Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card review: Lots of luxury, but not for everyone

Couple in bathrobes enjoying breakfast in bed in luxury hotelImage: Couple in bathrobes enjoying breakfast in bed in luxury hotel

In a Nutshell

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card offers lots of rewards potential to luxury travelers who enjoy being pampered with room upgrades and other perks. Hilton will give you opportunities to earn points, too — although they’re not worth much individually. Just know that no matter how many points you earn, you’ll probably have to stay at Hilton a lot to justify the card's $450 annual fee.
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This offer is no longer available on our site: Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

Pros Cons
An eye-popping welcome bonus Points aren’t worth much
More points for Hilton stays Steep $450 annual fee
Travel credits worth hundreds of dollars Hoops to jump through for travel credits
Free night every year High spending requirement to earn a second nightly reward
Complimentary Hilton Diamond status comes with plenty of perks  

6 things to know about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

1. Hilton will make your hotel stay more comfortable

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card includes complimentary Diamond status, which pays off when you stay at Hilton hotels.

With Diamond status, Hilton will pamper you with space-available room upgrades, complimentary breakfast, access to executive lounges and other amenities.

For regular travelers, this automatic status may be the most valuable feature of the card.

2. Hilton’s welcome bonus isn’t worth as much as it seems

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card offers 150,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases during the first three months after your account is approved. That’s more points than many travel cards offer from their sign-up bonuses.

But the estimated value of the welcome bonus will bring you back down to earth. Because Hilton Honors points are worth relatively little, according to Credit Karma’s point valuations as of summer 2022, the estimated $720 welcome bonus is actually worth less than bonuses offered by some other hotel credit cards.

3. Hilton is still generous with its points

You could score a boatload of points when you use your card to stay at a Hilton hotel.

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card gives you 14 points for every $1 you spend in eligible purchases at Hilton hotels and resorts. But the complimentary Diamond status also allows you to earn another 20 points for every $1 you spend on hotel stays at Hilton.

Yes, you read that right. You can earn a total 34 points for every $1 you spend on hotel stays at Hilton.

You’ll also receive seven points per $1 on flights booked directly with airlines or through the American Express travel portal, rental cars booked directly through select companies, and at U.S. restaurants. All other purchases will earn you three points per $1.

Although the value of each individual point is low, the sheer number you can earn for Hilton stays could help you build up your balance fast.

4. The weekend-night rewards come with restrictions

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card features one nightly reward each year just for being a cardholder. If you spend at least $60,000 on purchases in a calendar year, you can earn a second nightly reward from Hilton.

It’s worth pointing out that Hilton blocks certain properties from accepting these rewards.

5. The travel credits can be difficult to qualify for

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card offers a handful of travel credits, but it can be difficult to take full advantage of these promotions.

You could receive as much as …

  • $250 each year to spend at Hilton resorts. But the credit won’t apply at just any Hilton hotel. It has to qualify as one of its eligible resorts.
  • $100 property credit that can only be used on incidental charges (costs like spas and restaurants, but not the room itself) during stays of at least two nights at Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts and Conrad Hotels & Resorts booked through Hilton. You can use this perk during each stay at one of these hotels, but it won’t apply to other Hilton brands.
  • $250 each year to pay for incidental charges (like baggage fees or ordering food and drinks onboard) on an airline of your choice. But you’re limited to using it on just that one particular airline, and it won’t cover the cost of your airline ticket or an upgrade to a better seat.

6. The annual fee might be too much for all but the most loyal customers

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card comes with a sizable $450 annual fee.

To put that in perspective, the amount of money you pay for the annual fee could be enough to book two or three nights at certain Hilton hotels.

Understanding your points and redemption options

Hilton Honors™ points are worth far less than the industry standard. According to Credit Karma’s point valuations, Hilton Honors points are worth only 0.48 cents each when booked for hotel stays.

But that doesn’t mean they’re completely worthless. Considering how many points you could earn from the welcome bonus and Hilton stays, your points could still help you save money on a future hotel stay.

You can redeem points for Hilton stays, flights, cruises, train rides, car rentals, music concerts, sporting events, culinary experiences and donations to a charity of your choice.

Who this card is good for

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is best for luxury travelers who book regular stays at Hilton hotels. The hotel award nights you could earn are a nice perk, but the real benefit of this card is the luxury experience you can get from Hilton. Thanks to the complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status, you can pamper yourself with free room upgrades, and access to executive lounges. The travel credits won’t hurt, either.

Unless you stay at Hilton on a regular basis, though, you might have a difficult time getting enough rewards from the card to justify the $450 annual fee. Although it offers plenty of potential value, not everyone will be able to tap into all of it.

Not sure this card is right for you? Consider these alternatives.

If the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card doesn’t sound like a match for you, take a look at one of these other hotel credit cards instead.

About the author: Tim Devaney is a personal finance writer and credit card expert at Credit Karma. He’s a longtime journalist who prides himself on being a good storyteller who can explain complex information in an easily digestible wa… Read more.