How to maximize the Hilton Amex Aspire Card

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The top-tier Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express packs a wallop of benefits for the frequent Hilton guest, surpassing our expectations for a premium cobranded hotel card.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the unique benefits of the card and discuss strategies for maximizing each, ensuring you get full value from the card in exchange for the $450 annual fee (see rates & fees).

The information for the Hilton Honors Aspire Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Big welcome bonus

The Aspire card is currently offering 150,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of account opening. Here are three ways to maximize Hilton Honors points:

  • Use points and money rewards at luxury properties to make Hilton points worth as much as 1 cent per point toward subsidizing the cash price of a hotel.
  • Hilton points are incredibly valuable in Mexico, Egypt, Malaysia and some South American countries, including full resorts in Oman and Egypt.
  • Take advantage of the fifth night free, a benefit of Diamond status, any time you can. This is overlooked far too often.
The oceanfront Hilton Salalah Resort in Oman is 10,000 points per night.

If I were getting the Amex Aspire card, the welcome bonus would only be the beginning of growing a substantial Hilton Honors balance. With the bonus spend categories discussed below, you should set your sights on a few hundred thousand points and then look to execute a killer international trip with the above strategies.

$100 Waldorf and Conrad property credits

Stay two consecutive nights at the luxury brands in the Hilton portfolio, which must be booked through the special portal, and you’re eligible for up to a $100 property credit for almost anything charged to your room folio during the stay. In test searches of the Conrad Bora Bora, the Conrad Tokyo; The Roosevelt New Orleans, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel; and the Waldorf Chicago, the full $100 was offered, and the eligible rates matched the flexible rates available to non-Aspire cardholders.

Taxes, fees, gratuity and the room rate itself are not eligible. The terms for the offer say to check with your hotel’s front desk to ensure that what you’d like to charge is eligible for reimbursement. I would check out a massage, room service or gift shop souvenirs or grab a few intricate coffee beverages to take advantage of the credit.

Enjoy $100 property credit at my favorite Conrad thus far, the Conrad Macao, Cotai Central.

$250 airline fee credit

Surpassing even The Platinum Card® from American Express’ $200 credit, this cobranded hotel card gives you $250 per calendar year. The credit works the same way as the Platinum family of card credits, where you must select an airline to use the credit.

And since we’re speaking of airline-related charges, don’t forget to request your Priority Pass membership from the card, which is good for unlimited airport lounge visits for you and two guests.

$250 resort credits

Visit and find properties for your next stay where you’ll be eligible for a $250 annual credit for purchases made during the visit (this includes room rate and incidentals). Like with the $100 property credits above, charges must be placed on your room, and you must use the Aspire card for your stay’s folio charges.

Remember this is $250 total per year, not per resort stay. You can use the credit for parking, food, spa services, and many activities resorts can arrange for you during your stay. If I were headed to one of the Hilton resorts in Hawaii, for example, $250 in the bank before arriving would be a pretty sweet deal.

Enjoy a $250 property credit at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. Photo courtesy of property.

Hilton Honors Diamond status

I believe there’s a right and wrong way to maximize any top-tier hotel status, like Hilton Diamond offered by the Aspire card. I typically overhear the wrong way a few times annually at Hilton hotel check-in desks. It sounds like, “But I am Diamond member, I get the suite that is available” or “I am a Diamond, I get 4 p.m. late checkout.”

Both statements represent a lack of understanding of Hilton Diamond benefits or the wrong way to maximize top-tier status. They’re also rude and won’t usually lead to the staff complying with your requests.

There’s no guaranteed avenue to suite upgrades or late checkout as a Hilton Diamond. According to terms and conditions, “Late check-out must be requested and is subject to availability.”

To maximize the Diamond status, read up on all the benefits, including the fine print. The most important benefits are executive lounge access, complimentary breakfast (at participating portfolio brands, which can get tricky), a 48-hour room guarantee (also not actually guaranteed depending on arbitrarily defined high-demand times) and bonus points.

Bonus spend categories

If you want to quickly rack up Honors points, you must know when the Aspire card should come out and when it should stay in your wallet. The Aspire card offers 14 points per dollar spent at hotels in the Hilton portfolio. At our valuation of 0.6 cents per point, that’s equivalent to an 8.4% return on spending.

You’ll also earn 7 points per dollar (a 4.2% return) on flights booked directly with airlines or, car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies and at US restaurants. Finally, you’ll earn 3 points per dollar (a 1.8% return) on all other spending on the card.

You need to compare the earn rates for an impending expense across all the cards in your wallet and decide which card will help you quickly reach your next award travel goal.

Pay for Hilton stays

Before you decide to go for earning bonus points for travel spend on a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, consider the massive earning rates that will show in your account when you use your Aspire card to pay for Hilton stays.

Here’s a breakdown of how many Hilton points you’ll earn per dollar when you stay and pay with your Aspire Card:

  • 10 points per dollar base earning.
  • 10 points per dollar with your Diamond bonus.
  • 14 points per dollar on Aspire card earnings.
  • Any promotion or mobile app booking bonus.

At a minimum, you’ll earn 34 Hilton points per dollar on your Hilton Hotel stays. Using our valuations, without any promos, that’s equivalent to an over 20% return toward your next Hilton stay.

While the cost of Hilton award nights is relatively high compared to other chains’ award charts, you can earn many more points per stay compared to those chains. Don’t forget to make your Aspire card your default payment method in your Hilton profile.

Bottom line

Adding the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express to your wallet can give your award trips a shot of adrenaline. You’d have lounge access and a reimbursed bag or seat assignment fee at the airport. At the property, you’d have Diamond status for breakfast and lounge access, bonus points, a $250 property credit and hopefully a room upgrade. This is really a no-brainer to add if you’re even remotely a frequent Hilton guest or have planned a couple of annual trips to Hilton properties.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire Card, please click here.

Additional reporting by Ryan Wilcox.