Here’s why the Hilton Aspire is worth the annual fee — and $2,000+ the first year
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I’ve realized two important things about travel with credit cards over the years.
The first is that although it might seem scary to commit to a credit card with a high annual fee, the rewards usually pay for themselves many times over, year after year.
The second came after talking to a friend, who spent three nights at the Waldorf Astoria in Park City in Utah last winter. After I ungracefully asked how much her room cost, she admitted she didn’t know. Maybe $600 a night? But it didn’t really matter because she had paid for the whole thing with points that she’d earned on her Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express. It was then that I seriously wondered why I didn’t carry a hotel credit card in my wallet. Searching for discounted rooms at the Motel 6 seemed especially foolish when I could stay at an upscale resort just as easily and for less money by using points.
We wrote about the Amex Hilton Aspire recently and talked about how it’s one of our favorite cards at MMS. I’ll show you why the Amex Hilton Aspire is worth the annual fee.
Is the Hilton Aspire worth the annual fee?
For a long time, I was focused on getting there — that is, on airline credit cards that offered a large number of miles as an initial welcome bonus.
Once I got there, it was all about experiencing the destination, being out in the world. If the stranger with whom I shared a hostel room was a horrible snorer, that was a story worth telling. If the hotel room my husband and I booked for $35 a night smelled like mildew, well, that was to be expected. I could always take a nap in the park if I didn’t get enough sleep the night before.
With age comes wisdom (and a lower tolerance for pain). Getting smart means getting the right hotel card, which is why the Amex Hilton Aspire is so appealing. Yes, there is a $450 annual fee with this card (See Rates & Fees), which might initially be a bit intimidating. But cards with higher annual fees is this offer such amazing benefits (whose value greatly exceeds the annual fee). My two questions about credit cards are always:
- How quickly will I recoup that annual fee?
- Is it worth keeping the card (and paying that $450) year after year?
The quick answer on the Amex Hilton Aspire card is YES. Here’s why:
Ongoing perks that will keep you renewing each year
The Amex Hilton Aspire comes with 150,000 Hilton points after you spend at least $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. This adds significant value for your first cardmember year. The points are easy to use, though there is no Hilton award chart. And the ongoing Hilton Aspire benefits are worth way more than the annual fee. Here’s what you’ll get every single year you keep the card:Diamond elite status: There are so many different benefits that come with this top tier of Hilton status, including (terms apply):
- 100% bonus points on paid stays
- Upgrades to suites when available
- Executive lounge access at hotels that have them (lots of free food and drinks)
- Complimentary breakfast
- Fifth consecutive award night free
Are these benefits worth more than the annual fee?
Let’s tally up the value you’ll get when you open the Amex Hilton Aspire. (I’m just talking about the big-ticket items here; we’re not counting the points you’ll accumulate with daily spending.)
150,000 Hilton points = approximately $750 in free Hilton stays (we estimate Hilton points value to be around 0.5 cents each (though they can be worth far, far more if you’re familiar with the best use of Hilton points). For the first year, you’re already $300 ahead of the $450 annual fee. But every year you’ll get:
- $250 annual airline credit
- Annual weekend award night = An average of $300, depending on where you stay (it can be worth much more)
- Airport lounge access = $429. The best Priority Pass membership you can buy costs $429 and this membership is even better because it comes with guest privileges
- $250 Hilton Resort credit
- Up to $100 Hilton property credit (reusable)
My estimated total value of this card:
- $2,079+ in the first year
- $1,329+ every year after
That means after subtracting the $450 annual fee, you’re receiving a net value of $879 every year. This doesn’t take into account the scads of bonus points and free upgrades (possibly to suites) you’ll get with Diamond status, which could potentially add hundreds more in value.
If you’re looking for a hotel card where you can earn points quickly and use them at the long list of participating Hilton hotels, this card is an excellent choice. The total value of this card is worth so much more than the $450 annual fee. Read our Hilton Aspire review for more details.
Let me know what you think of this card. And subscribe to our newsletter for more credit card reviews!For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express, please click here.
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire CardAPPLY NOW
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card after you use your new Card to make $4,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, enjoy a free Weekend Night Reward within your first year and every year after renewal.
Earn 14X Hilton Bonus Points when you make eligible purchases on your Card at participating hotels or resorts within the Hilton Portfolio.
Earn 7X Bonus Points 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.
Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
Enjoy up to $250 in Hilton Resort Credits on your Card each anniversary year, when you stay at participating resorts within the Hilton portfolio.
Enjoy complimentary Diamond status with your Hilton Honors Aspire Card.
$450 annual fee.
15.74% – 24.74% Variable
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