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Update: The Hilton American Express Ascend Card is now the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card and is offering a bonus of 125,000 Hilton Honors Points after you spend $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months.
After talking about it for months, my wife and I recently took a trip to Puerto Rico. It was perfect timing, as we arrived during the San Sebastián Festival in San Juan. It just so happened to be a great opportunity to put the perks of the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card to use.
Hotel selection for our travel dates was limited due to the festival. We decided to go with the Hilton Ponce on the south side of Puerto Rico, and I was able to book 7 nights for 240,000 points, with the fifth night being complimentary. The booking would have cost roughly $1,700 out of pocket with taxes and resort fees included, so the value was pretty decent on this redemption: 0.7 cents per point, slightly higher than TPG’s valuation of Hilton points at 0.6 cents per point.
At the time of booking, I had Hilton Gold status through my Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card. However, I had been eyeing the Hilton Aspire for some time. I was waiting for the right time to strike. It has a $450 annual fee (See Rates & Fees), but it can be a no-brainer if you can put its various statement credits to use — not to mention the complimentary top-tier Diamond status — to use. As of publish time, it’s offering a welcome bonus of 150,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months, worth $900 based on TPG’s valuations.
My wife’s tuition for the University of Utah (Go Utes!) was right around the corner. Luckily, the University of Utah does not charge extra to pay with a credit card. So this was the perfect opportunity to earn a welcome bonus and take advantage of the card perks for stays at a Hilton property. I applied and was approved.
Here’s how I maximized my Hilton Aspire perks on our Puerto Rico trip.
Hilton Resort Statement Credit
With the Hilton Aspire, card holders get a $250 credit each card member year toward eligible purchases at Hilton resorts. While there’s a plethora of ways to use this statement credit, including the actual room cost, my wife and I treated ourselves to massages and a nice dinner.
The nuance to this statement credit is that the charges must be billed to the room, and the room must be paid for with the Aspire. When I booked the room, I used my Ascend to hold the room. When I learned of this rule, I quickly went to my Hilton Honors account and was able to swap out the cards with no issue. Plus, with the Aspire, I earned 14x points on my stay.
Airline Fee Credit
This is one of my favorite features of Amex credit cards. The Hilton Aspire comes with a $250 annual airline fee credit. This can be used in many ways, including for checked bag fees and upgrades, but I used them to simply purchase five $50 Delta gift cards, and had no issue getting reimbursed. However, I would advise to use this with caution — gift cards aren’t one of the official uses for this fee credit, so your mileage may vary.
While we weren’t able to use these gift cards directly for this trip, I consider it a springboard of sorts for our next trip we just booked: to Australia. We used part of these gift cards to offset the cost.
Complimentary Diamond Status
Hilton Diamond status comes with a long list of benefits, with upgrades being one of the biggest perks. I had luck getting upgrades with Gold status from the Ascend card, so I wasn’t surprised to get an upgrade on this trip with my Diamond status through the Aspire card. We were upgraded to an Oceanview Balcony Room.
As mentioned earlier, our fifth night was free thanks to elite status, saving us 40,000 points or roughly $240 on this trip. TPG values Hilton Diamond Status at $2,275, so it is definitely a treat to have.
Priority Pass Select
With the Hilton Aspire comes a Priority Pass Select membership for unlimited visits for the card holder and 2 guests.
We visited the Avianca operated by Global Lounge at San Juan Airport (SJU), and were severely disappointed. It was super-packed and the food selection was lackluster. However, there are some much nicer lounges in the Priority Pass network.
After this trip, I tallied up the savings from the Hilton Aspire Card. From the complimentary upgrade, to the complimentary breakfasts and the $250 resort credit, we saved roughly $800 over the span of the trip.
The Hilton Aspire Card is not only great for its 150,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, but also for the perks that can enhance your stay at a Hilton Resort.
For rates and fees of the Honors Aspire Card, please click here.
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