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 are 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 credit 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.
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, bonuses on the Hilton Aspire card can range from 100,000 Hilton Honors points up to 150,000 Hilton Honors points after completing minimum spending requirements within the first 90 days after card approval.
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 0.5 cents 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.
Bottom Line: 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 ultimately determines which is the 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.
|Amex Platinum card|
- 5x Membership Rewards points for flights purchased directly with the airlines, or flights booked through Amex Travel and premium flights booked with the International Airline Program
- Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5x points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year
- 5x Membership Rewards points for prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel
- 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
- Terms apply.
|Hilton Aspire card|
- 14 points per $1 spent at Hilton properties
- 7 points per $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 per $1 spent on all other purchases
- Terms apply.
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.
|Card||Best Redemption Options||Additional Redemption Options |
|Amex Platinum card|
- 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 card|
- 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 0.5 cents per point in value for Hilton Honors points.
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 1,300 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 access for up to 2 additional guests to access to over 1,300 worldwide Priority Pass lounges.
- Priority Pass Select — third and subsequent guests are $32 per person, per visit
Comparing Authorized User Lounge Access
Amex Platinum — Authorized 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, Delta Sky Club, Escape Lounges — The Centurion Studio Partner, and International American Express Centurion Lounges. Both Amex Platinum card primary cardholders and authorized users also have full lounge access privileges versus the Hilton Aspire card’s limitation to just the primary cardholder.
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 Gold Elite members receive upgraded rooms, free Wi-Fi, welcome points, 25% bonus points on earnings, and late checkout.
Receive upgraded rooms, free Wi-Fi, complimentary breakfast (soon to be a food and beverage credit in the U.S.), and earn 18 points per dollar spent at Hilton properties.
- 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 card 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 (soon to be a food and beverage credit in the U.S.) 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
- $250 in annual hotel credits at Hilton Resorts, Waldorf, and Conrad properties. Plus an additional $100, for a total of $350, at 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 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:
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:
- Trip Cancellation/Interruption — Purchase your common carrier ticket with your card and you, plus any eligible travelers may qualify for cancellation or trip disruption due to unexpected or unforeseen events. Coverage is limited to $10,000 per trip, $20,000 per card account each 12-month period.
- International Airline Program (Amex Platinum card only) — Access 20 international airlines to book discounted premium flights.
- 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.
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 register for any desired benefits under the benefits section.
Shopping Benefits and Protections
The Amex Platinum card and Hilton Aspire card 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.
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.
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.
The information regarding the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.