I rarely write credit card reviews. I rarely rave about credit cards in my post. I think there are enough blogs doing just that. The last time I wrote an article on a single credit card was on Altitude Reserve (Nov 2017) and Connect Rewards (Jul 2017) and that had mostly do with the lack of coverage on these card. Strangely enough the much awaited Hilton Aspire card has failed to make buzz in blogosphre. The new Hilton business card on the other hand has been talked about everywhere (read this hilarious article by travelbloggerbuzz) and maybe this has something to do with Hilton business card having affiliate link and Aspire not having one yet.
Anyway, Hilton Aspire is freaking amazing card. I think a lot of people have been quick to dismiss Aspire as a niche product for Hilton fanatics and frequent travelers. I think a lot of churners have been quick to dismiss the card because “who really wants to pay $450 for 100k Hilton points?”, but I ask them to look a little further than just the signup bonus. Aspire is a unique card that is lucrative enough to be held long term but also has excellent offering for those who simply wish to churn it.
Short Term: Apply and Hold a Year
Churners typically apply for a card, pay annual fee if needed, hold the card for a year, and cancel before or when renewal annual fee hits. If you are simply looking to churn then you should be able to get the following benefits:
signup bonus: the current offer is of 100k for spending $4k in 3 months. Yes, Hilton points are not the most amazing but redeeming them is easy and earning Hilton points is even easier. I think it is easy to consistently get 0.4-5 cpp out of Hilton points which makes it a decent enough signup bonus.
$500-750 airline credit: every calendar year cardholders get $250 airline credit and yes the underlining coding for airline credit reimbruisment for Aspire should be the same as that of PRG and Platinum cards. In other words, if something triggers airline credit for PRG and Platinum then it should also do the same for Aspire. Now, because this is an annual benefit, everyone should be able to double/triple dip the credit for $500/$750 credit respectively.
If you choose to apply in November/December of 2018, you can redeem $250 credit in Nov/Dec 2018, $250 in Jan-Dec 2019, $250 in Jan 2020, cancel card in Jan 2020 and get your second year annual fee refunded.
Get up to $250 credit a calendar year for baggage fees and more on one airline
2x free weekend nights: initially a cardholder gets 1 free weekend night with their new Aspire card and 1 every year after renewal. This means a card a churner should be able to get 2nd free weekend night before canceling the card.
Enjoy one weekend night reward with your new Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card and every year after renewal. Plus, earn an additional night after you spend $60,000 on purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
$500 Hilton Resort Credit: Unlike the airline credit, the $250 resort credit is in a cardmember year. While a cardholder will have a full year to get the value out of first $250, they will have about a month to burn the second $250.
This credit only works at hilton resort listed at http://www.hilton.com/resorts. You would think that redeeming resort credit would be hard but there are 190+ qualifying properties and this credit works on room rate or just about anything charged to your room.
I really the fact that there is a lot of option here. If you want to burn credit by booking inexpensive resorts then you can. You can also choose to use points at expensive resort, for example, you can burn resort fee towards $500 transportation fee of Conrad Maldives.
diamond status: TPG gives Hilton Diamond status a hilarious valuation of $2030 but I think Hilton Diamond is just a glorified Gold status and Gold status has no monetary value to me. Now don’t get me wrong, I do love the free breakfast that comes with Gold+ status, however I do not put monetary value on Gold status because it is easy to get through various Platinum cards and there are half a dozen platinum cards out there!
I, like many other, do not feel that Diamond is a huge upgrade over Gold and with the surplus of Diamond through this credit card, I think Diamond status is going to be even less of a value. I think going forward the likelihood of getting a suite upgrade as a Diamond member is even less….and suite upgrade for Diamond members was not a common thing before. That said, the valuation of Diamond status largely varies on how much one values suite upgrade (I don’t) and what region one travels to since certain regions are more inclined to bend over backwards for top elite members. If you are a Diamond member, you may try this simple advice from milesperday to score a suite upgrade.
unlimited priority pass: you and two additional guest get free access to the lounges in the priority pass network. I have too many cards that provide exact or better priority pass benefits and as such I value this at exactly $0. You may read more on my valuation of priority pass benefits here.
Long Term: Renewal Until Nerfed
Each calendar year one gets $250 airline credit and then upon renewal one also gets 1 free weekend night and $250 resort credit. The maximum value of this is $500 plus maximum value of 1 weekend night at a Hilton property. The current benefits of Aspire are too generous for a $450 card and something, likely the resort credit, is bound to get changed. I will not be surprised if resort credit eventually does not work on room rates.
Anyhow, the less you travel the less likely you are truly maximize the value that this card provides each year. I personally travel enough that it would be silly to not renew this card. I will likely end up cancelling Business Blue Plus to free up 5th credit card slot for the mighty Aspire.
The Upgrade Downgrade Game
I cannot think of any better card to play the usual upgrade downgrade game with. This is mainly because it is beneficial to upgrade to Hilton Aspire even when you are not offered an upgrade points bonus. If you were to upgrade in Nov/Dec, you could get the following before downgrading to get prorated refund:
- $250 airline credit in December
- $250 airline credit in January
- $250 Hilton Resort credit
- 1 free night
Do remember that OIALT (see anti-churning rule) applies and as such I would recommend getting the signup bonus before you play up/down game with Aspire.
Aspire is a phenomenal card but YMMV based on how frequently you travel and your willingness to pay premium price for a card other than CSR.
Ideally a churner would apply for this in Nov/Dec, triple dip, and cancel the card, but this is also a strong up/down card.