Pay $450 for a Hilton Aspire Card Without Being A Frequent Hotel User?

Double Tree Hilton

We got the American Express Hilton Aspire card for about a month.  Although the new American Express Hilton Aspire card comes with bevy of perks, it also carries a huge annual fee.  You would think we would have this card if we were frequent Hilton clients.

Interestingly, we’re are in no way frequent Hilton users and it might sound pretty crazy that we’re paying $450 per year to use the Amex Hilton Aspire.   Sounds pretty nuts, right?

For us, the cost of the $450 is insignificant as long as we can benefit from a break even standpoint or, even, gain more than the $450 fee.   Think about it this way:  if you could receive money back from the amount that you would otherwise spend, it would make sense to spend that money to pay for the fee.  In other words, you get a return on spend ($450) if you can receive back more than the actual spend or expense.

If you don’t know much about this card, refer to here on the American Express Hilton Aspire card.

Here’s how we figure we can beat the system:

As mentioned, the Aspire card comes with a load of perks and some of them allow us to get back to the $450 fee and more.  By maximizing the return on spend perks, you can get the money you spend on the Aspire card back.

$250 Annual Airline Fee Credit

Typical Airline Fee credits will credit you for incidentals like baggage fees, in-flight meals, and airline wifi.   However, with most travel credit cards, airline gift cards are not covered.  There are some airlines that the Hilton Aspire would allow for it to be credited.

If you’re not a person who buys in-flight meals or check in your baggage, the annual airline fee credit may, depending on the airline, allow you to get airline gift cards.  For us, the Amex Aspire $250 airline fee credits work with America Airlines.   This is huge for us since this airline has a major hub in our city.

Much like the American Express Platinum and Gold airline incidental credits, the Hilton Aspire follows the same path.  So, you must pick an airline that you want this credit to apply; choosing multiple airlines is not an option.   Make sure that you select your airline first before you start purchasing the airline gift cards.

$250 Hilton Resort Statement Credit

The key to determining if the Amex Hilton Aspire is worth it is by seeing if you will frequent the Hilton Resort collection.  Hilton resorts are not Hilton Grand Vacation Club (the Hilton timeshare).  Rather, there are hotels that are scattered throughout the US and the world that have resort like amenities.  Click on this link to to see the locations.

For us, we have one resort that is near us and we can use if we have no other place to go.  Since we frequent running events, there are a number of resorts like the Hilton Virginia Ocean Front hotel that allow us to visit the city, enjoy the scenery and compete in a race.  As long as we can find a race around a Hilton Resort area, we should be able to find a place to utilize the $250 credit.

Keep in mind the Hilton Resorts are not everywhere, like a typical Hilton hotel.  Check the list and see if it makes sense for you and if you can find a way to utilize the credit yearly.

Free Weekend Night

The free weekend night allows you to use a voucher for practically any Hilton hotel worldwide.  As the name states it’s weekend only, so you need to be sure that your stay is on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday night.

For us, this is very useful and we tend to check in at a hotel on a weekend anyway.  Due our running hobby, we have races that often fall on the weekend.  This benefit allows us to pick and choose the destinations, and given Hilton’s broad availability through the states, it allows us tremendous flexibility.

Since hotel nights can vary based on the hotel, time, and location, we find that the average rate for us will be $180 per night.  For others this price can vary depending on the time and stay.


So how do we come out to net positive with the $450 annual fee?

Airline Fee Cedit$250
Hilton Resort Credit$250
Annual Weekend Pass$180

As you can see, we come out on a net positive average of $230.   In our case, the card pays for itself and provides a net gain.  It’s not a bad return on spend considering the hefty annual fee.

Additional Bonuses

The perks I mentioned are not the only benefits of this card.  The Hilton Aspire comes with other bonuses that can’t be precisely quantified.   Perhaps you can also find some kind of value with these perks. Since we can’t place a dollar value to these cards, we’ll list them for you here.

Hilton Diamond Status

The Hilton Diamond status provides lounge access, hotel late check out, free breakfast and room upgrades.  For us, one of the most important features is the 48 check-in guarantee.  There were instances where we found the a hotel booked online. However, when we logged in with our account, the room became available.

$100 Hilton Conrad or Waldorf Astoria Property Credit

If you stay at a Hilton Conrad or Waldorf Astoria,  you can get a $100 resort incidental credit.  The credit could be used for spas, restaurants and other incidentals.  We’re not sure if this will be a popular benefit since Conrads and Waldorf Astoria properties are luxury brands that might go as high as $1,000 per night.

Priority Pass 

Similar to other premium cards, priority pass is available for card holders.  The pass grants you access to various lounges throughout the world.   Although it provides great benefits internationally, many users cite various opinions in the US lounges.

Other thoughts

I find that discussions around this card often recommend frequent users of Hilton hotels.  We might differ from this mindset.  The card can be useful for someone who doesn’t go to Hilton hotels on a frequent basis.  As this demonstrates, you can do the bare minimum and get net positive without the travel requirements.