How I blew a chance at a $250 credit — reader mistake story

Feb 7, 2020

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Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Christina, who missed an important stipulation of one of her credit card benefits:

I’m a Hilton loyalist, and I was jazzed to start using my Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, which I got for the Diamond status and in anticipation of an upcoming trip to Europe. I was particularly looking forward to using the [up to] $250 statement credit for staying at an eligible Hilton resort. I went through the recommended search portal and booked two nights at the Waldorf Astoria Versailles – Trianon Palace using a sale rate (full purchase in advance) that was offered.

Later that night, when reading the fine print for the Aspire benefits, I noticed it said “Advance Purchase Rates/Non-Refundable Rates are not eligible for the resort credit.” So even if you use the recommended search portal to find an eligible property, you have to make sure you’re booking a rate that will allow for use of the credits. I’ve called Hilton three times to see if they’ll let me change to a more expensive refundable rate … so far no luck. Hopefully this helps someone else avoid making the same mistake!

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I give Christina credit for taking the initiative to read about her card benefits; understanding how they work will help her maximize their value in the long run, but the time to research benefit terms and conditions is before using them, not after. When you apply for a new credit card or reach a new tier of elite status, taking a few minutes to review the salient details can help you avoid confusion and disappointment later. If you’re primarily interested in getting a card for just one or two benefits, then make sure you thoroughly understand the rules that govern those benefits before you even apply.

The good news for Christina is that she still has the remainder of her cardmember year to use her resort credit. The benefit covers incidentals (like meals and spa services) charged to your room at eligible properties, so she may have opportunities to use it during her stay at Versailles after all. Furthermore, Amex recently added trip cancellation protection to the Aspire card (and others), so assuming she booked in 2020, she won’t be on the hook for that nonrefundable rate if she has to cancel her stay for a covered reason.

The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex 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.

Related: 5 great Hilton Honors redemptions in Europe

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing us to post it online), I’m sending Christina a gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own travel mistake stories to info@thepointsguy.com, and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls.

Feel free to also submit your best travel success stories. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. Due to the volume of submissions, we can’t respond to each story individually, but we’ll be in touch if yours is selected. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

Featured photo by Stephanie Leblanc/Unsplash.

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