Hilton Aspire card gave my family $450 worth of food over the holidays

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I have over 20 credit cards in my wallet right now, and several are premium cards with high annual fees. One of the most expensive is the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire card, which I’ve had for a number of years, and despite its $450 annual fee (see review), I’m happy to renew it year after year.

Sure, $450 is a lot, but I can get more than that in value each year because of the benefits the card offers. In fact, the $450 card is probably one of the most rewarding I have, and it recently gave my family a four-night stay worth almost $4,400 at Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach.

The value of the stay wiped out many years of annual fees on my Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, but the freebies didn’t end there. Thanks to the accumulation of two benefits of the Hilton Honors Aspire card, we received almost $450 in meals and snacks at the resort, making it a very affordable vacation.

Here’s how my family ate for free, and why this, among other benefits, makes the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card stick around for the long haul.

Amex Hilton Aspire resort credit is worth $250

ordinary APR

15.74% to 24.74% variable APR on purchases

Recommended Credit Score

Good to excellent

ordinary APR

15.74% to 24.74% variable APR on purchases

Recommended Credit Score

Good to excellent

More information

  • Information related to the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been compiled by Business Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer.
  • Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend $4,000 on card purchases within the first 3 months of card membership
  • 14X Hilton Honors bonus points for every dollar of eligible purchases loaded onto your card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio
  • 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points per dollar of eligible purchases on your Card on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, and on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies
  • 7 Hilton Honors bonus points for every dollar of eligible purchases with your card at US restaurants.
  • 3 Hilton Honors bonus points for all other eligible purchases with your card

When you open the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, there are many ways to get extraordinary value. For example:

The welcome bonus and first night free certificate are more than enough to justify the annual fee in the first year, but beyond that, you’ll need to decide if the card’s continued benefits make it worth it. I’ve always been able to get at least $450 worth of just one perk, the annual free night award, so the other perks are just icing on the cake.

On this trip, I was able to redeem Aspire’s $250 annual resort credit. Each cardholder’s year, from the time the card is opened, they can receive up to $250 in credits toward purchases made directly at participating Hilton resorts. That means you can’t redeem the credit at any old Hampton or Hilton Garden Inn; must be on Hilton’s list of resorts to qualify for credit.

That’s one of the reasons I chose Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach for my family’s spring break trip. In addition to offering a kitchen in every suite (so we could prepare meals in-room), I knew I could use resort credit for dining and other incidentals to save even more money.

Credit is also very easy to use. As long as the purchase is made directly with a Hilton resort, it should generate the refund. The easiest way to do this is to have your card on file as a payment method for incidentals during your stay and charge everything to the room. Then, at the end of the stay, your card is billed for the entire lot and the resort credit should be activated shortly after the charge is posted.

Screenshot of a Hilton Resort Credit in the amount of $244.11 applied to an Amex Hilton Aspire Credit Card account to offset a charge.

My mental math was a little off this time, so I didn’t spend $250, but it was close enough.

American Express

Amex says it can take 8-12 weeks for resort credit to show up in your Aspire account, but in practice, it only takes a few days.

Automatic Hilton Diamond status gave us $50 a day

Over the course of four nights, I was able to earn another $200 worth of free food from the automatic Hilton Diamond elite status that comes with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. Hilton Diamond elite members used to receive free breakfast at Hilton hotels as one of their status benefits, but (in part) due to the pandemic, that was changed to a food and beverage credit at US Hilton hotels. .

The amount of the credit depends on the brand, but stays at Hilton’s most exclusive hotels (Conrad, Waldorf Astoria and LXR properties) qualify for a credit of $25 per guest, per night, for up to two guests ($50 total in credit per night). In total, this meant that my family received another $200 in credit during our stay.

Note that you have to use this credit every day, otherwise it doesn’t stack, so you can’t save credits for several days, for example, and use them on a big meal or something similar. We had no problem using our credits (along with the $250 resort credit), eating multiple meals and snacks at the hotel for nothing out of pocket. This included:

  • Three lunches at Spinnaker, the resort’s poolside bar and grill
  • Two pizzas at the Cornucopia Market, which served sandwiches and small plates.
  • A dinner at the Atlas Lobby Bar

The daily food and beverage credit was automatically deducted from our folio at the end of the stay, and the balance was charged to my Hilton Honors American Express Aspire card.

Screenshot of the final bill at the Conrad Fort Lauderdale Resort detailing room charges and $200 in food and beverage credits.

The daily food and beverage credit resulted in two items of $100 each.

Conrad Hotels and Resorts

For our other meals we mostly ate in the room and saved that way. I ordered an Instacart grocery delivery the first day of our stay, so we were able to enjoy breakfast and dinner on the suite’s spacious balcony instead of spending a ton on restaurants.

Other Hilton Aspire benefits that make the card a keeper

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card comes with many other benefits that add to its potential value. These include up to $250 per year in airline incidental fee credits**, up to $100 in property credits for two-night minimum stays at participating Waldorf Astoria and Conrad properties (this applies to eligible paid stays), airport Priority Pass Select lounge membership** and an additional free weekend night certificate after spending a total of $60,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year.

It’s not so easy to put a firm value on some of the card’s other benefits, especially its excellent travel and purchase protections when you use the card to pay. If you have to use this coverage if things go wrong on your trip or with an item you bought, you could save even more money and hassle. These include:

  • Secondary car rental insurance
  • baggage insurance plan
  • Global Assist Premium Hotline
  • return protection
  • purchase protection
  • Extended warranty

Of note is the Premium Global Assist hotline, which offers a benefit only seen on a handful of other cards. In addition to assistance with things like passport replacement, medical referrals, and translation services (costs for which are the cardholder’s responsibility), Amex can provide free emergency medical transportation assistance if approved and coordinated by the Premium Global Assist Hotline.

Bottom line

I kept the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card for several years because I earn so much more than the $450 annual fee it charges. I typically redeem your free anniversary night each year at luxury hotels that are $500 to $1,000 or more per night, which more than makes up for the cost.

And between the annual Hilton resort credit (up to $250 value) and Diamond Elite status (which gives members a food and beverage credit at US hotels of up to $50 per night, depending on the brand) , the savings are even more substantial. Throw in a host of other valuable benefits and the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is probably the most value for money card in my collection.

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