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Hilton partners with American Express to offer several versions of its co-branded credit card. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is the premium version that comes loaded with benefits and a price tag to match. The big question is if those benefits are worth the annual fee of $450. Let’s analyze what you get and whether it’s worth it.
Hilton Aspire welcome bonus
One of the major reasons to apply for a new credit card is to earn a 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.
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 harder.
For example, a room at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Nashville Downtown in mid-June 2020 ranges from 58,000 to 120,000 Honors points per night.
Based on NerdWallet's research, Hilton Honors points are valued at 0.5 cent per point, so the 150,000 welcome points have a potential redemption value of $750. Your redemption value will vary based on the hotel you choose and the dates of your stay.
Earning power of the Hilton Aspire
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.
14x points on Hilton purchases.
12x points on U.S. supermarket purchases (through July 31).
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.
Features and benefits of the Hilton Aspire
The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card also provides numerous benefits, including automatic elite status, annual credits and complimentary nights at your favorite hotels.
Automatic Hilton Honors Diamond elite status
As a Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card cardholder, you'll automatically be upgraded to Hilton Honors Diamond elite status. Terms apply. Diamond status is the highest level within the Hilton Honors loyalty program. Normally, you'd need to stay 60 nights per year at Hilton properties to earn this elite status.
Benefits include 100% bonus points on paid stays, executive lounge access, complimentary continental breakfast and fifth night complimentary on award stays.
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. Each year when you renew your Hilton Aspire Card, you'll receive one complimentary weekend night. Additionally, when you spend $60,000 on your card in a calendar year, you'll receive a second complimentary weekend night. Terms apply.
These weekend nights can be used at almost any Hilton family hotel or resort around the world. Out of the more than 6,100 properties worldwide, only 38 are excluded from this complimentary weekend night benefit. You can view a list of the excluded properties here. A complimentary night at a high-end Hilton each year is worth several hundred dollars on its own.
As an added bonus, Hilton is now allowing these certificates to be used on any night of the week, not just weekends, in response to the ongoing impacts of the coronavirus. Additionally, all new certificates issued through Dec. 31, 2020, will be valid for 24 months (as opposed to the standard 12 months).
$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. This credit provides a great discount on a future Hilton stay or can be used to cover incidental charges posted to your room. As a special accommodation for the current coronavirus situation, through Aug. 31, 2020, purchases made at U.S. restaurants will count toward this statement credit, giving customers an opportunity to get value out of it even if they cannot travel. Terms apply.
$250 airline fee credit
Every year, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card cardholders also receive a $250 airline fee credit that can be used at eligible airlines. Each January, you'll choose one airline that will be covered by this benefit. This credit does not pay for airfare, upgrades or gift cards, but it does cover eligible fees charged by the airline. Terms apply.
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 1,200 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.
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.
The best of the rest
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 hidden 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.
ShopRunner complimentary two-day shipping: When shopping at more than 100 participating online stores, you'll receive complimentary two-day shipping on all of your purchases. Terms apply. An annual membership to ShopRunner is normally $79.
AmEx Offers to earn points and save money: 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.
» Learn more: Hilton Honors: The complete guide
Is the Hilton Aspire Card worth the $450 annual fee?
The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card offers a lot of benefits, but is it worth the annual fee? Some benefits are difficult to assign a value to, so let's focus on those that are easy to determine.
Based on the table below, a cardholder could realistically receive over $1,400 in annual benefits compared to the annual fee of $450. 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, the welcome bonus brings an extra $750 value during your first year. Terms apply.
Hilton Diamond breakfast
Four days of $15 per person for a family of four
Free weekend night
Typical hotel night including taxes and fees
Stated benefit of card
Stated benefit of card
Standard Plus membership including 10 visits
Rental car protection
Five-day rental with average $10-per-day loss damage waiver
Who is the Hilton Aspire right for?
The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is perfect for frequent travelers at 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, complimentary shipping from ShopRunner and rental car protection. Big spenders will also benefit from the second complimentary weekend night after spending $60,000 each year. Terms apply.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2020, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card