Two of American Express’ top tier cards are the Platinum Card and the Hilton Aspire. The former was first released in 1984 as American Express created the premium credit card market. However, the latter was released a few years ago as Hilton’s premium credit card. Both options offer fantastic perks, bonuses, and incentives to keep them long-term. But these features come at a high price. The Platinum Card’s annual fee is $550 and the Aspire Card’s annual fee is $450. Neither annual fee is waived the first year.


Sign-Up Bonus

The American Express Platinum Card offers a bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards (MR) points. Those points can be earned after spending $5,000 within the first three months. Conversely, the Hilton Aspire offers a bonus worth 150,000 Hilton Honors (HH) points. These points can be earned after spending $4,000 within the first three months. American Express offers higher targeted bonuses for the Platinum Card, but not the Aspire Card.

The winner of this category is the Hilton Aspire, whose bonus is more valuable. Plus, the Aspire Card’s bonus has a lower minimum spend requirement, which makes it easier to earn. Prospective cardholders can save $1,000 and still get a fantastic sign-up bonus by not applying for the Platinum Card. However, the Platinum Card can become the better bonus if there is a targeted offer.



Premium credit cards are better known for perks than their earning structures. However, they have the potential to earn serious points.

For example, the Platinum Card earns 5x MR points on Airfare (booked directly with the airline), travel booked on, and Amex Fine Hotel & Resort purchases. Unfortunately, the Platinum Card’s travel category is restrictive because it only includes airfare and travel from Amex’s own travel website. But you can earn big if you can find a deal directly with an airline. All other purchases earn one point per dollar.

Conversely, the Hilton Aspire earns 14x HH points at Hilton hotels. It also earns 7x points for Car Rentals, Airfare & Dining, and 3x points on all other purchases. This earning structure earns the Aspire Card a victory for this category.



Points earned are worthless if you cannot redeem them for valuable travel.

The Platinum Card shines here because of its membership in the Amex “ecosystem”. Cardholders can transfer MR points to over 20 airline and hotel partners. Even though Hilton is one of these partners, the low value of HH points makes transferring MR points to Hilton a poor idea. Transferring to domestic and international airlines is a more valuable option for redeeming MR points.

Hilton’s points are best used towards free nights and experiences at Hilton hotels. You can also transfer points to one of 43 partners. But doing so will not earn you much value.

The Platinum Card wins here because of the flexibility and potential value of MR points. However, Hilton Honors points can be valuable when redeemed properly.



Perks are the major draw for many premium cards, especially the Platinum and Hilton Aspire Cards. The perks offered by both cards can easily give you positive expected value even if you rarely travel. This can make them “long term keeper cards”, despite their high annual fees.

Both cards have the following common perks:

  • Secondary Car Rental Insurance
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Priority Pass Airport Lounge Access
  • Trip Delay Insurance
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance
  • Baggage Insurance

Despite the common perks, both cards have more specific perks and credits that make them unique and special.


The Platinum Card offers $200 in Uber credits, $200 in airline incidental credits, and $100 in Saks Fifth Avenue credits annually. These credits alone make the Platinum Card’s “net annual fee” only $50 if you can use them all in full. The “net annual fee” falls below $0 (giving positive expected value) when factoring in other perks. Unfortunately, most of the Platinum Card’s credits are hard to use because they are so limited.

Conversely, the Hilton Aspire Card has more perks for hotel dwellers. They can be enough to keep the card long-term even if you visit a Hilton hotel once per year. The Aspire offers up to two free nights, a $250 resort credit, $250 in airline incidental credits, and a $100 on-property credit for Waldorf Astoria or Conrad hotels. The “net annual fee” is -$150 if you can use all the credits in full. In other words, you will receive $150 in positive expected value if you use all the credits in full.

Hilton Status

The Hilton Aspire card’s most valuable perk, however, is Hilton Diamond Elite Status. This is a step up from the Hilton Gold Elite Status that is offered by the Amex Platinum. Hilton Diamond includes the following:

  • Free 5th Night (when paying with points)
  • 2 Bottles of Water
  • Free Breakfast
  • Welcome Gift
  • Executive Lounge Access
  • Room Upgrades (up to Suite)
  • Premium Internet
  • Milestone Bonuses
  • Diamond Status Extension
  • Gold Status Gifting
  • 48-Hour Room Guarantee
  • 100% Points Bonus on Hilton hotel purchases

Airport Lounges & Other Perks

The Amex Platinum Card is one of the best in the industry for airport lounge access. It grants you access to Amex Centurion Lounges, Delta Lounges, Airspace Lounges, and Priority Pass Lounges. The Hilton Aspire, like most premium cards, only grants you Priority Pass Lounge access. Moreover, the Platinum Card has so many other perks that they have their own post!

The winner of this category depends on your travel needs. Hilton lovers and hotel dwellers will be better off with the Aspire. However, those who are in the airport more than hotels will win with the Amex Platinum.


Credit Limit and Income

The Hilton Aspire is a traditional revolving credit card. It comes with a set credit limit and can be hard to get approved for those with lower credit scores or incomes. You can keep a balance with this card (but it is not recommended).

Conversely, the Platinum Card is a charge card which does not have a preset limit. In other words, Amex has an internal limit for your card that can change every month. The Platinum Card is the better option for those with lower income or credit scores because it is a charge card.


Final Draw

The American Express Platinum and Hilton Aspire are fantastic premium cards. But each has its strengths and weaknesses:

The Platinum Card lacks in earning potential and has a sign-up bonus that is expensive and hard to earn. However, it has many excellent perks and more redemption than the Hilton Aspire. However, the Hilton Aspire is the better earner and has a fantastic suite of perks. But its best redemption options are limited to Hilton hotels.

Both cards can be complements to each other. Some people might be loyal to Hilton but can also use the MR points and perks from the Platinum Card for air travel. The question is whether you want to spend $1,000 in annual fees for both cards. You can realize more than that in expected value. But that number is very steep for many people.

Consider your other cards, travel itinerary, loyalty to transfer partners, and desire for traveling in luxury. All of these are huge factors that must be considered before acquiring a premium card.


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