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Getting great value from a new card — reader success story

Nov. 08, 2019
6 min read
Getting great value from a new card — reader success story
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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Dan, who is making good use of the welcome bonus and benefits from his Hilton card on two trips this year:

When Southwest Airlines announced service to Hawaii, my wife and I made a point to start putting some of our hard-earned rewards to use. She had already signed up for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card earlier this year when the bonus offer included the Companion Pass. After a few transfers from our Chase Ultimate Rewards accounts to Southwest, our flights were covered.

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We started looking at which hotels would get us the best value and settled on the Hilton Hawaiian Village. That brought me to the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, which offered a 150,000-point [welcome bonus] bonus after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months, Hilton Diamond status (which also meant getting the fifth-night-free benefit), a $250 resort credit, free breakfast, and (hopefully) an upgrade to a suite. I was offered a transfer bonus to transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to Hilton at 1:3. A few clicks later and we had a five-night stay booked for 240,000 points (with the fifth night free and no resort fees or taxes)!

While we are super excited for that trip, it was this next booking that made me want to write in. We recently moved to the Denver area and have enjoyed heading out to the ski resorts around the holidays. I decided to see what kind of availability the Hilton properties in those areas have around New Year's Eve. A quick search led me to the DoubleTree by Hilton Vail, where I found availability for 80,000 points per night for a two-night stay from Dec. 30, 2019 to Jan. 1, 2020. That seemed a little high, but I was surprised to find any availability between Christmas and New Year's Day.

Out of curiosity, I checked the cash rates for those nights and my jaw nearly hit the floor when I saw they were charging $829 per night for the same room! With taxes and the $40 nightly resort fee, the total came to $1,908. That put the redemption value of each Hilton point at almost 1.2 cents, nearly double TPG's valuation! I quickly went back and booked the award, hoping it was still there and not some tragic glitch, and now we are looking forward to ringing in the new year in the mountains.

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.

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When I begin planning a vacation, one of my first moves is to investigate which travel credit card(s) I can get to augment my travel experience and defray my out-of-pocket expenses. I want cards that offer not only a lucrative welcome bonus, but also perks that pay off immediately, and I find cobranded hotel cards often meet both criteria. Many hotel cards confer elite status upon approval, so you can get benefits like complimentary breakfast, welcome amenities and a better shot at scoring an upgrade, on top of those that come from being a cardholder. That's in contrast to airline credit cards, which may offer cardholders shortcuts to elite status, but don't provide it outright.

The Aspire card is especially attractive if you're heading to a property where you can redeem the $250 resort credit, since that offsets more than half of the $450 annual fee (see rates and fees). Unlike most hotel cards, it also comes with a free weekend night certificate that you can use in your first year as a cardmember (rather than having to wait until your account anniversary). Tack on a 150,000-point bonus and up to $250 annual airline fee credit, and I think the card is an easy win when you're planning a Hilton stay.

The stay Dan booked in Aspen reinforces the idea that you can often get outsized value on hotel awards around peak travel dates and major events. Cash prices spike when demand is high, but award rates tend to be less inflated even with programs that use dynamic pricing. Award availability is naturally limited at those times, but searching for it doesn't take long and can pay off handsomely. If you're not set on precise dates and destinations, you can also try letting award availability guide your plans.

Related: When to get a credit card for specific reasons

I love this story and I want to hear more like it! In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending Dan a gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own award travel success stories to info@thepointsguy.com; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. Feel free to also submit your most woeful travel mistakes. If your story is published, we’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.

Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!

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

Featured image by (Photo courtesy of Hilton)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

TPG featured card

Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 6X points
6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.

Intro offer

Earn 100,000 points75,000 points
Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

Annual Fee

$125

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

    Earn 100,000 points
    75,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees