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The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is a great hotel card for someone who regularly visits Hilton Hotels and wants to maximize the benefits of elite status within the Hilton Honors program. The card comes with a higher annual fee than the other Hilton co-branded cards, but if you take advantage of the many benefits and credits offered, the annual fee can easily be worth it.
While you have the card, and use it for your expenses, you will earn Hilton Honors points. These points can be used for free nights at any Hilton property in the world. Along with earning rewards, you will receive a long list of travel benefits, including airport lounge access, complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status and more.
The card has a steep annual fee of $550 (see rates and fees), but is a hotel credit card worth that large investment? Select reviews the Hilton Aspire card, analyzing its welcome bonus offer, points-earning structure and perks to help you decide if the card fits in your wallet.
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card review
14X points per dollar for eligible purchases on your card made directly with a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio; 7X points for eligible purchases on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies, and at U.S. restaurants; 3X points for each dollar spent on other eligible purchases
Earn 180,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $6,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership.
20.99% to 29.99% variable
Balance transfer fee
Foreign transaction fee
The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is currently offering an excellent welcome offer to get your points-earning journey off to a great start. You will earn 180,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card after you spend $6,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 6 months of Card Membership.
Keep in mind that you will also earn Hilton Honors points as you make purchases with the card to reach these spending thresholds.
Even if you were to spend exactly $6,000 in the first 6 months, at a minimum of 3 Hilton Honors points per $1 spent, that is an additional 18,000 points — giving you a total of 198,000 Hilton Honors points.
Hilton Honors points are valued by many at a modest 0.5 cents per point, and at that valuation, the points from the welcome offer along with the associated spending will earn you $990 in value towards stays at Hilton properties. However, keep in mind the actual value you earn will be based on what you redeem those points for. But the true value of this card is in the benefits.
First, the Hilton Aspire card offers solid spending categories to continue earning Hilton Honors points. As you spend, you will earn:
- 14X Hilton Honors points for every $1 spent on Hilton hotel rooms and at Hilton properties
- 7X Hilton Honors points for every $1 spent at U.S. restaurants (incl. takeout and delivery), and select travel expenses such as flights booked directly with airlines and rental cars booked directly with their agencies
- 3X Hilton Honors points for every $1 spent on all other eligible purchases
The Hilton Aspire Card is loaded with benefits that will help you enhance your hotel experience, as well as your travel experience:
- Hilton Honors Diamond status: By simply holding the card you will be awarded Hilton Diamond status, which is the highest level of elite status with the hotel chain. This gets you a ton of benefits, including: 48-hour room guarantee, premium Wi-Fi, executive lounge access at premium Hilton hotels, room upgrades when available, food and beverage credits, fifth night free when you book four nights in a row on the same reservation and the ability to gift elite status.
- Free night reward: Enjoy one free night reward at nearly any Hilton property with your Aspire card, and every year after renewing the card. And if you are a heavy spender, you can earn an additional night after you spend $60,000 on purchases on your card in a calendar year. This perk can be incredibly valuable, since you can use this certificate at expensive hotels in the Hilton portfolio around the world. That includes resorts like the Waldorf Astoria Maldives where rooms can go for thousands of dollars a night.
- Up to $400 Hilton resort statement credit: Up to a total of $200 in statement credits semi-annually (January through June; and July through December), for up to $400 back annually for eligible purchases made directly with participating Hilton Resorts
- $250 airline fee credit: The $250 airline fee credit is for incidental charges such as checked bags, seat selection fees and in-flight refreshments that are charged by the airline to your card. To qualify for this, the cardholder must select one airline in their American Express card profile.
- $100 property credit: When you book a two night minimum stay at hiltonhonorsaspirecard.com, you will get up to $100 in credits for qualifying charges at participating Waldorf Astoria® Hotels & Resorts and Conrad® Hotels & Resorts.
- Priority Pass Select airport lounge access: Priority Pass is a lounge network with over 1,200 locations around the world, and with this membership, you and up to two guests will get unlimited access.
- Rental car insurance: When you rent a car, pay for it using your Hilton Aspire Card, and decline the insurance from the rental car agency, you will have coverage from your card in the case of an accident.
- Complimentary concierge: If you need assistance with dinner reservations, ordering flowers or help booking travel, you will have access to this service 24/7.
Earning Hilton Honors points
The two best ways to earn Hilton Honors points is by either staying at Hilton hotels or by spending on Hilton co-branded credit cards.
To earn Hilton Honors points during your stays, all you need to do is attach your Hilton Honors number to your Hilton reservation and book directly with the hotel. Remember that hotel stays booked through third-parties like Expedia don't earn Hilton Honors points, and your Hilton Honors status will likely not be honored.
But for most Americans, especially with the slow down of both business and leisure travel during the pandemic, hotel stays have been less frequent.
The more realistic way to earn hoards of Hilton Honors points is by earning a card welcome bonus and spending on a Hilton co-branded credit card, like the Aspire card. However, you are not restricted to just one Hilton credit card. By having multiple Hilton credit cards, you can take advantage of your Diamond status, along with a long list of benefits from the other three cards.
If you are considering this strategy, here are the other Hilton cobranded cards:
- Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card: Earn 170,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 6 months of Card Membership.
- The Hilton Honors American Express Card: Earn 100,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership.
- The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors Business Card within the first three months of Card Membership.
You can also earn Hilton points through the hotel's partnership with Lyft and can transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to Hilton at a 1:2 ratio. This is a great strategy as Amex cards offer cardholders flexibility to transfer Membership Rewards points to Hilton, or their many other airline and hotel transfer partners.
Redeeming Hilton Honors points
Once you've earned the points, redeeming them is the fun part.
Hilton has over 6,500 properties in 119 countries, at all different price tags and levels of luxury. Some of the most recognizable brands include: Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, DoubleTree, Hampton, Hilton Garden Inn and Hilton Grand Vacations.
Hilton Honors operates on 'dynamic pricing', which means that prices for award nights will fluctuate as demand goes up. This means that one Saturday night could be 40,000 points per night, while the next Saturday night could be 70,000 points for the same room. The amount of points you pay is often associate with the cash price of the room. With that, it is advantageous to try to book your hotel stays farther in advance.
Additionally, there are a few things to keep in mind before you redeem your points:
- Estimated value: While there is no confirmed value from Hilton, many travel rewards enthusiasts have estimated the value of Hilton Honors points at 0.5 cents per point. It isn't 'bad' per se to redeem them for less, but it is a good benchmark to keep in mind when redeeming your points. To calculate this, simply take the full cash price of your stay, and divide it by the number of points it would cost. If the value is above 0.5 cents per point, it is a great redemption.
- Fifth night free: If you have at least Silver status within Hilton Honors, you are able to enjoy a fifth night free when you book four consecutive nights on one reservation using points. The fifth night will automatically be added on. This is a great way to stretch the value of your points even further, since you're essentially getting a 20% discount on a five night stay.
- Points + money option: When you're booking a room using points, you may find yourself without enough points to cover the cost of the entire room. Hilton will give you the option to cover the remaining balance with cash. This is a great option if you are just short of enough points for a room.
If you are short a small amount of points for a stay, try sending a tweet to Hilton Honors. If you ask kindly that you need a few extra points, they may add the remaining amount to your account as a courtesy to complete the booking. However, your results may vary.
- Transfer your points to airline or train loyalty programs: You can transfer your Hilton points to a list of different airline and train loyalty programs. However, the value you will realize is pretty low. For example, for every 10,000 Hilton Honors points you will earn a modest 1,000 Delta SkyMiles. In nearly all cases, it is best to use your Hilton Honors points for Hilton nights.
The card has a $550 annual fee. It does not have any foreign transaction fees*.
If you plan on carrying a balance month to month, this card may not be the best. It has a high interest rate range of 20.99% - 29.99% variable APR*. If you want to avoid accruing interest, consider a credit card with a 0% introductory APR offer.
The balance transfer fee is 3%, and late payment fees can be up to $40*.
The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is an excellent choice for someone who enjoys staying at Hilton properties at least a few times per year. But, is it the best credit card for you?
Select analyzed two other travel credit cards to see how they match up with one another.
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card vs. Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card card is similar to the Hilton Aspire card, but targeted towards Marriott properties.
The Marriott Brilliant card has an identical $650 annual fee (see rates and fees) and a long list of benefits, including: a free night award up to 85,000 Bonvoy points at a participating hotel, a $100 property credit for over a two-night stay at either a Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis property (resort fees may apply), and up to $300 in statement credits per calendar year (up to $25 per month) for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide.
These benefits are very similar to what the Hilton Aspire card offers. However, a few benefits the Marriott card has that the Aspire doesn't are: Travel insurance and Fee Credit for TSA PreCheck® or Global Entry: Receive either a statement credit every 4 years after you apply for Global Entry ($100) or a statement credit every 4.5 years after you apply for a five-year membership for TSA PreCheck® (up to $85 through a TSA PreCheck official enrollment provider) and pay the application fee with your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
Lastly, the welcome offer is a bit different than the Aspire card. You will earn 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
The Aspire and Marriott Bonvoy loyalty programs are measured differently.
Marriott Bonvoy works on an award chart, which gives specific prices to what a hotel will cost when using points. However, Hilton Honors is completely dynamic, which means prices fluctuate with demand.
One is not automatically better than the other, but with Marriott, it is a bit more predictable to know how many points you will need for a stay.
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred®
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is known as one of the best travel credit cards available because of its transferable and easy-to-redeem rewards. It has a $95 annual fee, with a long list of benefits including travel insurance and broad spending categories.
As you spend on the card, you will earn:
- 5X points for every dollar spent on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 3X points for every dollar spent on dining, online grocery purchases and select streaming services
- 2X points for every dollar spent on other travel purchases
- 1X points on other purchases
The card is currently offering a welcome offer: 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after new cardholders spend $4,000 in the first three months of account opening. Ultimate Rewards points are transferable to 14 airlines and three hotel loyalty programs. Those 60,000 points are worth $750 towards travel booked through the Chase Travel portal.
The hotel partners includes IHG, Marriott and Hyatt, but not Hilton. So if you aren't extremely loyal to Hilton, consider the Sapphire Preferred for further flexibility with your travel rewards.
The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is a great addition to someone's wallet who visits Hilton Hotels often, and travels regularly.
By using the free night certificate, along with the airline and resort credits, you are coming out way ahead of the $550 annual fee. If you use it right, even the free night certificate alone could be worth more than the annual fee.
The points you earn from spending on the card, automatic Diamond elite status benefits and airport lounge access is all added value at that point. But if you can can't use at least a few of these benefits, the $550 annual fee may not be justifiable.
Additionally, if you stay in Hilton Hotels regularly and want to fast-track your journey to Diamond status, the Aspire card will give you the status benefits immediately and you won't have to stay 60 nights in a Hilton hotel.
Because Hilton has several cobranded credit cards with varying annual fees and benefits, it is important to select one that mirrors how often you travel.
- If you stay in hotels 1-2 times per year, it may be worth it to have the no annual fee credit card such as The Hilton Honors American Express Card or the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card.
- If you stay 3-5 times per year, it could be worth upgrading to a modest annual fee hotel credit card like the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card or the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card.
- If it's 4-5 times per year, having a high annual fee hotel credit card is a great way to improve your stays like Hilton Aspire or the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex card.
The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is an excellent hotel credit card for someone who visits Hilton hotels regularly, or is simply looking to earn more Hilton Honors points.
Between the airport lounge access, complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status, airline fee credits, hotel credits and travel insurance, the Aspire card delivers great value for its cardholders.
However, consider having multiple credit cards, including the ones mentioned above if you really want to maximize your travel rewards earnings.
How much is 180k Hilton points worth?
If you value Hilton Honors points at 0.5 cents per point, 180,000 points would be worth $900.
What can the Hilton Aspire airline credit be used for?
The Hilton Aspire airline credit can be used for things like: checked bags fee, in-flight drinks/snacks or change fees.
How many Hilton credit cards can you have?
You can theoretically have all four Hilton credit cards. However, keep in mind American Express's 2/90 rule, which means you cannot be approved for more than two American Express cards in a 90-day span.
Information about the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card, Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
For rates and fees for Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, click here
For rates and fees for the Hilton Honors Aspire card, click here