The points and miles world is buzzing with the recent launch of four new credit cards from Hilton. Of the four, the card gaining the most notoriety is the premium Hilton Aspire card from American Express (Annual fee $450). We wrote our thoughts on the card when it was officially announced last year. Now that the card is available, it’s time to make a decision I’ve been struggling with: Is carrying a second premium card worth the cost?
The Big Perks: Hilton Aspire
Since I already carry a Chase Sapphire Reserve card, certain benefits like Priority Pass access are redundant with the Aspire. In the article last year I identified and placed a value on 3 major benefits of the Aspire card that would be useful to me:
Free Weekend Night
One free weekend night per year has the potential to worth well over $200 depending on the property. Keep in mind there are a few exclusions which can be found here. Several of these are all-inclusive properties which makes sense. Overall, most Hilton locations are included. To be conservative, I’ll place a value of this benefit at $200.
$250 Resort Credit
If you typically stay at a Hilton Resort or equivalent each year, then you’ll easily find value with the benefit. I live in Arizona which is full of resort properties. At least once a year we’ll do a “Staycation” at a local resort. For me, this benefit is easy to use, but it’s not necessarily a 100% given we would use it each year. I’ll go ahead and assign it a value of $200.
$250 Airline Incidental Fee Credit
This feature works in the same fashion as the Amex Platinum card. You’ll assign one specific airline for your credits. The benefit is intended to cover incidental purchases outside of your standard ticket purchase. This includes items like seat selection, extra bags, and on-board food/drink. However, several sources indicate that airline gift cards can be purchased as a way to use your credit towards airfare. For full details, see this article. Overall, I’ll assign this feature a value of $200.
What About Hilton Diamond Status?
I’m hesitant to place a “value” on hotel status. Hilton Diamond has a few nice perks which can be found here. Overall, I don’t see any of them saving me money that I would otherwise spend in a calendar year. As a result, I’m leaving them out of my value calculation.
As I noted last year, I’m valuing the useful benefits of this card right around $600.
Putting Spend On The Aspire Card
First and foremost, I don’t think I’d use for any spending – even at Hilton properties. While the earnings rate is a whopping 14 points/dollar, Hilton points have been severely devalued over the years. Right now most people peg the value of Hilton points right around .4 cents each. Therefore your return at Hilton properties would be roughly 5.6%. Alternatively, Chase points are valued around 1.8 cents each depending on who you ask. At 3X points on the Sapphire Reserve, your spend at Hilton properties is roughly the same with both cards.
Outside of travel and dining, the rest of my spending falls on American Express cards that earn Membership Rewards. Remember, Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards points are typically valued at ~ 1.8 cents each. Our earning structure looks like this:
- Travel & Dining: 3X Points Chase Sapphire Reserve (5.4% Value)
- Gas: 3X Points Amex EDP (5.4% Value)
- Groceries: 4.5X Points Amex EDP (8.1% Value)
- Everything Else: 2X Points Amex BBP (3.6% Value)
The Hilton Aspire card offers a paltry 3x Hilton points (1.2% value) on purchases other than travel. As you can see, there’s no way to work any Hilton Aspire spending into our current rotation.
The Sign Up Bonus
Right now the sign up bonus is 100,000 Hilton points. While that sounds like a lot, remember Hilton points are only worth about .04 cents each. In reality, that’s only enough points for one night at a high end Hilton property. This doesn’t move the needle in favor of applying.
Final Thoughts: Hilton Aspire
Carrying a second premium card isn’t something to take lightly. $450 annual fees can add up quickly, so you really need to justify the cost to keep it. Whether to apply for this card has been gnawing at me for a few months now. If the signup bonus were a lot stronger, I’d probably just get the card and figure out whether to keep it over the next year. Unfortunately that isn’t the case with a rather weak signup bonus.
Ultimately, I think I’m going to hold off on this one for now. I think what swings the pendulum one way or another is if you have plans to stay at Hilton properties throughout the year. Personally, I don’t. If you do, then it’s probably easier to justify the annual fee, especially when you can enjoy some of the accessory benefits of Diamond status. What do you think? Would you carry this card in addition to another premium card?