The Hilton Aspire Card is Hilton and American Express’ top-tier co-branded card. It’s known for its incredible earning opportunities and perks, specifically its complimentary Diamond Status. Diamond Status is Hilton’s highest status and the Aspire Card is by far the easiest way to obtain it.
The Aspire Card has a $450 annual fee (NOT waived the first year). However, you can easily get lots of value from the card if you take advantage of its perks and spend within its bonus categories.
Is the Hilton Aspire the right premium card for you?
The Hilton Aspire earns 14x Hilton Honors (HH) points on Hilton purchases. It also earns 7x HH points for US Restaurants, Flights (booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com), and Car Rentals (booked directly with car rental agencies). All other purchases earn 3x HH points.
The Aspire Card has a sign-up bonus worth 150,000 HH points. This bonus can be earned after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. It offers 25,000 more bonus points than the Hilton Surpass Card for an extra $2,000 spend. While this bonus has a high minimum spend, the Hilton Aspire Card is meant for bigger spenders who like Hilton hotels. Therefore, the $4,000 minimum spend might not seem so bad for larger spenders.
Hotel redemptions are the only way to redeem HH points. Nights start at 5,000 points, but most locations will cost more than that per night. Unlike Marriott, Hilton does not have a rewards chart publicly posted. How many points a night costs depends on your location and date. Your mileage may vary.
Hilton HH points are transferrable to 43 airline partners and three car rental agencies (Enterprise, Alamo, and National). Because of the low value of HH points, transferring them is not recommended. This is also the reason why transfer partners are not often marketed by Hilton or American Express. You’re only receiving a value of 0.1 cents per point (CPP).
Complimentary Diamond Status
Hilton Diamond Status is Hilton’s highest status. You receive an 100% points bonus for Hilton purchases including room rates and gift shop purchases. For comparison, Silver Status offers a 20% points bonus and Gold Status offers an 80% points bonus.
Other perks that come with Diamond Status include Elite Status Gifting, Diamond Status extension, and 48-Hour Room Guarantee.
The Hilton Aspire also comes with a $250 annual airline credit and a $250 resort statement credit. The former credit is very similar to those from the American Express Gold and Platinum Cards. It is designed for airline incidentals such as checked bags and in-flight purchases. Do not use it towards gift cards because American Express banned gift card purchases from earning points and activating credits in July 2019.
The latter credit gives you back up to $250 in purchases made at Hilton resorts each year on your card. Not all Hilton properties are classified as resorts. So be sure to visit Hilton’s website for their full list of qualifying properties.
You will also receive a $100 On-Property credit each year. The catch is that you must stay at least two nights at either a Waldorf Astoria or Conrad Hotel.
Both credits will justify the card’s annual fee and leave you with positive expected value if used in full. Some say that Hilton is “paying you” to stay at their hotels if you take advantage of these credits in full.
You also receive a fifth night for free when you use points to pay. The free fifth night could save you some money if you stay at Hilton properties often for at least five nights. This perk is a nice way to help justify the card’s $450 annual fee.
Furthermore, you will receive another free night on your cardholder anniversary each year. But that’s not all. You can earn a third free night by spending $60,000 per year on the card.
Secondary Car Rental Insurance
This benefit covers the entire loss, damage, or theft of your car rental after your regular insurance’s policy kicks in. American Express cards only provide secondary coverage. Secondary coverage means that you must go through your own car insurance company first before calling Amex to activate this benefit.
No Foreign Exchange Fees
You will save 2.7% on all purchases made outside the United States with the card.
Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption Insurance
This benefit gives you up to $10,000 per trip for non-refundable expenses if you must cancel your trip because of an unexpected event. Plane tickets, hotel rooms, and tours are included.
This benefit lets you to get your money back if you’re unhappy with a purchase. American Express is the best in the credit card industry in helping cardholders with returns.
Cardholders may take advantage of Amex’s Trip Delay, Trip Cancellation, and Trip Interruption Insurances starting in January 2020.
You can receive up to $10,000 if your air travel gets cancelled or interrupted for a qualifying reason. Furthermore, you can be reimbursed up to $500 if your flight gets delayed at least six hours. One use of any of these insurances can justify the card’s annual fee.
Hilton Surpass Card
The Hilton Surpass Card is Amex and Hilton’s mid-tier card. It offers complimentary Gold Status and a free night each year. You can also earn a second free night each time you spend $15,000. Furthermore, the Surpass Card earns 12x HH points on Hilton hotel purchases. It also earns 6x HH points for Dining, Groceries, and Gas. All other purchases earn 3x HH points.
This card is a great downgrade option for the Aspire because it has a modest $95 annual fee. It also serves as a nice balance between annual fee, earning, and perks.
American Express Platinum Card
American Express’ premium charge card is a great alternative for those who want more perks than rewards. The Platinum Card’s numerous perks are second to none for air travel whereas the Hilton card’s perks are hotel-specific. The Platinum Card comes with complimentary Hilton Gold Status as opposed to the Hilton Aspire’s Diamond Status.
Moreover, the Platinum Card earns 5x Membership Rewards (MR) points on airfare and only one point on everything else. The Hilton Aspire is the better card for earning as you can earn more points faster in more categories.
MR and HH points can be transferred to airlines. But MR points are more versatile than HH points given their higher value. MR points can also be transferred to Hilton because Hilton is an Amex transfer partner. However, that transfer is not valuable as you will get a value of about 0.5 cents per MR points.
Rules & Regulations
Like all American Express cards, this card is subject to Amex’s Once Per Lifetime Rule. This rule states that you can only receive a sign-up bonus on any card once. The key is to apply for this card when a balance is struck between maximum points and minimum spend. If you cannot afford the spend to hit the bonus, apply when the threshold is lower.
The Aspire Card has the largest of the three personal Hilton card bonuses. It also has the highest minimum spend. Take the 150,000-point offer if you can afford to spend $4,000 in a 3-month period.
There is a workaround if you can’t afford the Aspire’s bonus. The solution is to apply for the Hilton Surpass and get its bonus. Then, keep and use the card until you get an upgrade offer for the Aspire card.
The Hilton Aspire Card is a great premium card for Hilton loyalists. It can also be a great upgrade option for Hilton Surpass and Hilton Honors card-members who want more from their card. Diamond Status and the free nights are the highlights of this premium card.
The Aspire Card is a great earner within the bonus categories. It can be a possible long-term keeper card if you earn enough points and take advantage of its benefits.
Apply Today: Hilton Aspire Card