Here’s Why the Hilton Aspire Is Worth the Annual Fee (and $2,000+ the First Year!)

INSIDER SECRET:  This card is AMAZING for big spenders, because it’s possible to get up to 2 weekend nights at almost any Hilton hotel.  I’ll show you how!
In 2019, I’ve had two major travel realizations.
The first one is that although it might seem a bit scary to commit to a credit card with a high annual fee, the rewards typically pay for themselves many times over, year after year.
The second realization came after talking to my friend, who spent three nights at a luxury hotel, the Waldorf Astoria in Park City this winter.  After ungracefully asking how much her room cost per night (oh, the joys of being friends who a travel-deal-hunter like me…) she admitted she didn’t know.  Maybe $600 a night?  But whatever it cost didn’t really matter – she had paid for the whole thing with points that she’d earned on her Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express.
It was then that I seriously questioned why I didn’t carry a hotel credit card in my wallet.  Searching for discounted rooms at the Motel 6 seemed especially foolish after realizing I could stay at an upscale resort just as easily and for less money (by using points)!  We wrote about the Hilton Aspire recently, and talked about how it’s one of our favorite cards at Million Mile Secrets.  Once you start to learn more about this card, it’s easy to see why it’s at the top of our list.
I’ll show you why the AMEX Hilton Aspire is worth the annual fee!
Is the AMEX Hilton Aspire Worth the Annual Fee?  If You Want to Stay at Hilton Hotels (Particularly Nice Ones), This Is the Card for You
Is the Hilton Aspire Worth the Annual Fee?
Apply Here:   Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express
Read our review of the Hilton Aspire Card from American Express

For a long time, I was completely focused on getting there.  Meaning that I would focus my attention on airline credit cards that offered a large number of miles as an initial welcome bonus.  Does this ring a bell?  Anyone else have that same philosophy?
It was about experiencing the destination – being out in the world.  If the stranger I was sharing a hostel room with was a horrible snorer, that was a story worth telling!  If the hotel room my husband and I booked for $35 a night smelled like mildew, well, that was to be expected.  I could always take a nap in the park if I didn’t get enough sleep the night before.
With age comes wisdom (and a lower tolerance for pain), right?  To me, getting smart means looking at the right hotel card.  Which is why the AMEX Hilton Aspire is so appealing.
Yes, there is a $450 annual fee with this card (See Rates & Fees), which might initially be a bit intimidating.  But what I’ve started to notice with cards that have higher annual fees is this – they offer such amazing benefits (that greatly exceed the annual fee).  My two questions are always:

How quickly will I recoup that annual fee?
Is it worth keeping the card (and paying that $450) year after year?

The quick answer on this card is YES.  Here’s why…
Hilton Aspire Benefits
To start, when you open this card you’ll receive a 150,000 point welcome bonus when you spend at least $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening the card.  We’ve found that you can estimate 1 Hilton point = about 0.5 cents.  So 150,000 points can get you at least $750 worth of free hotel stays at Hilton hotels.  That’s the average.  Of course, it’s dependent on when and where you travel.
Ongoing Perks That Will Keep You Coming Back Every Year
While the initial welcome bonus is typically what draws someone to a card in the first place, the AMEX Hilton Aspire card is somewhat unique in that the ongoing benefits are worth so much more than the annual fee.  Here’s what you’ll get every single year you keep the card:
Diamond Elite Status:  This perk could very well be its very own category of rewards.  There are so many different benefits that come with having Diamond elite status, including:

100% bonus points on paid stays
Upgrades to a suite when available (not only is this worth a lot of money, but adds to the experience, an intangible value)
Executive hotel lounge access at hotels that have them (you can expect a lot of free food and drinks)
Complimentary breakfast at all Hilton hotels
5th consecutive award night free

In addition to Diamond elite status, you’ll also receive:
$250 annual airline credit:   You’ll have $250 to spend on incidentals on the airline of your choice.  The credit will cover items like in-flight food and drinks, as well as and baggage fees (the credit doesn’t cover seat upgrades or booking a flight).  It’s not a must have, but it really is nice to have.
Annual weekend award night:   You’ll receive a weekend award night the first year that you open your card and every year you renew.  Want to go somewhere fancy?  This perk really allows you to maximize your vacation time.  Just note these ineligible hotels.
Bonus!  If you spend $60,000+ on your card in one calendar year, you’ll earn an extra free weekend night at any participating Hilton hotel.
Priority Pass airport lounge access:   I can’t begin to express how much I love having a Priority Pass membership.  I’ve talked extensively about how this has been a true lifesaver on longer connections.  I can’t imagine traveling without it at this point.
$250 Hilton Resort credit:   This credit is good at any of the Hilton restaurants and spas where you’re staying as a guest, as long as the hotel is classified as a resort.  Girls trip with a $250 spa credit?  That sounds like it could become an annual tradition.  Oh, and you can even use it toward the cost of your room!
Up to $100 Hilton property credit:   When you book a stay for 2+ nights at Waldorf Astoria or Conrad hotels by using this link, you’ll be eligible for up to $100 credit.  This will be applied to your bill at checkout.
Additionally, there are a lot of ways to continuously earn points on this card, and they add up quickly!  One of the great things about this card is that you’re not only earning points when you book at a Hilton.  You earn points when you book flights and car rentals, too!  Here’s are the easiest ways to earn points on the AMEX Hilton Aspire card:

14 Hilton Points for every $1 that you spend at participating Hilton Hotels
7 Hilton points for every $1 that you spend to book flights directly with airlines or, car rentals booked directly at select companies, and US restaurants
3 Hilton points for every $1 that you spend on all other purchases
Terms Apply

How Much Are These Rewards Actually Worth?
Here’s the big question – is this card worth the annual fee?  Let’s tally up the value you’ll get when you open the AMEX Hilton Aspire.  I’m just talking about the big-ticket items here, we’re not counting the points you’ll accumulate with daily spending.
150,000 Hilton points = approximately $750 worth of credit at participating hotels.  Boom!  You’re already $300 ahead.

$250 annual airline credit
Annual weekend award night = Let’s just say it’s worth an average of $300, depending on where you stay (it can be worth MUCH more)
Priority lounge pass = $429.  The best Priority Pass membership you can buy costs $429, and this membership is even better because it comes with guest privileges
$250 Hilton Resort credit
Up to $100 Hilton property credit

My estimated total value of this card = $2,079+ within the first year.
Is This the Right Card for You?
Here’s the bottom line.  If you’re looking for a hotel card where you can earn points quickly and use them at the long list of participating Hilton hotels, this card is an excellent choice.  I’m amazed at the total value of this card, it is worth SO MUCH more than the $450 annual fee.
This card might not be for you if you:

Don’t think you’ll be able to spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months (to earn that initial welcome bonus)
Simply aren’t interested in staying at Hilton hotels when you’re traveling

Otherwise, the AMEX Hilton Aspire card is a perfect hotel card!  Let me know what you think of the card in the comments.
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For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express, please click here.