Whenever a new credit card hits the market, it generates a ton of buzz in the miles and points community, rightfully so. How much value can we get out of the new card? Is it worth getting? I have admittedly not been paying attention to the new Hilton cards from American Express. Noah from Money Metagame told me he had signed up for the American Express Hilton Aspire credit card on the last episode of the podcast (releases 1/30), so I decided to take a look at the card.
Feeling lazy? Just look at each heading, each of which outlines a card benefit, and the questions I think you should ask yourself about how beneficial that feature might be for your family.
As I outlined in my last post, I’m trying to be more focused with this blog. That means as I look at this and other credit cards, I’ll be looking at it with a family focus – my family’s, actually! As I start this post I haven’t actually decided whether to get the card yet. I find most credit card reviews to be too generic so I’d like to take a look at how the benefits would meet my situation. (If you’re unfamiliar, two parents, three kids five and below). I have no credit card links or anything like that, so if for some reason this review persuades you to get the card, just use the Google for the application link. If you want to support other affiliate bloggers it’s as easy as “Hilton Aspire Card (insert blogger name here)”.
Before evaluating a new credit card, be sure to…
Aside from the usual reminder about being responsible with your credit (do it) and not carrying a balance to avoid huge rewards destroying interest charges (don’t do it), one suggestion.
If you’re new to this game, or even if you’ve been in it awhile like me, large credit card sign up bonuses often feel like catnip. I think my body might actually release endorphins when I get approved for a new credit card. That means I’m often sitting down to look at a new credit card looking for ways to convince myself to apply.
To help combat that, make sure you sit down and make a demand schedule. Milenomics talks about making one here and Bob Dwyer discusses the practical aspects of making a physical one here. A demand schedule basically helps you figure out how much you’re going to actually be traveling. In other words, if you’re not going to be going anywhere, that should change your evaluation of whether you need Hilton hotel points or not. After all, Hilton points don’t pay your rent or mortgage.
I’d suggest at the very least thinking about whether you will have the opportunity to stay in a Hilton in the next two years. That’s probably a generous enough timeframe.
Looking at the Hilton Aspire card benefits for families
As always, Doctor of Credit has done a great write up of all the card benefits here. Let’s take a look at the positives and negatives of this card for a family. I’ll end each section with some questions to ask yourself (aka the questions I’m asking myself) before you consider applying.
Sign up bonus: 100,000 Hilton points after $4K spend in 3 months
To me, a realistic price of a Hilton hotel room that I can get is about 50,000 points per night. Yes, I can do better, but since I don’t currently have a specific property in mind, I can’t guarantee that I will. I also can’t guarantee that I won’t do worse!
So, to me, the sign up bonus is worth two free hotel room nights, which, due to my current family situation, I might even consider using for adjoining rooms on one night only. (Though it’d be great if I could find a Doubletree or Embassy Suites or something, then I wouldn’t have to get adjoining rooms).
I think I can realistically stay in a Hilton for two nights in the next two years, but I have no brand loyalty to other hotel chains. However, even two nights is dicey, because we often like to rent apartments now. So it’s not a guarantee that I could fit two Hilton nights into my demand schedule, but it’s a safe bet.
- Do you think your family will have the chance to spend two nights at a Hilton in the next two years or so?
- Do you have other hotel demands like loyalty to another brand or the desire to book apartments over hotel rooms that might lower that chance?
$450 annual fee
Do I really want another $450 annual fee card? I’ve cut down since that post but if I apply for the Apsire I’m adding a new one. Am I really going to be able to maximize the benefits, or am I going to be too busy? After the questions to ask, let’s take a closer look at the benefits people generally look at as “off-setting” the annual fee.
- How much in annual fees are you already paying per year?
- Do you have the time and energy to make sure you off-set this one?
$250 annual airline credit
Like the American Express Platinum and Gold cards, there is an airline credit associated with the Hilton Aspire credit card. Like the Platinum and Gold cards, I bet many people will use this credit to buy airline gift cards or engage in other shenanigans to get the credit. I’m currently personally sitting on like $500 of Delta credit. You have to make sure you use this credit.
This credit actually doesn’t appeal to me very much, due to the aforementioned Delta credit. Also, even though our family is getting pretty big, we travel less due to the whole newborn baby situation. So I can very realistically book every single flight on my current 2018 demand schedule with points. So how valuable is this airline credit to my personal, situation, really? Not sure…
- Do you have airline credits that you still need to use?
- Were you even planning to book flights with cash in 2018 in the first place?
$250 Hilton Resort credit
This benefit is pretty nice since it applies to the cost of your stay. Unfortunately, it only applies to select Hilton properties. It’s a decently big list and most of them are lovely, warm beach destinations, but you can’t just go to Joe Average Hilton and receive the credit. The credit seems fairly easy to use, but it does restrict your demand schedule due to the list of hotels.
- Do you have a stay planned at one of the hotels on Hilton’s resorts list?
- If not, are you willing to plan part or all of an entire vacation around said list?
Complimentary Hilton Diamond Status
Hilton Diamond status is great if you’re traveling overseas, and only so so in the States. If you’re a sweet talker you probably can leverage it into more upgrades than I’ve been able to, and free breakfast even if it’s continental is always appreciated. Still, status means less to me as a parent of young kids (except for the free milk). Also, Hilton can be a bit inconsistent in applying benefits, or rather, you will never be just quite sure how special you will be made to feel. 😛
- Do you really need Hilton Diamond status?
Free Weekend Night on signup and each year thereafter (F, Sa, Su)
This is a nice little benefit that you can squeeze some value out of (plus you can earn another when you hit $60K of spend). A free night is a free night for the most part, but again, this will put some restrictions on your demand schedule. Here is yet another night that you are committing to Hilton.
- Same questions as the sign up bonus section
Priority Pass Membership
- Do you have this on another one (or six) of your credit cards already?
14X points at Hiltons, 7X points on flights booked through AMEX and restaraunts, 3X everywhere else
- Don’t you have better daily earning options?
Will I sign up for the card?
I don’t know, I’m still on the fence. I probably can maximize the airline and resort credits, but do I really want to restrict my demand schedule like that? My wife and I both hate sort of being locked into certain properties or locations, or even airlines. And seriously…swimming in Delta credits.
Then again, there are the credit card approval endorphins to consider. So, I’m still on the fence. I’m seriously considering cutting my AMEX Platinum (because while in theory using the 50% points rebate was great, I only used it once). If I do that I think I can replace it with this card.
Hopefully this review has been slightly helpful in giving you a framework with which to evaluate the Hilton Aspire credit card in the light of your family’s needs and wants. Overall, I think the card is solid with a lot of nice benefits, provided you can maximize them all. There’s the rub though – will you be able to maximize the benefits while dealing with your (I assume if they’re anything like mine) crazy kids? Make sure you do, to get that “value.”
Are you planning on applying for the card? What amazing benefit did I totally miss? Let me know in the comments!