Review: American Express Hilton Honors Aspire Card (US)

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American Express in the United States offers many more hotel co-branded credit cards than in Canada, including four Hilton Honors credit cards. These cards are a great way to enjoy various benefits at Hilton properties and accrue Hilton Honors points to reduce the cost of your next stay. The best and most premium credit card in the lineup is the American Express Hilton Honors Aspire card. It comes with a hefty annual fee but also some outsized benefits.

Before we get into it, it’s important to note that the American Express Hilton Honors Aspire card is a US credit card, meaning that if you want to obtain it you will need to look into how you can get US credit cards as a Canadian. While the process might seem intensive, it is worth it to be able to diversify when it comes to earning welcome bonuses and benefitting from the value that many US credit cards offer.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at everything you need to know about the American Express Hilton Honors Aspire card to see if this card is worth adding to your wallet.

Overview

Welcome Bonus

The American Express Hilton Honors Aspire card (US) currently has the following welcome bonus:

  • Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors points upon spending $6,000 in the first 6 months
American Express Hilton Honors Aspire Card (US)

The American Express Hilton Honors Aspire card (US) earns Hilton Honors points and offers cardholders an annual $400 Hilton Resort credit, a $200 airline fee credit, instant Hilton Diamond Elite status, an annual free night, and more.

Check out our American Express Hilton Honors Aspire card (US) review for more details.

BONUS
175,000 Hilton Honors
MINSPEND
$6,000
NET VALUE
$500+
ANNUAL FEE
$550
FOREX FEES
No
EXPIRY
Jul 31, 2024

Earning Rates

The American Express Hilton Honors Aspire card earns Hilton Honors points for all eligible purchases made on the card at the following rates:

  • Earn 14 Hilton Honors points for every dollar spent on purchases at hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio.
  • Earn 7 Hilton Honors points for every dollar spent on purchases related to travel, such as flights and car rentals.
  • Earn 7 Hilton Honors points for every dollar spent on dining and restaurants within the United States.
  • Earn 3 Hilton Honors points for every dollar spent on all other purchases.

When spending at a Hilton hotel or resort, the card earns 14 Hilton Honors points per USD spend which results in a 7% return on spend as Hilton Honors points are typically worth 0.5 cents per point.

Annual Fee

The American Express Hilton Honors Aspire card has an annual fee of $550 USD. While this may seem high, this is a premium credit card that comes with a wealth of valuable benefits that make it worth it.

Benefits

The American Express Hilton Honors Aspire card is stacked with benefits including statement credits, Hilton Honors status, free night certificates, and more.

Hilton Semi-Annual $200 Resort Credit

Every calendar year, American Express Hilton Honors Aspire cardholders are entitled to receive up to $400 USD in statement credits for eligible purchases made directly with participating Hilton Resorts. A list of the 328 qualifying Hilton resorts can be found here.

Stay at the Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas with the Hilton Resort credit

These credits are issued as semi-annual $200 USD credits, meaning one credit is available between January 1st and June 30th, and the other credit is available between July 1st and December 31st. 

To take advantage, simply charge your American Express Hilton Honors Aspire card at an eligible resort. Charges can include room rates, dining, parking, and any other costs at the resort that can be charged to your room.

Quarterly $50 Airline Credit

Cardholders are also entitled to a quarterly $50 USD airline credit, up to $200 USD per calendar year. A new credit is available at the start of January, April, July, and October.

Purchases eligible for this credit must be made on an eligible passenger carrier airline and must be booked directly with the airline or through Amex Travel. Cardholders do not need to pick a specific airline that this benefit needs to be used on and it can be used towards airfare, seat selection fees, upgrade fees, and more. 

To use this credit, simply charge the eligible purchase to your card and you will receive a statement credit in a few weeks.

Hilton Honors Diamond Elite Status

It’s rare to see credit cards that offer meaningful levels of elite status in loyalty programs, but the American Express Hilton Honors Aspire card grants instant Hilton Honors Diamond Elite status simply for holding the card.

Hilton Diamond status is the highest level within the Hilton Honors loyalty program which means it comes with the best benefits. Diamond members will receive complimentary breakfast, executive lounge access at applicable properties, suite upgrades, and other small perks such as additional points and access to premium WiFi.

conrad koh samui zest breakfast pastries
Complimentary Hilton Diamond breakfast at the Conrad Koh Samui

While Diamond status isn’t overly notable when staying at properties in North America, it really shines elsewhere in the world, such as in Asia, where executive lounges with full evening spreads and complimentary alcohol are the norm.

Annual Hilton Honors Free Night Certificate

One of the best benefits of the American Express Hilton Honors Aspire credit card is that it grants cardholders a Hilton free night certificate upon approval and at the cardholder anniversary every year thereafter.

New cardholders will receive the first free night certificate deposited to their Hilton Honors account between 8-12 weeks after approval. Similarly, renewing cardholders will receive their annual free night certificate 8-12 weeks after their cardholder anniversary.

conrad koh samui review featured image

In the past, the Frugal Flyer team has used their free night certificates at some truly stunning properties including the Oceana Santa Monica LXR, Conrad Koh Samui, and Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas. Thanks to the recent Hilton & Small Luxury Hotels of the World partnership, Hilton Honors members will soon be able to redeem their free night certificates at some of the most boutique properties in the world.

These certificates don’t have a set points cap like the Marriott Bonvoy free night certificates, meaning the value you can get out of them is truly outsized including such aspirational properties as the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedegral and the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi.

If you plan on staying at higher-end Hilton hotels and resorts, this benefit alone can make up the annual fee. If you collect miles and points with others, there is absolutely a case to be made for each person to hold the American Express Hilton Honors Aspire card simply for the valuable free night certificate.

Earn Additional Hilton Honors Free Night Certificates

American Express Hilton Honors Aspire cardholders are eligible to earn up to an additional two free night certificates per calendar year. 

The first free night certificate will be granted upon reaching $30,000 USD in spend and the second free night certificate will be granted upon reaching $60,000 USD in spend.

These certificates are earnable every calendar year as long as you hold the card, making it a great way to accrue free nights if your lifestyle demands this amount of spend. If you have earned free night certificates and aren’t sure about where to redeem them, check out our article about the best Hilton hotels to redeem these free night awards.

Annual $189 CLEAR Plus Credit

US residents who hold the American Express Hilton Honors Aspire card will receive up to $189 USD in statement credits per calendar year towards a CLEAR® Plus Membership. Simply charge the membership fee to the card to automatically receive reimbursement via statement credit.

National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive Status

Cardholders will receive complimentary National Car Rental® Emerald Club Executive® status which includes perks like Executive Area Access (for full-size reservations and above) when renting a car in the United States and Canada. Cardholders will need to enroll through their American Express online account to take advantage of this benefit.

Insurance Coverage

The American Express Hilton Honors Aspire credit card offers six types of insurance coverage:

  • Rental car loss and damage insurance
  • Trip delay insurance
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
  • Baggage insurance
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty

Refer to the terms and conditions of the insurance coverage before using it.

Redeeming Hilton Honors Points

Hilton Honors points can be redeemed for stays at any of the over 7,000 Hilton hotels and resorts worldwide. Whether you are interested in a base-level Hilton property or one of the more aspirational properties, it is easy to find hotels to redeem points at thanks to Hilton’s massive footprint around the world.

oceana santa monica lxr pool at night

Hilton Honors members who book a five night stay on points will also receive the fifth night free, reducing the total points cost of their stay by an effective 20%. This benefit is not available when using free night certificates.

Comparable Credit Cards

If you are looking for a comparable hotel credit card that offers loyalty program benefits, there are a couple of other credit cards issued by American Express in the United States that are worth considering.

American Express Hilton Honors Surpass Card (US)

The American Express Hilton Honors Surpass card (US) is a great option if you are interested in entering the Hilton Honors ecosystem without committing to a sizable annual fee.

American Express Hilton Honors Surpass Card (US)

The American Express Hilton Honors Surpass card (US) earns Hilton Honors points and offers cardholders benefits such as instant Hilton Gold elite status, a quarterly $50 Hilton credit, and ten complimentary airport lounge passes per year.

BONUS
130,000 Hilton Honors
MINSPEND
$3,000
NET VALUE
$630+
ANNUAL FEE
$150
FOREX FEES
No
EXPIRY
Jul 31, 2024

The American Express Hilton Honors Surpass card offers complimentary Hilton Honors Gold Elite status and a quarterly $50 USD credit to be used at any Hilton hotel or resort. Cardholders can also earn a free night certificate upon spending $15,000 USD in a calendar year.

Both the Surpass and Aspire credit cards are an important part of the best strategy for Hilton Honors credit cards, so there is no reason why you can’t hold both at the same time.

American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card (US)

The American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card (US) is worth considering if you are looking for a premium credit card that is focused on the Marriott Bonvoy program.

American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card (US)

The American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card (US) offers cardholders complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status, an annual $300 restaurant credit, an annual free night, 25 elite qualifying night credits annually, and Priority Pass Select membership.

Check out our American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card (US) review for more details.

BONUS
95,000 Marriott Bonvoy
MINSPEND
$6,000
NET VALUE
$205+
ANNUAL FEE
$650
FOREX FEES
No
EXPIRY

The American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card has similar benefits as it offers complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status, an annual free night certificate worth 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, 25 elite qualifying nights toward status, and a number of credits for restaurant purchases and Global Entry. 

If you are a regular guest at Marriott Bonvoy properties, there is a strong case to be made for adding this card to your wallet.

Conclusion

In my opinion, the American Express Hilton Honors Aspire credit card is the best hotel co-branded card in North America and is one that keeps a place in my wallet year after year. Complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status paired with an annual free night certificate makes it worth the annual fee alone, let alone once you include the plethora of credits available to be utilized.

This is one card that I highly recommend considering adding to your wallet if you enjoy Hilton hotels and resorts and plan on staying at one in the near future!

Josh Bandura

Josh Bandura

Co-Founder at Frugal Flyer
Josh has been involved in the miles and points game since 2015 but has scaled up his knowledge and points earning potential in recent years. With a consistent attitude of "min-maxing" in many aspects of his life, Josh has transferred this mindset over to the miles and points game. Always looking for the next big opportunity, he aims to share content on a variety of topics including his travels, miles and points, and most importantly, how to get the most out of your credit cards

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