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If you want incredible ongoing rewards, resort and airline credits, an annual complimentary night, and a long list of other travel treats, and an annual fee that’s not nearly as high as you might expect, you might be the perfect candidate for the Hilton Honors Aspire Credit Card.
The Hilton Honors Aspire from American Express is a high-end credit option for travelers and Hilton enthusiasts who wish to earn Hilton Honors points with their purchases, making it one of the best travel credit cards on the market.
The Hilton Honors Aspire is one of the leading luxury hotel rewards cards and offers an incredible welcome bonus.
The value trade-off of the yearly cost of carrying the card, the list of benefits, and the value of the rewards is something you will need to consider personally. To help you decide, here’s a full breakdown of the pros and cons.
Right off the bat, the Hilton Honors Aspire offers a huge welcome bonus of 150,000 points once you spend $4,000 in the first 90 days.
You accrue 14 points per dollar at all purchases made at participating Hilton properties, 7 points per dollar for eligible purchases of flight reservations booked directly through the American Express Travel portal, restaurants, and car rentals. You will earn 3 points per dollar spent on all other purchases without limit.
Once you receive your card, you automatically earn a wide variety of other rewards as well. You will receive a $250 credit good at Hilton resorts or hotels, as well as instant Hilton Diamond status and a free weekend night each year.
You are also given a $250 airline incidental credit, which can cover just about anything related to your flight, like meals or baggage check fees.
Another reward earned instantly is the complimentary Priority Pass, which grants the cardholder and up to two guests free entrance to the Priority Pass lounge with unlimited access.
You are also given a $100 Hilton credit when you book a two-night stay at the Waldorf Astoria or Conrad with the Hilton Honors Aspire card.
There are a ton of different ways to use your Hilton rewards points, with some certainly having more benefits than others.
Here’s a quick list of the things you can do with your points:
While a lot of folks might piecemeal their rewards into gift cards or Hilton-branded merch, the values are not ideal.
The same goes for transferring them to an airline reward program, which is done with an approximate 10:1 exchange rate, severely diminishing value.
The reward structure for point redemption for an award night is a little fuzzy, but Hilton has an online estimation tool that can help a little.
They also have a Points Explorer that can give you a general idea of how much a stay at a particular property will cost.
They can also be used to mitigate the cost of a stay with the Points & Money redemption option, which gives you a 1 penny per point reduction in the cost of your stay at a Hilton resort or hotel.
The $250 credits for both incidental airline charges and Hilton properties are earned as soon as the cardholder is approved and receives their card.
The incidental airline credit can be used on nearly any expense you may encounter while traveling via air, such as snacks, drinks, meals, baggage check fees, or other expenses not included in the ticket cost. The Hilton hotel credit can be used similarly on any expense incurred at a Hilton hotel or resort.
The Hilton Diamond status grants several benefits and privileges to those who hold the title. One of the most well-known is the room upgrade benefit that will automatically upgrade you to a space-available luxury room, including suites, at Hilton hotels around the world. This benefit alone can be worth hundreds of dollars per night, depending on the upgrade.
Diamond status also grants bonus points when paying for stays rather than using points. This bonus comes out to 10 more points per dollar.
Also included is access to executive floor lounges, delightful welcoming amenities staged in your room, a fifth night free on award-paid stays, and even a one-time extension of diamond status under certain conditions.
Your concierge service can do just about anything that you ask, within reason, of course. Some of the things you can leverage complimentary concierge service for include arranging private transportation from place to place while traveling, sourcing tickets for events or concerts that may be in short supply, making reservations for dining or hotels, and even arrangements for pet or senior care.
A concierge can even be used for more personal tasks, such as planning travel, creating itineraries, sourcing antiques & art, recommending gifts or floral arrangements, and even running errands like laundry and grocery shopping. There are an incredibly wide variety of concierge services even within the concierge industry.
The Hilton Honors Aspire also provides an additional layer of insurance security for damages or losses that may occur in conjunction with a vehicle rental service. As long as the rental was paid for using the Hilton Honors Aspire, it will be covered in case of an accident.
Priority Pass is a worldwide network of lounges boasting more than 1,200 locations, and the membership granted by the Hilton Honors Aspire gives the cardholder and up to two guests complimentary admission, with a nominal fee for additional guests.
Both premium cards with substantial annual fees, the Platinum Card® from American Express.
has a lower accrual rate for points of one per dollar.
However, the points earned on the AMEX Platinum Credit Card are more readily transferred to other rewards programs with minimal loss in value. It also has more flexibility when it comes to hotel brands.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve®is another rewards points card that works with a more standardized reward point model. You can earn 10X on dining at Chase partners, 10X points on car rentals, and up to 60,000 points.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card uses a more uniform points model than the Hilton Honors Aspire, adding more value to the points.
It gives 5X on travel expenses, 3X on dining, anniversary points boost, and even a 5X multiplier for select Peloton equipment.
The Hilton Honors Aspire card is ideal for Hilton loyalists and enthusiasts who spend an average of $20,000 to $50,000 on credit card purchases per year.
It comes with a laundry list of perks, credits, and benefits, and even though the annual fee is high compared to other travel cards, when it is put head-to-head against other high-end or top-tier luxury hotel rewards programs, it is actually considerably competitive.
The Hilton Honors Aspire is aimed at luxury hotel patrons, and their application acceptance record shows that. While there are chances of being accepted with a FICO score as low as 690, in the “good” credit tier, most of the approvals will happen in the “excellent” credit tier, often with scores of 760 or higher. Applications can be filled out online with approval results in seconds in many cases.
The Hilton Honors Aspire is a great Hilton rewards card for high-spending individuals who enjoy staying at Hilton properties when they travel. It has a relatively high APR, a high annual fee, and a very specific use case. Outside of that particular market, it isn’t a readily useful or particularly attractive credit card for general use. Even when transferring points to other programs, it just isn’t as flexible as many other cards.
The Hilton Honors Aspire is worth it if you spend enough or stay at Hilton properties often. The card is geared toward individuals and families that have a moderately high net worth and spend a significant portion of their income on credit card purchases.
Assuming you spend a minimum of about $20,000 per year in travel and hotel expenses, you could earn enough points in a year for a five-night stay at a Hilton hotel using the Fifth Night Free program.
However, if you aren’t able to rack up 150,000 to 250,000 points per year in charges, then you will be more or less limited to lower reward tiers or inefficient point transfers.
The miscellaneous credits for merchandise and incidentals are nice, but unless you’re really going to work that card out, you likely won’t get your money’s worth.
If the Hilton Honors Aspire is right for you, then it is really right for you, and you will probably get a lot of use and value from the programs it offers and the benefits it gives.
However, if you aren’t part of the very specific demographic and audience that the card is designed for, then it is a card with inflexible rewards, a high annual fee compared to other travel cards, and relatively high interest for an American Express card.