Who is This Credit Card Best For?
Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain
Hits the road often, whether for work or play
Loves to explore places and experience new things
Frequently shops with a particular merchant and wants to be rewarded for their loyalty
If you stay at Hilton properties often, want to earn free nights and discounts on more stays, and you’re a big spender on other types of travel and on restaurants, this card can be an excellent tool.
The annual fee is high, but those who use the perks to improve their travel experiences and cut costs won’t notice its sting. If you just travel a few times a year and don’t want to pay a big fee, consider instead the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass card, which still offers some lounge access but at a much lower fee.
Hilton Honors Diamond Status
Up to $600 in statement credits
Priority Pass™ Select membership for you and two guests
Free weekend night rewards
High annual fee
Lower points valuation than some other hotel programs
Grocery and gas purchases not included in second-highest earning category
- Hilton Honors Diamond Status: This highest level of Hilton Honors status gives you executive lounge access, premium Wi-Fi, room upgrades, and even more bonus points on top of those earned by using this card.
- Up to $600 in statement credits: You’ll get a $250 Hilton resort credit each year. Next, pick a qualifying airline and get $250 back in statement credits over the year for expenses such as checked bags and flight change fees. Lastly, if you book a two-night minimum stay at participating Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts and Conrad Hotels & Resorts, you’ll get a $100 statement credit.
- Priority Pass Select membership: You and two guests get unlimited access to more than 1,000 airport lounges worldwide with this perk, which has a value of at least $429.
- Free weekend night rewards: Every year after you renew your card, you’ll get one Free Weekend Night Reward that can be redeemed for a standard, double-occupancy room at a Hilton property. Plus, spend $60,000 in a calendar year and get another free weekend night.
- High annual fee: While it’s possible and not incredibly hard to get your return on investment for this card’s $450 annual fee, not everyone will. If you aren’t interested in the elite travel benefits, there are many other travel cards with lower or no annual fees that would be a better fit.
- Lower points valuation than some other hotel programs: Although it’s easy to earn Hilton Honors points with this card, you need a lot of them to score a free room. More on that in the Redeeming Rewards section below.
- No bonus points for grocery and gas purchases: Other Hilton credit cards award extra points for grocery and gas purchases, but this one does not. While this isn’t a downfall for those who spend the most on hotels and travel, it shows the card isn't made for those looking to maximize day-to-day purchases for travel later.
Spend $4,000 on purchases within three months after opening this card and you’ll earn 150,000 Hilton Honors bonus points.
While 150,000 is a big number, because Hilton Honors points have a lower value, this welcome offer is worth $645, according to our valuation of Honors points. Regardless, this is still a competitive premium hotel card offer.
This welcome offer is not available to applicants who have or have previously had this card. The number of other American Express cards you’ve opened and closed before will also impact your eligibility.
Earning Points & Rewards
Get 14 points per $1 spent on purchases made at a participating Hilton hotel or resort. Those points are on top of the points you get by automatically being a Hilton Honors Diamond Status Member with this card.
Diamond members get 20 base points per $1 spent on Hilton purchases (10 points per $1 at Tru and Home2). Base points are those you earn from the Honors program, not from the credit card. The Diamond membership means if you book a $1,500 hotel stay using your Hilton Honors American Express Aspire card, you’ll earn 51,000 points: 30,000 points for being a Diamond Status Hilton Honors Member + 21,000 points by paying with this Amex card.
The Aspire card also lets you earn 7 points per $1 spent on the following:
- Flights booked directly with an airline or via amextravel.com
- Car rentals booked with 12 major rental car companies
- U.S. restaurant purchases
All other purchases will earn you 3 points per $1.
There’s no limit on the number of total points you can earn each year on the card. There are also no blackout dates and points don’t expire if your account remains active and in good standing.
Reward points earn the most when used for hotel reservations, which typically cost between 5,000 and 95,000 points per night. Standard and premium rooms can be booked using points, but the total point cost will vary based on seasonality, location, and room availability at the desired hotel.
We value Honors points at about 0.43 cents apiece, on average, when redeemed for hotel stays. That’s the lowest average per-point value among all the hotel rewards programs we evaluated. Some other hotel points are worth at least 1 cent each, which is the minimum that rewards chasers look for as a rule of thumb.
The low value of Hilton Honors points, however, is somewhat mitigated with this card because you can earn so many points. For instance, you earn 7 points per $1 spent on restaurant purchases. That means you get 3.01 cents’ worth of value per $1 spent on dining out. That’s essentially the same as a cash-back card that earns 3% back at restaurants. Plus, you earn so much more on Hilton stays.
You can also book a reward stay with a combination of reward points and money.
In addition, Hilton Honors points can also be redeemed for the following:
- Experiences (i.e.concerts, sporting events, historic tours, travel excursions, and unique activities).
- Hilton resort activities (i.e. dinners, spa treatments, and golf reservations)
- Shopping on Amazon.com
- Rental cars with partner companies Alamo, Enterprise, or National
- Charity donations
Transferring Points to Travel Partners
You can transfer Hilton Honors points to six U.S. airlines (American Airlines, Delta, United, Frontier, Alaska Airlines, and Hawaiian Airlines), and to 32 international airlines but you’ll need an average of at least 8 Honors points to get 1 point in the transfer partner’s program. We wouldn’t recommend using your points this way, but it is an option if you have lots of points to burn.
How To Get The Most Out Of This Card
Spend $4,000 right away to secure the welcome offer bonus points. Use this card to pay for all things travel, big and small, and book reservations directly with participating hotels and airlines to earn the maximum number of points for each purchase, and to get the airline travel credit. Make sure you visit Priority Pass airport lounges when you fly, as that benefit alone nearly makes up for the high annual fee.
To truly maximize this card’s value, only redeem your points for hotel stays. Use your free weekend night before the end of each year, as your bonus points carry over but those reward nights do not.
Besides the statement credits, free weekend night rewards, Priority Pass membership, and Diamond Status upgrade, this card has the following benefits, which our editors have deemed superior to the standard perks typically offered by travel cards:
- Baggage insurance plan: You’re covered for replacement costs up to $3,000 for lost, stolen, or damaged luggage when trip transportation was paid in full with this card.
- Travel accident insurance: Provides accidental death and dismemberment coverage up to $500,000 for you and your family while traveling on a plane, train, ship, or bus when the entire fare has been charged to this card.
Some of the other perks that come with this card include:
- Insurance for stolen or damaged purchases
- Extended warranty
- Purchase return protection
- Auto rental collision damage waiver (secondary coverage)
- Free two-day shipping on select online purchases via ShopRunner
J.D. Power has ranked American Express No. 2 for customer satisfaction among credit card issuers, awarding the issuer 838 out of 1,000 points in its 2019 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study. The Amex mobile app and online experience also ranked second in another 2019 J.D. Power survey.
Besides the high-ranking customer service, you also get access to MyCreditGuide. This tool contains your TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 and credit report, and will alert you to changes in the report.
If you get a notification through MyCreditGuide that your credit report has changed and you haven’t recently opened any new accounts yourself, you can take that as an alert to check your report for fraudulent activity.
Besides that tool, if your Hilton Honors American Express Aspire card has been lost or compromised, you can lock your account via your online cardholder account. Lost or stolen cards will be replaced for free and the freeze will automatically lift after seven days unless you remove it first.
Fees to Watch Out For
Frequent travelers will be pleased that they can use this card abroad without paying foreign transaction fees. Outside of the $450 annual fee, the Hilton Honors Aspire card has a typical line-up of fees.