines and hotels are about the “best case scenario” in terms of what we can expect.

    Nonetheless, with every single one of these announcements I’ve written about, I’ve seen some people complaining about how it’s “not fair,” because it doesn’t exactly bring them the most personal benefit.

    It doesn’t matter what program it is, that has been the case across the board.”

    For once, just stop whining because a perk does not benefit you personally!

    Goodbye.

  24. What one must understand about the Aspire card and the Aspire Diamond status:

    Hilton and AMEX cleverly structured both such that neither does one any good unless one actually spends real money at Hilton properties. I ought to know because since I became an Aspire Diamond, I’ve spent more on revenue stays at Hilton than I ever did when I had to qualify the “hard way.” As a result I have enjoyed pretty much all the benefits in the long list above, e.g.,
    — I used up my $250 resort credit (the last $77 as part of an award stay),
    — I used my $250 airline credit all by paying for wifi on long-haul intl flights;

    with just those two I already recouped the $450 annual fee. But that was not all,

    — I reached 60 nights, about 40% of the nights as award stays,
    — reaching 60 nights entitled me to gift Gold status to anyone of my choosing,
    — reaching 60 night entitled me to 60K bonus milestone points;
    — I redeemed my annual free night certificate at the new WA Bangkok, a ~$400 value;
    — took advantage of the Aspire’s 14X to earn so many points that after redeeming ~1M points for my 2019 Asian Year-end Escapade(m), which included a 5-night award at WA Maldives , I am still sitting on 957,957HH points with hardly no travel since the Escapade(tm) ended on January 12, 2020.

    In short, if you do no revenue stays at Hilton property, you get no points and do not get to enjoy Diamond benefits; with not enough points, you do not get to redeem free stays or enjoy Diamond benefits. You can, of course, purchase points but that takes you only so far. It is why I have never been worried (and I suspect Hilton as well) that the status would be “diluted” because it is given pro bono. It benefits only those who can take advantage of it, which means those who spent real money at Hilton property…like me.

    G’day!

  25. Oops! I started writing “hardly any travel”, but then I recalled that I have not done any since January 12, 2020, so I decided to write “no travel”, ending up with the double negative “hardly no travel”. That should simply be “…no travel since…”

  26. I have two Surpass and one Aspire. I got the Aspire via the no AF glitch Amex released by mistake, so it was a no-brainer. However, I won’t renew it unless I get a super retention offer. I never go to resorts, and the only way I used the it this time was by staying at the Disney hotel my last night in Tokyo; very mediocre hotel for $250/night. Unless I’m overseas, I typically stay in Hampton Inns where Diamond status yields few benefits over Gold.

    I max out the $15K spend on both Surpass to get the free nights, so I’ll keep those.

  27. @DCS his ‘inability’ to use the benefit mean that *for him* the card is not useful.
    And I think that ‘inability to use the benefits’ is a loaded way of saying that the benefits aren’t valuable *to him*
    And I’m speaking as one who has an Aspire and my wife has another, because for us the benefits are worth the fee.

  28. @Jim Lovejoy: Then he should just limit himself to speaking to what is useful him, and stop whining about benefits that others find useful.

  29. @DCS: “Then he should just limit himself to speaking to what is useful him, and stop whining about benefits that others find useful.”

    The way I see it, the only person who is whining here is you, because not everybody holds the same opinion as you.

    Yet again, grow up and get help.

  30. I find the “or” part of this article to be a bit odd, since I have both. Aspire is easily the most lucrative card I have. I will always put $15K of spending on Surpass. So, together, I’ll have two free nights at virtually any Hilton property worldwide, plus a good number of points towards a third free night. As far as the value of the free night, it has always been easy for me to get at least a few hundred dollars of value from each free night certificate–often significantly more. I am not getting rid of either card anytime soon!

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