Hilton Honors Aspire Card Review: Worth The Fee

Hilton Honors Aspire Card Review: Worth The Fee

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points | $450
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points | $450
14x Points At Hilton Hotels
Hilton Honors Diamond Status
Annual Free Night Reward
The card details for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card have been collected independently by OMAAT and have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
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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 disproportionately rewarding.

Amex Hilton Aspire Card Basics For February 2023

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 generous. Regardless of whether you’re a Hilton loyalist or not, this card almost certainly should be in your wallet if you know how to extract value from it.

Let’s talk about why the card is worth it, and what specifically you should be using it for.

150,000 Bonus Hilton Honors Points

The Hilton Aspire Card offers a welcome bonus of 150,000 Hilton Honors points, after spending $4,000 within the first three months. For context, I value Hilton Honors points at ~0.5 cents each, meaning that I value the 150,000 points at ~$750. That’s an excellent bonus, especially when you consider how much value this card can offer in the long run.

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 $450 Annual Fee

The Hilton Aspire Card has a $450 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 earning points at the same rate as the primary cardmember).

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.

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. I’m currently in my fifth year of card membership, and I’ve gotten such outsized value from the card.

Why is the Hilton Aspire Card worth it? Let’s take a closer look at the benefits (see this post for a rundown of the benefits I consider to be most valuable, and see this post for an in-depth look of how these benefits work):

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 more than $450, and I’ve used my last several certificates at the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos PedregalWaldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, and Conrad Bora Bora Nui.

I’ve used my free night certificate at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills

How The Hilton Free Night Reward Works

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

Redeem your free night reward at the Conrad Bora Bora

$250 Annual Hilton Resort Credit

For having the Hilton Aspire Card you receive a $250 statement credit for eligible purchases made directly with 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. 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.

Use your Hilton resort credit for a spa treatment

$250 Annual Airline Fee Credit

For having the 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.

A $250 airline fee credit can go a long way

Complimentary Priority Pass Membership

Just for having the Hilton Aspire Card you receive a Priority Pass membership, getting you access to 1,300+ lounges around the world. You can even bring two guests with you into lounges. Note that Priority Pass restaurants are excluded from this benefit.

Visit Priority Pass lounges with the Hilton Aspire

$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.

Is The Hilton Aspire Card Worth It?

Hilton is one of the largest hotel groups in the world, and the Hilton Aspire Card is an incredible 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 $450 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 the $250 resort credit, $250 airline fee credit, and Hilton Honors Diamond status (among other perks), and this card really is too good to be true.

That being said, personally this is a card that I would get for the perks, rather than a card I would actually 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 $450 annual fee Aspire card and the $95 annual fee Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card. How do the two cards compare?

Personally, I think the $450 annual fee card is worthwhile, though for many people only occasionally staying at Hiltons, the $95 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

Many people are put off by a $450 annual fee card, so for those people, this is perhaps a more manageable option.

Bottom Line

The Hilton Aspire Card is one of the most rewarding hotel credit cards out there. While the card has a $450 annual fee, it offers some truly incredible perks, including top tier Hilton Honors Diamond status, a free night reward annually, and up to $500 in credits annually ($250 for airline fees, and $250 for Hilton resorts).

To say that I’ve gotten outsized value from this card would be an understatement. This continues to be my single favorite hotel credit card, and I think that those who don’t have it are missing out.

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

Conversations (8)
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  1. CXTraveller Member

    Upgrading is very tricky these days. Days before my check-in day, Hilton will e-mail and try to sell upgrade with $, and I never do $ upgrade because of this card's status given. Then by the time for online check-in, the hotel would already upgrade me to "preferred room," such as a beach view or city view; therefore, during the online check-in, I am picking among the "preferred room." However, in one experience, while I...

    Upgrading is very tricky these days. Days before my check-in day, Hilton will e-mail and try to sell upgrade with $, and I never do $ upgrade because of this card's status given. Then by the time for online check-in, the hotel would already upgrade me to "preferred room," such as a beach view or city view; therefore, during the online check-in, I am picking among the "preferred room." However, in one experience, while I was picking my room, I noticed that there are other rooms with +$20 and +$200 rooms available to pick [+$20 are rooms with balcony overlooking the sea/beach; and +$200 are suites]. This is an extension of paid upgrade they tried to sell me one last time. In this view, I was able to check how many suites are available, and I noticed they are widely available since it's technical at low season at this particular Hilton resort. Again, reject the paid upgrade and picked my "preferred room." Finally, when I arrived to check in at the front desk, they upgrade me again to a suite for free. This is now the standard at Hilton hotels, based on my experiences.

  2. Thom Racina Guest

    I have the same concerns that Tennen does, how to use the airline credit if you can't apply it toward tickets? I'm Platinum for life on AA so there are few charges ever incurred, and the few sandwiches I purchase go toward my Amex Business Platinum credit. So isn't this perk worthless for guys like us?

  3. Tennen Gold

    @Ben, how do you use the airline fee credits? You can't use them for tickets, upgrades, points purchases, or gift cards. There are no more change fees. You get free seat assignments with elite status. You don't have a lounge membership. What's left? WiFi? Across your multiple Amex cards with airline credits, do you spend hundreds on WiFi per year?

    1. CXTraveller Member

      Wifi usually is not covered since they are charged by the wifi operator, not to the airlines. What's left: inflight purchases (food, drinks, etc).

  4. Mike Guest

    If the annual fee goes above $450, I will be canceling my card and my spouse's card when they are up for renewal in June.

  5. UA-NYC Guest

    Reason #47 why only true suckers actually pay and stay enough for Hilton LIFETIME DIAMOND STATUS...it's (net) free with a credit card

  6. Starbucks Man Guest

    This card has been a keeper for me - the airline and resort credits are full value to me and the annual free night has been awesome. Hopefully it doesn't change too much. Tell us how it is pro-Hilton commenter!

  7. rich Guest

    With the breakfast being mostly useless now, I'm not sure I see any benefit in elite hotel status, especially in the USA. I'm not a big breakfast person but it was nice to get something free. Room upgrades were minimal. Status will often get you bonus points but most of the time Hilton's points aren't worth much.

    Free baggage/priority boarding on flights are about the only consistent benefit you get from cards now. Paying...

    With the breakfast being mostly useless now, I'm not sure I see any benefit in elite hotel status, especially in the USA. I'm not a big breakfast person but it was nice to get something free. Room upgrades were minimal. Status will often get you bonus points but most of the time Hilton's points aren't worth much.

    Free baggage/priority boarding on flights are about the only consistent benefit you get from cards now. Paying $450+ for Aspire doesn't make sense for most.

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UA-NYC Guest

Reason #47 why only true suckers actually pay and stay enough for Hilton LIFETIME DIAMOND STATUS...it's (net) free with a credit card

1
CXTraveller Member

Upgrading is very tricky these days. Days before my check-in day, Hilton will e-mail and try to sell upgrade with $, and I never do $ upgrade because of this card's status given. Then by the time for online check-in, the hotel would already upgrade me to "preferred room," such as a beach view or city view; therefore, during the online check-in, I am picking among the "preferred room." However, in one experience, while I was picking my room, I noticed that there are other rooms with +$20 and +$200 rooms available to pick [+$20 are rooms with balcony overlooking the sea/beach; and +$200 are suites]. This is an extension of paid upgrade they tried to sell me one last time. In this view, I was able to check how many suites are available, and I noticed they are widely available since it's technical at low season at this particular Hilton resort. Again, reject the paid upgrade and picked my "preferred room." Finally, when I arrived to check in at the front desk, they upgrade me again to a suite for free. This is now the standard at Hilton hotels, based on my experiences.

0
CXTraveller Member

Wifi usually is not covered since they are charged by the wifi operator, not to the airlines. What's left: inflight purchases (food, drinks, etc).

0
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