Hilton and American Express announced plenty of changes this morning about the co-branded Hilton American Express cards. And, as I look at the title of my blog post, I realize one small clarification. You have to apply and be approved for the new Hilton Aspire card to receive complimentary Hilton Diamond status.
The new Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card really caught my eye. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I don’t spend a ton of time recommending different credit cards. To be clear, I’m also not specifically recommending this new Aspire card (though I might after some more research). For me, the interesting part is that Hilton is willing to put a price on their top-tier elite status.
That price is $450, the annual fee for the Aspire card. Even then, the card gives you plenty of ways to offset the fee:
- You’ll receive a $250 credit each year for incidental airline fees. Think things like checked bag fees, seat assignments and potentially in-flight Wi-Fi.
- You’ll receive a $250 Hilton resort statement credit each year. Stay at a resort, charge it to your Aspire card, get a $250 statement credit if you spend more than $250.
- You’ll receive a $100 credit at Waldorf and Conrad resorts. This sounds like an ongoing benefit as long as you book with the Aspire card and on an Aspire rate. That could dilute the value of this credit.
The card also comes with a Priority Pass membership and increased points earning (14 points per dollar at Hilton, 7 points on airline tickets and car rentals, 3 points on everything else).
Is It Worth It?
- We probably need a quick primer on what Hilton Honors Diamond status actually gets you:
- 50% bonus on all base points earned during hotel stays.
- 5th night free on award stays (you can also get this benefit with Silver and Gold status).
- Free premium Internet access when available during hotel stays.
- A welcome amenity, normally points (same benefit as Gold).
That’s about it. As you can see, it’s not exactly a killer value proposition for the status.
Now, if you can leverage the statement credits and Waldorf/Conrad credit, the card can save you money. And, it does earn more Hilton Honors points than other cards.
Before I go too much further, I think it’s worth noting that Hilton and American Express had other announcements about their co-branded credit cards. View From The Wing has a detailed breakdown of what’s available.
So, Why Does The Aspire Card Interest You, Ed?
Airline and hotel chains are usually pretty protective of their top-tier status. Generally speaking, a credit card might get you a bit of a shortcut to elite status. For example, airlines typically allow customers to earn some elite-qualifying miles or dollars on your path to elite status.
Recently, Delta is notable for having increased the credit card spend requirement to waive their Medallion-qualifying dollars to a whopping $250,000. That’s a lot of credit card spend.
Customers can essentially have this card for free if they use the credits wisely. That speaks volumes to me about how protective Hilton is of the folks who earn top-tier status with Hilton. Is it possible that Hilton is thinking of a new top-tier status above Diamond? I guess so.
If Hilton is analyzing the best way to monetize their loyalty program, then they’re making the decision they can make more money from someone holding an AMEX than from someone who spends 60 nights a year in their hotels. Or, they’re not analyzing and just nodding their head when AMEX asks for more from the partnership. I’m not sure which puzzles me more.
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