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- My kids and I recently used rewards from the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card for a free four-night stay at a Hilton resort.
- The card includes Hilton resort credits and automatic Diamond status, which gets you daily food and beverage credits.
- We ate six meals at the hotel’s restaurants and didn’t pay a cent out of pocket.
- Read Insider’s guide to the best Hilton credit cards.
Amex is an Insider advertising partner.
I have over 20 credit cards in my wallet right now, and several are premium cards with high annual fees. One of the priciest is the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, which I’ve held for several years — and despite its $450 annual fee (See Review), I’m happy to renew it year after year.
For sure, $450 is a lot, but I’m able to get more than that in value each year from the perks the card offers. In fact, the $450 is probably one of the most rewarding cards I hold, and it recently got my family a four-night stay worth nearly $4,400 at the Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach.
The value of the stay alone wiped out many years of annual fees on my Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, but the freebies didn’t end there. Thanks to stacking two Hilton Honors Aspire Card benefits, we received almost $450 worth of meals and snacks at the resort, making for a very affordable vacation.
Here’s how my family ate for free, and why this among other perks makes the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card a long-term keeper.
The Amex Hilton Aspire resort credit is worth $250
15.74% to 24.74% variable APR on purchases
Recommended Credit Score
Good to Excellent
15.74% to 24.74% variable APR on purchases
Recommended Credit Score
Good to Excellent
- The information related to the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected by Business Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer.
- Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases on the card within your first 3 months of card membership
- 14X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio
- 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, and on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies
- 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your card at U.S. restaurants
- 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your card
When you open the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, there are plenty of ways to get outsized value. For example:
- It offers a welcome bonus of 150,000 points after you spend at least $4,000 in your first 3 months of account opening, worth at least $750 based on Insider’s points and miles valuations
- New cardholders receive a free weekend night certificate valid at nearly any Hilton hotel when they open the card — potentially worth 150,000 points at the most expensive Hilton resorts — and again every year on their card anniversary
The welcome bonus and first free night certificate are more than enough to justify the annual fee in the first year, but beyond that, you’ll have to decide if the card’s ongoing benefits make it worthwhile. I’ve always been able to get at least $450 in value from a single perk — the annual free night award — so the other goodies are just the cherry on top.
On this trip, I was able to redeem the Aspire’s $250 annual resort credit. Each cardmember year, starting with when you open the card, you can receive up to $250 in credits toward purchases made directly with participating Hilton resorts. That means you can’t redeem the credit at any old Hampton or Hilton Garden Inn; it must be on Hilton’s resort list to qualify for the credit.
That’s one of the reasons I chose the Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach for my family’s spring break trip. Along with offering a kitchen in every suite (so we could prepare food in the room), I knew I could use the resort credit toward meals and other incidentals to save even more money.
The credit is super easy to use, too. As long as the purchase is made directly with a Hilton resort, it should trigger the reimbursement. The simplest way to do this is by having your card on file as the payment method for incidentals during your stay and charging everything to the room. Then, at the end of the stay, your card gets billed for the whole lot and the resort credit should trigger soon after the charge posts.
Amex says it can take 8-12 weeks for the resort credit to appear on your Aspire account, but in practice, it only takes a few days.
Automatic Hilton Diamond status got us $50 per day
Over the course of four nights, I was able to get another $200 worth of free food from the automatic Hilton Diamond elite status that comes with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. Hilton Diamond elite members used to receive free breakfast at Hilton hotels as one of their status perks, but (in part) due to the pandemic, that’s been changed to a food and beverage credit at US Hilton hotels.
The amount of the credit depends on the brand, but stays Hilton’s most upscale hotels — Conrad, Waldorf Astoria, and LXR properties — qualify for a credit of $25 per guest, per night, for up to two guests (total of $50 in credit per night). In total, this meant my family received another $200 in credit over our stay.
Note that you have to use this credit each day, otherwise it doesn’t roll over — so you can’t save up credits for multiple days, for example, and use them on a big splurge meal or similar. We had no trouble using our credits (along with the $250 resort credit), eating several meals and snacks at the hotel for nothing out of pocket. This included:
- Three lunches at Spinnaker, the resort’s pool bar and grill
- Two pizzas at the Cornucopia Market, which served snacks and small plates
- One dinner at the Atlas Lobby Bar
The daily food and beverage credit were automatically deducted from our folio at the end of the stay, with the balance charged to my Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.
For our other meals, we mostly ate in the room and saved that way. I ordered an Instacart grocery delivery the first day of our stay, so we were able to enjoy breakfasts and dinners out on the suite’s spacious balcony instead of spending a ton at restaurants.
Other Hilton Aspire benefits that make the card a keeper
The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card comes with a ton of other benefits that just add to its potential value. Among them are up to $250 per year in airline incidental fee credits**, up to $100 in on-property credits for minimum stays of two nights at participating Waldorf Astoria and Conrad properties (this applies to eligible paid stays), Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership**, and an additional free weekend night certificate after you spend a total of $60,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year.
It’s not as easy to assign a firm value to some of the card’s other benefits, especially its excellent travel and purchase protections when you use the card to pay. Should you have to use this coverage if things go awry on your trip or with an item you’ve bought, you could save even more money and aggravation. These include:
- Secondary car rental insurance
- Baggage insurance plan
- Premium Global Assist Hotline
- Return protection
- Purchase protection
- Extended warranty
Of note is the Premium Global Assist Hotline, which offers a benefit seen on only a handful of other cards. In addition to assistance with things like passport replacement, medical referrals, and translation services (the costs of which are the responsibility of the cardholder), Amex may provide emergency medical transportation assistance at no charge if it’s approved and coordinated by Premium Global Assist Hotline.
I’ve kept the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card for several years because I get much more from it than the $450 annual fee it charges. I usually redeem its free anniversary night each year at luxury hotels that cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000 or more per night, which more than offsets the cost.
And between the annual Hilton resort credit (worth up to $250) and Diamond elite status (which gives members a food and beverage credit at US hotels of up to $50 per night, depending on the brand), the savings are even more substantial. Tack on a host of other valuable benefits and the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is probably the most profitable card in my collection.
Jasmin Baron is an editor at Insider, responsible for credit card coverage on Personal Finance Insider. She is also a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF).Before joining the Insider team, she was a senior editor at The Points Guy and Million Mile Secrets, covering credit cards, points and miles, and loyalty programs. Her expertise in maximizing travel rewards grew from over two decades of experience in the aviation industry, including 18 years working as a pilot and flight instructor in her native Canada.You can reach Jasmin at email@example.com. Learn more about how Personal Finance Insider chooses, rates, and covers financial products and services »