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)

Joseph HostetlerHilton 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 one of the best travel cards on the market.  It’s so good that I don’t understand how AMEX makes money from the card.

It comes with a welcome offer of 150,000 Hilton points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 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 receiving at least $750 in free 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 SO much more.  You’re not even going to believe it by the time you finish reading this post.

You can apply for the AMEX Hilton Aspire here.

Check out our AMEX Hilton Aspire review and learn how to get the most from this card – Jasmin plans to use her card benefits for a free stay at the 5-star Grand Wailea Maui later this year!

Hilton Aspire Review – No Doubt the Best Hotel Credit Card

Apply Here:  Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express

The AMEX Hilton Aspire comes with 150,000 Hilton points after spending $4,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.  You can learn more about how to meet credit card minimum spend here.

You’ll also get:

  • Annual weekend night award (at participating Hilton hotels) every year
  • 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 2 guests for free)
  • Up to $250 annual airline fee credit
  • Up to $250 annual Hilton resort credit at participating resorts
  • Up to $100 property credit at Conrad and Waldorf Astoria hotels per stay of 2+ nights
  • Terms Apply

This card has a $450 annual fee (See rates & fees).

150,000 Hilton points is more than enough for 2 nights at a fancy Hilton hotel like Rome Cavalieri, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, which consistently sells rooms for ~$440 per night.  Or stay closer to home at a gorgeous area like The Reach Key West, A Waldorf Astoria Resort.

Key West is just about the most tropical experience you can have without leaving the mainland US

You can also stretch 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 5-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!

How to Earn Points With the Hilton Aspire

With the AMEX Hilton Aspire, you’ll earn:

  • 14 Hilton points per $1 spent at participating Hilton hotels
  • 7 Hilton points per $1 on flights booked directly with airlines or AMEX Travel, on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies, and at US restaurants
  • 3 Hilton points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Terms Apply

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

How to Use Points From the Hilton Aspire

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

If you see one of these hotels, you can cash in your Hilton points for free nights.  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 to see how many points you’ll need to pay.

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

Benefits of the Hilton Aspire

Now, let’s dig into those sweet, sweet AMEX Hilton Aspire ongoing benefits.

Annual Weekend Night Award

You’ll receive an annual weekend night award (at participating Hilton hotels) when you open your card, and every year after you renew your card.

You should receive the free weekend night within 14 weeks of opening your card, and within the same time period after you renew your card.  You can use this complimentary night at nearly every Hilton hotel in the world (excluding these listed here).  Hilton’s top resorts can EASILY cost $800+ per night.  So if you use this free night in a fancy hotel, you’ll make up for the annual fee immediately.

This is an astounding perk.  Jasmin is using her AMEX Hilton Aspire weekend night at the Grand Wailea Maui later this year, which often sells rooms for $750+ per night!

Additionally, you’ll get another weekend night when you spend $60,000+ in eligible purchases on the card in a calendar year.

Hilton Diamond Status

The AMEX Hilton Aspire gives you automatic Diamond elite status (Hilton’s top-tier status).  It comes with benefits like:

  • 100% bonus points on paid stays
  • Upgrades to a suite when available (that can be worth a LOT of money)
  • Executive hotel lounge access (usually has lots of free food and drinks)
  • 48-hour room guarantee
  • Complimentary breakfast at all Hilton hotels
  • Fifth award night free when you book with points

If you stay at a few top-notch Hilton hotels each year, you could get more value than what the annual fee costs from this benefit alone.

$250 Annual Hilton Resort Credit

When you open your card, and each year you renew your card, you’ll receive an up to $250 Hilton resort credit.  This means if you stay at any of Hilton’s resorts, you can use your AMEX Hilton Aspire at resort restaurants, spas, or anything else on the property, and receive up to $250 back for eligible resort purchases made with participating properties.  This is a doozie benefit, especially if you combine it with your annual weekend night.

$250 Annual Airline Fee Credit

You’ll also receive an up to $250 annual airline fee credit with the airline of your choice to cover incidental air travel fees.  You’ll receive this credit each calendar year.  That means for your first year as a cardmember, you’ll get it TWICE before you pay the annual fee a second time (one credit in 2019 and another in January 2020).  Also, you can change your selected airline each new calendar year.

Incidental fees are things like baggage fees, food, drinks, etc.  AMEX says:

Airline tickets, upgrades, mileage points purchases, mileage points transfer fees, gift cards, duty free purchases, and award tickets are not deemed to be incidental fees.

Priority Pass Select Membership

Priority Pass membership gets you access to 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide.  It’s a fabulous perk, and very expensive if you don’t have a card that offers free membership.

The AMEX Hilton Aspire comes with Priority Pass Select airport lounge access, and allows you to bring 2 guests into the lounge with you for free.  That’s literally better than any lounge membership you can buy with cash.  The most expensive Priority Pass plan you can buy costs $429 per year, and charges $32 per guest.

This membership alone is worth the card’s annual fee if you travel often (particularly internationally).

One of my favorite airport destinations is an Al Dhabi lounge in the Abu Dhabi airport

Up to $100 Property Credit

When you book your stay at Conrad or Waldorf Astoria hotels for 2+ days through this link, you’re eligible for up to a $100 credit.  You can also call 855-292-5757 and reference the code “ZZAAP1.”

You can use this once per stay on an unlimited amount of stays!  And authorized users get this benefit, too.

You’ll receive a hotel credit equal to $1 for each $1 of qualifying charges made at the hotel, up to $100.  The property credit is applied as hotel credit on your bill at checkout.  Qualifying charges do NOT include:

  • Property fees
  • Taxes
  • Gratuities
  • Room cost

This should operate similar to the annual resort credit, but it’s wise to ask the hotel front desk for more details on what within the resort qualifies for this reimbursement.  It may vary by hotel.

Is the Hilton Aspire Worth the Annual Fee?

Few cards are more obviously worth the annual fee than this card.  If you can use even a fraction of its benefits, it is UNQUESTIONABLY more valuable than the $450 annual fee.

As we’ve just covered, several of the card’s benefits single-handedly outweigh the $450 annual fee:

  • The annual weekend night can be worth $800+ per year if you use it at Hilton’s best hotels (they get REAL expensive)
  • Priority Pass Select, which is worth at LEAST $450 if you travel often with family or friends
  • $250 annual airline credit which you’ll earn twice before your second annual fee is due (that’s $500 in airline credits)
  • $250 resort credit, which doesn’t itself make up for the annual fee, but brings down the effective annual fee to $200 (if you stay at a Hilton resort once per year)
  • Automatic Diamond Elite status gives you upgrades to suites, executive lounge access, and TONS of bonus points (you’ll earn 34 Hilton points per $1 spent at Hilton when you use your AMEX Hilton Aspire)

That’s not to mention the 150,000 point bonus you’ll receive when you open the card and meet spending requirements.  Again, it’s easy to receive a value of 0.5 cents per Hilton point (and much more, depending on the hotel and season), so you should be able to get $750+ from this bonus.

Add these benefits up, and that’s potentially $2,500+ during your first year of card membership.  And well over $1,000 every following year.

Does the Hilton Aspire Have a Foreign Transaction Fee?

No (see rates & fees)!

Who Is Eligible for the Hilton Aspire?

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 want a credit score over 700 if you plan to apply.

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 Ascend Card comes with 125,000 Hilton points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.  It also comes with complimentary Gold elite status.  And 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 weekend night after you spend $15,000 on purchases in a calendar year!

This card has a $95 annual fee (see rates & 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 3 months from account opening.  There’s a $450 annual fee, 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 (that’s my favorite way to use hotel points)!

The AMEX Hilton Aspire has a load of ongoing benefits that can save you a TON:

  • Annual weekend night award (at participating Hilton hotels) every year
  • 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 2 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
  • Terms Apply

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 Honors Aspire Card from American Express, please click here.

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

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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

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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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Hi Andrew,

Can we get the $100 credit if we book and stay 2 nights at a Conrad with two Free weekend nights certificates ? Thanks !

Are the $250 Hilton Resort credit and $100 Conrad credit stackable? E.g. Conrad Algarve in Portugal is on the Resort list.

Hi Tara!

I found some people in online forums saying that they were able to get the credits to stack. So this should work!

Too bad upgrade fees don’t count as the airline reimbursement. Most of us have all the baggage fees covered with our other credit cards and how many people really spend that much on food and drinks on airplanes. I would definitely book a cheaper seat and then upgrade if this covered upgrade fees.

I really don’t get the obsession with this card.

Change the $250 resort only credit to any Hilton hotel credit, then we can talk. There are too few Hilton resorts. I also never charge airline fees. So those “$500” in benefits are worthless to me.

The CSR and the Marriott high tier actually give you $300 back every year, cutting their annual fees to $150. This card does not.

The automatic diamond status with this card is nice, but it’s not worth an actual fee of $450.

I agree that it would be nice if the airline and resort credits did not have those restrictions.

Some people will be able to quickly run through those credits though, so you just have to decide if the card is worth it for your own spending and travel preferences 🙂

If you make your airline of choice Delta of SWA you can use the airline fee reimbursement to buy gift cards with the airline, which can be used for paid flights.

Good point.
With an upcoming stay (our 40th Anniversary) at the new Curio resort in Key Largo and for other reasons, I think I’ll utilize my AMEX upgrade offer to Aspire get the 150k points and hope for a SWEET (pun intended) upgrade with the Diamond level.

FYI, the $100 property credit at Conrad/Waldorf is tricky. The rates associated with the promo code are not the lowest when compared to promo rates, Honors rates, AAA or AARP. So you end up paying higher daily rates, sometimes considerably higher, which can total more than the property credit on multi night stays. IMO, its not worth nearly $100.