Maximizing the Hilton Aspire

Congrats to all the early adaptors into getting the Hilton Aspire Card! As my O-5 friend called and said to me that this card might even outshine the AmEx Platinum card for military! Right off the bat the $450 annual fee is waived (for Active Duty Military per MLA and SCRA), meaning the $250 Airline Credit and the $250 Hilton Resort credit pays $500 annually just to have this card in your wallet! The free night as well as the Diamond Status are just the cherry on top!

Getting the Card

Easiest way to get the card is to make sure you have less than 5 credit cards in your AmEx account, then applying here. There are no referral bonuses from having the card, or to upgrade the Ascend/Surpass, yet. This lack of referral links has been confirmed by three readers who currently have the activated card in hand. I was able to get the card in 2 business days via UPS by simply asking for expedited shipping for free. I was over 5 cards so I had to wait for a phone call to close one of my accounts.

Second easy way is to product change your Ascend/Surpass (by forfeiting the 100k sign on bonus) into the Aspire. Reader RWHR had this experience:

I already had the Hilton surpass which on my amex account said amex ascend. A couple of days ago, I went to all cards and saw the option to upgrade my ascent to the aspire. I did so and I upgraded it about 24 hours later.

I applied for the Aspire card in order to capture the 100k bonus, but I chose to close my Surpass/Ascend card to get under the 5 max. Not sure if I made the right call by closing my Surpass. I should of upgraded that Surpass to an Aspire in order to have double the $500 credits as well as the 100k points with the first aspire. I feel like an idiot!

For those with a current Ascend/Surpass, I would not be so quick to product change the Ascend to Aspire before getting the 100k bonus on applying directly for a new Aspire, in case it makes you ineligible in some quirk. I would wait till the 100k hits then do the Ascend to Aspire upgrade with the second card.

Another note worthy thing is the new card came with a different HHonors number despite entering it in the application. This can be corrected by simply calling in and merging the HHonors accounts.

$250 Airline Fee Credit

You can read all the terms and conditions here. The credit for $250 will work exactly like the AmEx Platinum $200 airline credit and PRG $100 credit. You will need to pick an airline for the year and then have till Dec 31 each year to spend it. No word if AA Gift Cards or United Gift Registry (when it is back up) will work. From the terms and conditions:

Card Account is eligible for up to a total of $250 per calendar year in statement credits across all Cards on the Card Account. Incidental air travel fees must be separate charges from airline ticket charges

$250 Hilton Resort Credit

Now this $250 credit follows the card membership year, so you only get a reset of the credit when one year has passed since getting the card. Note this is different than the $250 Airline Fee Credit. This also only works at the Hilton Resorts found on this site here. The military leave staycation ones I can see are:

  • Hilton Okinawa Chatan Resort
  • Hilton Hawaiian Village® Waikiki Beach Resort (Next to Hale Koa)
  • Hotel del Coronado, Curio Collection by Hilton
  • Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront
  • Hilton Guam Resort & Spa
  • Hilton Niseko Village
  • Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines
  • Hilton Pensacola Beach
  • Cape Rey Carlsbad, a Hilton Resort
  • Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center
  • Hilton San Diego Del Mar
  • Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa
  • Hotel Karlan San Diego – a DoubleTree by Hilton
  • DoubleTree by Hilton San Diego – Del Mar
  • Beach Village at The Del, Curio Collection by Hilton

From the terms and conditions this $250 can be used for:

Incidental charges (including charges made at restaurants, spas, and other establishments within the hotel property) must be charged to your room and paid for with your Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card at checkout

When you pay your bill these credits should post on your credit card account unlike the $100 property credit which gets deducted from your bill.

$100 Property Credit

The $100 credit is only activated according to the terms:

When you use your Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card to book through or by calling Hilton Honors at (855) 292-5757, for a two-night minimum stay at Waldorf Astoria® Hotels & Resorts, and Conrad® Hotels & Resorts

So if we pair this up with the $250 resort we can squeeze out $350 of free shit at the following hotels:

  • Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

  • El Conquistador, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

  • La Quinta Resort & Club, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

  • Waldorf Astoria Orlando

  • Boca Raton Resort and Club, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

  • Casa Marina, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

  • Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah

  • Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

  • Conrad Maldives

  • Conrad Bali

  • Rome Cavalieri, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts

  • Trianon Palace Versailles, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel

  • Conrad Bora Bora Nui

  • The Reach, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

  • Boca Beach Club, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

  • Las Casitas, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

  • Waldorf Astoria Park City

  • Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah

  • Conrad Koh Samui

  • Conrad Algarve

  • Ho’olei at Grand Wailea

  • Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach

  • Conrad Pezula

  • Conrad Punta Del Este

  • Conrad Sanya Haitang Bay

  • Conrad Cartagena

  • Waldorf Astoria Jeddah, Qasr Al Sharq

Note that the majority of these hotels are stupid expensive, with the exception of:

  1. $116 a night Punta Del Este, Uruguay
  2. $155 a night Algarve, Portugal
  3. $159 a night Nusa Dua, Indonesia
  4. $249 a night Paris, France

A two night stay at the Conrad Punta Del Este would cost you $116 a night or $232.80 with tax:

Then you would get $100 in property credit for being a 2 night stay at a Conrad, then a $250 credit for being a resort. You would get paid $117.20 to stay two nights in Uruguay. People have gamed this using the Fine Hotel and Resorts $100 credit on AmEx.

Unfortunately it would cost you $1,686 to fly there, but at least you get $250 towards that with the airline credit if United ever opens up the registry again!

Diamond Status

I have had diamond status for over a year now with my clever back matching. With Diamond, I got a suite upgrade in Iceland and free cupcakes and sparking white wine in Manhattan! At the Palmer House Hilton I was able to get lounge access as well as a two bathroom suite (a unique room indeed). Best part of Diamond Status is 48 hr room guarantee. I was even able to get a hotel during the BRK shareholders meeting in downtown Omaha when it was all booked up for normies.

Other diamond benefits include: 50% more points per stay,  as well as free breakfast at Hilton and Waldorf Astoria Hotels, lounge access, and a welcome amenity. All the benefits are listed and valued here.

Free Annual Weekend Night(s)

The free weekend night is nice, but not worth spending $60k to get another free night! From the terms:

The Annual Weekend Night Reward will be issued in the form of a redeemable code and sent in an email from Hilton Honors to the email address listed on your Hilton Honors account. You will receive the reward email within 8-14 weeks after opening your Card Account and each year within 8-14 weeks after your Card Account anniversary date. This benefit is only available to the Basic Card Member on the Card Account. The Annual Weekend Night Reward can be redeemed for one weekend night standard accommodation, double occupancy, subject to availability at properties in the Hilton portfolio, excluding those listed at A weekend night is defined as Friday, Saturday or Sunday night. To redeem the Annual Weekend Night Reward, Card Members must call 1-800-446-6677 and mention the code provided by Hilton Honors. The Annual Weekend Night Reward expires within one year from the date of issuance and must be redeemed on or before the expiration date. An Annual Weekend Night Reward will be forfeited if not redeemed on or before the expiration date. Card members are only eligible to receive this benefit once per year of your Card membership. You are only eligible to receive the Annual Weekend Night Reward once per year of Card membership, and you are only able to receive this benefit with an upgrade to the Hilton Honors Aspire Card one time.

More rules than a strip club to use one of these things and they can be found here. I have no experience in using the free night, but I guess the CitiBank card holders of the Hilton card got them before.

Card Upgrade Strategy

Well I fumbled on canceling the Surpass before I realized that I should of upgraded it to an Aspire, but the no-fee Hilton AmEx is currently offering 50,000 HHonors for a mere $1,000 spend. I should get this one and in a year move it up to another Aspire to get another $250 resort, $250 travel credit.

For those who haven’t had the Surpass or the Ascend use this link here:

It is nice to have another $450 card hitting the market that we get the annual fee waived. I say it’s going to be good churns for 2018 as the Marriott SPG elite card will be the next one to look out for!


29 thoughts on “Maximizing the Hilton Aspire

  1. Dave says:

    Ok you lost me here. How is it double the bonus points if I upgrade the surpass vs cancel and apply for the aspire? Isn’t that forefitting the aspire bonus?

    • uiucderp2011 says:

      Whoops, I meant double the annual credits

    • uiucderp2011 says:

      Okay, thanks for the heads up on my late night blogging. I fixed the wording. So if you have the Ascend/Surpass then keep it and apply for the Aspire. When the 100k bonus hits with $4K spend then upgrade the Surpass/Ascend to another Adpire for another sweet $250 hotel and $250 airline credit!

      • Dave says:

        But alas, I am at 5 AmEx credit cards and cannot apply for an aspire. I’m wondering what the best 5 card mix would be now. I’m thinking SPG Business, Hilton Aspire, Delta Reserve… and two slots for duplicates? Maybe an extra Aspire and Reserve? Maybe a slot for the MB for future MB Plat upgrade? What do you think? I have a while before I can start cancelling cards (under 1 year on all Amex credit accounts).

        • uiucderp2011 says:

          Wow, churning so hard! I would take it easy then, work on another bank or get a green, gold, other plat and work on those! Not much you can do with AmEx credit till the one year mark!

          • Dave says:

            I have CS, MB, and Personal Plats, a PRG, and a Green. I want the aspire, lol.

          • uiucderp2011 says:

            Tough call as the next swich-a-roo will be SPG Marriott. I agree with the SPG Biz will become some sort of Chase Marriott Product, so that might save you there. What 5 do you have right now? I would also value the Blue Cash Preferred!

          • Dave says:

            I have the SPG, Surpass, and Delta Gold/Plat/Reserve. I can dump the Gold in July.

          • uiucderp2011 says:

            Right before the renewal hits for the Gold and Plat, you can upgrade both of them to Reserve to get multiple first class companion passes, then cancel!

  2. Shawn says:

    I’m not seeing the $450 Annual Fee as being waived, but you mention that it is in the first paragraph. Are other people seeing that the Annual Fee is waived??

    • uiucderp2011 says:

      Well, it is waived for active duty military. Sorry if I didn’t specify, this is a blog for the SCRA and MLA eligible.

      • Shawn says:

        Got it, thanks. New to the blog so didn’t realize it.

        • uiucderp2011 says:

          hey no worries, I sometimes assume that we only have Military readers. However the 100,000 points is worth about $450 in hotel redemptions according to the valuation that The Points Guy and Greg from Frequent Miler places on it. The frequent miler is not so enthusiastic about the 100k. His write up is here. So the $450 fee would be offset by the $450 in points, $250 in airline credit, $250 Hilton as well as the Priority Pass. THe first year would make you $500, but subsequent years you would get the free night and $50 in credit. Now if you get the card second half of 2018 you can double dip the airline credit and make it even more profitable.

          • Shawn says:

            Yes, my plan is to get it around December. I initially held back because I’m already at 5 Amex CC’s and didn’t want to push back. Now my main rationale is potential mortgage application in August/September and not sure how safe I should play it.

  3. steve says:

    Excellent tips for the mil crowd. I was approved today for mine. Thanks

  4. R says:

    1. What’s the difference between charge and credit cards? I have AmEx Platinum, Ameriprise, Business, Premier Gold, Green, Blue Cash Preferred, Skymiles Platinum, and Skymiles Gold.

    • uiucderp2011 says:

      Charge Cards have no pre-set limit but must be paid off entirely at the end of the billing cycle. Your Platinum, Ameriprise (Platinum I assume), Busisness, Premier Gold, and Green are all charge cards. I recommend upgrading them all to platnium in order to get addional $200 airline credits.

      Your Delta Skymiles Gold, Skymiles Plat, and Blue Cash all count as credit cards. You have room for two more credit cards.

      • Chris says:

        Thanks for all the insight. I’m recently retired and now, after reading your blog, regret not taking more advantage of SCRA with AmEx. I was happy they waived fees on one card.. I’m now more into this hobby, and think it’s worth paying these annual fees for the signup bonuses – at least in year one. My question however is: you have more than one card upgraded to platinum? I had no idea that was possible.

        • uiucderp2011 says:

          My wife and I upgraded our PRG to Platinum. I am about to upgrade my green to plat this October. So just one each for now.

  5. Andrew says:

    FYI I was reimbursed for the $250 for American Airline Gift cards….50, 100, 100

  6. Andrew says:

    Theres an option under card benefits.

    • uiucderp2011 says:

      I tried that day one and it kept on craping out on me both on firefox and on chrome. I tried doing it on the chat and they said I had to wait till the 30th of Jan. I called in today and they said the whole system has crashed since they merged with citi today! Thanks for the datapoint, but I think you were one of the lucky ones!

      • Andrew says:

        Oh man thats too bad. I signed up on Friday I believe and bought the AA gift cards immediately after and then reimbursed yesterday (Tues). Normal turn around given the weekend

  7. Bill says:

    Will they waive the $450 annual fee for active duty military that already has the $550 platinum fee waived? Looking to apply if they allow this.

  8. Andrew says:

    FYI I called Amex/Hilton…weekend free certificates to be ready by end of March

  9. […] machine. Now that we know each card can generate a $250 Southwest gift card, as well as give $250 for a resort credit for room rate & […]

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