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Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card Review

overall rating
4.1

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The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire card is a top-shelf travel rewards card offering a stellar rewards rate on Hilton hotel stays. This card is expensive, even as travel rewards options go, with a $450 annual fee but it includes several valuable features and benefits to help justify the cost for Hilton regulars.

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

overall rating
4.1
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
On American Express' Secured Site.

Current Offer:

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.

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
Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.74% - 24.74% variable
Annual Fee $450
Rewards Earning Rate 14 points per $1 for eligible Hilton purchases. 7 points per $1 on eligible flight, car rental, and U.S. restaurant purchases. 3 points per $1 on all other eligible purchases.
Balance Transfer Fee If eligible, either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
how this card stacks up
When compared among all rewards cards in our database:
Rewards
Benefits
Low Fees
Security/Customer Experience
Low Interest
worst best

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is not one of our top-rated hotel credit cards. You can review our list of the best hotel credit cards for what we think are better options.

Full Review of Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Pros
  • Extremely generous rewards for Hilton hotel stays

  • Above-average rewards on flights, car rentals, and dining

  • Packed with upscale travel perks

Cons
  • $450 annual fee

  • No introductory APR for purchases and balance transfers

Pros Explained

  • Generous Rewards Towards Hilton Hotel Stays: Altogether, American Express offers three consumer co-branded Hilton credit cards and of the three, the Aspire card offers the best rewards rate on Hilton hotel bookings. If you're highly loyal to the Hilton brand, the 14 points per dollar you earn with this card on Hilton spending is rewarding enough. But the card also automatically grants the cardholder Diamond status in the Hilton Honors loyalty program, whose perks include a doubling of the regular 10 points-per-dollar earnings from Honors membership. Add the card's 14 points per dollar earned to the 20 points conferred by Diamond status and you earn a total of 34 points per dollar spent. While that's an extraordinary number, Hilton Honors points are valued well below those of most other hotel programs, according to Investopedia's point-value calculations. That means the actual value of Hilton points earnings might be less than those figures suggest to you.
  • Above-Average Rewards on Flights, Car Rentals, and Dining: While the most rewards value comes from booking Hilton hotels, you also get pretty decent rewards on other purchases. You can earn 7 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or AmexTravel, U.S. restaurants, car rentals from eligible card rental companies and dining out, which is good if you're looking for a card that rewards you well for other travel purchases besides hotels. 
  • Upscale Travel Perks: This card doesn't skimp on travel benefits. In addition to the complimentary Diamond status, extras include a $250 airline incidental fee credit on one eligible airline you choose each year, $250 Hilton Resort statement credit at eligible Hilton resorts, and complimentary lounge access through Priority Pass Select. It's a solid combination of benefits that allows you to save money while traveling in comfort.

Cons Explained

  • Hefty Annual Fee: At $450, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire card is one of the more expensive travel rewards cards. If you want something less expensive, there are plenty of cards to choose from with lower or no annual fee.  
  • No Introductory 0% APR Offer: Even if you customarily pay your bill in full every month, an introductory offer for a period of 0% APR might be welcome, if only to give you greater flexibility to juggle your financial obligations for a year or more. Alas, this card won’t help you in this regard, since it has no intro APR offer, on either purchases or balance transfers.

This Card is Best For

  • Avatar for Rewards Strategist Persona
    Seeks to maximize points or miles earnings across spending categories
    Rewards Strategist
  • Avatar for Loyalty Status Seeker Persona
    Seeks the recognition and perks of branded travel partner status
    Loyalty Status Seeker

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire card is ideal for travelers who are prepared to pay its high annual fee because they stay extensively at the hotel chain’s properties and want to reap both exceptional Hilton rewards and a wide range of travel benefits. It's suited to Hilton stays in both the U.S. and abroad, since it imposes no foreign transaction fees. You'll earn a substantial 7 points per dollar spent on flights, and 3 points per dollar on other purchases like gas, groceries or shopping, which makes it an ideal card for everyday spending. 

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card Bonus

This card features an impressive one-time offer of 150,000 Hilton Honors points. To earn the bonus, you'll need to spend $4,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of opening your account. That’s a high spending bar, since you'll need to charge $1,334 per month for a full quarter to reach the target. While some Hiltons abroad can be booked for as little as 5,000 points per night, 20,000 to 40,000 points per night is a more customary number, especially in the U.S. Your bonus, then, would more typically earn you three to seven nights of Hilton accommodations.

Rewards Earning Details

Once again, you'll earn 14 points per dollar on eligible Hilton hotel purchases, which includes both hotel and resort properties. This is unlimited, so you can earn a substantial number of points each year if you're a heavy travel spender. Since the card also comes with automatic Diamond status in the Hilton Honors program, you receive an additional 20 points per dollar spent, which is double the rewards earned by a regular Honors member. 

There's also no cap on the number of points you can earn at the two lower tiers, of 7 points per dollar spent on eligible rental cars, flights, and dining, and 3 points per dollar spent on all other expenses. 

Rewards Redemption Details

There are several ways to redeem Hilton Honors points earned with your card or from staying at Hilton hotel properties. You can redeem for:

  • Award nights at Hilton properties
  • Rental car and airfare bookings with Hilton travel partners
  • Vacation packages
  • Exclusive experiences
  • Shopping at Amazon or the International Hilton Honors Shopping Mall
  • Gift cards
  • Charitable donations

The per-point value is different for every redemption option and unfortunately, Hilton doesn't offer a conversion chart for comparison. But generally, you'll get the most value per point when you redeem them for award nights at Hilton hotels. 

Transferring Points

If you'd rather exchange your points for rail or air miles, you do have that option with this card. Hilton partners with a number of travel brands, including Amtrak, American Airlines, Delta and United to allow cardmembers to exchange points for miles. The transfer ratio depends on the travel partner you're exchanging points for miles with. For example, you can turn 10,000 Hilton Honors points into 1,500 Amtrak Guest Rewards points or 1,000 United MileagePlus miles. 

Exchanges are allowed in increments of 10,000 points each. It can take up to 30 days for a points exchange to be completed so if you're planning on doing this for a future trip, give yourself plenty of time to make the request. 

How to Maximize Your Rewards

Maximizing your rewards is a two-step process that starts with earning the 150,000 introductory points bonus. You'll need to spend $1,334 per month on average for the first three months to qualify. You can add to your points total by having that spending include booking Hilton hotel stays and charging airfare, rental cars, dining and other purchases to your card. 

To give you an example of your points earning potential, let's assume you’re a true road warrior who, in your first year with the card, every month spends $1,000 on Hilton stays, $1,000 on other travel expenses eligible for the 7X points rate, and $700 in other charges, such as groceries and gas. At the end of the year, you'd have earned 168,000 points on your Hilton purchases, 84,000 points on other travel expenses, and about 25,000 points on your miscellaneous charges. Add in the 150,000 bonus points and you'd have 427,000 points to work with. 

How much hotel accommodation you can buy with those points, and for how long, depends on the location and luxury level of the Hilton property you choose. But our research shows that 50,000 points is the average redemption in major cities. At that rate, you could buy about 8 nights of hotel stays with your first-year earnings, as outlined above, and about 3 nights in subsequent years, when introductory bonus points won’t sweeten the pot. Of course, you can choose quality over quantity and book shorter stays at premium properties like the Hilton Bentley Miami in South Beach, which usually costs 87,000 points a night. 

This example assumes spending is at the low end. You could accumulate significantly more points if you're a frequent Hilton guest or traveler. For instance, assume that you spend three times as much on Hilton hotels, travel and everyday spending each year. Your first-year points total, including the bonus, would come to a huge 981,000 points per year. That doesn't include the additional 10 points per dollar you can earn on Hilton bookings as a Hilton Honors member, or the Elite tier bonus points you qualify for with Diamond status. In a nutshell, despite the low value of Hilton points, this card can be very lucrative for someone who spends a significant amount each in general and on Hilton stays specifically. 

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card's Outstanding Benefits

  • Complimentary Diamond status in the Hilton Honors program
  • $250 Hilton Resort statement credit
  • Enjoy one weekend night award each year
  • $250 airline fee credit
  • Priority Pass Select lounge access
  • Concierge service

Standard Benefits

  • Car rental loss and damage insurance
  • Premium Global Assist hotline
  • Baggage insurance
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Premium roadside assistance
  • Extended warranty protection
  • Return protection
  • Free 2-day shipping with ShopRunner

Cardholder Experience

American Express received a rating of 838 in the 2019 J.D. Power Credit Card Satisfaction Survey. It came in second overall for consumer satisfaction, after Discover.

Managing your account is made easier through online and mobile banking access. You can view your statements and transactions and schedule Pay It Plan It transactions online. Pay It Plan It is a feature that allows you to create a schedule for paying down eligible expenses with interest. If you need help or have questions, live chat assistance is available when you log in to your account. You can also call American Express and talk to a live person at 1-800-528-4800

Security Features

American Express takes the standard measures in securing cardmember accounts. Your card is EMV chip-enabled, with digital wallet capabilities. You can set up account alerts and notifications and enable secure two-factor authentication. And like other card issuers, American Express monitors accounts for suspicious activity. If someone uses your card to make fraudulent purchases, you won't be held responsible for the charges. 

Fees to Watch Out For

The most important fee to consider is the $450 annual fee and what the card's benefits are worth to you. That being said, in your first year with the card it’s fairly easy as a frequent traveler to justify the fee between regular rewards earned on purchases and the introductory points bonus. The $250 Hilton Resort credit and the $250 airline incidental fee credit might all be used to justify the fee going forward as well. 

Our Verdict

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire card isn't for merely occasional guests of the chain and its partners, who would be hard-pressed to earn enough rewards to justify the cards $450 annual fee—especially after the first year, with its hefty points bonus no longer in the mix. 

But those who spent thousands a year at Hilton properties, and in getting to them, could plausibly earn the value of the fee several times over every year. In the process, they'd enjoy perks such as concierge service, automatic room upgrades, and access to airport lounges. 

If you'd still like to get premium travel benefits but want more flexibility in earning rewards when booking hotels, other cards that might be a better choice, such as the American Express Platinum card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. The Reserve card also offers the added benefit of being able to transfer points on a 1:1 basis to selected hotel and airline travel partners.

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on American Express' Secured Site.
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CURRENT CARD
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
overall rating
4.1
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
Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.74% - 24.74% variable
Annual Fee $450
Rewards Earning Rate 14 points per $1 for eligible Hilton purchases. 7 points per $1 on eligible flight, car rental, and U.S. restaurant purchases. 3 points per $1 on all other eligible purchases.
Investopedia Credit Card Rating Methodology
Investopedia is committed to delivering the best credit card recommendations in the industry. We’ll tell you when a card is good, we’ll tell you when a card is bad, and we’ll only call a card the best if we would recommend it to our friends or family members.
Overall Star Rating Explained
To rate credit cards we objectively assess, score and weight nearly 100 individual card features which roll up into five major feature sets: fees, interest, rewards, benefits and security/customer service. Here’s how we weighted those feature sets for the overall star rating of a card:
We have applied our proprietary rating methodology to every generally-accepted credit card in the U.S. domestic market to allow consumers to make fully informed choices. It’s important to note that for our overall score that we make a number of assumptions about how you would be using your credit card:
  1. While we make no assumption as to whether balances are carried on a given card we do assign varying weights to all credit cards’ introductory APR (if present) in addition to the regular, long term purchase and balance transfer interest rates.
  2. We utilize BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) income and average category spending data to calculate annual earnings rates for rewards cards that offer cash back, points or miles rewards at a set rate on all spending or in consideration of bonus rewards for certain spending categories, like gasoline, groceries, restaurants or travel.
  3. We determine the maximum points value of rewards cards by dividing the points, cash back or miles required to exchange for the retail price of the most valuable redemption option (for example, in the case of a card that offers a domestic roundtrip airline ticket as a redemption option vs. another redemption option of lesser value that requires the same amount of points or miles to acquire, we would base the rewards value on the airline ticket).
  • Cards that are selected best overall in their respective categories generally feature most if not all of the following attributes:
  • Low or Reasonable Fees Credit card fees come in many forms but the primary ones involve those for annual card membership and balance transfer. There are a myriad of reward and non-reward card options that charge no annual fee but for the many that do assess an annual fee the cost is often justified by their lucrative ongoing rewards and initial signup bonuses. Balance transfer fees are occasionally waived during introductory periods with certain cards, a factor which is heavily and positively weighted in our scoring model for cards offering this benefit. When charged, balance transfer fees range between 3% - 5%, which we grade accordingly. Other standard fees can generally be avoided, such as those for paying late or taking cash advances but we rate those relative to other cards in the market for reference, though with less weight assigned
  • Competitive Interest Many cards offer 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for varying lengths and then revert to a permanent or regular APR (based on a variable rate tied to the prime rate) that applies to any balances not paid in full. We rate both introductory APR percentage and length (in months) along with the midpoint of the variable regular APR interest rate range.
  • Valuable Rewards Credit card reward programs can be based on cash back, points or travel rewards (which can be generic or travel partner-specific, as with airline and hotel co-brand card programs). For cards that offer rewards we determine the value per dollar spent along with average redemption values and assign more favorable ratings to cards that offer superior consumer value. We also assign value to sign-up bonus offers and their initial spending requirements, when present.
  • Excellent Benefits Credit card benefits cover a range of offerings like concierge service, TSA Pre-check, auto rental coverage, travel accident insurance, lost luggage assistance and free credit scores. We rate cards on the number and level of over a dozen standard and upscale benefits and provide extra weighting emphasis for those travel-related perks that apply to premium travel cards when present.
  • Solid Security/Customer Service Security and customer service features like lost or stolen card replacement, being able to lock one’s card from an issuer app and 24 hour customer support are becoming more standard across the card market and we provide a significant amount of weighting to features in this area.
  • You can also read the full version of our methodology for a more in-depth look at how we assess cards and award them the best in various categories.