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Here’s Why the Hilton Aspire Card Stays in My Wallet Year After Year

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Nick Ellis
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Nick Ellis

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Nick’s passion for points began as a hobby and became a career. He worked for over 5 years at The Points Guy and has contributed to Business Insider and CNN. He has 14 credit cards and continues to le...
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Chris Dong

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Chris is a freelance writer and editor with a focus on timely travel trends, points and miles, hot new hotels, and all things that go (he’s a proud aviation geek and transit nerd). Formerly full time ...
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Each year, I do a “self-audit” of my credit card inventory to decide which cards I’m going to keep, which ones I’ll consider for downgrading, and which I’ll cancel.

That includes an annual assessment of my Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. I always think about canceling the card as an easy way to “trim the fat” in my credit card lineup, but it has remained a mainstay in my lineup, and I believe it’s going to stay that way for the foreseeable future.

Even though I’m not a frequent Hilton guest — I typically stay at Marriott hotels or transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to book stays at Hyatt properties — I get too much value from the card to cancel or even downgrade it.

Let’s run through how, despite its high annual fee, I can get much more value than the cost of the annual fee from the Hilton Aspire card, often in just a single stay.

Hilton Aspire Card — The Basics

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire CardTerms Apply / Rates & Fees

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

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The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

Automatic Hilton Diamond status, an annual free night, and a travel and resort credit make this the perfect card for those who stay in Hilton hotels.

All information about Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by Upgraded Points.

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Automatic Hilton Diamond status, an annual free night, and a travel and resort credit make this the perfect card for those who stay in Hilton hotels.
Earn 180,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Aspire card from American Express after you use your new card to make $6,000 in eligible purchases within the first 6 months of card membership.
180,000 points
$900
$550
20.74% - 29.74% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

The information regarding the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.


Paying hundreds of dollars for an annual fee on a co-branded hotel card might seem ridiculous, but you should know that the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is much more than your run-of-the-mill hotel credit card.

The Hilton Aspire card is not only a phenomenal card for Hilton Honors loyalists, but even those who visit Hilton hotels just a few times a year can still get excellent value out of all the benefits that are packed into this card.

So let’s have a look at what makes the card so valuable to travelers.

Pros

  • 14x points per $1 on Hilton purchases
  • 7x points per $1 on select travel and at U.S. restaurants
  • 3x points per $1 on all other purchases
  • Complimentary Hilton Diamond status
  • Up to $400 in annual statement credits on purchases with participating Hilton Resorts (up to $200 in statement credits semi-annually)
  • Up to $200 back annually on eligible flight purchases (up to $50 in statement credits each quarter)
  • 1 Free Weekend Night Award each cardmember anniversary
  • $100 credit at Waldorf Astoria and Conrad properties

Cons

  • High annual fee of $550
  • Earn 180,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Aspire card from American Express after you use your new card to make $6,000 in eligible purchases within the first 6 months of card membership. Plus, enjoy a free Weekend Night Reward within your first year and every year after renewal.
  • Earn 14x Hilton Honors Bonus Points when you make eligible purchases on your card at participating hotels or resorts within the Hilton portfolio.
  • Earn 7x Hilton Honors Bonus Points for eligible purchases: on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies, and at U.S. restaurants.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your card.
  • Enjoy up to $400 in Hilton Resort Credits (up to $200 in statement credits semi-annually) on your card each anniversary year when you stay at participating resorts within the Hilton portfolio.
  • Enjoy complimentary Diamond status.
  • $550 annual fee.

Financial Snapshot

  • APR: 20.74% - 29.74% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Card Categories

I won’t go into a full analysis of the card and all the perks and benefits the Hilton Aspire card offers — for that, you can read our full review of the Hilton Aspire card — but rather I’ll focus on the benefits I leverage annually that help me make up for the annual fee I pay each year to keep the card in my wallet.

The Hilton Aspire card is the highest-level offering in the range of co-branded Hilton Honors credit cards issued by American Express.

Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort Club Aveo View
Having the Hilton Aspire card can greatly enhance your stays at high-end Hilton properties like the Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club.

The annual fee for this card is $550. In exchange for that, card members receive a laundry list of perks and benefits. The ones I find most powerful in extracting maximum value from this card include the following:

The card offers many other perks, including up to $200 annual airline fee credit (up to $50 in statement credits each calendar quarter), $189 in statement credits per year for a CLEAR Plus membership, and more, but the perks listed above combine to make the card very worthwhile for me — here’s a look at how.

How I Use the Perks Offered on the Hilton Aspire Card

As I mentioned above, I am not a frequent Hilton guest, so it would stand to reason that I shouldn’t have a need for its top-tier co-branded credit card.

However, I keep the Hilton Aspire card in my wallet as a tool to indulge in high-end Hilton stays that far exceed the value of the card’s annual fee — usually in just a single stay.

Let’s look at a real-life example that illustrates why this card is a great option, even for infrequent Hilton guests.

Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah Exterior
Thanks to my Hilton Aspire card, I had a lovely stay at the Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah.

Last year, I took a month-long trip around the world centered around a friend’s wedding in India. I was determined to book as much of the trip as possible using points and miles, which meant finding award flights. The closest I could get to India on an award ticket (on a flight, airline, and routing that appealed to me, that is) was Dubai, which is a pretty quick hop from the Indian subcontinent.

Knowing I had to at least build in a layover in Dubai, I figured I’d spend a few days in the city, as I’d never been before and it was definitely a place I was curious to explore.

Looking at hotel prices for my 2-night stay in town made my eyes water — I saw some truly jaw-dropping prices. My Marriott Bonvoy points were already allocated for other stays throughout the trip, so I was out of luck in that avenue.

This is where my Hilton Aspire card and Hilton Honors points came into play.

Using a Free Night Award at Expensive Properties

Each year, the card confers a Free Night Award to card members. Previously, these certificates were only valid for weekend nights, but as a result of the pandemic, they’re now valid for any night of the week, making them even more valuable.

The trick with these Free Night Awards is that there must be standard award availability at the property you’re looking at. If there is, you can call Hilton to apply the certificate for the available night.

I had one of these certificates waiting to be used in my account and a decent stash of Hilton Honors points that I had accrued over time.

Naturally, you’ll get the most value from your Hilton Free Night Award if you use it for a hotel that costs a lot in cash. In Dubai, I found the perfect candidate in the Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah. During my stay, the hotel was asking around $530 a night before taxes and additional fees, meaning just 2 nights at the property would have cost well over $1,000 — enough to bust my budget before I even got to the “meat” of my trip.

Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah King Bed and View
My room at the Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah would have cost me in excess of $1,000 for 2 nights.

I searched for award nights at the hotel, and fortunately, the nights I needed to stay had standard award availability at 85,000 Hilton Honors points per night. This meant I could use my Free Night Award for 1 night and pay 85,000 points for the other. I called Hilton right away, and the phone agent was able to use my certificate for the first night and deduct the points to reserve the second night. She then combined the 2 separate reservations so I wouldn’t have to check out and re-check in after my first night.

Before even stepping foot onto the property, I more than made up for the annual fee of my Hilton Aspire card. The stay alone, before factoring in any food or drink, parking fees, spa treatments, and anything else, was going to cost me well over $1,000. Thanks to the Free Night Award (and Hilton Honors points), the stay cost me about $425 in points, total, as we value Hilton Honors points at 0.5 cents apiece.

Complimentary Diamond Status Means On-Property Perks and Savings

Top-tier Hilton Honors Diamond status confers numerous benefits to those who achieve that level. But you can earn it simply by holding the Hilton Aspire card. Benefits include complimentary continental breakfast or a daily food and beverage credit (up to $50 per day for 2 or more guests), executive lounge access where applicable, room upgrades (subject to availability), 100% bonus points on stays, and much more.

Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah Mezzerie Pastries
Complimentary breakfast is one of the best perks of Hilton Honors Diamond status.

To me, the most valuable benefits of holding the status have been the complimentary breakfast (in practice, I’ve had any breakfast charges made to my room taken off my statement) and room upgrades.

Breakfast at high-end hotels such as Waldorf Astoria or Conrad properties can easily cost $50 or more per person, so having complimentary breakfast on each day of the stay can save hundreds of dollars on multiple-night stays.

While not guaranteed, a room upgrade — especially to a suite — is always appreciated and can potentially make the stay far more valuable. For example, I took a trip to Hawaii several years ago and stayed at Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort.

Much to my delight, I was informed at check-in that I had been upgraded to the Wailea Suite, a 1,950-square-foot pad that featured spacious seating rooms, a wet bar, multiple bedrooms, multiple lanais, and more. The stay, which was paid for in the same way as the Dubai property mentioned above, became instantly far more valuable thanks to the complimentary Diamond status from my Hilton Aspire card.

Grand Wailea Waldorf Astoria Wailea Suite
A peek at my suite at Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort.
Hot Tip:

Find out how to earn top-tier Hilton Honors Diamond status — and whether it’s worth it — in our full guide!

Resort Credits Make High-End Stays More Affordable

The Hilton Aspire card offers lucrative credits that are targeted to specific resort properties.

You can get up to $400 in annual statement credits for eligible purchases made with your Hilton Aspire card directly with participating Hilton Resorts (up to $200 in statement credits semi-annually). This $400 can be used on items like dining, activities, and spa treatments.

Conrad Fort Lauderdale Pool Salad
The annual $400 resort credit can be used to cover the cost of on-property food and beverages.

All of my Hilton stays in recent years have been at Waldorf Astoria or Conrad resort properties, meaning I’ve been able to score a “free” credit during my stays at the Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah, the Conrad Fort Lauderdale, Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, and the Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club in Southern California.

Having these credits across my stays has essentially guaranteed that I leave the property for no money out of pocket — or very little.

Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort Club Margarita
The on-property credit at Hilton resorts can lessen the blow of “sticker shock” at checkout.

The price of a poolside cocktail at any of the properties listed above — and those similar to them — is enough to make even those with the deepest pockets quiver, so these credits allow me to enjoy my stays fully without worrying about the sticker shock I’d experience without them when receiving my statement.

Reviewing the Formula

Basically, my strategy with the Hilton Aspire card is to use it as a tool to guarantee at least 1 high-end Hilton stay per year. Most of my stays with the chain weren’t planned out when I was looking at my travel from a high level in a given year. In fact, most of these stays came about as a way to extend other trips or to “fill in the gaps” of a larger trip.

I follow a fairly simple formula each time I plan one of these stays: Find the most expensive Hilton resort property with standard award availability, and then book 1 night with a Free Night Award and 1 with points (ensuring my certificate doesn’t go to waste and that I’m getting more in value than what I paid for the card’s annual fee).

Conrad Fort Lauderdale Pool Aerial
I’ve gotten to stay at some pretty incredible Hilton properties, like Conrad Fort Lauderdale, for little or no money out of pocket.

Once I’m on the property, I maximize my time there by taking advantage of free breakfast or the daily food and beverage credit and make sure to get my money’s worth by the pool or at the on-property restaurants by spending around $200 to use as much of the credits as possible without spending too much out of pocket.

When I can achieve all of these things, I feel like I’ve gotten much more value out of the card’s perks than what I pay annually to keep the card in my wallet.

Final Thoughts

The Hilton Aspire card is one of the most powerful co-branded hotel cards on the market. It provides a huge list of very valuable perks, and despite its high annual fee, you don’t need to be a frequent Hilton guest to maximize the card’s potential.

With just 1 stay per year that meets the qualifications I listed above, I can get far more value from using the perks of the card than I pay to keep it in my wallet. Plus, it allows me more flexibility in my travels by knowing that I can usually come up with a 2-night stay (at minimum) that will cost little in out-of-pocket cash.

As long as this card maintains these perks and continues to provide a strong value, it’s going to stay in my wallet.

The information regarding the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the annual fee of the Hilton Aspire card?

The Hilton Aspire card comes with an annual fee of $550.

What is the credit limit for the Hilton Aspire card?

The minimum credit limit extended for the Hilton Aspire card is $3,100, but it can be much higher than that depending on your credit profile.

Is the Hilton Aspire card worth it?

If you’re able to leverage the perks of the Hilton Aspire card, it can definitely be worth the annual fee. I’ve found it to be well worth it over the years, as I’ve been able to get at least 1 high-end stay that far exceeds the cost of the annual fee.

What credit score do you need for the Hilton Aspire card?

There’s no stated minimum score required to be approved for a Hilton Aspire card, but generally you’d have better chances of approval if your score is above 670.

Nick Ellis's image

About Nick Ellis

Nick’s passion for points began as a hobby and became a career. He worked for over 5 years at The Points Guy and has contributed to Business Insider and CNN. He has 14 credit cards and continues to leverage the perks of each.

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