Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card review: Earn 14X points at Hilton properties
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
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.
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.
- Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
- Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
- Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
- Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
- No annual fee.
- 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
- No minimum to redeem for cash back. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open.
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.
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.
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 (See Rates and Fees). 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 (See Rates and Fees). 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 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 card is not currently available on CardRatings)
This is another credit 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 Collecton, up to $200 a year in statement credits to cover incidental airline charges, a $100 or $85 Global Entry or TSA Pre✓™ application fee reimbursement, and hotel perks including enrollment in the Fine Hotel and Resorts® program and elite status with certain hotel chains.
As far as bonuses and rewards go, new cardholders can earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points once making $5,000 in purchases in the first three months of opening an account. On an ongoing basis, earn 5X points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, as well as on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com, and 1X point on all other purchases.
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: Platinum Card® is a charge card and not a credit card, and is therefore not meant to carry revolving credit. The Aspire card is a 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.
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.
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 (See Rates and Fees)