A huge annual fee means it's not a fit for occasional travelers who aren't loyal to Hilton. But ardent fans of the chain will find that the card's rewards and perks easily outstrip the cost of carrying it.
Pros & Cons
High rewards rate
No foreign transaction fee
Has annual fee
Don't want to be locked into a complex Hilton card? This premium card earns bonus rewards in a variety of popular spending categories, including dining and travel. Those points are worth 1.5 cents apiece when redeemed for travel booked through Chase, or you can transfer them to more than a dozen airline and hotel programs. There's an array of perks, plus an annual $300 travel credit that effectively cuts the $550 annual fee by more than half.
Compare to Other Cards
$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95
Recommended Credit Score
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The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is the hotel chain’s luxury card, and while it's a pricey one to carry, it gives you more than enough opportunities to make back that money and more. It’s the hotel card to get for die-hard Hilton loyalists.
As the highest-tier option in the Hilton Honors family of credit cards, it offers valuable rewards and perks you won’t find with other cards. These are no rinky-dink, low-use benefits either. The card's airline and resort credits alone can make back the annual fee of $450 — and that's before you even consider the complimentary weekend night reward and Diamond status. (Terms apply.)
This card is overkill for the occasional Hampton Inn visitor. But if you’re committed to the Hilton Honors loyalty program, travel often and stay almost exclusively at Hilton hotel and resort properties, it’s a cinch to get your money’s worth from the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. If not — or if you can’t stomach the hefty annual fee — other Hilton cards or general travel rewards cards may be a better fit.
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card: Basics and benefits
Card type: Hotel.
Annual fee: $450. Terms apply.
Welcome offer: 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.
14 points per dollar spent directly with hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio.
7 points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants, flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, and car rentals purchased directly from select car rental companies.
3 points per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Interest rate: The ongoing APR is 15.99%-24.99% Variable APR. Terms apply.
Foreign transaction fee: None.
$250 annual airline fee credit.
$250 annual Hilton resort credit.
Weekend rewards night(s).
Hilton Honors Diamond status.
$100 on-property credit.
Where the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card shines
Hilton points add up faster than points in many other loyalty programs. There’s a reason: They’re worth a good bit less per point, so you get more of them. But that’s neither good nor bad; it’s just a different scale. At NerdWallet's point valuation of about 0.5 cent each, you’re still getting remarkable value — the equivalent of 3.5X on restaurants and 1.5X on non-bonus spending, which could make the card an everyday carry. And because Hilton is a huge chain with properties from affordable to luxury, its rewards are easy to use.
Credits and perks
A luxury travel credit card with a high annual fee better come with valuable and useful benefits. And this one doesn’t disappoint:
$250 annual airline fee credit: Select one qualifying airline and receive up to $250 per calendar year in statement credits for incidental fees such as checked baggage, in-flight refreshments and flight change fees. You can change your qualifying airline every January.
$250 annual Hilton resort credit: Get up to $250 in statement credits each year of card membership for eligible purchases at participating Hilton Resorts.
Weekend rewards night(s): Get one complimentary weekend night reward with the card each year. Earn an additional night after you spend $60,000 on purchases on the card in a calendar year.
Elite status: Automatic Hilton Honors Diamond status, which includes perks, such as double bonus points on all base points you earn, room upgrades when available, premium Wi-Fi, late checkout and more.
$100 on-property credit: Book a two-night minimum stay with the card and get up to $100 in credits for qualifying charges at participating Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts and Conrad Hotels & Resorts. It doesn't apply to the cost of the room.
Priority Pass Select membership: This gives you access to more than 1,200 airport lounges worldwide. In lounges that allow guests, you can bring up to two for no additional charge.
Travel protections: Includes things like rental car insurance, coverage for lost luggage, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, and trip delay insurance.
Bonuses for new cardholders can change. But if you can meet the required spending, you’ll typically get enough points for at least one night at a luxury property, and several nights at a more affordable one. That provides some instant gratification for those with near-term wanderlust.
The current 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.
How it compares with other Hilton credit cards
The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is the luxury card among Hilton credit cards, but it’s pricey. It’s worth sizing up its sister cards to determine which is the best Hilton card for you.
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card: Drawbacks and alternatives
Lack of reward flexibility
To get the most from this card, you have to be committed to the Hilton Honors loyalty program. If you would rather stay at a variety of hotels, including those not owned by Hilton, a general travel card is a better fit.
High annual fee
In a vacuum, the annual fee of $450 is high. But among upper-tier travel credit cards, it’s competitive.
Still, some people can’t stomach that high of a fee — or are uncertain whether they can cash in on enough of the benefits and perks to make it worthwhile. For those people, a card with a lower annual fee might be better.
A cheaper Hilton card is one choice. So is a general travel card. Consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card with an annual fee of $95.
Or look at the simpler Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card with an annual fee comparable to that on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
Limited acceptance abroad
American Express cards aren’t accepted as widely outside the U.S. as Visas or Mastercards, so bring a backup credit card when you’re abroad.
For more options, you can also visit NerdWallet's list of the best credit cards to have.
Should you get the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card?
This card’s jumbo annual fee makes it a bad fit for casual travelers who stay at Hilton properties occasionally. But for avid fans of Hilton’s hotels and resorts, this card is highly valuable. Its ample rewards — along with potential savings from travel credits, anniversary nights and elite status — can easily compensate you for shelling out the annual fee every year.
To view rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Card, see this page. To view rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, see this page. 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. To view rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page.