Should I Get the AMEX Hilton Aspire card? Part 1: $250 Resorts Credit Detailed Review

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The reason for this and the follow-up post is to help you decide if the card is for you, because $450 is not a small matter.  Let’s take another look at the major AMEX Hilton Aspire card features.

  • $450 annual fee

  • 100,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points (after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months)

  • 14x / 7x / 3x for spending at: Hilton / directly-booked flights and car rentals, flights booked on amextravel.com, U.S. restaurants / everything else

  • Free Diamond status

  • One weekend night reward

  • $250 in Hilton Resort Credits each year

  • $100 Conrad and Waldorf Astoria Property Credit (for booking 2 nights)

  • $250 Airline Fee Credit

  • Free Priority Pass airport lounges access for you and up to 2 guests

I’ve thought about it and I think I’ll get the card. While all valuations suck, I do value Hilton points around $.005 per point, so the bonus will take care of the annual fee. Then we have a $250 airline incidental fee credit (that I hope to be able to cash out for around $180-$200), as well as the $250 Hilton Resort credit, $100 property credit, and one free weekend night, which are harder to put a value on. The Diamond status I don’t value much beyond Gold for the reason described here, and I can get Priority Pass access with another card, so these two benefits are not a big deal, in my opinion.

But enough about me. The real question is:

Should you apply for the AMEX Hilton Aspire card?

And that, in all honesty, depends. Hilton Honors is a badly devalued and non-transparent program; think Delta of hotel programs (not to be confused with Delta Hotels in Canada, which is a part of Marriott Rewards).

Hilton Honors definitely took a page from Delta’s book. It removed the chart from the Hilton Honors program, so we don’t know anymore how many points we should expect to pay, and it devalued the redemption rate for most of its popular properties to the point of utter absurdity, charging sometimes 70,000 to 80,000 points for a hotel that costs below $200 per night.

On the other hand, you can still maximize the value of the Hilton Honors program if you’re willing to do some legwork. Or, at the very least, finish reading this post, because I’ve already done most of the legwork for you.

But first things first: a brief reminder of the most important American Express credit card rule (see other important rules here).

You can only have one sign-up bonus per card per lifetime. How long this “lifetime” lasts is debatable. Some datapoints put it between 5 and 7 years.

Then, we need to look at the bigger picture. If there were no other quick way of getting a huge number of points except the AMEX Hilton Aspire card, I would have to say: don’t bother.

Luckily, there are. Not as many as there used to be when AMEX wasn’t the only sheriff in town, but still more than one.

AMEX Hilton Honors cards line-up

If you have never applied for an AMEX Hilton card, you can (theoretically, because nothing is guaranteed) quickly get 350,000 points with credit card sign-ups.

These cards would cost you $640 in annual fees and get you from 47 to 95 nights at the cheapest Hilton properties to 6 nights at the fanciest Hilton Resort in the world (or should it be the other way around, LOL?).

If you think the math doesn’t add up, it does when you consider meeting the spending requirements. Even the most expensive Hilton hotels in the world wouldn’t cost you more than 95,000 points per night or 380,000 points per 5 nights (with the 5th night free for elite members).

Then, there is 1 annual free weekend night. It might take a little work, but there is no reason why you wouldn’t be able to add it to your stay.

So  you can get 6 nights at a resort, which can very well cost $500, $700, $900, or…

AMEX Hilton Aspire card

Hilton Maldives can go for a whopping $1,100 per night

On the other hand, if cheap Hilton properties can work for your travel, getting 47-95 nights times at least $50 (because seriously, where would you find a hotel room for less than $50 a night?) would still make you a winner, but…

Unless you’re a complete newbie, you won’t be able to get the first two bonuses

That’s right, you’ve likely had these 2 credit cards before.

  • Hilton Honors American Express Card

  • Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card (formerly Surpass card)

That leaves two options for most people, because the 2 cards below are brand new and anyone can get them:

Well, ask yourself 3 questions.

  • Do I already have a stash of Hilton points?

  • If not, am I going to be able to derive a huge value out of this bonus?

  • Do I have a spartner?

By the way, if the answer to your third question is “no,” maybe just ease out on all that “miles and points” thing, huh? Just for now. 🙂

Can you take advantage of the $250 Resort Statement Credit?

Here is the first thing that probably comes to mind. Find a Hilton resort where you’d like to stay and blow your credit on food, spa, etc.

I’d have to advise against it. Look, I might be strange and different, but I usually prefer to eat outside, except for breakfast and hors d’oeuvre at the lounge (if there is a lounge). And I don’t really do spas, unless, I don’t know, there is nothing else I can spend my credit on.

Still, there are a couple of resorts where paying points simply makes good sense, because they’re cheap, but we’ll talk about them later..

The second option, which is much more attractive to me, personally, is to spend the credit on the room rate (yes, that’s allowed).

And since I can book a room at Hilton Resort and get reimbursed for it, then it’s just a matter of finding the best value, ideally for a couple of nights or more. So, let’s see what we can do with the $250 Annual Hilton Resort Credits. Note: I’m not covering the Hilton properties in Egypt, even though they look perfect for this. But the thing is, in times of political turmoil, I’m not so sure if it’s a good time to visit. Not necessarily due to a terrorist threat, but I doubt the service and quality would be on the up and up in the times like this (I can very well be wrong, so read the reviews if you want to go to Egypt, anyway).

Here are the resorts that caught my eye, but please remember to take the “From” rate with a grain of salt.

Redeem ~3 nights with the $250 annual credit

DoubleTree Varna – Gold Sands in Bulgaria

Your annual credit can almost cover 3 nights here in July – the perfect time for a little Eastern European beach vacation. The resort has mixed reviews, but it is currently being  renovated.

AMEX Aspire Card

Golden Sands is the most famous seaside resort in Bolgaria from $58

But here is what I mean about the “From” rate. You probably won’t get it for $58 during the high season. Here is what you would pay for DoubleTree Varna in July.

AMEX Aspire Card

That’s what you really pay in season (still not too bad.)

DoubleTree Resort Sanya Haitang Bay / DoubleTree Resort and Spa Reserva Del Higueron Amex Hilton Aspire

I don’t know anything about either property, except that the Higueron hotel is close to Malaga and the Sanya DoubleTree is oceanside. That and you can get up to 3 nights in either one.

DoubleTree Resort Penang in Malaysia / Hilton Sibiu in Romania

Remember when I said there are a couple of Hilton resorts where using points is better? A night at these hotels will cost you 10,000 points and they are actually in nice locations that you might want to explore. And you will get close to $0.01 per point or more on these.

Amex Aspire Card

This seaside hotel is connected to the beach by an overhead bridge

Amex Hilton Aspire

Sibiu is a beautiful and touristy city in Transylvania

DoubleTree Resort Myrtle Beach Oceanfront / DoubleTree Fallsview Resort and Spa – Niagara Falls / Tropicana Las Vegas

You can get up to 2.5 nights at any of these.


Redeem ~2 nights with the $250 annual credit

DoubleTree Resort Fiji, Sonoisali Island

Amex Hilton Aspire

Fiji anyone? If I were into quiet beach vacations, this is where I would personally use my $250 credit (provided I could get the rate close to the “From.”) As a reminder, it shouldn’t be too hard to get a Business Class ticket to Fiji on Fiji Airways with Alaska miles if you book in advance.

Amex Hilton Aspire

Fiji Airways doesn’t have lie-flat seats, but even their angle-flat seats are very nice reportedly.

Sanya Yazhou Bay Resort / Hilton Dead Sea Resort and Spa in Jordan / Hilton Al Hamra Beach and Golf Resort in UAE / DoubleTree in San Diego Del Mar

Amex Hilton Aspire

Hilton Hua Hin Resort and Spa / Hilton Phuket Arkadia Resort and Spa in Thailand / Hilton Cartagena in Colombia

All 3 hotels are solid, if a little too expensive for their respective markets.

Amex Hilton Aspire

Redeem ~one night with the $250 credit

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort / Trianon Palace Versailles, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel / Conrad Sanya

By the way, I’ve never been to Sanya (or China in general), but for all of us who have been forever spoiled by Conrad Koh Samui, Conrad Sanya looks like a decent alternative with oversize rooms and villas with private pools and much more hospitable rates, including the point rates starting at 55,000 points (although ocean-view villas cost much more). That and Conrad Ko Samui doesn’t have a single day till the end of the schedule that you could book under 95,000 points.

And finally, remember the Hilton’s Best Price Guarantee

Hilton’s Best Price Guarantee

We guarantee you always get the lowest price when you reserve a room through an official Hilton booking channel… or we’ll match the lower price and give you an extra 25% discount.

1. Make a confirmed reservation through one of the following official Hilton booking channels (any official Hilton website, any official Hilton call center, the Hilton Honors App, directly at a Hilton hotel, or through an Accredited Travel Agent)

2. If you find a qualifying lower price for the same accommodations within 24 hours after making your reservation, and if we verify your claim, we will honor the lower price AND take an additional 25% off the room rate for each night of your stay.

Now, I don’t see why the Best Price Guarantee would disqualify you from getting the $250 statement credit. Does anyone?

Next: Should I Get the AMEX Hilton Aspire card? Part 2: What Are Hilton Honors Points Worth in the Americas and Europe?

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14 Responses to Should I Get the AMEX Hilton Aspire card? Part 1: $250 Resorts Credit Detailed Review

  1. […] Lazy Traveler digs into the new Amex Hilton Aspire card, the new $450 annual fee premium card. He also digs into that $250 resort credit as well. Sadly, it is not available in the affiliate […]

  2. ucipass says:

    great stuff man!

  3. Toub says:

    Thanks for the article post. Really Cool.

  4. Christian says:

    Very nice. I’d never have thought about using the credit towards the room rate. Thanks so much!

  5. […] The best places to stay with the Aspire credit – The Lazy Traveler’s Handbook […]

  6. Ryan says:

    Good analysis!

  7. Brandon says:

    Great stuff! Looking forward to trying out many of these locations in the future, as Poland and Romania are two of my favorite countries. Thanks for the solid write-up!

  8. mintcilantro says:

    this is a fantastic card. I applied for the card and then upgraded my old hilton cards to aspire and we now have 5x aspire cards.

    I hate to say this but I think this card will not last long. It will go like the us bank club carlson card. The devaluation will come eventually once amex acquires a lot of customers.

    • Andy Shuman says:

      I agree. I’m thinking about getting it, but I’m reluctant to have too many $450 cards. It kind of defeats the purpose, and we don’t even know the bonus on the upcoming SPG Luxury card.

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