Here’s Why the Amex Hilton Aspire Card Is Worth the Annual Fee $450 [2020]

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I have to admit,  is one of my most favorite hotel’s credit cards out there. I am able to take advantage of the benefits that this card provides each year that can justify the high annual fee $450 easily. My take on the whole high annual fee credit card is: don’t let the annual fee scares you from getting and keeping the credit card. Review all the benefits that the card provides and decide if it’s worth it.

Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria resort in Maui

Here are my top picks on the benefits of the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card that make this card worth the annual fee $450.

Welcome Sign-up Bonus

First thing first, for those that are new to the , you always want to aim for the highest welcome sign-up bonus points when available. American Express has a strict one bonus per life-time policy that prevents you from getting the sign-up bonus points over and over again though there are some loopholes to it. But generally speaking, it is not fast and easy to get a second sign-up bonus points with American Express for the same card. Therefore, always go for the highest welcome bonus points.

$250 Airline Incidental Fees Credit

This is a face value of $250 to me. You can use this credit to pay for baggage fees, onboard food and beverage purchases, and other airlines incidental fees. This benefit is a little bit restricted in a way that you cannot use it for airfare purchase and you must select an airline at the beginning of each year. But thanks to the points community, there are some workarounds that allow you to make good use of this beyond just those incidental air travel fees. I am a cheapskate and I am not afraid to admit that I generally refuse to pay for baggage and airline fees etc. So the workaround for me is to use this credit towards Southwest airline ticket’s purchase. If you have a good use of this benefit, that reduces the annual fee to $200.

$250 Hilton Resort Credit

This is another face value benefit of $250. The good news is, the $250 resort credit covers almost everything from room charges to spa, dinning, parking.. you name it! The only caveat is that you can only use this benefit at these participating Hilton resort properties, but there are tons of them in the world. This essentially brings down the annual fee to $0 and you earn additional $50 if you are able to max out both the airline fees credit and this Hilton resort credit every year.

There are more perks….

Free Weekend Reward Night Certificate

Upon approval of the Hilton Aspire Card from American Express, you will receive a Free Weekend Reward Night Certificate. Every year, as long as you remain as a cardholder by paying the annual fee, you will receive a Free Weekend Reward Night Certificate. There are so many luxury and aspiring properties out there that are expensive and will give you the most value out of the certificate from Key West, San Diego, Hawaii in United States to exotic Maldives, Bora Bora, Thailand and much more like the list we made below.

When you are able to use the Free Weekend Reward Night Certificate at an expensive Hilton hotel or resort every year, this benefit alone is worth the card’s annual fee.

It’s worth mentioning that when you spend $60,000 on your Hilton Aspire Card in a calendar year, you will receive a second Free Weekend Reward Night Certificate. That’s a lot of spending and truthfully this card is not great for daily expenses. Therefore, I don’t consider this as an attractive perk to justify the annual fee.

Automatic Complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond Status

Hilton Honors Diamond Status is the highest tier in Hilton’s program. The benefits from having this tier status are tremendous. Whenever you stay at any worldwide Hilton hotels and resorts, you will receive complimentary room upgrade with a view or a suite when available which can be worth a lot of money, complimentary breakfast for you and your guest at all Hilton hotels, access to executive lounge that has free food and drinks, 100% bonus points, late check-out and more. Without the Aspire card, you are required to spend a lot of money to meet the requirements such as 30 stays in a calendar year, or 60 nights in a calendar year, or 120,000 Hilton Honors Base Points in a calendar year in order to get to Diamond status. Hilton Aspire Credit Card gives you the fast track straight to Diamond.

Complimentary Airport Lounges Access

The Hilton Aspire Card gives you unlimited access to the Priority Pass Select airport lounge’s program. There are several airport lounges that participate in Priority Pass. By holding the Aspire card, you can get complimentary access to those lounges, and you are allowed to bring up to 2 guests for free into the lounge with you. If you were to sign up for the membership with Priority Pass directly for the same access level, it’ll cost you $429 a year and your guest still has to pay $32 per visit. If you are a frequent flyer and appreciate airport lounge’s amenities, this benefit alone already makes the annual fee of the Aspire card worth it.

Amex Offers

American Express gives its cardmembers ability to use the card on certain merchants and receive statement credits back. There are several of them that range from shopping, dinning to traveling and entertainment. Each statement credit does not appear to be much, but they can really add up if you continue utilizing this Amex offers benefit in your account each year. This essentially can help reducing the annual fee on your Aspire card as well. From time to time, you can double dip on Amex offers that relate to spending at Hilton properties and receiving some credits back plus a lot of Hilton points as a Diamond member.

Furthermore, if the Hilton property accepts a pre-arranged refundable deposit, you may be able to maximize the Amex Offers along with the $250 Hilton resort credit even more. Check out our post on Two Awesome Tricks To Maximize Amex Hilton Aspire Resort Credit

The Icing on the Cake Perks

By now, I hope you are convinced on why the Amex Hilton Aspire card is worth the annual fee $450. The rest of the perks to me are just icing on the cake. My valuation might be different from your valuation, but these following perks are not as obvious and valuable as above mentioned perks to justify the $450 annual fee.

  • Earn a Second Free Weekend Reward Night Certificate when you spend $60,000 on the card in a calendar year. 
  • Receive $100 credit when you book at least a 2-night stay at Waldorf Astoria and Conrad properties. These properties are expensive to begin with!
  • 5th award night free when you book with points. 
  • Earn 14x Hilton points per dollar spend at Hilton properties. 
  • Earn 7x Hilton points per dollar spend on flights booked directly with airlines or; on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies; and at U.S. restaurants. 
  • Earn 3x Hilton points per dollar spend on anything else. 
  • No foreign transaction fees. 
  • Travel protection, etc. 
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