Hilton Honors™ Aspire Card: Is it worth $450 a year? | finder.com

Hilton Honors™ Aspire Card review – August 2018

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It’s priced at a premium, but it’s a strong choice if you’re a frequent traveler and Hilton guest.

30-second take

  • Get this card if you’re a frequent traveler and want the highest status tier in Hilton Honors™.
  • Pick something else if you don’t travel much or want general travel rewards.
  • Apply with a good to excellent credit score of 670 or higher.
Product NameHilton Honors™ Aspire Card
Card TypeAmerican Express
Annual Fee$450
APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases17.49% to 26.49% variable
Cash Advance Rate26.99% variable
Cash Advance Fee$5 or 3% of the cash advance amount, whichever is greater
Foreign Transaction FeeNone
Interest Free PeriodUp to 25 days
Late Payment FeeUp to $38
Returned Payment FeeUp to $38
Minimum Age18 years of age
Welcome BonusEarn 100,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
Reward Value per Dollar3 points

The basics

The Hilton Honors™ Aspire Card is the top-tier option among American Express’s Hilton Honors™ cards. With an annual fee of $450, it’s positioned as a premium product.

Should you get it over the Hilton Honors™ Ascend Card, which costs $95 a year? That may come down to how much you travel. The Hilton Honors™ Aspire Card doesn’t offer accelerated points at US supermarkets like its counterpart does. That means you have fewer opportunities to accrue points if you don’t travel much.

If you’re a frequent traveler, you’ll find impressive perks with the Hilton Honors™ Aspire Card. These include complimentary Diamond status in Hilton Honors™ and complimentary Priority Pass™ membership. And if you can take advantage of the card’s airline and hotel credits, you’ll find it can effectively pay for itself.

Hilton Honors™ Ascend Card vs. Hilton Honors™ Aspire Card

Hilton Honors™ Ascend CardHilton Honors™ Aspire Card
Annual fee$95$450
Signup bonus100,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 or more in purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.100,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points after you spend $4,000 or more in purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
Points: Hilton Portfolio spending12x14x
Points: Mid-tier rewards6x points at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations7x points at US restaurants and on eligible flights and car rentals
Points: All other eligible purchases3x
Status upgrade in Hilton Honors™GoldDiamond
Priority Pass™ entries10 entriesUnlimited
Weekend Night RewardSpend $15,000 in a calendar yearComplimentary
Statement creditNoYes; $250 Hilton resort, $250 airline fee and $100 Hilton on-property credit

The perks

  • Welcome offer: 100,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points

    After you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months, you’ll earn 100,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points. Redeem points for hotel stays and rewards in travel, dining, shopping and more.

    Using the industry’s standard redemption value of 1 cent for every point, 100,000 points are typically worth $1,000. But Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points tend to be worth much less than that — often around 0.5 cents a point. Given that rate, 100,000 points are worth around $500. That’s still a good welcome offer, even if you can potentially find better ones.

  • Rewards: Earn up to 14x Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points.

    Earn 14x points on eligible purchases within Hilton Portfolio hotels and resorts.

    Earn 7x points at US restaurants, on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel, and on car rentals booked directly through select car rental companies. These are slightly different mid-tier reward categories than you’ll find with the Hilton Honors™ Ascend Card.

    Earn 3x points on all other eligible purchases.

  • Weekend Night Reward.

    You’ll receive one Weekend Night Reward after you receive your Hilton Honors™ Aspire Card, and every year after renewal. This is a certificate valid for one weekend night standard accommodation at a property in the Hilton Portfolio.

    With the Hilton Honors™ Aspire Card, this certificate is complimentary. With the Hilton Honors™ Ascend Card, you need to spend $15,000 on purchases in a calendar year to receive the Weekend Night Reward.

  • $250 Hilton resort statement credit.

    Receive a $250 statement credit for eligible purchases at participating Hilton Resorts. If you take advantage of it, it’ll effectively help you cover more than half of the card’s annual fee.

  • Complimentary Priority Pass™ Select membership.

    Enjoy unlimited visits to lounges in the Priority Pass™ collection, which includes more than 1,200 airport lounges around the world.

    If this is important to you, you might prefer the Hilton Honors™ Aspire Card over the Hilton Honors™ Ascend Card. The latter only offers 10 complimentary visits to Priority Pass™ lounges each calendar year. After you use those visits, you’ll need to pay $27 per additional visit.

How good is the welcome offer for the Hilton Honors™ Aspire Card?

For an idea of how far your points will go, here are a few Hilton properties and their point equivalents:

  • Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo, DoubleTree by Hilton — $193 a night or 40,000 points
  • DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Los Angeles Downtown — $228 a night or 50,000 points
  • Hampton Inn & Suites Denver Downtown — $260 a night or 50,000 points
  • The London NYC — $350 a night or 95,000 points

You’ll also like

  • Airline and hotel credits.

    You’ll receive a $250 airline fee credit each calendar year for incidental fees charged by airlines. You might be charged these fees for checked baggage, seat assignments, in-flight amenities, in-flight entertainment and more.

    When you book a two-night minimum stay through the Hilton Honors™ Aspire Card site, you’ll receive up to $100 in credits for qualifying charges at participating hotels. Qualifying properties include the Waldorf Astoria® Hotels & Resorts and Conrad® Hotels & Resorts.

  • Complimentary upgrade to Hilton Honors™ Diamond status.

    Normally, you need 30 stays, 60 nights or to earn 120,000 Hilton Honors™ Base Points in a calendar year to achieve Diamond status. With the Hilton Honors™ Aspire Card, you’ll reach Diamond without having to meet those requirements.

    Hilton Honors™ offers robust perks even for basic members, such as digital check-in, complimentary in-room Wi-Fi and late checkout. Still, there are benefits to earning Diamond. You’ll receive a 100% bonus on the Hilton Honors™ Base Points you earn, as well as your fifth night free when you book a reward stay of five nights or more with all points.

    You’ll also receive special gifts at select properties, such as complimentary refreshments and room upgrades. At Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, you’ll receive a daily continental breakfast for you and one eligible guest. And at Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Curio properties, you’ll get access to the Executive Floor Lounge.

  • No foreign transaction fees.

    You won’t incur fees when you use your card abroad or at foreign websites. Typically, providers charge a 3% fee each time you use your card for an international transaction. It doesn’t sound like much, but it can add up over a trip spanning several days.

  • Concierge.

    Call the American Express Concierge when you need help with special arrangements or reservations. For example, you might contact the Concierge to obtain tickets to a popular event or to find a gift for a loved one.

  • Travel benefits.

    Access the Premium Global Assist Hotline when you’re more than 100 miles from home. This provides medical, financial, legal and other emergency assistance.

    You’re covered by Travel Accident Insurance, which provides accidental death and dismemberment coverage on eligible transportation. And through the Baggage Insurance Plan, your luggage is covered against loss, damage or theft.

    When you pay for a car rental with your Hilton Honors™ Aspire Card and decline the collision damage waiver, the vehicle is covered against damage or theft. And If you need help on the road, call American Express Premium Roadside Assistance.

  • Purchase benefits.

    On eligible items you buy with your card, you’ll receive extended warranties. You may receive Purchase Protection, which covers your items against damage or theft. And if you return an eligible item within 90 days and the merchant won’t accept it, you may qualify for a refund through Return Protection.

  • ShopRunner benefits.

    Get a free ShopRunner membership and enjoy free two-day shipping and returns on purchases from more than 140 online stores in ShopRunner’s network, including Eddie Bauer, Express, Harry & David, Kay Jewelers, the NBA Store and Neiman Marcus.

  • Membership Experiences.

    As a cardholder, you’ll have exclusive access to special events and ticket presales.

What to watch out for

  • $450 annual fee.

    The Hilton Honors™ Aspire Card positions itself as a premium card, and its annual fee reflects that. But if you can take advantage of its statement credits, the card effectively pays for itself.

  • Not as widely accepted overseas.

    Because the Hilton Honors™ Aspire Card is an American Express card, you might not have as many opportunities to use it overseas as you would with a Visa or Mastercard.

  • Penalty APR.

    If you make a late or returned payment, American Express may apply a 29.99% variable APR to all of your balances. This is known as a penalty APR, and it could apply to your account for six months or more.

Consider other cards if …

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1 points
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Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
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20,000 online bonus points offer. Ditch the restrictions of typical airline rewards cards. Any airline, any hotel, anytime. No blackout dates.
Earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
1 points
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$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of your account opening, and an additional 30,000 points when you spend a total of $30,000 on purchases within the first year of your account opening.
Earn 50,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days
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Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
Earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
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Earn 50,000 BONUS POINTS after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening* — that's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Earn 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
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Earn 40,000 miles after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months
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40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.* Plus a $100 statement credit after your first purchase.
Earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
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40,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open

Compare up to 4 providers

What should I know before I apply?

To apply for the Hilton Honors™ Aspire Card, you must be:

  • At least 18 years old.
  • A US resident.
Information you’ll need:

To complete the application, you’ll need to provide information that includes:

  • Your name and residential address.
  • Your Social Security number.
  • Your email address, phone number and date of birth.
  • Financial information like your annual income and income source.

What credit score do I need?

You’ll have a better chance of being approved for the Hilton Honors™ Aspire Card if you apply with a good to excellent credit score of 670 or higher. If you have a high income and excellent credit, your likelihood of approval is strong.

Here are a few other factors that might affect your odds of approval:

  • Hard pulls on your credit report. If you have several hard inquiries — or hard pulls — on your report, it could imply you’re having trouble managing your debt. American Express might think you’re desperate for credit and may be less likely to take you on as a customer.
  • Factors that tie into your credit score. Your credit utilization is a major factor American Express considers. The bank prefers a customer with low balances relative to their credit limit. Having many new card accounts may be a red flag, too, as it could indicate you’re desperate for credit. It may also give the impression that you’re a flighty customer who’s just hunting for welcome offers.

What do customers say about the Hilton Honors™ Aspire Card?

The American Express Company has been accredited with the Better Business Bureau since 1948 and earns an overall A+ rating. However, as of July 2018, 90% of its reviews are negative and it has nearly 3,000 customer complaints. Amex cardholders in general complain of rude customer service reps, missing statement credit and issues disputing charges.

The company earns a Trustpilot score of 3 out of 10. Many negative reviews cite unhelpful customer service and inflexible company policies. Positive reviews say the company employs pleasant customer service representatives. Overall, your mileage may vary with American Express customer support.

How to apply for the Hilton Honors™ Aspire Card

  1. On the American Express website, click Apply now.
  2. Complete the application with details like your name, address, annual income, and Social Security number.
  3. Review and submit your application.

How long will it take to get my Hilton Honors™ Aspire Card?

Because conditional credit card approval is automated on the website, you may get a decision on your application within 30 seconds. If there are issues with your application, it may take a few business days to a few weeks to hear back.

After you’re approved, you’ll typically receive your card within seven to 10 business days.

I got the card. Now what?

  • Make payments on time. Register an account on the American Express website to pay your balance online. You can also enroll in autopay.
  • Avoid interest. After the close of each billing cycle, you have a grace period of at least 25 days to pay your balance. If you do, you won’t pay interest on your purchases.
  • Avoid fees. Late and returned payments come with hefty fees of up to $38.
  • Contact customer service. Help documents aren’t easily accessible on the American Express website, but you can call 1-800-528-4800 for customer service. According to market research company JD Power, cardholders give American Express high marks in customer interaction.

Bottom line

A $450 annual fee is quite a chunk of change, but you may find it’s a fair price for this premium card. If you’re a frequent traveler and a Hilton regular, you’ll like the rewards you’ll earn. And if you can use the card’s airline and hotel credits, the card will effectively pay for itself.

You’re not limited to just Hilton rewards when it comes to travel credit cards. Take your time and compare other options to find the right fit for your travel lifestyle.

Frequently asked questions

Images: AmericanExpress.com

Kevin Joey Chen

Kevin Chen is a world-travelin', copy-writin', Game of Thrones-watchin' credit cards writer for finder.com. When he's not crunching the numbers on bonus points and comparing APRs, you can find him flying around the world in search of the perfect beer.

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