How I got more than $1,300 in value from the Hilton Aspire Card — despite the pandemic

Nov 18, 2020

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I don’t proactively chase elite status, but I am fiercely loyal to one hotel credit card: The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. I’ve had the card for a few years and while the annual fee is high at $450 (see rates and fees), it consistently pays for itself several times over. Even during the pandemic, when I’ve rarely left the house, let alone traveled much, I managed to get  $1,376 in value out of the Hilton Aspire Card. Here’s an overview of how I pulled it off.

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$105 in savings via Amex Offers

If you’re not already taking advantage of Amex Offers, you’re missing out big. I save hundreds of dollars across my Amex credit cards every year just by periodically checking for offers and linking them to my account. On my Hilton Aspire alone, I’ve earned $105 in statement credits on purchases I was going to make anyway. These consist of mostly retail spending and cell phone service discounts.

Amex does a good job of targeting people for offers based on their spending habits, so I often find money-saving deals at retailers I actually shop with. In total, I’ve saved $397.17 on my two Amex cards thanks to offers like these. However, my other Amex is a no-fee card. That $105 I saved knocks more than a fourth of my Aspire card’s annual fee.

Related: These Amex Offers will help you save money and make life easier right now

$625 saved on Hilton breakfast

Automatic Hilton Diamond status is of the Hilton Aspire Card’s greatest benefit. Hilton Diamond members get lots of valuable perks, such as 100% bonus points, lounge access and room upgrades. For me, the most valuable perk has been the free breakfast. When I travel with my nieces and nephew, we like to have breakfast at the hotel – for our convenience and sanity. Dragging three kids around town early in the morning for eggs and toast is just not feasible.

On my recent stay at the Hagia Sofia Mansions in Istanbul, the difference between the lowest room rate and the breakfast package was 17 Euros per night. We had three rooms booked, so I saved 255 Euros (about $302) during a five-night stay.

 

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We also spent seven nights at the Doubletree Umraniye, also in Istanbul, where the breakfast rate was 13 Euros more than the lowest rate available. Having Hilton Diamond status saved me 273 Euros (about $323) over seven nights.

Hilton officially extends elite status benefits to one room. However, I have yet to encounter a hotel that didn’t extend it to everyone on my reservation. I consistently get tons of value out of this benefit. This year alone, that translated to $625 worth of savings – all thanks to my Hilton Aspire Card.

Related: Complete guide to Hilton Elite status

$366 worth of bonus points

Speaking of Hilton Diamond benefits, thanks to the 100% point bonus perk, I earned an extra 15,694 points on my Hilton stays this year. TPG values Hilton points at 0.6 cents each, so that’s an extra $94.16 worth of rewards just for keeping the Aspire Card in my wallet.

On top of this, I earned 45,467 Hilton points for spending at Hilton hotels, U.S. restaurants and grocery stores. In total, that’s 61,151 bonus points, which are valued at $366.91.

$30 worth of lounge access

Since the pandemic started, I’ve traveled just once – I flew to Turkey in October, out of a deserted San Francisco International Airport. I had truly never seen anything like it before – the terminal was empty and many restaurants were shut down.

I used my Priority Pass membership, courtesy of my Aspire Card, to guest my parents and cousin into the KLM lounge. Technically the membership allows the cardholder and up to two guests, but the agent allowed my cousin to go in my place. The lounge wasn’t fancy and the food spread was abysmal. But it was nice not to have to pay $10 per person for food at the terminal.

The dining at the Air France/KLM Lounge at SFO (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

A day pass to the KLM lounge normally costs $35. But we’ll just value this benefit at $10 per person since that’s what I would have paid for food if I didn’t have lounge access.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Priority Pass Lounges and Restaurants at SFO Airport

$250 Hilton resort credit

The Hilton Aspire Card offers an annual up to $250 resort credit, which I would normally use at (you guessed it) a resort. However, that didn’t seem likely this year, so when Amex began extending the credit to U.S. restaurant purchases (no longer available), I took advantage of that. I used the card for takeout at a few local restaurants when cooking got tiresome. It was a great way to cover a necessary expense and support struggling local businesses.

Related: 5 ways to maximize free hotel night rewards in the new era of COVID-19

Bottom line

The Hilton Aspire is a great card that consistently gets me tons of value every year – even when I’m not traveling much. I have yet to put the free weekend night award to use, which is worth at least a few hundred dollars. In fact, last year I used it to book a room at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives that was going for over $1,800 per night at the time. Now that Hilton has expanded these certificates to be valid for two years and on any day of the week, I expect it will go even further next year.

If you’re looking for a rewarding hotel credit card that delivers top-tier benefits, the Hilton Aspire Card is worth a look. While the $450 annual fee seems steep (and trust me, I’m not big on paying high annual fees to begin with), I consistently get more than my money’s worth – even when travel is mostly at a standstill.

If you’re interested in a Hilton Aspire Card, now is a great time to apply. Through TPG’s link, you’ll not only earn 150,000 bonus points after $4,000 spent in the first three months of account opening but you’ll also earn a one-time $100 statement credit after using your new card to purchase an ExpertFlyer Premium annual subscription ($99.99 plus applicable taxes, followed by automatic renewal) within your first year. ExpertFlyer is owned by TPG’s parent company, Red Ventures.

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

Featured photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy

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Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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