As I often say, I find hotel credit cards to be quite underrated. These cards can be worth keeping even if you don’t intend to spend a lot of money on them.
For example, I wrote about how the World of Hyatt (review) credit card is awesome – the card has an annual fee of $95, and I think the category 1-4 free night certificate offered by the card more than justifies the annual fee on its own.
But there is an even more premium hotel credit card that I find at least as valuable. I’ve had this card for a few years now and have always gotten outrageous value from it. Specifically, I’m talking about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card (you are potentially eligible for this card even if you have another card in the Hilton Honors wallet).
The card has an annual fee of $450, which is high for a hotel credit card, despite being a ridiculously rewarding card.
The Hilton Aspire card currently offers a welcome bonus of 150,000 Hilton Honors points after spending $4,000 in the first three months, although what makes this card so attractive are the long-term benefits it offers . In no particular order, I would say that the five benefits below more than justify the annual fee on the card.
Hilton Honors Diamond Status
Just for having the Hilton Aspire card, you receive Hilton Honors Diamond status. It’s good for as long as you keep the card, and it’s Hilton’s premier hotel status. That’s right, you get higher tier status just for having a credit card.
This gets you bonus points, breakfast or club lounge access (or food and beverage credit in the US), room upgrades subject to availability, Wi-Fi premium, and much more.
While I don’t consider Hilton Diamond to be the most valuable top-tier status, getting it just to have the card is a phenomenal deal, especially since Hilton has such a huge global footprint. I’ve been particularly impressed with how Hilton has grown its luxury footprint, with more Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, and LXR properties opening around the world.
Annual Free Nights Reward
With the Hilton Aspire Card, you receive an annual reward of free nights for the first year and every year thereafter. This can be redeemed at virtually any Hilton Honors property worldwide where there is a standard room available (here the little list excluded properties).
Historically, this was a weekend night award (meaning it must be redeemed on weekend nights), but those issued through December 31, 2022 are valid for stays every days of the week.
Hilton properties sell for up to 150,000 points per night, so cardholders can get a lot of value out of them. Just to give a few examples of the last two places where I redeemed these free night certificates:
Suffice it to say, these are amazing uses for certificates, and I can’t wait to see where I trade them next.
$250 Annual Hilton Resort Credit
Each cardholder year, you receive up to $250 in statement credits for eligible purchases made directly at participating Hilton resorts using your Hilton Aspire Card. See this link to find all participating stations.
What’s great is that virtually all expenses at these resorts should be eligible, whether it’s room rate, meals, spa treatments, activities, and more. So as long as you’re only spending $250 a year on the card at Hilton resorts, you should be able to take full advantage of this benefit.
You can even redeem your birthday free night certificate at one of the top Conrad or Waldorf Astoria resorts and then use the $250 for massages, a nice dinner, and more. For example, I just redeemed points for a stay at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives, and I was able to use my $250 credit to cover incidentals. It can take 8-12 weeks for credits to be posted, but in practice the credit is usually posted much faster than that.
$250 annual airfare credit
The Hilton Aspire Card provides a $250 airline fee credit each calendar year. You must designate an airline, then eligible costs will be automatically reimbursed. Technically these releases are released within four weeks of a qualifying purchase, although in practice they are usually released much faster than that.
It works very similarly to the Platinum Card® benefit from American Express (review). The terms state the following regarding ineligible purchases:
Airline tickets, upgrades, Miles point purchases, Miles point transfer fees, gift cards, duty-free purchases and award tickets are not considered incidental charges.
Priority Pass subscription
The Hilton Aspire Card offers Priority Pass membership for as long as you are a cardholder (registration required), making it one of the best cards for Priority Pass. Priority Pass is the world’s largest network of independent airport lounges, giving you access to over 1,300 lounges worldwide.
Getting this as an added benefit on top of all the other benefits the card offers is pretty awesome.
At the end of the line
The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is in many ways too good to be true, and I got so much value out of it. For an annual fee of $450, you get an annual free nights reward, $250 airline fee credit, $250 Hilton resort credit, premier Hilton Diamond status and Priority membership pass.
Personally, I get over $450 in value on the free night certificate alone, so as far as I’m concerned, the rest of the perks are just icing on the cake.
And I’m not even talking about all the benefits of the card, because the Hilton Aspire also offers access to Amex offers, and much more. See this article for details on how all the card benefits work and see this article for a detailed review of the Hilton Aspire Card.
Anyone else love the Hilton Aspire Card as much as I do?