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Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card review: Earn 14X points at Hilton properties

If you're loyal to the Hilton brand, the benefits of the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card are hard to beat. This card offers an impressive 14X points on stays at participating hotels and resorts within the Hilton Portfolio, as well as 7X points on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies, and at U.S. restaurants. Better still, it earns 3X points on all other eligible purchases, which means it'll be easy to gain rewards even when not traveling. The welcome offer is hard to overlook, too. New cardholders can earn 150,000 Hilton Honors bonus points once spending $4,000 with the card within the first three months of card membership.
By Jennifer Doss  CardRatings Editor  | Updated

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Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

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Our Rating:   
Good, Excellent

CardRatings Editor's Analysis: Pros & Cons

  • This card offers a very generous welcome bonus to new cardholders. Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you use the card to make $4,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership.
  • Earning 14X points when you make eligible purchases on your card at participating hotels or resorts within the Hilton Portfolio is great, but the rewards don't stop there. You'll also earn 7X points on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies & at U.S. restaurants, PLUS, 3X points on all other purchases, which is huge as most cards only offer 1X point on "other" purchases.
  • Enjoy up to $250 in Hilton Resort credits on your card each anniversary year when you stay at participating resorts within the Hilton portfolio.
  • It offers a lot of benefits to help offset the cost, but the annual fee is a bit steep. If you're considering this card you'll want to be sure you will use it enough to justify this.
Terms and Limitations Apply

HILTON HONORS ASPIRE CARD BENEFITS

Most hotels try to get customers to visit– and hopefully convince them to stay awhile or keep coming back– so it's no wonder that the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card would try to give its cardholders plenty of reasons to hang onto the card and to keep using it longterm. American Express is a CardRatings advertiser.

The annual fee isn't for everyone, but for frequent travelers, and especially those loyal to the Hilton brand, this card offers a number of valuable benefits to offset it, including: 

  • Generous rewards rate on purchases. Earn 14X points on purchases made directly with a participating Hilton hotel or resort; 7X points on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies, and at U.S. restaurants; and 3X points on all other purchases.
  • An enticing welcome bonus. You can earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases on your card in the first three months of membership.
  • Up to $250 in Hilton resort statement credits each year. You can use these credits for dining, activities, spa treatments and more when these purchases are made directly at participating Hilton resorts.
  • Up to $100 Hilton on-property credit. If you book at least two nights at Waldorf Astoria or Conrad properties by going to HiltonHonors.com/aspirecard, you'll receive a credit of up to $100 for qualifying incidentals during your stay.
  • Annual airline credit. Not only is this a good card for hotel stays, it's beneficial for frequent flyers as well. You can earn a $250 airline fee credit for incidental charges that are charged by the airline of your choice to your card account. Just select one qualifying airline at www.americanexpress.com/airlinecreditchoice and then receive up to $250 per calendar year in statement credits for incidental fees such as checked baggage, in-flight refreshments, and flight change fees charged with this airline.
  • Hilton Honors Diamond status. This status gets you a number of valuable perks such as a 100% bonus on all base points you earn, room upgrades at participating hotels when available, and more.
  • Priority Pass™ Select membership. This gives you unlimited Priority Pass™ lounge access for you and two guests per visit at over 1,000 airport lounges around the world.
  • Up to two weekend reward nights. Enjoy one weekend night reward with your new card and every year after renewal. Plus, earn an additional night after you spend $60,000 on purchases on your card in a calendar year.

HILTON ASPIRE FREE NIGHT

New Free Weekend Night Rewards issued through December 31, 2020 can now be used any night of the week (not just on weekends). And new Free Weekend Night Rewards issued from May 1st through December 31st, 2020 will now be valid for 24 months (rather than 12 months) from the date of issuance.

HILTON HONORS AMERICAN EXPRESS APSIRE CARD CREDIT SCORE

If you're planning on applying for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, you should have good to excellent credit. American Express doesn't specifically express the exact score you'll need to qualify, and additional factors from your application and credit history could also affect your approval chances; however, the credit bureau Experian says those with good credit usually have FICO scores of at least 670, with excellent scores starting at 800. Please note, though, that these numbers can vary between different bureaus.

HILTON ASPIRE ANNUAL FEE

Though the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card offers a number of valuable perks to help offset it, one downside of this card is its sizable $450 annual fee (). Despite the valuable rewards-earning potential this card offers, if you're not traveling often, it'll likely be difficult to justify the cost of the card. However, if you travel regularly, incentives such as free night rewards, airport lounge access, and airline and hotel credits will offset this cost with ease. Plus, this card has no foreign transaction fees, so it's great for international travel (). Many cards charge a fee of up to 3% on purchases made in a foreign currency. So say you travel abroad a few times a year, spending on average $10,000 annually with a card that charges a 3% fee on foreign transactions, you'd be looking at $300 in fees. If you use the Aspire card though, that's money in your pocket.

HILTON HONORS ASPIRE CARDHOLDER SCORES

CardRatings conducts a survey annually to learn what actual cardholders think of their cards. Here are the results:

2020 Scores 2019 Scores
Overall Score 86.5 Did not survey
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.7 n/a
Customer Service 8.8 n/a
Website/App Usability 8.5 n/a
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.8 n/a
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.5 n/a

HOW HILTON HONORS ASPIRE COMPARES TO OTHER TRAVEL REWARDS CREDIT CARDS

Hilton Honors Aspire vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve

We might as well get this out of the way first: Like the Hilton Aspire card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® has a hefty annual fee ($550), but also like the Aspire card, it offers a lot of great perks to help offset this cost.

For starters, you'll get 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from opening your account. When you redeem those points through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, that's $750 that you can use towards travel. Cardholders can also receive a reimbursement of up to $300 in statement credits each account anniversary to cover select travel expenses including airfare and hotel charges. This card also comes with lounge access to more than 1,000 lounges worldwide.

Both cards are marketed as travel cards, but they each earn rewards a bit differently. Whereas the Aspire card earns bonus rewards in select travel categories (among others), the Chase Sapphire Reserve® earns a flat rate of 3X points on all travel purchases immediately after earning the $300 travel credit, 3X point son dining at restaurants worldwide, and 1X point on all other purchases. What's notable about the Reserve® card, though, is that points are worth 50% more when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Neither card charges foreign transaction fees.

Hilton Honors Aspire vs. Platinum Card® from American Express

This is another card with a sizable annual fee ($550), but again, it's also another option with plenty of perks to help offset this.

Some of the travel benefits offered with The Platinum Card® from American Express include access to the Global Lounge Collection, up to $200 a year in statement credits to cover incidental airline charges, and a $100 or $85 Global Entry or TSA Pre✓™ application fee reimbursement.

As far as bonuses and rewards go, new cardholders can earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® points once making $5,000 in purchases in the first six months of opening an account. On an ongoing basis, earn 5X points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel (starting Jan. 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year), as well as on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com, and 1X point on all other purchases. Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new card at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first six months of card membership.

The Platinum Card® offers a bit more flexibility with how you earn rewards, but if you're looking for a luxury travel card and frequently stay at Hilton properties, the Aspire card is likely the better fit.

Another important distinction between these cards: Unlike typical credit cards, the Platinum Card® allows you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all, and is therefore not meant to carry revolving credit. The Aspire card is a traditional credit card (though it's best to not carry revolving credit on this or any card). So you'll want to bear that in mind.

Again, neither card charges foreign transaction fees.

Hilton Honors Aspire vs. Hilton Honors Surpass®

The first thing you might notice with this little gem of a card is that its annual fee is only $95; compared to the Aspire card's $450 fee.

Well, you'll get more perks with the Aspire Card, right? Right; but don't discount the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card. The one big area where it's different from its more expensive cousin is that it doesn't offer an instant free Weekend Night Reward at a Hilton property.

Otherwise, the Surpass® aspires to surpass your expectations, and it probably will.

For instance, new cardholders can earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Surpass® card, as long as you make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of opening your account. With the Aspire, you have to spend $4,000 in three months for the 150,000 points to kick in.

There are other perks as well with Surpass®. You'll receive 10 free visits to Priority Pass™ Select airport lounges every year. You're also an automatic Gold member, which means you'll get various perks such as a free continental breakfast at eligible Hilton hotels and an 80% bonus on base points earned. There is still an opportunity to earn a Free Weekend Night Reward too, but you must spend at least $15,000 in a calendar year to receive it.

When it comes to ongoing rewards, you won't earn quite as much with the Suprass®, but considering how much more affordable this card is, the rates are still impressive. Earn 12X Hilton Honors points for each dollar of eligible spend at participating Hilton hotels and resorts; 6X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; and 3X points on all other eligible purchases.

Finally, neither card has a foreign transaction fee.

IS THE HILTON HONORS ASPIRE CARD WORTH IT?

For some cardholders, yes, absolutely. For you? Only you can decide that.

If you aren't much of a traveler, or you are but rarely stay at Hilton properties, then this is likely not your credit card. On the other hand, if you travel often and prefer Hilton hotels, then all you need to think about is whether the annual fee is worth it to you. And it probably will be thanks to the numerous perks that come with the card. Just make sure to use the card, and these perks, often enough to offset the cost of the card.

 

Survey Methodology: CardRatings commissioned Op4G in September and October 2020 to conduct surveys among 1,746 cardholders nationwide. CardRatings website analytics from Jan. 1, 2020-Aug. 31, 2020 were used to determine a selection of the most popular cards and additional cards were added to add survey breadth. Responses to each of nine questions were given on a scale of 1-10 and respondents' scores were then averaged under broad topics. To determine the overall score, responses from questions 1-8 were summed and the answer to "How likely are you to recommend this card to a friend, coworker or family member?" was double weighted.

To see the rates and fees for the American Express cards in this post, please visit the following links: The Platinum Card® from American Express (See Rates and Fees); Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card (See Rates and Fees); Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card ()

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card Compared to Other Cash back Cards

This card is no longer available.
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
Apply online for Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Cash Back on Gas
 
Cash Back on Gas
3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more). 
Cash Back on Gas
1.5% 
Cash Back on Gas
1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay 
Cash Back on Gas
1.5% 
Cash Back on Groceries
 
Cash Back on Groceries
6% at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%) 
Cash Back on Groceries
N/A 
Cash Back on Groceries
1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay 
Cash Back on Groceries
1.5% 
Cash Back on other
 
Cash Back on other
1% cash back on other purchases 
Cash Back on other
1.5% 
Cash Back on other
1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay 
Cash Back on other
1.5% 
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