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TravelHow to maximize the Hilton Amex Aspire Card

How to maximize the Hilton Amex Aspire Card

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 $550 annual fee (see rates and 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.

Large welcome offer

The Aspire card is currently offering 150,000 points after you spend $6,000 in the first six months of account opening. Those points are worth $900, according to our valuations.

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 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.

If I were getting the Amex Aspire card, the welcome offer 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.

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 a 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.

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There’s no guaranteed avenue to suite upgrades or late checkout as a Hilton Diamond. According to terms and conditions, “Late checkout 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.

Free night certificates

Aspire cardmembers can receive up to three reward night certificates. You receive one reward night certificate to use at virtually any Hilton property worldwide after opening your account and on your cardmember anniversary year.


Earn a second reward night certificate when you spend $30,000 on the Aspire card in a calendar year and a third night certificate when you spend $60,000 within a calendar year.

Frequent travelers can take advantage of this benefit and possibly save hundreds of dollars a year. Best of all, as long as a property is eligible and has room availability, you can book a stay with few exclusions.

Related: Hilton free night certificates: How to earn them and maximize their value

$200 airline credit

Thanks to its flexible use, this cobranded hotel card gives you a $200 flight credit per calendar year.

Cardmembers receive up to $50 in statement credits each calendar quarter for airfare purchases on flights purchased directly from the airline or through AmexTravel.com.

TPG managing editor for credit cards Matt Moffitt maximizes this credit by loading his United TravelBank balance with $50 each quarter.

$400 resort credit

Visit Hilton.com/resorts and find properties for your next stay where you’ll be eligible for up to $400 annual credit for purchases made during the visit (this includes room rates and incidentals).

The resort credit is broken up into two semi-annual credits of up to $200 from January-June and July-December. 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 up to $400 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, $400 in the bank before arriving would be a pretty sweet deal.

$189 Clear Plus credit

Cardmembers receive up to $189 in statement credits toward a Clear Plus membership annually.


Clear is a great perk to have alongside TSA PreCheck. In case those expedited lanes are closed or backed up, you have some flexibility in using another service to speed through security.

Related: 10 ways to get through airport security faster

$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, gift shop souvenirs, or grab a few intricate coffee beverages to take advantage of the credit.

Car rental elite status

Cardmembers enjoy complimentary National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive status (terms apply). Benefits include Executive Area Access, no second driver fees, and guaranteed upgrades.


If National Car Rental is not your preferred car rental agency, you can easily leverage the automatic elite status and apply for a status match to your preferred rental agency.

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 amextravel.com, 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 earn 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,, which is fantastic.

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. At the property, you’d have Diamond status for breakfast and lounge access, bonus points, a $400 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.

To learn more, read our full review of the Hilton Aspire.

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


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