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Hilton’s first ultra-premium rewards card, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is the star of Hilton’s co-brand lineup of credit cards from American Express.
In addition to the highest points earning rate ever offered by Hilton, the Hilton Aspire card scores top-tier Hilton Diamond elite status, Priority Pass Lounge access, up to $500 in airline and resort credits, an anniversary weekend free night certificate each year, and a second weekend free night certificate after you spend $60,000 on the card in a calendar year.
The Hilton Aspire card carries a $450 annual fee (Rates & Fees), right on par with premium co-brand cards from the likes of Delta and United. But, the card provides ample benefits to justify the high annual fee.
- Hilton Aspire Welcome Bonus
- Points Earning Potential and Category Bonuses
- Temporary COVID-19 Card Enhancements
- Hilton Aspire Feature Benefits
- Complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond Status
- Free Anniversary Weekend Night Reward Each Year
- Second Weekend Night Reward After Spending $60,000
- Priority Pass Select Lounge Membership
- $250 Airline Incidental Fee Statement Credit
- $250 Hilton Resort Statement Credit
- $100 Credit at Waldorf Astoria and Conrad Properties
- Access to 24/7 American Express Concierge
- No Foreign Transaction Fees
- Application Restrictions
- Final Thoughts
The Hilton Aspire card is one of four Hilton co-brand credit cards, including:
- Hilton Honors American Express Card
- Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
- The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
Hilton Aspire Welcome Bonus
New Hilton Aspire cardmembers will earn 150,000 Hilton points after you make $4,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months.
Where can the 150,000-point welcome bonus take you? Well, it's enough to cover the 120,000-point nightly rate at either of the two most opulent and luxurious properties in the Hilton portfolio of hotels: the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi and Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal. Coupling these welcome bonus points with the Free Weekend Night benefit available to first-year cardmembers makes for a fantastic weekend stay.
Besides these two properties, standard redemptions at other Hilton portfolio brand hotels are otherwise capped at 95,000 points. That means you'll have enough points for one night with plenty of points left toward your next stay.
If you're looking to stretch your points further, this welcome bonus provides enough points for two or three nights at a mid-range property—which typically cost 40,000-60,000 points per night. Or, you can score a whole bunch of nights in one of Hilton's budget redemptions—which go for as few as 5,000 points per night.
Points Earning Potential and Category Bonuses
The Hilton Aspire card offers the highest points per dollar spent of any co-brand Hilton card in history, earning 14x Honors points on Hilton purchases worldwide, an additional 2 points per dollar over the 12X points offered on the Hilton Surpass and Hilton Business Card.
However, the earnings get even better when you factor in the 100% point bonus that Diamond elites receive. General Hilton members earn 10X points per dollar spent. That's doubled to 20X points per dollar spent for Diamond elites. So, cardholders who pay for qualifying Hilton purchases with their Hilton Aspire card wind up earning 34x points per dollar. And that's before any applicable promotions.
Outside of purchases from Hilton, you’ll earn 7X points on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies, and at U.S. restaurants. Purchases in all other categories earn 3X Hilton Points.
Temporary COVID-19 Card Enhancements
As a temporary boost resulting from COVID-19, Cardmembers now earn uncapped 12X Hilton Points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets between May 1 and July 31, 2020. This is an additional 9X points per dollar on top of the typical earn rate.
Additionally, all bonus points credited from eligible purchases that post between May 1 and December 31, 2020 will count as ‘base points' toward elite status. That means your credit card spending will qualify towards earning Hilton Honors elite status in 2020, as well as Lifetime Diamond Status. Hilton Aspire cardholders don't need to worry about earning elite status as long as they remain cardholders since the card comes with complimentary top tier Diamond status. However, the ability to spend toward Lifetime Diamond Status is tempting.
As another COVID-19 offset, the free Weekend Night Reward earned by cardmembers in their initial cardmember year and every year thereafter has become more flexible. Unexpired free Weekend Night Rewards—including new rewards issued between May 1 and December 31, 2020—can now be redeemed any night of the week. Additionally, all free Weekend Night Rewards issued during that same time frame will be valid for 24 months instead of the typical 12 months.
Furthermore, between June 1 and August 31, 2020, purchases at U.S. restaurants qualify for the annual $250 statement credit normally reserved for purchases at Hilton Resorts.
All of these card enhancements make the Hilton Aspire card a keeper during a time when travel restrictions severely limit the typical benefits of the card. When travel returns to full swing, the full benefits of the Hilton Aspire card can truly shine.
Hilton Aspire Feature Benefits
The Hilton Aspire is the first travel rewards card offering top-tier elite status just for holding the card. Before the release of the Hilton Aspire, the only way to achieve top-tier hotel elite status—besides staying in hotels—was via spending thresholds on select co-brand cards.
Moving beyond elite status, cardholders can earn multiple free nights, access Priority Pass lounges, and receive $500 or more in travel credits. The extensive list of perks more than justifies the card's $450 annual fee.
Complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond Status
The signature benefit of the Hilton Aspire is complimentary Hilton Diamond status. Typically, Diamond status requires 30 stays, 60 nights, or 120,000 base points in a calendar year. Diamond benefits include:
- Diamond status extension
- Complimentary breakfast
- Room upgrades
- Executive lounge access
- 5th night free on reward stays of at least 5 nights
- 48-hour room guarantee
- 100% point bonus
- Late check-out
- Complimentary premium Wi-Fi
- Two complimentary bottles of water
It can be difficult to put an exact dollar value on this benefit as the more you stay with Hilton, the more value you will get. An upscale Sunday brunch for two at one of Hilton's higher-end properties might run $50+. After just a few stays, the value from this Diamond benefit alone can add up quickly.
Free Anniversary Weekend Night Reward Each Year
Cardholders receive a Weekend Night Reward certificate upon acquiring the card, and each year roughly 10-12 weeks following each account anniversary date. The free night is potentially worth 120,000 Hilton Honors points if redeemed at Hilton’s most opulent and luxurious properties. Even staying within the United States, you can easily save $500+ on a cash rate. A list of excluded properties can be found on Hilton’s website, but it’s a small list when considering how many hotels and resorts fall under the Hilton umbrella.
Typically free Weekend Night Rewards must be used for stays within one year of issue. As a result of COVID-19, all free Weekend Night Rewards issued between May 1 and December 31, 2020, will be valid for 24 months instead of the typical 12 months. That means new cardmembers will have the chance to stack their first two years of free Weekend Night Rewards together, provided the first one remains unused during the first cardmember year.
Weekend Night Rewards are typically restricted to Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. But as another temporary benefit, unexpired free Weekend Night Rewards can now be redeemed any night of the week. This includes new rewards issued between now and December 31, 2020. Expanding this benefit to all days of the week adds even more potential value for putting these free nights to good use!
Second Weekend Night Reward After Spending $60,000
For Hilton Aspire cardholders with the resources to put significant spend on the card, you’ll receive a second free Weekend Night Reward night certificate after spending $60,000 on the card each year. The second free night certificate adheres to the same rules and restrictions. Any big spenders might consider this route to earn another free Weekend Night Reward, which—if done before December 31, 2020—can be used on any day of the week for the following 24 months from issuance.
Priority Pass Select Lounge Membership
While its mid-tier counterpart, the Hilton Surpass, receives 10 free Priority Pass Lounge passes each year, the Hilton Aspire scores a full Priority Pass Select membership. This means you can get lounge access around the world no matter which airline or class of cabin you fly.
Not all Priority Pass Lounges meet the lofty expectations of award travelers, but they do offer a welcome respite from busy airport environments as somewhere to have a quiet drink and recharge your batteries. Cardmembers can bring two guests with them into Priority Pass Lounges each time they visit at no extra charge. However, this benefit no longer extends to associated Priority Pass restaurants.
$250 Airline Incidental Fee Statement Credit
The airline incidentals credit works similarly to the Airline Fee Credit on The Platinum Card® from American Express, but Hilton Aspire cardmembers receive a $250 credit instead of $200. Before using the benefit, cardholders need to select one airline to apply the credit to. And you can only change your airline selection once per year in January.
Qualifying incidentals exclude airline tickets, upgrades, mileage points purchases, mileage points transfer fees, gift cards, and duty-free purchases—although historically some of these purchases have successfully triggered the credit on Amex cards. The Hilton Aspire $250 airline credit is based on a calendar year instead of a cardmember year. So, new cardholders that sign up for the card could potentially use this $250 credit twice before paying another annual fee—once before December 31 and again after January 1.
$250 Hilton Resort Statement Credit
Hilton’s $250 resort credit is based on cardmember year, renewing each year on your account anniversary. The credit includes almost any charge at a Hilton resort, including purchases at restaurants, spas, and other establishments within the hotel property if charged to your room. Just swipe your Hilton Aspire on departure to cover the costs, and the credit will be applied automatically to your account. Full a full list of participating resorts, visit hilton.com/resorts. If you stay at Hilton properties with any regularity, it should be very easy to enjoy the full $250 benefit.
$100 Credit at Waldorf Astoria and Conrad Properties
Paid stays of two or more nights at Waldorf Astoria or Conrad properties booked via a special Aspire platform are eligible for this perk. Bookings made by phone are eligible for this benefit as well using code ZZAAP1. Note that property fees, taxes, gratuities, and the cost of the room do not qualify as eligible charges.
Access to 24/7 American Express Concierge
An often overlooked benefit, the Amex Concierge can help secure a table at a busy restaurant, organize flowers or gifts for a loved one, procure hard to find tickets for concert or theatre production, among a host of more unusual requests. There is no charge to use the Amex Concierge service, and any purchases organized by the concierge will be charged to the Amex card attached to your account, in this case, the Hilton Aspire.
No Foreign Transaction Fees
The Hilton Aspire is intended for folks who spend plenty of time traveling. So, no foreign transaction fees is a must. Avoiding these fees helps ensure that the points you collect on overseas purchases aren’t wiped out by the 2-3% charge for using your card while abroad. For every $1,000 spent overseas, you save $20-30 compared with a card that charges a foreign transaction fee (Rates & Fees).
American Express limits welcome bonuses to once per lifetime per product. That means if you have held this card in the past (or currently hold it), you are not eligible for the current welcome bonus. Amex also has some more complicated application limits for holders of many Amex credit and charge cards, which we detail in a separate post.
The Hilton Aspire is an excellent co-brand option from American Express and a top card for Hilton loyalists and casual fans alike. For regular Hilton guests that won’t clock up the stays/nights required for top-tier status, the card essentially buys you Hilton Diamond elite status for $450. That alone could be reason enough to get the card, even before considering all of the other amazing benefits.
Add up the $250 airline credit, the $250 resort credit, the free hotel night (which could be worth $500+ alone), Priority Pass Lounge access, and top tier Hilton Diamond status, and the value of the Hilton Aspire becomes too big for any traveler to ignore. These are just the ongoing annual benefits, too. The 150,000 Hilton Honors points welcome bonus sets travelers well on their way to enjoy all of the perks the card has to offer!
For rates and fees of the cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card (Rates & Fees)
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