Hilton Honors Aspire Card Review: Worth The Fee

Hilton Honors Aspire Card Review: Worth The Fee

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Link: Apply now for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Hotel credit cards are among the most underrated credit cards out there, in my opinion, given the perks that they potentially offer, from elite status to free night certificates.

While I’m primarily loyal to Hyatt and Marriott, Hilton has grown on me a lot in the past few years. Many new luxury hotels have joined the Hilton portfolio, and it’s also easy to earn top tier status with the Honors program, thanks to the credit card that I’m about to talk about in more detail.

While Hilton has several co-branded Amex cards, in this post I wanted to share a detailed review of the most premium card, which is quite rewarding. This card recently underwent a full refresh, so I wanted to take an in-depth look at the updated value proposition.

Amex Hilton Aspire Card Basics For February 2024

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is one of the highest annual fee hotel credit cards, but it’s also one of the most rewarding. If you stay at Hilton properties with any frequency, then this card should be in your wallet, in my opinion. Let’s talk about why the card is worth it, and what specifically you should be using it for.

Hilton Aspire 180,000 Bonus Hilton Honors Points

For applications through January 17, 2024, the Hilton Aspire Card is offering a limited time welcome offer of 180,000 Hilton Honors points after spending $6,000 within the first six months. That’s an excellent bonus, and it’s the first time in years that I recall seeing a bonus on this card of over 150,000 points. For context, I value Hilton Honors points at 0.5 cents each, meaning that I value the 180,000 points at $900.

The information and associated card details on this page for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by OMAAT and has not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Redeem your points at the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal

Eligibility For Welcome Bonus & Amex Application Restrictions

The welcome offer on the Hilton Aspire Card is not available to those who currently have or who have had the Hilton Aspire Card. However, you are eligible for the bonus if you’ve had any of the other Hilton Amex cards, including the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card and the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card. I find that Amex cards are fairly easy to be approved for, for those with excellent credit.

Just keep in mind Amex’s general card application rules:

  • You can be approved for at most two Amex credit cards in a 90 day period
  • You can have at most five Amex credit cards at any point

Both of those limitations are specific to credit cards, and don’t include Amex charge or hybrid cards.

Hilton Aspire $550 Annual Fee

The Hilton Aspire Card has a $550 annual fee. The annual fee isn’t waived for the first year, and you can add authorized users to the card at no extra cost (though authorized users don’t get most of the great perks offered by the card, other than the primary cardmember being able to earn points for their spending).

The information and associated card details on this page for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by OMAAT and has not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Earning Points With The Hilton Aspire Card

The Hilton Aspire Card offers bonuses on spending in some useful categories. The card offers 3-14x points per dollar spent, depending on what categories you’re spending money in.

That sounds like a lot of points, though not all points currencies are created equal. So in which of those categories should you be spending money on the card?

14x Points At Hilton Hotels

The Hilton Aspire offers 14x Hilton Honors points for spending at Hilton properties globally. This includes all Hilton brands, from Hampton Inn to Waldorf Astoria.

I value Hilton points at ~0.5 cents each, so to me, that’s like a 7% return on hotel spending, which is excellent. The Hilton Aspire Card is the best credit card for Hilton hotel spending.

7x Points Bonus Categories

The Hilton Aspire offers 7x Hilton Honors per eligible dollar spent in the following categories, with no caps:

  • Flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com
  • Car rentals booked directly with select car rental companies
  • US restaurants

I value 7x Hilton Honors points at the equivalent of a ~3.5% return. Those are some pretty good bonuses, though keep in mind there are other good cards for airfare and restaurant spending.

Earn 7x Honors points on flight purchases

3x Points On Other Purchases

The Hilton Aspire offers 3x points on all other eligible purchases, which I value at a return of ~1.5%. I’d argue there are better cards for everyday spending.

No Foreign Transaction Fees

The Hilton Aspire Card has no foreign transaction fees, so it’s an excellent card for purchases abroad, especially for stays at Hilton properties abroad.

The information and associated card details on this page for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by OMAAT and has not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Hilton Aspire Card Benefits

The real reason to get the Hilton Aspire Card is because of the incredible long-term perks it offers, which should more than offset the annual fee year after year. Why is the Hilton Aspire Card worth it? Let’s take a closer look at the benefits…

Hilton Honors Diamond Status

Just for having the Aspire Card, you receive complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status. This is Hilton’s top tier status, so it’s pretty incredible to get that just for having a credit card. Hilton Honors Diamond comes with the following perks, among other things:

  • Free breakfast and/or executive lounge access (in the United States you receive a food & beverage credit)
  • Room upgrades subject to availability (this may include standard suites, at the hotel’s discretion)
  • Late check-out, subject to availability
  • 100% points bonus
  • Fifth night free on award stays

As is the case with all hotel programs, the treatment you’ll receive will vary depending on where in the world you are. I’ve found Diamond recognition to be excellent in Asia, for example, while it’s generally hit or miss in the United States.

I’ve received suite upgrades as a Hilton Honors Diamond member

Annual Free Night Reward Certificate

Just for having the Hilton Aspire Card you receive a free night reward every year that correlates to your account anniversary. You even receive this in the year that you get your card.

This could get you a stay at a property costing up to 150,000 points per night. Personally I value this certificate alone at right around the annual fee, and I’ve used my last several certificates at Katara Hills DohaWaldorf Astoria Los Cabos PedregalWaldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, and Conrad Bora Bora Nui.

Here are some basic things to know about the free night reward offered by the Hilton Aspire Card:

  • It’s issued within 8-12 weeks of when you open the card and the account anniversary
  • It’s valid for stays up to a year from when it’s issued
  • It can be redeemed for one night in standard accommodation
  • There’s a small list of excluded properties
  • While you can view your free night certificate online, you have to call 1-800-446-6677 to actually make your booking
I’ve used my free night certificate at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills

Up To Two Additional Free Night Reward Certificate

While the Hilton Aspire Card offers a free night reward certificate on your account anniversary every year, you can earn up to two more free night reward certificates with spending:

  • Earn a second free night reward certificate if you spend $30,000 on the card in a calendar year
  • Earn a third free night reward certificate if you spend $60,000 on the card in a calendar year

If you’re a big credit card spender, I think a good argument could be made for spending $60,000 on the card each year. You’d earn a minimum of 180,000 Hilton Honors points (since you earn at least 3x points per dollar spent), plus two free night certificates, each worth up to 150,000 points.

Redeem your free night reward at the Conrad Bora Bora

Up To $400 Annual Hilton Resort Credit

For having the Hilton Aspire Card you receive up to $400 in statement credits annually for eligible purchases made directly with Hilton resorts using your card. You receive up to a $200 statement credit to be used between January and June, and up to a $200 statement credit credit to be used between July and December.

This is valid specifically for purchases at Hilton resort properties worldwide, and you can find all participating resorts here. You can apply this credit toward room rate, or even toward incidentals, as long as the incidentals are charged to your folio. In other words, you could redeem points for a stay, and then get a $200 credit toward dining, spa treatments, etc. There’s no registration required to use this perk.

If you stay at Hilton resort properties at least twice per year, this should be worth face value.

Use your Hilton resort credit for a spa treatment

Up To $200 Annual Flight Credit

For having the Hilton Aspire Card you receive up to $200 in statement credits annually for eligible flight purchases using your card. The way this works, you receive up to a $50 statement credit to be used each quarter.

Eligible flights include those either booked directly with any passenger airline, or through amextravel.com. Honestly, this should be pretty easy to maximize. Most US airlines don’t have change fees nowadays on most kinds of fares, so you can always book a fairly cheap ticket and then use the travel credit toward a future itinerary, in case you don’t have a specific flight in mind.

Use your flight credit to book an airline ticket

Up To $189 Annual CLEAR Plus Credit

For having the Hilton Aspire Card you receive up to $189 per year in CLEAR Plus credits. Just use your card to pay for a CLEAR Plus membership, and you’ll receive a statement credit of up to $189 per year. This is enough to cover an annual CLEAR membership.

For those not familiar with CLEAR, this company can save you time at security, by allowing you to use your biometric data to skip the ID check.

Get a CLEAR Plus membership with the card

National Emerald Club Executive Status

For having the Hilton Aspire Card you receive National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive status for as long as you have the card, as long as you enroll. National is my favorite major rental car company, and this status gets you Executive Area Access in the United States and Canada, letting you pick your car from the lot. You can register for this through your online account using the card.

Get National Emerald Club status with the card

$100 Hilton On-Property Credit

The Hilton Aspire Card also offers a $100 on-property credit at Waldorf Astoria and Conrad when you book stays of at least two nights with an eligible rate through this page.

Personally, I don’t consider that to be so valuable. Why?

  • You have to book a specific rate, so points stays, discounted member rates, etc., don’t qualify
  • Most of these hotels also belong through Hilton Impresario or Virtuoso, which offers a similar credit and more

ShopRunner Membership

For having the Hilton Aspire Card you get a ShopRunner membership, which gets you free two-day shipping on eligible items at a network of 100+ online stores. You just have to enroll in your complimentary membership and can then start taking advantage of it.

Amex Offers

One of my favorite features of Amex cards is access to Amex Offers, which offers savings on purchases with all kinds of retailers. There’s huge value to be had in getting as many Amex cards as possible, so that you can get these offers on multiple cards.

Amex Offers could save you hundreds of dollars per year. You can access these offers by logging into your account and scrolling down to the bottom of your account summary page.

The information and associated card details on this page for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by OMAAT and has not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

What About The Hilton Aspire Card Benefits Changes?

The above reflects all of the new perks of the card, as the card underwent a refresh as of October 19, 2023. For those who are existing cardmembers, I wanted to cover some of the basics of how the transition from the old perks to the new perks works (specifically for those who already have the card):

  • As of February 1, 2024, the card no longer offers a Priority Pass membership, so existing memberships will be canceled; the only exception is that if you enrolled between February 1, 2023, and January 31, 2024, your membership will be valid through October 31, 2024
  • The card no longer offers a $250 annual Hilton resort credit; those who had the card prior to October 19, 2023, can still use the benefit through December 31, 2023, and can’t use the new $400 annual Hilton resort credit until 2024
  • The card no longer offers a $250 annual airline fee credit; those who had the card prior to October 19, 2023, can still use the benefit through December 31, 2023

Is The Hilton Aspire Card Worth It?

Hilton is one of the largest hotel groups in the world, and the Hilton Aspire Card is a card that comes in handy for those instances where I want to stay at a Hilton property.

For example, I’ve consistently redeemed the free night certificate at properties retailing for well over $550 per night, so in and of itself that covers the annual fee. For example, I’ve used my certificate at the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal, which would have retailed for over $1,400 per night when I stayed. Add in all the other perks, and it should be quite easy to justify the card.

That being said, personally this is a card that I would get for the perks, rather than a card I would necessarily spend a lot of money on, as there are better cards for that.

Card Showdown: Hilton Aspire Vs. Hilton Surpass

I know some people try to decide between the $550 annual fee Aspire card and the $150 annual fee (Rates & Fees) Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card. How do the two cards compare?

Personally, I think the $550 annual fee card is worthwhile, though for many people only occasionally staying at Hiltons, the $150 annual fee Surpass Card might be worthwhile as well.

The Hilton Surpass Card offers:

  • Hilton Honors Gold status for as long as you have the card
  • Hilton Honors Diamond status when you spend $40,000 on the card in a calendar year
  • A free night reward when you spend $15,000 on the card in a calendar year
  • Up to $200 in Hilton credits annually — get a $50 statement credit each quarter you can use toward Hilton stays

Many people are put off by a $550 annual fee card, so for those people, this is perhaps a more manageable option. The card also pays for itself, given that you can get $200 in Hilton credits annually with the card, which is more than the annual fee.

The information and associated card details on this page for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by OMAAT and has not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Bottom Line

The Hilton Aspire Card is one of the most rewarding hotel credit cards out there. While the card has a $550 annual fee, it offers some valuable incredible perks, including top tier Hilton Honors Diamond status, a free night reward annually, up to $400 in Hilton resort credits, up to $200 in flight credits, and much more.

If you stay at Hiltons with any frequency — and especially if you stay at Hilton resorts at least once every six months — then having this card is a no-brainer.

If you want to learn more about the Hilton Aspire Card or apply, follow this link.

The information and associated card details on this page for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by OMAAT and has not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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).

Conversations (20)
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  1. Michael Guest

    Called to move from the Aspire to Surpass today. Was offered 10k points or $50 upon spending $1k to stay, even with that the new fee and benefit shift made this a poor fit for me. I waited for the month of my renewal and realize now that I should have called in the second the card was on my radar to downgrade. They prorate the fee I've paid back, and prorate the new few...

    Called to move from the Aspire to Surpass today. Was offered 10k points or $50 upon spending $1k to stay, even with that the new fee and benefit shift made this a poor fit for me. I waited for the month of my renewal and realize now that I should have called in the second the card was on my radar to downgrade. They prorate the fee I've paid back, and prorate the new few I'll owe - I could have saved $50 if during my first call to downgrade I didn't let myself get talked into waiting until my renewal month.

    My feedback to the product team at HHonors/American Express: Clear is not a universal benefit, and even if it was at my airport, I'd just use the precheck line. Priority Pass was the reason I kept it, and it was only helpful twice a year if I didn't have the kids with me. The airline fee reimbursement is less useful than it was when I could buy upgrade coupons or premium drinks at the Admirals Club, but changes at my airline have made this no longer useful. The Hilton statement credit on the Aspire I've not been able to use given it was resort only, not sure if I'll be able to use a Hilton statement credit in the future. What I would have stayed for: confirmable suite upgrade certificates.

    I love premium cards and have always made more back than I spend, other than this one. Was very sad to have to call in. When calling in the voice recognition didn't understand "downgrade" or "change", had to hang up and ask for "cancel". This took me to business card services who transferred me to personal cards who was able to make the change in 13 minutes.

  2. nylonsunshine New Member

    The Sea Breeze Santorini Beach Resort, Curio Collection by Hilton is unfortunately not going to code correctly for the Aspire resort credit. Despite it being on the Hilton resort list (https://www.hilton.com/en/resorts/), when charging directly at the hotel it coded as something like a ALEXANDROS travel agency.

    My stay was in July 2023. After repeatedly escalating with the Amex CSRs, they created a ticket to look into it directly and in November 2023 ultimately determined...

    The Sea Breeze Santorini Beach Resort, Curio Collection by Hilton is unfortunately not going to code correctly for the Aspire resort credit. Despite it being on the Hilton resort list (https://www.hilton.com/en/resorts/), when charging directly at the hotel it coded as something like a ALEXANDROS travel agency.

    My stay was in July 2023. After repeatedly escalating with the Amex CSRs, they created a ticket to look into it directly and in November 2023 ultimately determined it was still not eligible. Just wanted to let you all know. Quite a bit frustrating.

    What's weird I still received 14x hilton points on this charge...

  3. Abidjan Gold

    Card still offers tremendous value. Tracking credits is tiresome, but worth the effort (for now).

  4. Andrew Guest

    Just used my $50 on travel bank. Let’s see if it still works. Just another coupon to remember each quarter. I would still prefer the $250 credit vs the two $200 credits and an extra $100 fee, but this card is still probably barely a keeper.

  5. CMX Guest

    I think "If you stay at Hilton resort properties at least twice per year, this should be worth face value." should be re-phrased as "If you directly book with Hilton...". So often you find better rates on third party sites and there's a cost to book with Hilton directly.

    1. Mike Guest

      Hilton has a lowest price guarantee on their Web site if you book directly.
      Other sites could give you a better rate but without the Hilton points.

    2. Luis Guest

      You don't have to book directly with Hilton to get the resort credits. As long as you charge incidentals to your room and pay w/ your aspire card at checkout, the credits should apply.

    3. Bob Guest

      The other thing to consider is that since you have to stay at specific Hilton resorts, you can expect resort fees of $40-$50 per night so that $200 won't go too far vs staying at a regular Hilton.

  6. Gus Guest

    If anyone has the card, but hasn't used the $250 airline incidental credit yet this year (my situation), it would be great to hear how the credits post if airline incidental costs are incurred directly with an airline between 10/19 - 12/31. Any chance that's working smoothly or would the $50 credit apply instead and then you'd have to call in to try and sort it out?

  7. Emme Guest

    The card did get nerfed, but I agree that it’s still a keeper. The $200 airline credit should be taken at face value if refundable airfare counts. This puts the net annual fee at $350.

    The question then becomes: Does prepaying a night at some luxury Hilton property for $350 worth it? For me, it is.

    And then there’s all the rest which personally I value at $100 or so but YMMV.

  8. Michael Guest

    Ben, can the $200 resort credit being used at a Conrad resort be combined in the same stay with the $100 on-property credit? Thanks.

  9. Manny Guest

    The nerfing of this card must be very severe. Over here and TPG they are all out in full force promoting this card.

  10. Pam Guest

    By dividing benefits into each quarter and taking away priority pass, not much value for family travelers as we used these benefits during summer family travel. Can not ravel with family every quarter to reap these benefits.
    What’s the alternative now?

  11. Billy Bob Guest

    Was able to get the Priority Pass for Surpass via Chat. Option in Benefits is already gone. If you haven't already, I suggest you do it. It's 10 free visits.

  12. CJS Guest

    I just opened an Aspire card a few weeks ago. Are you saying I only have until the end of the year to use the $250 resort credits, and can't use the $200 credits on top of that?

    1. LXF Guest

      It seems this way. I’m curious too, more about the airline fee credit: if I have used the $250 for the year, can I use the $50 for Q4 or need to wait until 2024? Does anyone know? Thanks

    2. TravelerMike Guest

      @LXF, yes you should already have the $50 credit in your account

    3. Michael Guest

      According to Amex chat if you had the card prior to October 19 the $50 quarterly credit does not kick in until Q1 2024.

    4. Bob Smith Guest

      If you used the $250 original airline free credit already, the new $50 credit ($200 new airline credit / 4 quarters) kicks in Q4 2023 for you. You'll see it on your American Express credit card statement.

      Source: First-Hand Experience

    5. Efjx Guest

      The 250 is good until end of the year, the 200(2x) starts January 2024 for those with the card prior to Oct 19.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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.

Michael Guest

Called to move from the Aspire to Surpass today. Was offered 10k points or $50 upon spending $1k to stay, even with that the new fee and benefit shift made this a poor fit for me. I waited for the month of my renewal and realize now that I should have called in the second the card was on my radar to downgrade. They prorate the fee I've paid back, and prorate the new few I'll owe - I could have saved $50 if during my first call to downgrade I didn't let myself get talked into waiting until my renewal month. My feedback to the product team at HHonors/American Express: Clear is not a universal benefit, and even if it was at my airport, I'd just use the precheck line. Priority Pass was the reason I kept it, and it was only helpful twice a year if I didn't have the kids with me. The airline fee reimbursement is less useful than it was when I could buy upgrade coupons or premium drinks at the Admirals Club, but changes at my airline have made this no longer useful. The Hilton statement credit on the Aspire I've not been able to use given it was resort only, not sure if I'll be able to use a Hilton statement credit in the future. What I would have stayed for: confirmable suite upgrade certificates. I love premium cards and have always made more back than I spend, other than this one. Was very sad to have to call in. When calling in the voice recognition didn't understand "downgrade" or "change", had to hang up and ask for "cancel". This took me to business card services who transferred me to personal cards who was able to make the change in 13 minutes.

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nylonsunshine New Member

The Sea Breeze Santorini Beach Resort, Curio Collection by Hilton is unfortunately not going to code correctly for the Aspire resort credit. Despite it being on the Hilton resort list (https://www.hilton.com/en/resorts/), when charging directly at the hotel it coded as something like a ALEXANDROS travel agency. My stay was in July 2023. After repeatedly escalating with the Amex CSRs, they created a ticket to look into it directly and in November 2023 ultimately determined it was still not eligible. Just wanted to let you all know. Quite a bit frustrating. What's weird I still received 14x hilton points on this charge...

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Bob Smith Guest

If you used the $250 original airline free credit already, the new $50 credit ($200 new airline credit / 4 quarters) kicks in Q4 2023 for you. You'll see it on your American Express credit card statement. Source: First-Hand Experience

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