Hilton Honors Aspire Review: Rich Rewards, Luxury Perks for a Price

This $450-annual-fee card gets you lucrative ongoing rewards, a complimentary night each year, airline and resort credits, along with other travel goodies, making it ideal for Hilton loyalists.

Gregory KarpSeptember 8, 2020

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Our Take

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: 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.

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

on American Express's website

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$450

Regular APR

15.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

Quick FactsView rates and fees

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • High rewards rate

  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • Has annual fee

Alternate Pick: More flexible rewards

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

3X points on travel, dining

Don't want to be locked into a complex Hilton card? This premium card gives you 3X points on travel and dining. 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.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

Annual Fee

$450

Annual Fee

$95

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

15.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Regular APR

15.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Regular APR

15.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

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Full Review

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.

Nerd tip: American Express has temporarily expanded this card’s benefits to make it more useful during the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes are highlighted in these "Nerd tip" boxes throughout this review.

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.

Ongoing rewards:

  • 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.

  • Terms apply.

Nerd tip: COVID-19-RELATED CHANGE: Through July 2020, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card will earn 12 Hilton Honors points per $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets. (Terms apply.) The card normally does not feature U.S. supermarkets as a bonus category.

NerdWallet values Hilton points at 0.4 cent each. This is a baseline value, drawn from real-world data, not a maximized value. In other words, you should aim for award redemptions that offer 0.4 cent or more in value from your Hilton points.

Interest rate: The ongoing APR is 15.74% - 24.74% Variable APR. Terms apply.

Foreign transaction fee: None.

Other benefits:

  • $250 annual airline fee credit.

  • $250 annual Hilton resort credit.

  • Weekend rewards night(s).

  • Hilton Honors Diamond status.

  • $100 on-property credit.

  • Travel protections.

  • Terms apply.

Where the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card shines

Rewards

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.

Nerd tip: COVID-19-RELATED CHANGE: Through August 2020, U.S. restaurant purchases made with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card — including takeout and delivery — will qualify toward the $250 Hilton resort credit benefit. Terms apply.

  • 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.

Nerd tip: COVID-19-RELATED CHANGE: Between May 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, for all Hilton American Express cards, any bonus points you earn that post to your account will be considered base points, meaning they’ll count toward elite tier qualification and lifetime Diamond status. Usually, bonus points don’t count for this purpose.

  • $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.

  • Terms apply.

Welcome bonus

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.

For those looking for comparable premium travel perks, good choices include the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and The Platinum Card® from American Express.

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.

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 Aspire Card, please visit this page.

To view rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Card, please visit this page.

To view rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, please visit this page.

All information about The Platinum Card® from American Express has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Platinum Card® from American Express is no longer available through NerdWallet.

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