Is the Hilton Honors AmEx Aspire Card Worth Its Annual Fee?

This card will get you the royal treatment during your Hilton stays, including Diamond elite status perks.

Sally FrenchMay 13, 2021
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Although the $450 annual fee isn’t cheap, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is the gem of Hilton’s line of credit cards, as long as you stay at Hilton properties at least a couple of times per year.

For people looking to earn rewards, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card will likely end up being a supplemental card in your wallet. The card's value lies less in accruing points for non-Hilton spending, and more in offering you elite perks whenever you stay at Hilton hotels.

This is the kind of card that when you whip it out at a Hilton property, you’re treated like a VIP. If you take advantage of the annual $250 statement credit for Hilton expenses and the additional $250 airline incidentals credit toward extras like baggage and Wi-Fi fees, you’ve already covered the annual fee. And that doesn’t even account for the myriad other perks you gain access to, most notably automatic Hilton elite status at the highest tier there is, Diamond. Terms apply.

For most people who stay at Hilton hotels, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is easily worth the annual fee, and here’s why.

Valuable perks of the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

The card also provides numerous benefits, including automatic elite status, annual credits and complimentary nights at your favorite Hilton hotels.

The welcome bonus

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is currently offering this welcome bonus: Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card after you use your new Card to make $4,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

Based on NerdWallet's research, Hilton Honors points are valued at 0.5 cent per point. Of course, your redemption value could be better or worse based on the hotel you choose and the dates of your stay.

Hilton used to publish an award chart, making it easier to determine the full value of these points. However, the hotel loyalty program has removed the chart and moved to a variable points system that makes it more difficult.

The earning power

In addition to the welcome bonus, you can earn unlimited Hilton Honors points by using the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card for your daily purchases.

You'll earn:

  • 14x points on Hilton purchases.

  • 7x points on flights booked with airlines or through AmEx Travel.

  • 7x points on rental cars booked with select rental car companies.

  • 7x points on dining at U.S. restaurants.

  • 3x points on all other purchases.

Terms apply.

Automatic Hilton Honors Diamond elite status

Diamond status is the highest level within the Hilton Honors loyalty program, and it’s automatically bestowed to all Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card cardholders. Otherwise, you'd need to stay 60 nights per year at Hilton properties to earn this elite status (only 30 nights in 2021). Terms apply.

It’s tough to put a dollar figure on the value of Hilton Diamond status, but it becomes increasingly more valuable the more you travel. Benefits include a welcome gift at check-in, daily complimentary breakfast, executive lounge access and upgrades to suites when available.

Plus, you earn and save more for every stay. You'll earn 100% bonus points on paid stays, and if you’re booking on points, you’re rewarded for longer award stays with your fifth night free.

Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, California. Photo courtesy of Hilton

Complimentary weekend nights at almost any Hilton property

You'll receive one complimentary weekend night upon approval of your Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, plus an additional one each year when you renew. Additionally, when you spend $60,000 on your card in a calendar year, you'll receive a second complimentary weekend night. Terms apply.

Sure, you can redeem it at the Hampton by Hilton near grandma’s house, but you’ll likely get way more value when you apply it to something like an idyllic paradise vacation. Consider the Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort in Southern California, where room rates often exceed $500 per night, and sometimes teeter close to $1,000 depending on the weekend.

Note that of Hilton’s roughly 6,400 properties worldwide, only a few dozen are excluded from this perk. View a list of the excluded properties here.

$250 Hilton resort statement credit

During your card year, you'll receive $250 in statement credits for purchases made at participating Hilton hotels and resorts. Not only does this cover incidental charges posted to your room, but it covers the cost of the room itself. Simply charge the room to your card, and you’ll see a credit back on your cardholder account. Terms apply.

$250 airline fee credit

Every year, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card customers also receive a $250 airline fee credit that can be used with eligible airlines. Each January, you'll choose one airline that will be covered by this benefit. From there, you’ll receive statement credits of up to $250 for incidental fees such as checked baggage, in-flight refreshments and flight-change fees. Terms apply.

While the airline fee credit is great for people who spend money on incidentals, others may find the airline statement credit irritating to redeem. You must select one qualifying airline, so you can’t get your United bag fees covered one month while also getting your Southwest boarding Group A upgrade covered the next month. Choose your airline wisely.

And no, you can’t use your Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card to purchase a Southwest gift card. Some no-frills travelers who don’t pay for incidentals used to get more value out of this benefit by buying airline gift cards and turning around to book flights. However, American Express no longer provides statement credits for gift cards.

Priority Pass Select membership

Cardholders receive a Priority Pass Select membership that provides unlimited airport lounge visits for them and up to two guests at no additional charge. There are over 1,300 participating lounges around the world. Terms apply.

Priority Pass charges $299 for their standard membership, which includes 10 visits per year and no complimentary guests, so it’s a swell deal if this is something you’d purchase anyway.

Just keep in mind that Priority Pass lounges range in quality. If you’re lucky, you could wind up dining at a full buffet (including baklava) overlooking the indoor waterfall at the Turkish Airlines Lounge at Washington-Dulles. Alas, you could also find yourself in a fluorescent-lit room with nothing more than a basket of chips and bananas — as is the case at some of the more paltry lounges.

Up to $100 Hilton on-property credit

When you stay at Waldorf Astoria or Conrad hotels, you'll receive up to $100 in credits for charges made to your room. This benefit is limited to the qualifying charges billed to your room, with a cap of $100 per booking.

To qualify, you must book a two-night minimum stay through hiltonhonors.com/aspirecard or by calling Hilton Honors. Terms apply.

Other notable benefits

Car rental loss and damage waiver: When you pay for your rental car with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, you'll be covered in case the car is damaged or stolen. This coverage is secondary to your own auto insurance and does not include liability coverage for damage to other property or injury to individuals. Terms apply.

No foreign transaction fees: You can use the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card anywhere around the world without fear of extra charges. American Express will not charge you any fees to convert your international purchase into U.S. dollars. Terms apply.

Checked baggage protection: Your luggage is covered for loss, damage or theft when traveling by plane, train, ship or bus. Coverage is up to $3,000 per person per trip, which includes up to $2,000 in checked baggage and $1,000 for high-risk items like jewelry and electronics. Terms apply.

AmEx Offers: American Express cardholders can participate in AmEx Offers to save money and earn additional points. These offers vary based on your profile, spending habits and the type of card that you have. Offers require activation and change on a regular basis, so make it a habit to check out your personalized offers regularly. Terms apply.

Is the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card worth it?

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card offers a lot of benefits, but you may still find the $450 annual fee tough to stomach.

While many benefits are impossible to assign an exact value to, we estimate that the average cardholder could realistically receive over $1,400 in annual benefits from it.

That's almost $1,000 in additional value before factoring in the opportunity to earn a second complimentary weekend night, the $100 credit for Waldorf Astoria or Conrad hotels, and the other benefits. Plus, don’t forget to account for the welcome bonus. Terms apply.

Here's how we came up with these numbers:

Benefit

Value

Description

Hilton Diamond breakfast

$240

Four days of $15 per person for a family of four

Complimentary weekend night

$250

Typical hotel night including taxes and fees

Hilton credit

$250

Stated benefit of card

Airline credit

$250

Stated benefit of card

Priority Pass

$299

Standard Plus membership including 10 visits

ShopRunner

$79

Annual fee

Rental car protection

$50

Five-day rental with average $10-per-day loss damage waiver

Total

$1,418

Who is the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card right for?

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card delivers handsomely for travelers who stay at middle-tier to luxury Hilton hotels.

You'll receive automatic Hilton Honors Diamond status, a complimentary weekend night each year and $500 in annual credits. Plus, you can enjoy additional benefits like Priority Pass lounge access and rental car protection. Big spenders will also benefit from the second complimentary weekend night after spending $60,000 each year. Terms apply.

The card combines enough cold hard cash (well, in the form of statement credits) with luxe extras to please aspirational travelers. The combined statement credits make it incredibly easy to justify the $450 annual fee. Throw in the airline lounges, room upgrades, Hilton lounge access and other perks generally reserved for the well-to-do, and this card can take your travels to the next level.

All information about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is no longer available through NerdWallet.


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