Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card Review: Lux Rewards [2020]

This Hilton-branded credit card’s perks and rewards seem almost limitless for fans of Hilton, but is it worth the annual fee?
Last updated Nov 25, 2020 | By Kevin Payne

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Hilton is one of the most recognizable names in the travel world. With more than 570 hotels and resorts around the globe, Hilton offers travelers luxury accommodations no matter where they go.

With the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, Hilton fans can earn valuable rewards and perks not available to the casual traveler. While it does carry a sizable annual fee, the Aspire card is worth the cost as long as you use the available benefits.

Keep reading this Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card review to find out if this is the best hotel credit card for you.

Fabulous Rewards for Hilton Fans

Benefits

  • 150,000 bonus point welcome offer
  • 14X points on eligible Hilton purchases
  • $250 in annual Hilton Resort credits
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Terms apply

Drawbacks

  • High annual fee
  • Best for frequent Hilton travelers

In this Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card review:

Who should get the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card?

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is for frequent travelers who want luxury level benefits. If you’re already a fan of Hilton hotels and resorts or planning to make them your “go-to” hotel chain, having the Aspire card makes sense.

If you are a member of the Hilton Honors loyalty program, or planning to join it, then this card will be greatly beneficial to you. The Aspire card automatically earns you Diamond Status, the highest tier of member benefits offered by Hilton. It also earns points at a ridiculously high rate for all Hilton purchases, making this the perfect card if you plan to travel to Hilton properties over the next year and beyond.

This card does have a $450 annual fee, though. So if you aren’t planning on taking advantage of its travel perks or planning to be frequently earning rewards by staying at Hilton properties, you’ll be better off getting either a different Hilton credit card or other travel rewards credit card.

Card basics

Card type Travel
Credit card issuer American Express
Annual fee $450
Welcome bonus Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening
Reward rate 14X points on eligible purchases within the Hilton portfolio, 7X points on qualifying travel purchases made directly with airlines/select car rental companies or Amextravel.com, 7X points at U.S. restaurants, and 3X points on all other purchases
Recommended credit score Excellent, Good
Foreign transaction fee None

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card benefits and perks

  • Generous welcome offer: New cardmembers can earn 150,000 Hilton Honors points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of card membership.
  • Complimentary Diamond status: Enjoy complimentary Diamond elite status with your Hilton Honors Aspire card. This is the highest Hilton status tier and gives you access to perks like free breakfast on all stays, room upgrades, premium WiFi, Executive Lounge access, unlimited milestone bonuses, and more.
  • Hilton resort credit: You can get up to a $250 statement credit each cardmember year for eligible Hilton resort purchases, like restaurant and spa purchases.
  • Airline fee credit: Get an annual airline incidentals credit for up to $250 for baggage fees, flight change fees, and in-flight purchases.
  • Property credit: Cardmembers can get a credit of up to $100 each time they book an eligible two-night hotel stay at a Waldorf Astoria or Conrad property. 
  • Priority Pass: Receive complimentary Priority Pass Select membership and access to over 1,200 airport lounges worldwide for you and up to two guests.
  • Free weekend night reward: Your new Aspire card earns you a free weekend night at a Hilton property during your first year as well as one every year after renewal. Cardmembers can earn an additional free night after spending $60,000 annually.
  • Insurance coverage: By using your Hilton Aspire card, you can get car rental loss and damage insurance as well as baggage insurance for lost, stolen, or damaged luggage.

Drawbacks to the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

  • Annual fee: While this card does come with some impressive perks, it also comes with an annual fee of $450. It can be an expensive card if you aren't a loyal Hilton guest and you aren't traveling often enough to offset the annual fee.
  • Low transfer value: If you are interested in transferring your Hilton points to a hotel or airline partner, make sure you check the value before you complete your transfer. Typically, Hilton points transfer at a 10:1 ratio, though you may get a better value, depending on the partner you choose.

Earning & redeeming Hilton Honors points

Earning & redeeming Hilton Honors points

Potential earnings in years one and two

Here's a look at how your points can add up with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. To calculate these values, we used a point valuation of 0.5 cents apiece.

Remember, this is an estimation. The actual value will be determined by how much you spend and in which categories you spend.

Year one earnings: $1,259.40

Year two earnings: $359.40

These values are based on the FinanceBuzz Credit Card Rewards Valuation Model, which takes a look at points earned via spending, the welcome bonus, and the annual fee.

Note that the values above only take general travel spending into account. They do not account for Hilton-specific spending, the annual statement credits, or Hilton Honors Diamond Status perks that you receive as a cardmember. If you factor those in, the value you'll get from this card in years one and two will likely be significantly higher. 

Best ways to earn

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is the perfect card for earning rewards on travel purchases, especially if you frequent Hilton properties. You can earn an astonishing 14X points per dollar spent on eligible purchases within the Hilton portfolio.

On top of that, you’ll also earn 7X points for purchases made directly with airlines or Amextravel.com, select car rental companies, and at U.S. restaurants. Few credit cards offer rewards earning with rates this high. You will earn 3X on all other eligible purchases, which is also a high rate for everyday spending.

So, as you can see, using your Hilton Honors Aspire card for all of your purchases can help you earn Hilton Honors points quickly.

Categories Rewards rate
Hilton purchases 14X
Flights 7X
Car rentals 7X
U.S. restaurants 7X
Other purchases 3X

Maximizing your redemptions

While your Hilton Honors points can be used for a variety of redemptions. But when it comes to maximizing the value of your Hilton Honors points, it makes the most sense to use them toward free Hilton stays. Redemptions for Hilton hotel stays start at just 5,000 points a night, though the amount of points required will increase depending on the specific property, type of room, and other factors.

Other things you can get with your Hilton Honors points include:

  • Hilton vacation packages
  • Cruises
  • Car rentals
  • Lyft ride certificates
  • Online shopping
  • Gift certificates

Your Hilton Honors points can also be converted to airline or rail miles with select Hilton travel partners. There’s also an option to transfer points to someone else or donate them to charity.

Hilton Honors transfer partners

If you prefer, you can transfer your Hilton Honors points to one of several hotel, airline, and travel partners. Hilton Honors currently has over 30 airline, rail, and mileage rewards program partners. Among these hospitality companies are American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic.

You can also add to your Hilton Honors points with rewards from both American Express and Diners Club. American Express cardholders in the U.S. will receive 2,000 Hilton Honors points for every 1,000 Amex Membership Rewards points transferred into your Hilton Honors rewards account.

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card FAQs

Is the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire card metal?

No, currently, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire card is not a metal credit card.

Can I upgrade my Hilton Honors credit card?

The Hilton Honors Aspire card can’t be upgraded because it is the highest card in the Hilton Honors card family. If you have the Hilton Honors American Express Card or the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card, they can be upgraded after having them for one year. Be aware that other factors may also determine your eligibility for an upgrade.

Can you have two Hilton Honors American Express cards?

Yes, you can have two Hilton Honors cards at the same time. With more than one, you can build up your Hilton Honors points quickly through the welcome bonuses. The Hilton Honors cards have overlapping reward categories, but both the Hilton Honors Card and Hilton Honors Surpass Card would earn you extra bonus points for gas and grocery purchases, which isn’t true with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.

How many Hilton Honors points do I need for a free night?

Reward stays at Hilton start at 5,000 points per award night. This amount can secure you a free night at hotels around the world. The highest redemption for a free night at a Hilton resort is currently 120,000 points for a room at Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal and Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi (as of Dec. 30, 2019). You can use the Hilton Points Explorer to search for redemption amounts and pick your next vacation destination.

What is the best Hilton Honors credit card?

Which Hilton Honors credit card is best depends on your personal preferences and what type of annual fee you want to pay. The Aspire card offers the highest rewards earning rates, Diamond status, and more travel rewards than the other Hilton Honors credit cards, but it also carries a high annual fee. If you would rather pay less of an annual fee and you know you won’t use all this card’s benefits, then it may not be the best card for you.

Other cards to consider

If you like luxury travel rewards, but don’t want to be tied to a particular hotel chain, try the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. This travel card’s 50,000-point welcome bonus, and $300 annual travel credit definitely help offset its annual fee of $550. It earns 10X points on Lyft rides, 3X points on travel (excluding $300 travel credit), 3X points at restaurants, and 1X points per $1 spent on everything else. Chase Sapphire Reserve charges no foreign transaction fees and also has other travel benefits like airport lounge access, a statement credit for TSA Precheck or Global Entry fees, and more.

If you’re a fan of Hilton, but don’t love the high annual fee attached to the Aspire card, why not check out the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card? You’ll earn 12X points when spending directly with an eligible Hilton hotel or resort; 6X points on purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; and 3X points on all other eligible purchases. Plus, you’ll earn a 130,000 welcome bonus after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months after opening the card.

Fabulous Rewards for Hilton Fans

Special Offer

Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months

See how these cards compare:

Chase Sapphire Reserve
Chase Sapphire Reserve
  • 50,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 3X points on travel and at restaurants
  • $60 annual DoorDash credit in 2020 and 2021
  • Priority Pass airport lounge access
Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card
Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card
  • Earn up to 40,000 bonus miles
  • 3X miles on purchases made directly with Delta and at hotels
  • First checked bag free on Delta flights
  • Statement credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry
  • Terms apply