The Amex Platinum Card vs. The Hilton Aspire Card

Full Disclosure: We may be financially compensated when you click on links to credit card products from our advertising partners, such as American Express, Chase, Citi & Capital One. Opinions and product recommendations on this site are ours alone, and have not been influenced, reviewed or approved by the issuer. See our Advertiser Disclosure for more details. Thanks!

If you’re comparing premium travel rewards cards, chances are you’re a frequent traveler, you value premium travel benefits, and you’re looking for a card that delivers it all.

Premium travel rewards cards such as the 2 we’re comparing today offer a collection of benefits every frequent traveler can use. The challenge is to find the card best suited for your particular spending profile that has benefits that align with your priorities. You’ll also want to make sure the card you select allows you to redeem your rewards for what matters to you most. That’s a tall order to fill but premium travel rewards cards are designed to meet the challenge.

We’re going to be comparing The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, 2 cards that shine for delivering benefits to frequent travelers. We’ll look at the value of each card’s welcome bonus, how they measure up with earnings and redemptions, and review the benefits associated with each card.

Both cards are stellar examples of premium travel rewards cards but they shine for different reasons. Let’s look at what makes each of these cards the right choice for the matching frequent traveler.

Welcome Bonuses

The Value of a Welcome Bonus

Let’s look at the current welcome bonuses on the cards we’re comparing in this article and their potential value.

Amex Platinum Card

Membership Rewards points can be redeemed for travel for 1 cent per point. With this valuation, a 50,000 point welcome bonus could be redeemed for $500 in travel and a 100,000 point bonus for $1,000 in travel.

It is possible to receive greater value when transferring points to travel partners.

Hilton Aspire Card

While welcome bonuses vary, these bonuses on the Hilton Aspire card can range from 100,000 Hilton Honors points on up to 150,000 Hilton Honors points after completing minimum spending requirements within the first 90 days after card approval.

Find the most current welcome bonus and access a list of rates & fees here.

The value of a welcome bonus will depend on the selected hotel and dates for which you’re redeeming points. However, you can generally count on a value of at least 1/2 cent per Hilton Honors point. This valuation would equate to $750 in value for a 150,000 point welcome bonus, but it is possible to receive greater value depending on the specific redemption.

Hot Tip: The ultimate value of a welcome bonus will depend on how you redeem your points. You can determine the value you’re receiving for your redeemed points by first finding the cash price of the travel in which you’re interested, then divide that price by the number of points you’d be redeeming. This will give you the value per point you’ll receive for your chosen redemption. 

Membership Rewards Points vs. Hilton Honors Points

Both cards we’re comparing focus their earnings on travel. The Amex Platinum card earns greater on flights and prepaid hotels while the Hilton Aspire card has a slightly broader range of categories for elevated earnings.

Here’s how the cards compare when it comes to earnings.

Comparing Earning Potential

While earnings vary widely on these 2 cards, the value you receive for your points at redemption time ultimate determines which is more valuable rewards currency for your situation.

Membership Rewards points are some of the most valuable travel rewards points you can earn because of their flexibility at redemption time.

On the flip side, Hilton Honors points are easy to earn and provide good value when booking free hotel nights.

Let’s look at how you earn points on each of these cards.

CardEarnings
Amex Platinum
  • 5x Membership Rewards points for flights purchased directly with the airlines, flights or prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel, and premium flights booked with the International Airline Program
  • 1 point/$1 spent on all other purchases
Hilton Aspire
  • 14 points/$1 spent at Hilton properties
  • 7 points/$1 spent on flights purchased directly from the airlines, on Amex Travel, car rentals booked with select car rental companies, and at U.S. restaurants
  • 3 points/$1 spent on all other purchases

Bottom Line: If you spend a lot on flights and prepaid hotels, you’ll earn well on the Amex Platinum card. If you’re a Hilton loyalist, the earnings on the Hilton Aspire card add up substantially when spending at Hilton and on flights, rental cars, and dining

Comparing Redemption Options

When it’s time to redeem your points, you’ll find greater flexibility with Membership Rewards points. This is because you can redeem points for travel or have the additional option of transferring points to travel partners for even greater potential value.

Hilton Honors points can be redeemed at nearly 600 hotel properties worldwide. Free hotel rooms start at just 5,000 points for a category 1 but you’ll pay much more for a standard to luxury property.

You can also redeem Hilton Honors points by transferring to airline partners, but at a lesser value.

While both cards offer a variety of redemption options, just a few offer the best value for your points.

CardBest Redemption OptionsAdditional Redemption Options 
Amex Platinum
  • Transfer to airline partners
  • Redeem for flights on Amex Travel
Transfer to hotel partners, redeem for travel other than flights on Amex Travel, statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, Amazon, Ticketmaster, donate points
Hilton Aspire
  • Redeem for free hotel rooms
  • Fifth night free redemptions
Transfer to travel partners, bid for experiences, gift cards, Amazon, car rental, cruise, donate points

Make sure you’re receiving maximum value for your Membership Rewards points by referencing our article containing some amazing redemption options.

For some of the best ways to redeem your Hilton Honors points, we invite you to review our guide for a list of creative ideas that deliver the most value for your points.

Bottom Line: Transferring Membership Rewards points to airline partners and redeeming Hilton Honors points for free hotel rooms can result in the best value for your points. While redemption options vary in value, you’ll want to strive to exceed 1 cent per point in value for your Membership Rewards points and 1/2 cent per point in value for Hilton Honors points. 

Miami MIA Centurion Lounge
Complimentary lounge access to places like The Centurion Lounge at Miami International Airport is a welcome benefit for frequent travelers. Image Credit: The Centurion Lounge

Airport Lounge Access

Frequent travelers value the sanctuary, culinary options, and refreshment aspects of premium airport lounge access. Fortunately, you’ll find complimentary access to over 1,200 lounge properties worldwide with either of the cards we’re comparing.

The value of airport lounge access can be significant. Here is a sampling of current comparative lounge membership costs.

  • Delta Sky Club — $545 single annual membership, additional guests $29 per person, per visit
  • Priority Pass — $429 single annual membership, additional guests $32 per person, per visit

Depending on the frequency of travel, receiving complimentary lounge access with access for guests could be worth hundreds (if not thousands), of dollars annually.

Let’s look at the level of airport lounge access each card provides.

Amex Platinum Lounge Networks

The Amex Platinum card excels in offering complimentary access to a wide selection of global lounge networks including the prestigious Centurion Lounge network. Access is provided (except where noted) for the primary cardholder plus up to 2 additional guests.

Hilton Aspire Lounge Network

The Hilton Aspire offers complimentary Priority Pass Select membership for the cardholder plus up to 2 guests to access to over 1,200 worldwide Priority Pass lounges.

  • Priority Pass Select — third and subsequent guests are $32 per person, per visit

Comparing Authorized User Lounge Access

Amex PlatinumAuthorized users have full worldwide lounge access with the same cardholder and guest privileges as the primary member. As many as 3 authorized users can be added to the card for a flat $175 annual fee.

Hilton Aspire — Authorized users do not receive Priority Pass Select membership.

Bottom Line: Both the Amex Platinum card and Hilton Aspire card provide a wide variety of lounge experience options but the Amex Platinum card wins with its unique additional access to Airspace, Centurion Lounges, the Delta Sky Club, Escape Lounges, and International American Express Lounges. Both Amex Platinum primary cardholders and authorized users also have full lounge access privileges versus the Hilton Aspire card’s limitation to just the primary cardholder. 

Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa
Enjoy the benefits of complimentary Hilton Honors elite status at a property like the Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa. Image Credit: Hilton

Hotel and Rental Car Program Benefits

Hotel Program Benefits — Amex Platinum Card

While you might not expect a high level of hotel elite benefits from a general travel rewards card, the Amex Platinum card fares quite well within this category.

You’ll find the following hotel benefits with the Amex Platinum card.

Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status

Marriott Gold Elite members receive upgraded rooms, free Wi-Fi, welcome points, 25% bonus points on earnings, and late checkout.

Hilton Honors Gold Elite Status

Receive upgraded rooms, free Wi-Fi, complimentary breakfast, and earn 18 points per dollar spent at Hilton properties.

American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts

Stay a minimum of 2 nights and receive the following benefits:

  • Room upgrade, when available
  • Daily breakfast for 2
  • Noon check-in, late checkout
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Local unique amenity valued at $100

The Hotel Collection

Stay 2 nights or more and receive a $100 credit towards on-site qualifying dining, spa, and resort activities. Additionally, you’ll earn 5x Membership Rewards on prepaid bookings.

Hotel Program Benefits — Hilton Aspire Card

You should expect a hotel-branded credit card to have more hotel-specific benefits than non-branded cards and the Hilton Aspire card delivers. The Hilton Aspire offers top elite status, elevated earnings, free hotel nights, and more.

  • Hilton Honors Diamond elite status
    • 20 points earned per dollar spent at Hilton properties
    • Suite upgrades when available
    • Complimentary breakfast and executive lounge access
  • Free weekend hotel night shortly after card approval and at each subsequent card anniversary
  • Additional free weekend night after spending $60,000 on the card each year
  • 14 Hilton Honors points per $1 spent on the card (for a total of 34 points per $1 spent) at Hilton family properties
  • $350 in annual hotel credits at Hilton Resorts, Waldorf, and Conrad properties

Rental Car Program Benefits — Amex Platinum Card

The Amex Platinum provides the following rental car program benefits:

  • Avis Preferred Club — 25% discount on base rates and 1 car class upgrade when available
  • Hertz Gold Plus Rewards — rent an intermediate size vehicle or greater and receive a 1 car class upgrade
  • National Emerald Club Executive — preferred car selection, easy returns, 1 class upgrade when renting full size or greater, accelerated earnings towards free rentals

Rental Car Program Benefits — Hilton Aspire Card

Hilton Aspire cardholders receive discounted rates and bonus point earnings when booking with Alamo, Enterprise, and National car rental companies through the Hilton Honors Amex website.

Bottom Line: The Amex Platinum card offers a nice overall collection of hotel and car rental program benefits. The Hilton Aspire card excels in creating an elevated experience, accelerated earnings, and perks specifically designed for those who frequent Hilton properties. 

Statement Credits and Additional Benefits

Statement credits provide direct economic value that can offset any annual fee you’ll have to pay on a card.

Here are the statement credits you can expect to receive from specific purchases made on your Amex Platinum card or Hilton Aspire card:

Statement Credits

CardStatement Credits
Amex Platinum
  • $200 airline incidental fee credits
  • $200 Uber credits
  • Up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee
  • $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit
Hilton Aspire
  • $250 airline incidental fee credits
  • $250 Hilton Resort Credit
  • $100 Credit at Waldorf Astoria and Conrad

Travel Benefits and Protections

Since both the Platinum Card card and Hilton Aspire card are premium cards issued by American Express, the list of travel benefits and protections are similar for each card. Benefits listed apply to both cards unless specifically noted:

  • International Airline Program (Amex Platinum card only) — Access 20 international airlines to book discounted premium flights and receive a 35% rebate when using Membership Rewards points
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance — Use either card to pay for your rental car, decline the rental car agency’s collision damage waiver coverage, and receive secondary car rental insurance if the car is damaged or stolen.
  • Baggage insurance plan — Lost, damaged, or stolen baggage is covered for up $3,000. Coverage is excess over other insurance.
  • Premium Global Assist — Legal, financial, and medical emergency assistance services are provided 24/7 worldwide.
  • Concierge services — You’re just a call away from help with reservations and assistance making your travel arrangements.
  • Trip cancellation/interruption — Coming January 2020.

Hot Tip: Benefits that come with premium travel rewards cards frequently require registration before benefits will be activated. When you receive your card, sign in to your online card account and you can register for any desired benefits under the benefits section.

Shopping Benefits and Protections

Amex Offers
Use Amex Offers to realize substantial savings on card purchases. Image Credit: American Express

The Amex Platinum and Hilton Aspire offer these shopping benefits and protections.

  • TRUECar Auto purchasing program — Save thousands of dollars on your vehicle purchase, plus use your American Express card to pay at least $2,000 or more towards the purchase.
  • AMEX Offers —Potentially significant savings with ongoing offers for rebates and bonus points on specific purchases
  • American Express presale and preferred seating — Members receive early access to event tickets and priority seating.
  • Entertainment access — Receive access to member-only events and special experiences.
  • Return protection — If an item you purchased is not accepted as a return by the merchant within 90 days of purchase, the purchase price could be refunded.
  • Extended warranty — 2 additional years are added to the manufacturer’s warranty of 5 years or less on eligible purchases.
  • Purchase protection — Pay for your eligible purchase and receive up to $10,000 per occurrence, $50,000 per account per calendar year if the item is accidentally damaged, stolen, or lost. Coverage is provided for 120 days (90 days in New York) from the date of purchase.

Bottom Line: When we compare the Amex Platinum card with the Hilton Aspire card, both deliver plenty of benefits that can save you money, protect you when you travel, grant special entertainment access, and provide travel assistance when you need it. 

Annual Fees and Adding Additional Users

Annual Fees

For the most current annual fee on the Hilton Aspire, check here.

Adding Additional Users

Authorized users receive some of the same benefits as primary cardholders.

Authorized users added to the Amex Platinum card receive full worldwide lounge access, hotel elite status, and Global Entry/TSA PreCheck statement credit. Up to 3 authorized users can be added for a total of $175 annually.

While there is no additional fee to add authorized users to your Hilton Aspire card, they will not receive lounge access, hotel elite status, or additional statement credits. The charges made by authorized users earn points that are credited to the primary cardholder account. Authorized users also receive travel and shopping benefits/protections.

Bottom Line: When we compare benefits for authorized users, the Amex Platinum card offers significantly more benefits. However, you will have to pay a fee to add authorized users to the card. 

Final Thoughts

While there are definitely benefit overlaps between these 2 cards, deciding between the 2 cards is not difficult.

If you are a Hilton loyalist, you’ll benefit greatly from having the Hilton Aspire card.

If you’re a frequent international traveler, enjoy Centurion Lounges, purchase a lot of flights, and have little hotel loyalty, you may fare better with the Amex Platinum card.

Both cards offer significant value when matched with the right frequent traveler.


FAQ

Which card is better, the Amex Platinum card or the Hilton Aspire card?

The card that is better for you will depend on your priorities. If you are a Hilton loyalist, the Hilton Aspire card card is a very good choice for significant earnings at Hilton properties, top elite status, airport lounge access, and good value redemptions at Hilton.

If you’re a frequent traveler, have little hotel loyalty, but spend a lot on flights and prepaid hotels, you’re going to find better value with the Amex Platinum.

The Amex Platinum card is also the better card for worldwide lounge access and includes access to a greater collection of lounges than the Hilton Aspire card, including Centurion Lounges.

Are American Express cards worth the annual fee?

American Express premium travel rewards cards are worth paying an annual fee if you can use most of the benefits offered by the card you select.

If a card provides worldwide airport lounge access, for example, and you’d normally have to spend $700 for an annual membership, having a card with just a $500 annual fee would make economic sense.

Statement credits, elite benefits, and travel protections are other perks that can offset the cost of an annual fee.

Do Membership Rewards points expire?

As long as you have 1 Membership Rewards earning card open and active, your points will not expire.

If you decide to close your card, you should redeem or transfer your points prior to closure to avoid forfeiting your points.

Do Hilton Honors points expire?

Hilton Honors points do not expire as long as you have activity in your account within any 12 month period.

Activity is defined as earning or redeeming Hilton Honors points.

You do not need to have a Hilton Honors credit card open to keep points active as once points are earned, they are deposited into your Hilton Honors account and are then subject to the terms associated with that account.

Christine Krzyszton

About Christine Krzyszton

Christine, who lives in Northern Michigan, travels about 300,000 miles a year despite her remote location. Her expertise is traveling the world on a weekend with no pre-determined destination in mind, letting the cost of the airfare determine where she will go. She has over four million flown miles and elite status on all three major domestic carriers.

Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.

Any thoughts or questions? Comment below!

Email needed if you'd like comment updates. It will NOT be published.

Advertiser Disclosure

Many of the credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which we receive financial compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). However, the credit card information that we publish has been written by experts who know these products inside out, and what we recommend is what we would (or already) use ourselves. This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers that are on the market. For more information on our advertisers, see here.