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The Hilton line of credit cards has recently changed and grown, removing a few old favorites and adding some exciting new credit card products. Being added to the lineup are the Hilton Ascend – which is a pretty typical, base-level rewards card – and the Hilton Aspire – a much more exotic card Applications for these much-awaited products are finally being accepted. So, should you apply for the Hilton Aspire or the Hilton Ascend card?
To help you decide which of these Amex Hilton credit cards (or maybe both?) is right for you, let’s take a look at what the Aspire and Ascend products are offering to cardholders. The perks between the two are similar, sure. However, they’re still unique enough to make them each worth considering in their own ways.
Apply Now: Amex Hilton Aspire
Comparing the Two Amex Hiltons
It’s important to note the differences between these Amex Hilton credit card products, as they really set the two credit cards apart. Depending on your needs, spending habits, and how often you’ll use the perks offered, it should be easy to decide which of these cards belongs in your wallet.
Here’s where you will really see a difference between the two cards. The Hilton Ascend card brings with it a modest $95 annual fee. The Hilton Aspire, on the other hand? You’ll pay a significant jump: $450 a year.
Of course, this shouldn’t be a deterrent for the Aspire card in and of itself. In fact, the Aspire offers enough benefits that it can easily offset the cost, with the right spending.
At first glance, the sign-on bonus offered by these two cards looks identical. If you look closely, though, you’ll see some important differences.
The Hilton Ascend card comes with a total of 100,000 potential points as a welcome bonus. The first 75,000 you’ll get from spending $2,000 or more in the first 3 months. The next 25,000 will come from spending another $1,000 in the first 6 months. So, it’s essentially 100,000 points for $3,000 in spending.
The Hilton Aspire card also comes with 100,000 in Hilton Honors bonus points, but it’s only earned after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months of owning the card. However, this card comes with an additional bonus: one free weekend night stay at any Hilton property. This even includes properties in exotic locations, like the gorgeous Conrad Maldives.
That added night makes the Aspire bonus a bit more enticing than the Ascend bonus, even though you have to spend more in the first few months to get it. Oh, and the free weekend night benefit renews each card anniversary.
With the Hilton Aspire card, you’ll earn 14x Hilton Honors points on all Hilton purchases. You’ll also earn 7x points on flights booked through the airline directly or on amextravel.com. This rate also applies to rental cars (booked directly with select companies) and at U.S. restaurants. For all other purchases, you’ll earn 3x points.
In contrast, the Hilton Ascend card will earn you 12x points for every dollar spent on Hilton purchases. You’ll earn 7x points for purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations. You’ll also earn 3x points on all other purchases.
Depending on where you spend your money each month and how many Hilton-related purchases you make, both cards have the potential to net you quite a few points.
With the Hilton Ascend card, you’ll also receive automatic Hilton Honors Gold State. This gives you access to free internet, an opportunity for upgrades when available, your 5th night free, and free breakfast at many properties.
With the Hilton Aspire card, you’ll snag yourself automatic Hilton Honors Diamond Status. This brings with it a number of premium benefits, like your 5th night free, executive lounge access, room upgrades, complimentary breakfast, high-speed internet, and a 50% bump on all Honors Base Points earned at Hilton properties.
One of the biggest perks to offset the Hilton Aspire’s hefty annual fee is the airline credit. Aspire cardholders will receive a $250 credit each calendar year, which can be used toward incidentals charged by any airline onto your card.
This means that you can use the credit toward baggage fees, in-flight meals and drinks, and even Wi-Fi. You cannot, however, use the credit toward actual airfare purchases.
The Hilton Ascend card does not offer an airline credit of any kind.
The Hilton Aspire card offers not only one but two resort credits, neither of which you’ll find with the Hilton Ascend card.
This includes a $250 Hilton resort statement credit, which is automatically renewed each year. It can be used at any participating resort, and applied toward room fees, spa services, restaurant bills, and other resort-specific charges.
On top of that, if you book a 2-night (or longer) stay at through hiltonhonors.com/aspirecard, you’ll get up to $100 in additional credits. This property credit will be applied to your bill at hotel checkout (not issued via statement credit) at a number of eligible Conrad/Waldorf locations.
To learn more about either credit, view AMEX’s terms and conditions here.
If you opt for the Hilton Honors Ascend card, you will receive 10 complimentary Priority Pass airport lounge visits per calendar year. You can use these to cover guests when you travel, as well. Additional lounge trips beyond your 10 each year will cost $27 per person, per visit.
If you hold the Hilton Aspire card instead, you’ll receive unlimited Priority Pass access for yourself and up to two guests.
These lounges offer complimentary snacks and beverages, a quiet place to relax between flights, entertainment, and internet access. Depending on how often you travel and how much you enjoy the luxury of the airport lounge, either card may be able to meet your needs.
Earned Free Weekend Night
Lastly, your continued spending with either credit product will earn you free reward nights throughout the life of the card.
With the Hilton Ascend card, you’ll earn one free weekend night reward for every $15,000 you spend on your card in a calendar year. This means that as long as you put an average of $1,250 on the card each month, you’ll snag at least one free weekend night a year at any qualifying property.
The Aspire card offers the same weekend night perk, but you have to spend considerably more to earn it. With this card, you’ll need to charge a whopping $60,000 in a calendar year if you want to earn a free weekend night. That’s $5,000 a month!
Keep in mind that you start out ahead with the Aspire, since you’re given a free weekend night upon sign-up. However, earning your second one (and those subsequent) will be a little more difficult than with the Ascend card.
Which One Is Best?
Both the Hilton Honors Ascend Card and the Hilton Honors Aspire Card offer great benefits and rewards, especially if you tend to spend within the Hilton network. Not only can you net 100,000 bonus Hilton Honors points just for signing up and meeting minimum spend requirements, but you’ll also receive bonuses like Priority Pass lounge access, Gold or Diamond status, and hefty earned points.
Of course, these two Hilton credit cards differ quite a bit. The Aspire has a much higher annual fee, but offers a number of excellent annual credits. Where the Ascend lacks in credits, it makes up in lower spend requirements for free weekend night earnings.
Choosing the right card for you depends on how, and where, you spend. Who knows – maybe both cards deserve a place in your wallet.
Apply Now: Amex Hilton Aspire
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.