Recently, American Express revamped two of their credit cards in the co-branded Hilton portfolio. I’ve carried the Hilton aspire card in my waller ever since it was launched. As someone who primarily banks his stays with Hilton, I’ve derived a great deal of value from the card. With this new refresh, American Express has now increased the annual fee from $450 to $550. Is that a deal breaker or are the new benefits good enough? Let’s do a deep dive.
HILTON ASPIRE CARD
With this refresh, Amex is offering a higher than usual welcome bonus.
With this offer, you’ll earn a welcome bonus of 180,000 Hilton Honors points and one free night certificate.
- Once you spend $6,000 in the first 6 months of card membership, you’ll earn 180,000 Hilton Honors points as a welcome bonus
- Moreover, you’ll earn a free night certificate which will be valid for one year after issuance. This benefit is fantastic because you don’t need to meet any minimum spend. You earn one free night certificate once you’re approved. You’ll earn another each year, as long as you simply pay the annual fee and renew the card each year.
For me, I’ve found the top tier Diamond status to be of great value. You’ll earn top tier Diamond elite status for simply keeping your card active. Here are the benefits:
- Executive lounge access
- Complimentary breakfast (or breakfast credits at hotels in the US)
- 100% bonus points earned on stays
- Room upgrades based on availabillity
- Premium Wifi
- 48 hour room guarantee
In my experience, I’ve mostly been upgraded during a majority of my stays. A few of them have been suite upgrades as well. Thanks to Diamond status, I’ve enjoyed complimentary breakfast during my stays outside the US. Given that almost 90% of my travel is international in nature, I find the breakfast benefit of immense value.
If you frequently bank stays with Hilton, then this card is fantastic for building a nice stash of points.
- You’ll earn 14x Hilton Honors points for each dollar you spend at eligible hotels in the Hilton portfolio
- You’ll earn 7x Hilton Honors points for each dollar you spend on flights booked directly with airlines, car rentals booked directly with select car rental companies, bookings with AmexTravel.com. Moreover, you’ll also earn the same 7x points on purchases US restaurants (including takeout and delivery)
- On al other purchases, you’ll earn 3x Hilton Honors points on each dollar spent
Post revamp, Amex has made changes to the credits offered on the card.
$200 AIRLINE CREDIT
In my opinion, this is a huge improvement. Previously, one had to jump through hoops to often use the ‘airline fee’ credit that the card offered. Now, this credit is simpler to use. You get $50 each quarter and all you need to do is spend that with any airline. This is really simple to use and I’ve written a detailed post here on how the credit works.
$400 RESORT CREDIT
You can now earn a $400 resort credit. However, this credit is split into two chunks of $200 each mid way through the calendar year.
- You’ll earn $200 between January and June
- You’ll earn another $200 between July and December each year
Bear in mind that any property that has the word resort in it may or may not qualify. Before you plan on using the credit, you need to check this link in order to confirm whether it’s a qualifying property.
$189 CLEAR CREDIT
You’ll earn a statement credit of up to $189 when you pay for a Clear membership with your Hilton Aspire card.
$100 PROPERTY CREDIT
When you book a minimum 2 night stay with Conrad or Waldorf Astoria properties, you’ll earn a $100 credit. You’ll need to book via this link in order to earn the credit.
CAR RENTAL ELITE STATUS
With this new benefit, you’ll earn complimentary National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive status as long as you card account is active. You’ll need to enroll in order to active the benefit.
THE PUNDIT’S MANTRA
Overall, I largely see these changes as a net positive. Especially given the change to the airline credit benefit. While I’m not very happy with the change to the resort credit, I’ll still continue to carry the card in my wallet. Firstly, I derive a great deal of benefits in the form of room upgrades and complimentary breakfast, thanks to top tier Diamond elite status. Secondly, the free night certificates help me book some memorable stays at top tier properties like the Grand Wailea Maui, Conrad Maldives or Conrad Koh Samui.
If you frequently stay with Hilton, this card offers great value in terms of elite status, points earning ability and benefits.