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Hilton Aspire review: How to get up to $2,500 in travel benefits the first year (and $1,000+ every following year)

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Hilton Aspire review: How to get up to $2,500 in travel benefits the first year (and $1,000+ every following year)

Meghan HunterHilton Aspire review: How to get up to $2,500 in travel benefits the first year (and $1,000+ every following year)Million Mile Secrets Team

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The Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express is one of the best travel cards on the market.

It comes with a welcome offer of 150,000 Hilton points after you make $4,000 in purchases in the first three months of account opening. It’s quite easy to receive a value of ~0.5 cents per Hilton point, so you should have no problem achieving at least $750 in hotel stays from that bonus.

The card also comes with hundreds of dollars in hotel and airline credits, an impossibly valuable annual weekend night and much more.

You can apply for the Amex Hilton Aspire here.

Check out our Amex Hilton Aspire review and learn how to make tropical memories with this card. (Photo by Budilnikov Yuriy/Shutterstock)

Who is this card for?

If you find Hilton resorts fit your travels (and there are hundreds of them), the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express is for you. Even if you’re not a loyal Hilton customer, this card can single-handedly revolutionize your travel — even outside the hotel.

Yes, you’ll receive free upgrades to suites, free breakfast and hundreds of dollars in resort credits each year. But you’ll also get unlimited access to 1,200+ fancy airport lounges worldwide and various kinds of travel insurance.

Few cards are more obviously worth the annual fee than this card. If you can use even a fraction of its benefits (which we’ll closely examine in a minute), it is unquestionably worth than its $450 annual fee (see rates and fees).

Just note that Amex only allows you to receive each of their cards’ welcome bonuses once per lifetime. If you’ve opened the Amex Hilton Aspire in the past, you won’t be eligible for its bonus again.

Also, this is considered a premium travel card. You’ll need a credit score over 700 if you plan to apply.

Welcome bonus: An estimated $750 in value

The Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express comes with 150,000 Hilton points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in your first three months from account opening. You can learn more about how to meet the credit card’s minimum spend here.

We generally consider the median value of a Hilton point to be 0.5 cents. So a 150,000-point bonus should net you at least $750 in Hilton hotel stays. However, you can receive a lot more value if you know where to use them.

For example, 150,000 Hilton points is more than enough for two nights at a fancy hotel like the Rome Cavalieri, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, which consistently sells rooms for ~$440 per night. Or stay closer to home at a gorgeous property like The Reach Key West, A Waldorf Astoria Resort.

You can get more for your points by staying at less fancy hotels. This is the way I prefer to use my points. I find that I save way more by using my points for average hotels. Then I can spend the money I’ve saved on a five-star hotel during my vacation. And Hilton has lots of cheap hotels all around the world.

For example, you can reserve a free night at the Hilton Garden Inn Vienna South in Austria for 10,000 Hilton points. Rooms sell for ~$110 per night. So with 150,000 points, you could receive $1,650 in free nights at this hotel.

Benefits and perks

Now, let’s dig into those sweet Amex Hilton Aspire ongoing benefits and perks, which include (terms apply):

  • Annual weekend night awards
  • Hilton Diamond elite status
  • Priority Pass Select membership
  • $250 annual Hilton resort credit
  • Up to $250 annual airline fee credit
  • Up to $100 property credit

When you open the Amex Hilton Aspire, you’ll get an award of a free annual weekend night, valid at nearly every Hilton hotel in the world (excluding these listed here). You’ll get another weekend night every year after you renew your card.

The automatic Diamond elite status (Hilton’s top status tier) is pretty great too, as it includes perks like suite upgrades when available, executive hotel lounge access and complimentary breakfast at all Hilton hotels.

You can check out our guide to the Amex Aspire benefits here.

One of my favorite airport destinations is an Al Dhabi lounge in the Abu Dhabi airport. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/Million Mile Secrets)

How to earn points

With the Amex Hilton Aspire, you’ll earn (terms apply):

  • 14 Hilton points per dollar spent at participating Hilton hotels
  • 7 Hilton points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or Amex Travel, on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies and at U.S. restaurants
  • 3 Hilton points per dollar spent on all other purchases

Plus, you’ll earn a second free-weekend-night award at participating Hilton hotels each calendar year in which you spend $60,000+ in eligible purchases on your card. This can more than make up for the $450 annual fee. This is a good card to keep year after year if you can make the most of the free weekend nights.

How to redeem points

There are currently 14 Hilton hotel brands (with a couple more coming soon):

  • Conrad
  • Canopy
  • Curio
  • DoubleTree
  • Embassy Suites
  • Hampton Inn
  • Hilton
  • Hilton Garden Inn
  • Hilton Grand Vacations
  • Home2 Suites
  • Homewood Suites
  • Tapestry Collection
  • Tru
  • Waldorf Astoria

You can cash in your Hilton points for free nights at any of these hotels.  Team member Darren is using his Hilton points for free nights at the stunning Conrad Maldives later this year.

Check out this post for a full guide about these different Hilton brands.

Searching for Hilton hotel nights is easy. Just navigate to the Hilton website and type in your destination. When you’ve found your desired hotel, click “Pay with Points” to see available award nights and points rates for your stay.

It’s easy to see how many Hilton points you’ll need for a free award night.

You can even choose to split your payment between cash and points. Hilton will offer you a slide bar so you can choose the percentage of money you want to use.

Hilton doesn’t have a proper award chart, so you’ll have to check your specific hotel and date(s) to see how many points you’ll need to pay.

You can also redeem your Hilton points for flights, experiences and other things (though this is generally not a good deal). Check out this post for a full guide on how to use Hilton Honors points.

Credit cards similar to the Hilton Aspire

If you’re freaking out at the prospect of a $450 annual fee, there are other Hilton cards that can serve you.

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card comes with 125,000 Hilton points after you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. It also comes with complimentary Gold elite status. You can earn Diamond elite status after you spend $40,000 on eligible purchases with your card in a calendar year (valid through the end of the next calendar year after it’s earned).

The card also gives you 10 free Priority Pass airport lounge visits each year, but each guest counts as one of your visits. You can even earn one free weekend night after you spend $15,000 on purchases in a calendar year.

This card has a $95 annual fee (see rates and fees), but you can achieve many of the same benefits as the Amex Hilton Aspire if you’re a big spender.

Bottom line

With the Amex Hilton Aspire, you’ll earn 150,000 Hilton points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. There’s a $450 annual fee, which is not waived for the first year.

You could effortlessly receive $750+ in free travel at terrific hotels — even pricey resorts — with that bonus. Or stretch your points for more nights at less fancy hotels (which is my favorite way to use hotel points).

The Amex Hilton Aspire has a load of ongoing benefits that can save you a ton (terms apply):

  • Annual weekend-night award (at participating Hilton hotels)
  • Automatic Diamond elite status (100% bonus points on paid stays, upgrades to a suite when available, executive hotel lounge access, etc.)
  • Priority Pass Select airport lounge access (bring two guests for free)
  • Up to $250 annual airline-fee credit
  • Up to $250 annual Hilton resort credit
  • Up to $100 property credit at Conrad and Waldorf Astoria hotels per stay of 2+ nights

Between these benefits and the welcome bonus, you could easily receive $2,500 in travel from this card the first year, and $1,000+ every following year.

You can apply for the Amex Hilton Aspire here.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Surpass Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire Card, please click here

Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express

Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express

  • Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express 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.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Terms Apply | Rates & Fees

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Does the Diamond status only last for one year? Or, do you get it every year when you pay your annual $450 fee? Are there some kind of minimum stays required? Thx!

every year

I did have an AMEX Hilton about 4-5 years ago and got a bonus. Does this preclude me getting a bonus now? Or co they do back “forever” to check this.
Also if denied the bonus, does it count as a hit on my credit check against the Chase 5/24 policy?

Great review. I already have the Aspire but still learned something new (e.g. Premium Roadside Assistance). Ironically, I put almost all of my Amex spend on the Surpass (instead of the Aspire) card since the Surpass only requires $15K (versus $60K) in annual spend to earn another free weekend night certificate.

This is so tempting, but we rarely stay in hotels any longer. We have become avid home exchangers and when we need to fit in a night or two, we use AirBnB or VRBO, so we have all the privacy of home.

Hi,

I upgrade to Aspire from Ascend this year. My anniversary day will be in April 2020. Can I use $250 resort credit this year or do I have to wait until April 2020 to use it? Called Amex but they don’t have the answer for me. Thanks

I too upgraded from Ascend to Aspire earlier this year. We stayed at the Curio Resort in Key Largo Fla. in June and received a $170 credit back for expenditures at the resort. Expect to use the balance next week in Sedona at the Hilton resort at Bell Tower.

When you upgrade do you get the welcome points?
Thanks.

Typically, when you upgrade a card, you won’t be eligible for the welcome bonus offer. Those are usually for brand new card members. But sometimes you’ll see upgrade offers as well.

I think it is a little bit of a stretch to base the value on the max credit of each item.

You’d have to travel a LOT to use up the airline credit. Or buy a lot of food every time you fly. We will not max ours out. Although I suppose if we take a flight late in the year, we could always buy drinks for those around us 🙂

The $250 resort credit is pretty easy to hit. The Diamond status is valuable (we got a $125 credit ($25/day) on a recent trip to Aruba). Also have had a decent reduction in price for a full buffet breakfast. And some great room upgrades. Last year, Diamond alone gave us more then the $450 fee in value.

And the priorty pass is a great value as well.

I’d say it is EASY to recoup the annual fee in credits and other benefits. And it is possible to hit the numbers you reference, but not easy.

This is our first full year having the card though and we’ve got 1 trip completed with 3 more so we’ll see what we get out of it.

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