Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Review

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The Hilton Honors American Express® Aspire card has enough benefits to outweigh its premium annual fee, but only for those who take advantage of the perks and who want to earn free nights at Hilton properties. It’s a bit over-the-top for conservative spenders, but those who can spend big bucks within the Hilton brand should easily find value.

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

overall rating
3.4
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
  • Regular APR (%) 17.74% - 26.74% variable
  • Annual Fee $450.00
  • Rewards Earning Rate 14X points for eligible purchases charged directly with a participating Hilton property. 7X points on eligible purchases of flights, car rentals, and U.S. restaurants. 3X points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Foreign transaction fee 0%
Ratings Breakdown
for Interest
1.0
for Rewards
1.9
for Credit
3.5

Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.

Who is This Credit Card Best For?

  • Avatar for Brand Loyalist Persona
    Frequently shops with a particular merchant and wants to be rewarded for their loyalty
    Brand Loyalist
  • Avatar for Deal Seeker Persona
    Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain
    Deal Seeker
  • Avatar for Adventure Seeker Persona
    Loves to explore places and experience new things
    Adventure Seeker
  • Avatar for Road Warrior Persona
    Hits the road often, whether for work or play
    Road Warrior

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.

Pros

  • Hilton Honors Diamond Status

  • Up to $600 in statement credits

  • Priority Pass™ Select membership for you and two guests

  • Free weekend night rewards

Cons

  • High annual fee

  • Lower points valuation than some other hotel programs

  • Grocery and gas purchases not included in second-highest earning category

Pros Explained

  • 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. 

Cons Explained

  • 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. 

Welcome Offer

Spend $4,000 on purchases within three months after opening this card and you’ll earn 150,000 Hilton Honors bonus points, which is in line with the value that other hotel cards offer with their credit card sign-up bonuses. While 150,000 is a big number, because Hilton Honors points have a lower value, this welcome offer is only worth $450 when redeemed for hotels, according to our valuation of Honors points.

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.

Redeeming Rewards

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 0.34 cents apiece when redeemed for hotel stays (based on evaluations of 18 properties across different cities and types of rooms). We found other hotel program points are worth 0.6 cents or even more than $1 apiece when redeemed for free 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.

Excellent Perks 

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.

Other Features 

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  

Customer Experience

J.D. Power has ranked American Express No. 2 for customer satisfaction among credit card issuers, awarding the issuer 830 out of 1,000 points in its 2018 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study. The Amex mobile app and online experience also rank No. 2 in a J.D. Power 2019 study

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.

Security Features 

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.

For Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

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Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
overall rating
3.4
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
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  • Regular APR (%) 17.74% - 26.74% variable
  • Annual Fee $450.00
  • Rewards Earning Rate 14X points for eligible purchases charged directly with a participating Hilton property. 7X points on eligible purchases of flights, car rentals, and U.S. restaurants. 3X points on all other eligible purchases.
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Our Methodology

  • At The Balance, we are dedicated to giving you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews. To do this, we collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances.
  • Our Reviews Are Always Impartial: No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive. The scores and reviews come directly from the data we collect and our editorial expertise, and we focus on three areas:
  • How Much Does It Cost? With credit card debt at an all-time high, we believe you should know the cost of carrying a balance. Because of that, we give regular purchase APRs significant weight in overall scores, and cards receive low marks if they have an array of pricey fees.
  • What Are the Rewards Worth? Cards accumulate rewards in different currencies—points, miles, cash back—and their values vary widely. To simplify the problem, we built a system that fairly compares rewards and gives them a dollar value. We do this by looking at the ways you can earn and use rewards, which includes evaluating Americans’ typical spending habits and analyzing common travel patterns.
  • Does It Make Your Life Easier? Our scoring system favors cards that accept a wide range of credit profiles and offer simple solutions for things like checking your credit score or contacting customer service. Finally, we give preference to credit cards that have several tools for dealing with fraudulent charges.
  • For every review on The Balance, we hold the credit cards to these standards, and we set the bar high. While we recognize the appeal of splashy features like six-digit sign-up bonuses, our approach ensures that credit cards with the best combination of value, affordability, and accessibility receive the highest scores. See our full methodology for more details.