Amex Hilton Aspire Benefits
The other shoe has finally dropped, and American Express finally did that Aspire card refresh we were all waiting on. It honestly took a few more years than I thought it would. With the recent changes I figured it was worth going over the Amex Hilton Aspire benefits and break down what kind of value you can get from the card now. In the past it was a slam dunk value add for most people, but what about now? Is the Aspire juice still worth the squeeze?
Quick Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card Overview
Before we breakdown the value of the Amex Hilton Aspire benefits let's give some overview for the card.
The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire card comes with a $550 annual fee which is NOT waived the first year.
Aspire Card Earning Structure
Here are the earning rates for the Aspire card:
- 14x on Hilton purchases
- 7x in the following areas
- Flights booked directly with airlines or AmexTravel.com
- Car rentals booked directly with select car rental companies
- U.S. restaurants
- 3x on all other eligible purchases
Here are the card perks we will dive into more detail on below:
- Complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status
- Complimentary Free Night Reward upon card opening and every year upon membership renewal
- Earn an additional Free Night Reward after you spend $30,000 on your card and again if you spend $60,000 in a calendar year
- Get up to $200 in statement credits semi-annually for eligible purchases made directly with participating Hilton Resorts on your Hilton Aspire Card.
- That's up to $400 back annually.
- Get up to $50 in statement credits each quarter in flight credits. That is a total of up to $200 back each year. This is a true flight credit, you just need to book directly with an airline.
- If you currently have the Aspire card you should get the old $250 airline incidental credit for 2023 plus the quarterly $50 credit starts now as well.
- $100 property credit when you book a 2 night minimum stay at hiltonhonorsaspirecard.com for qualifying charges at participating Waldorf Astoria and Conrad properties
- Complimentary Priority Pass Select membership
- This perk ends 2/1/24 for current cardholders
- Car rental loss and damage insurance: you can be covered for damage to or theft of a rental vehicle when you decline the rental company’s collision insurance and pay for the entire rental cost with your card (terms apply)
- National Executive status
- Baggage insurance plan: you can be covered for lost, damaged, or stolen checked and carry-on baggage when you purchase the entire fare for a common carrier with your card
- Up to $189 in statement credits for CLEAR per calendar year
- No foreign transaction fees
Perks That May Hold Value To You
Many of these perks may offer value to you, but will give others almost no return. That is because they may have that perk covered by other credit cards in their portfolio. I'll list them off and tell you why I am giving them no value for the process of this exercise:
- No foreign transaction fees
- So many cards have it you are likely already covered
- Baggage Insurance
- You should be using a different card for flights, since this card is not a great option
- Free night award from spend
- National Executive Status
- You may not rent cars or use National.
- Car Rental Coverage
- This is secondary coverage and should not be used. Use a card with primary coverage instead.
- $100 Property Credit
- This is too niche to be useful for the vast majority of people.
I debated on putting this in the exclusions list. While I do like CLEAR I don't find that I would actually pay for it. There are other cards that offer the credit too, so this may have overlap in your wallet. What made me still include it then? I decided to include it because when CLEAR runs promos, like the Uber voucher a few weeks back, it can still have value even when redundant. I'll give this a value of $50 since you can always sign up a family member or friend when promos arise for CLEAR.
Amex Hilton Aspire Benefits: Diamond Status
The weird thing with Hilton is that Diamond status doesn't really get you a whole lot more than Gold, especially domestically. The daily credits in the US are the same for both and upgrades are wildly unpredictable. You can also get Hilton Honors Gold status from your Amex Platinum card or from the Surpass card. For that reason I can't put a ton of weight into it.
$75 Value – $0 If You Already Have Gold
$200 In Flight Credits Per Year, $50 Quarterly
I truly celebrate American Express moving away from the cumbersome Airline Incidental Credit format and going with a true flight credit. However, them making it a quarterly credit, and removing $50 in value from it on ToP of that, make this a net negative change overall. This should still be easier to use compared to the old set up, but you will need to set four yearly reminders instead of the one you used to.
Even if you don't have a cash flight that quarter you should be able to easily bank the credit's value. You can just buy a cash flight and cancel it to bank the credit in a travel voucher. While that isn't as valuable as cash, since most of those airline credits expire in a year, you should be able to come up with $200 in flights every year. If you prefer Southwest then you don't have to worry about your credit expiring either. Because this is still a pain in the butt to use, requires some hoop jumping and there is room for breakage, I'll value it at 90%.
Amex Hilton Aspire Benefits: $400 Resort Credit Per Year, $200 Bi-Annually
Oh joy, another credit broken out into parts (sarcasm font). At least this one was bumped up from $200 to $400 each year. The problem is it was always the hardest perk to use. Why? Because Amex limits it to Hilton Resorts only. Those are a lot harder to come by and are also usually more expensive. You can use these credits on property though, they don't need to be used on the cost of your room. You just need to bill incidentals back to your room and then pay with your card. That helps out some in terms of overall value expected. I still wish they had made it for any Hilton property, like they did with the Surpass, even if it was at a lower amount.
This perk was the most complained about one before the changes. Many people's credits would go unused or it would be a struggle to maximize it. This one requires focus and dedication for most, there is no doubt about it. Because of that I think it is worth 50% its face value. I think people may put enough effort into using it one of the two times per year, but not both. At least not enough of the time to value it more then that.
Free Night Certificate
The best perk of the card is the free night certificate you get every year for paying the annual fee. Just don't hold your breath waiting on it, they can take a minute to post to your account. Valuing this is a bit tough since some people will boast $1200 rooms in the Maldives or some place called Waldorf Astoria Cabo. Others will say it sucks, that they struggle to use it and end up burning it on their Aunt Jan's hotel room by the airport so it doesn't go to waste.
Let me be the first to tell you, don't be so picky to use it. This is the best free night on the market since there is no category limit and they removed the weekends only rule too. You don't need to get a 100K point room with it though. If you use it on the first 60K+ property you come across in your travels it will never go to waste. It may not be maximum value, but it is better than a last minute scramble booking. I will say most should be able to get a 70K room out of it, at least on average. If we value the points at $0.0045 each that is $315. I'll round it down to $300 to be fair.
Crunching The Numbers
Here is some quick, back of the napkin math. I'll list each perk and the value for it:
- No foreign transaction fees – $0
- Baggage Insurance – $0
- Free night award from spend – $0
- National Executive Status – $0
- Car Rental Coverage – $0
- $100 Property Credit – $0
- CLEAR Credit – $50
- Diamond Status – $75
- Flight Credits – $180
- Resort Credit – $200
- Free Night Certificate – $300
- TOTAL = $805
That gives us $805 in value for a $550 annual fee. That is a win for sure, but not as big of a win as it used to be. When hoop jumping is involved to use credits etc., I like to get close to double the value compared to the annual fee. This just doesn't quite do it for me personally. A lot hinges on the Resort Credit though. If you stay at several Hilton Resorts every year then maybe that is $400 in the bank for you, and you are closer to double the value of the annual fee.
Amex Hilton Aspire Benefits: ToP Thoughts
One thing to remember about this Amex Hilton Aspire benefits breakdown is I did it for the majority. That doesn't mean the numbers will line up to what your personal situation is though. You can plug in your own numbers for each perk and then total it up. Maybe you come up with something that makes a lot more sense for you. I think for the majority though, this card is now a fringe keeper. It has thinner margins than it used to with that now lofty annual fee.
If Hilton is your day one hotel program then I think the card makes a lot of sense. If you use Hilton as more of a backup program then I think the Surpass or Hilton Business card will be the better option for you know.
Let me know your thoughts on the Amex Hilton Aspire benefits over in the ToP Facebook Group.