Hilton Honors Aspire Credit Card Review: Is It Worth $450 Per Year?
We’ve written extensively about the Hilton Honors program and how it can be a great loyalty program for your family’s travel. Another invaluable tool I use to stretch my travel dollars is the Hilton Honors Aspire Credit Card, which comes with a whole suite of benefits for Hilton guests. But, is it worth the $450 annual fee?
Hilton Honors Aspire Credit Card Review
The Hilton Honors Aspire Credit Card is geared towards cardmembers that would like extra perks at Hilton properties just for having the credit card. If you aren’t planning on staying at Hilton properties during your travels, you won’t get the full value out of this card. If you aren’t currently loyal to a hotel brand but would like to be with minimal effort, this card is worth considering. Between the sign up bonus, elite status, property credits, and free nights this card offers, it’s a no-brainer even for families looking to switch hotel brands. The annual fee is $450, which is among the more expensive annual fees, but as you can see below, we think it’s worth it.
The Hilton Honors Aspire Credit Card has a 150,000 point sign up bonus for spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening. Based on our valuation of Hilton Honors points, those points are worth at least $750. That’s the highest of all the Hilton Honors co-branded credit cards (the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card and Hilton Honors American Express Business Card each offer 125,000 points, while the Hilton Honors American Express Card offer 75,000 points).
The Aspire card also comes with Hilton Honors Diamond status. This is one of the most generous benefits of the credit card, since Diamond status is Hilton’s top elite level. We’ve detailed why we think Diamond status is worth it, but benefits include lounge access, free breakfast, bonus points, and room upgrades. My Diamond status got me an oceanview upgrade at the Waldorf-Astoria El Pedregal, pictured above.
Free Weekend Night Certificate
After opening an account, you’ll receive one free weekend night certificate, good at nearly any Hilton on earth (we’ve broken down exactly how to use these.) You’ll also receive another certificate each year you continue to hold the credit card. Finally, if you put $60,000 per calendar year on the credit card, you’ll receive another free weekend night certificate. I’ve used these around the world, including at the Waldorf-Astoria Beverly Hills (which would’ve cost me $700 a night,) where I took a ride in their Rolls-Royce Phantom to morning coffee, for free!
$250 Annual Resort Credit
The Aspire card also features up to $250 per cardmember year (the anniversary on which you opened your account) in Hilton resort credits, which are very flexible to use. You’ll need to use your card at a participating resort (there are a surprising number of “resorts” that qualify,) but once you do, room rates, taxes, resort fees, and property charges are all eligible. Pre-paid rates not charged by the individual property wouldn’t count. I used my $250 to cover my on-property expenses at the Waldorf-Astoria Grand Wailea, Maui, since we had to park a car on the property during our stay.
$250 in Airline Fee Credits
The Aspire card also gives you up to $250 per year back in airline fee credits. These can be used for things like seat assignment charges, bag fees, change fees, and cancellation fees. You’ll have to select the airline of your choice in your account. I typically select Spirit as my airline of choice, since I can waive many of their annoying fees the few times per year I fly them.
Priority Pass Membership
Many premium cards offer this perk, but Priority Pass is an invaluable membership to have when traveling, especially abroad. That’s because Priority Pass has partnered with over a thousand lounges worldwide to make your airport wait more comfortable. Even smaller airports I’ve visited, like Hermosillo, Mexico (HMO) had one I could use. You can take up to two guests in addition to yourself into the lounge for free. Additional guests are $32. Priority Pass restaurants are no longer included in American Express Priority Pass memberships.
$100 On-Property Credit
The card advertises this benefit, which is a $100 credit at Conrad and Waldorf-Astoria properties of two-nights or more by using code ZZAAP1 over the phone, or booking at HiltonHonors.com/aspirecard. However, I’ve found that the rates that qualify are often higher than many of the other rates offered by Hilton, so this benefit hasn’t been of use to me.
Travel Protections and No Foreign Transaction Fees
The credit card offers trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance, with $10,000 in coverage per trip and $20,000 total per year. If your trip is delayed for six hours or more for a covered reason, you may be entitled to up to $500 in assistance. There’s also secondary car rental insurance and lost baggage insurance as part of the card’s benefits package. When traveling, there are no foreign transaction fees, either!
This is where the Aspire card shines. Every Hilton Honors purchase you make with the Aspire card earns 14 points per dollar. That’s in addition to the 20 points per dollar you’ll receive on-property for being a Diamond member. And, Hilton often has double or even triple points promotions throughout the year. I’ve earned as much as 54 points per dollar on my Hilton stays in the past.
You’ll also earn 7 points per dollar on flights booked directly with the airlines or at amextravel.com, U.S. restaurants, and car rentals booked through Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, E-Z, Fox, Hertz, National, Payless, Sixt and Thrifty (not OTAs Priceline.)
Finally, you’ll earn 3 points per dollar on everything else.
I use this card exclusively at Hilton properties and use a different credit card in my wallet for other expenses since I’ll earn more rewards that way. For example, I use the Platinum Card from American Express for all airline purchases, since I get 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar, which I value at 2 cents per point.
Hilton has a number of award redemption options for members. It’s nearly always my recommendation to ignore most options except for redeeming for hotels. Hilton does offer one redemption, Amazon, at .5 cents per point. You must link your accounts to take advantage of this offer. Other redemption options like gift cards, gifts, and airline transfers should be ignored.
Standard Room redemptions (from 5,000 points a night!) are the best option for your Hilton points, since you can redeem for much more than .5 cents in value in some cases. Redemptions can go all the way up to 120,000 points a night for standard rooms. Points and cash options can sometimes be beneficial, but I’ve found that it makes the most sense at premium properties.
The Aspire card is clearly a winner, even with the annual fee of $450 per year. You receive Diamond status, $250 per year in resort credits, a free weekend night at nearly any Hilton worldwide, and more. I’ve found great value in holding the card since I got it in 2018, and hope you’ll consider it too. Let us know if you have any questions in the comments!