Every year, especially around when it comes time for annual card renewal, I’d do a quick analysis to see if the card is worth keeping. For the last few years, I’d have been renewing the Hilton Aspire Card annually. It has the highest annual fee, but it made sense given my travel patterns.
The most valuable benefit to me are:
- The annual “weekend” night certificate: While “valuation” varies (depending on if it’s at a aspirational property), I tend value it a a more realistic rate of what I would normally pay out of pocket. I considered this a “good” benefit.
- The annual $250 resort credit: The credit at only be used at one of the designated “resorts” (in the states, most falls into Florida/Vegas). While this can more than make up for the card benefit if one can make it work, it’s higher effort. I considered this benefit to be a “hit or miss”.
- The Priority Pass membership + 2 guests: this is my favorite benefits given my travel patterns. This is one of my favorite benefits of the card, being able to experience the lounge with traveling companions.
- Hilton Diamond Status: This is valuable when staying at Hilton properties.
While the other perks are nice, they are not unique to the Aspire card:
- TSA Pre or Global Membership: the benefit is typically covered by a number of cards.
- Airline incidental credit: the airline incidental credit is useful.
Changes announced in October 2023
In October 2023, Amex/Hilton announced some significant changes to the card benefits, along with an $100 increase of the annual fee to $550.
The changes are widely written about in other blogs. I won’t get into the details of the changes, but I’d to highlight the changes:
- Annual “weekend” night certificate remains (no change)
- Annual resort credit benefit is raised to $400 annually at a “resort” hotel: While the value is higher, the benefit is limited. It can already be a challenge to use the $250 “annual” credit, the new change to use it $200 bi-annually is a negative change, at least to me.
- The Priority pass benefit is going away (a huge negative change to me).
- The $250 airline fee credit will be replaced with a $50 quarterly airfare statement credit: While it’s nice that it can be used on any flights, it’s unlikely I have any plans to purchase flights every quarter.
There are some other additions to mention (but are non-starters)
- Cell phone coverage: given that my primary phone carrier does not allow credit card payments (to keep T-Mobile credits), I wouldn’t be able to make use of this benefit.
- Clear Plus Statement credit: unnecessary with existing Global Entry membership.
- National Car Rental: I’m already a National member and an Avis Preferred member. I don’t rent enough to make this benefit worthwhile.
I decided that this card no longer fit my needs given some key benefit changes. Although I’ve been a long time Amex customer, the changes to this card benefits are negative and significant enough. I can’t justify paying an increased annual fee for benefits that will be much harder to use.
I decided to cancel. At cancellation, I have been offered 10,000 Hilton for a 1k spend, as well as a downgrade to the no-annual fee Hilton card. I declined both options.
In some ways, the old benefits were really too good to be true. I figured it was a matter of time before there were going to be changes. I would have likely continued to keep the card if it weren’t for these changes that caused me to re-evaluate. In some strange ways, I’m glad Amex finally made that decision for me.
Are you up for Aspire renewal? Are you keeping this card or making a change, or still evaluating?