Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Credit Card: Is It Worth $450?

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Credit Card: Is It Worth $450?

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is an attractive addition to the Hilton credit card lineup. Hilton loyalists will perk up at cardmember benefits like automatic Hilton Honors Diamond status and an annual $250 Hilton resort statement credit. Overall, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card comes with plenty of travel-related perks to level out its steep annual fee.

Good For...

  • Frequent Hilton customers
  • Big spenders

Bad For...

  • Consumers looking for a travel card that offers flexibility
  • Those wary of a high annual fee

Review: Our thoughts on the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Frequent travelers and big spenders who stay at Hilton hotels will be drawn to the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. This card comes with all the bells and whistles we'd expect from a $450 annual fee credit card.

Although the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is a hotel card, you’ll enjoy travel benefits beyond the Hilton portfolio. For example, you’ll receive Priority Pass airport lounge access and an annual airline statement credit. To round out the deal, this card adds the potential to earn free weekend nights throughout the year and an extra $250 statement credit that can be used towards Hilton purchases.

Though the $450 annual fee may be off-putting to some, consider all the upfront benefits you get. If you add up the airfare credits ($250), hotel credits ($350) and the one free weekend night ($290), you'll be coming out with a net positive of $440. If you spend over $60,000 per year on the card, you get a second free night, putting you even more into the green.

If $450 is still too much, we recommend looking at the two other Hilton credit cards and seeing how they compare. For true travel rewards flexibility, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card may not be for you. For travel lovers who don't feel a particular loyalty towards the Hilton brand, a generic travel rewards card, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, will be a better choice. Travel rewards cards provide you with the flexibility to use any hotel you want, enabling you to deal hunt and find savings in other ways.

Bottom line: There's a lot to love about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. Any frequent Hilton customer who wants to save money should consider applying.

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card benefits and features

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card offers a host of benefits that can help you save money on your travels. The majority of benefits are concentrated around the Hilton portfolio, though this hotel card can help you save on flights and other travel expenses.

Earn bonus Hilton points on travel and dining purchases

With the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, you’ll earn bonus Hilton points on both travel and everyday purchases: 14X Hilton Honors Bonus Points per $1 of eligible purchases on your Card directly with a participating Hilton hotel or resort; 7X for eligible purchases: on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies & at U.S. restaurants; 3X for other purchases on your card.

The most lucrative earnings rate is on Hilton purchases, as you’ll earn 20 Hilton points per dollar with the card’s complimentary Diamond status. This is a whopping total of 34X Hilton points. Given that we value Hilton points at $0.005 each, this card's rewards rate is anywhere between 1.5% and 17%. Since the rewards rate changes drastically based on the purchase, it’s wise to understand the bonus categories and when to leverage this card.

Complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status

To earn Hilton Diamond status, you’d normally need to book 30 stays or earn 120,000 points with the hotel. With the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, however, you’ll automatically earn Diamond status — the highest loyalty tier of the Hilton Honors program. As you continue to stay at Hilton properties, owning elite status is the gift that keeps on giving.

As mentioned above, Diamond members receive 20 points per dollar spent thanks to its 100% bonus points on stays. This is a grand total of 34X Hilton points per dollar spent, which is a phenomenal rewards rate of 17%. Not to mention, you’ll enjoy the following benefits with Hilton Honors Diamond status:

  • Room upgrades upon availability.
  • Executive lounge access.
  • After you’ve been a Diamond member for three years and stayed 250 lifetime nights or earned 500,000 base points, your Diamond status can be extended for an additional year.
  • Premium Wi-Fi.
  • 48-hour room guarantee.
  • If you hit 60 nights in one calendar year, you can gift Gold status to any member. If you hit 100 nights, you can then gift Elite status to any member.

Weekend night rewards

With the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, you can earn two free weekend nights. You’re awarded one weekend night annually for just being a cardmember, and you get the second night if you charge at least $60,000 on the card within a calendar year.

These rewards come in the form of redeemable codes that can be used on standard accommodations at double occupancy. You can combine the two codes and use them on a single stay. Given that Hilton hotels' average daily rate was $145 in 2019, we value this benefit at $290.

Statement credits: Hilton Resort, Hilton on-property and airlines

There are three ways to earn statement credits through the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.

You’ll receive a $250 Hilton Resorts statement credit each year, good for eligible purchases made directly with participating Hilton Resorts. The credit renews each cardmember year and can be used by both the primary cardholder and any authorized users.

Then, you can get $100 in on-property credit at Waldorf Astoria and Conrad Hotels — two luxury brands in the Hilton portfolio. The $100 credit only applies upon booking a two-night stay and on things you buy at the properties, like massages or dining.

Finally, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card awards $250 in airline incidentals each year. This credit is automatically applied to your bill whenever you make qualifying purchases. Airline incidentals include baggage fees, in-flight meals and Wi-Fi. Airfare ticket purchases are not considered incidentals.

Complimentary lounge access with Priority Pass Select

Among the suite of benefits, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card provides, you’ll also receive a complimentary membership to Priority Pass Select, providing unlimited lounge access to you and up to two guests. With over 1,200 airport lounges worldwide, this can be an invaluable asset depending on how often you travel.

Other protections and travel benefits

Finally, there are ancillary protections and travel benefits that come with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card worth considering:

  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance.
  • Baggage insurance plan.
  • 24/7 Premium Global Access Hotline and Concierge.
  • Return and fraud protection.
  • American Express Experiences.

Depending on how you take advantage of these perks, you could be saving lots of money from these protections alone.

What can you do with the welcome bonus?

Hilton is a global brand with over 5,000 hotels worldwide. Here are some examples of some properties you can book with the welcome bonus:

3 nights at the Grand Naniloa Hotel Hito Resort — a DoubleTree by Hilton

3 nights at the Grand Naniloa Hotel Hito Resort — a DoubleTree by Hilton
Photo courtesy of Hilton

The Grand Naniloa Hotel Hito Resort — a DoubleTree by Hilton — is a three-star hotel in Hilo, Hawaii. It’s an oceanfront property and is nearby the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens. With 150,000 Hilton Honors points, you will earn yourself three nights here on standard pricing.

2 nights at the Waldorf Astoria Bangkok

2 nights at the Waldorf Astoria Bangkok
Photo courtesy of Hilton

Enjoy five-star amenities and a luxurious stay at the Waldorf Astoria Bangkok in Thailand. With standard rooms at 65,000 Hilton Honors points per night, you can easily stay two nights here — with a solid number of points leftover.

3 nights at Le Belgrand Hotel Paris Champs-Elysées, Tapestry Collection by Hilton

3 nights at Le Belgrand Hotel Paris Champs-Elysées, Tapestry Collection by Hilton
Photo courtesy of Hilton

A 10-minute walk from the Arc de Triomphe, you’ll need 50,000 Hilton Honors points per night to stay at Le Belgrand Hotel Paris Champs-Elysées. With the welcome bonus, you can easily stay three nights here for free.

How does the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card compare to other credit cards?

Whenever we evaluate any credit card, we consider how it compares against other options on the market. Here’s how the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card measures up against other leading hotel and travel cards.

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

  • On Chase's Secure Website

$550

16.99%-23.99% Variable

Excellent

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year. From 6/1/20 through 6/30/21, gas station & grocery store purchases will also count towards earning your Travel Credit
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 50% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Earn 3x total points on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month from November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. Includes eligible pick-up and delivery services
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For most people, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is the better option, due to its greater flexibility. If you're a diehard Hilton fan and frequently stay at Hilton properties, then the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is the better choice — especially if you spend over $60,000 per year on your card.

However, if you want the freedom to book different hotels or even Airbnb while still receiving fantastic rewards, then the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a better bet. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® provides 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. Chase Ultimate Rewards points are generally worth $0.015, but you can transfer them to several airlines and hotel partners, where their value is boosted. Keep in mind that you can’t transfer your points to Hilton Honors. Read more about Chase Ultimate Rewards in our guide.

Beyond that, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® also provides an extremely generous annual travel credit. You get $300 applied towards any travel charges on your card — airfare, Uber, Airbnb, hotels and more. Not only is the annual credit on the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card lower, but it also can only be applied toward airline incidentals.

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card vs. Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

$95

15.74%-24.74% Variable

Excellent/Good

  • Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
  • Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio.
  • Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Spend $40,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn Hilton Honors Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
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The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is better for consumers who don't care about airline incidentals and spend less than $60,000 on their credit card per year. Instead, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card comes with slightly less value than the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, though it still offers generous point earnings.

Instead of Diamond status, you'll get Hilton Honors Gold membership — though you'll qualify for Diamond if you charge at least $40,000 to the card within one calendar year. Instead of unlimited Priority Pass visits, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card provides just 10 passes each year.

On the other hand, if you’re leery of paying a $450 annual fee, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card offers a high earning rate for a $95 annual fee. You’ll Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio. Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations. Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.

For rates and fees of Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, please click here

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card vs. Hilton Honors American Express Card

Hilton Honors American Express Card

$0

15.74%-24.74% Variable

Excellent/Good

  • Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio.
  • Earn 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees. Enjoy international travel without additional fees on purchases made abroad.
  • Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status with your Card. Plus, spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn an upgrade to Hilton Honors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
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The Hilton Honors American Express Card is perfect for those who spend less than $30,000 annually. This $0-annual-fee credit card is beneficial for Hilton customers who don't want to pay high annual fees. This card allows you to earn bonus Hilton Honors points, though at a significantly slower rate than the other Hilton cards: Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio, 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations AND 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.

If points are all you're after, then the Hilton Honors American Express Card is a better option than the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.

For rates and fees of Hilton Honors American Express Card, please click here

ValuePenguin’s verdict

Luxury credit cards, such as the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, come with hefty annual fees. In addition to its large welcome bonus, this card is jam-packed with benefits, such as automatic elite status and tons of statement credits. By understanding everything this card has to offer, you can take advantage of its premium offerings and maximize its value to its fullest potential. This is a top-tier hotel credit card that will benefit Hilton Honors loyalists.

The information related to Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.

Stella Shon

Stella Shon is a travel credit cards writer with ValuePenguin. After studying abroad in Paris three years ago, she became determined to keep traveling. That’s when she discovered the world of points and miles, which enabled her to travel on a student budget. Since then, she’s flown over 150,000 miles and earned more than 500,000 points and miles with eight different credit cards. While in college, she even co-founded her own travel agency, helping her peers plan and book trips on a budget. As a recent journalism graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill, her goal is to write about travel to make it simpler and achievable for everyone. Her work has also appeared on JetBlue, The Points Guy, Travel + Leisure and CNBC.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).