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When I first entered the world of miles and points several years ago, I never thought a credit card could provide enough value to justify a high annual fee. The occasional $95 was no problem. But $450? Not a chance. I don't care what you're selling.
Slowly my attitude changed. I read why Mommy Points believes paying a $500+ annual credit card fee may not be crazy for families. And, as I tallied up the value of the recurring credits, perks and sign-up bonuses offered by many cards, I eventually concluded that some could be worth it. However, it is rare to find one like the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card that is so obviously worth the annual fee that I will undoubtedly keep it year after year. The card offers excellent ongoing value for families, and if I had to pick one high annual fee card to keep, this would likely be it.
I know a high annual fee card does not make sense for all families, but here are four reasons the Hilton Aspire Amex will easily command a place in my wallet:
1. Annual Perks that Quickly Offset the Fee
The Hilton Aspire card shines in its array of annual perks that help the card quickly pay for itself. These include an up to $250 annual resort credit (applicable even to room charges) as well as an up to $250 airline fee credit that can be used for incidental charges such as checked bag fees. The annual airline fee credit can be used like similar credits from The Platinum Card® from American Express or the American Express® Gold Card for things beyond bag fees: Think lounge day passes, change fees or onboard food and drink. If you can max out these two credits alone, you're looking at $500 in value for a $450 annual fee (see rates & fees).
If the annual credits aren't enough, the Hilton Aspire also offers a free weekend night annually, arriving around your card anniversary, that can be used at any Hilton hotel with standard room reward availability. The value of this night can obviously vary greatly depending on where you use it, but the potential value is excellent.
As a way to make the card pay for itself every year, consider combining the free night with a stay offset by the resort credit. Whether it is an unassuming resort in Phoenix, such as the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort that I enjoyed with my older kids last April, or a property like Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs, just outside of Disney World in Orlando, the free night plus resort credit combination has the makings of an inexpensive long weekend of family fun.
2. Executive Lounge Access via Top Tier Elite Status
When deciding among hotels for family travel, free breakfast is one of the first perks I consider (check out TPG's list of best chain hotels for families, many of which offer free breakfast.) If I'm traveling solo, it's not a huge deal. But the savings really add up when you're looking at breakfast times five.
Officially, Hilton Diamond status only offers breakfast for two people: the elite member plus one guest. However, Hilton Diamond status guarantees executive lounge access at any property that has an executive lounge, and I've yet to have a hotel turn us away or charge us for having more than one child along. This represents substantial savings for families throughout the year.
I've found that most hotels will even honor the restaurant breakfast benefit for additional kids in the same room. For all but one stay, I've not been charged for a second child when eating in the restaurant instead of the lounge. We've not tried this with our entire family, but when my daughter and I visited Buenos Aires this April, a family of five from Northern Ireland ate in the restaurant for free each morning at the Hilton Buenos Aires.
One of the reasons that I chose the Hilton Aspire card over the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is the fact that it offers top-tier status that guarantees breakfast for everyone. The Bonvoy Brilliant card only offers Marriott Gold status. If you're curious which card would be better for your family, check out this head-to-head comparison of the two.
3. Priority Pass Lounge Access
If your family consists of no more than a trio, the Priority Pass Select Membership offered through the Hilton Aspire card is enough to get all of you into any of the program's 1,200+ lounges worldwide. This feature has made me consider keeping the Hilton Aspire as the only premium credit card in my wallet, in case I want to trim some fees this year. The membership is redundant to the one offered by my Chase Sapphire Reserve.
If your wallet has a place for more than one premium card and you're trying to finagle lounge access for a family of five or six, the Aspire could make a great complement to another premium card that also offers lounge access.
4. Icing on the Cake: A Hefty Welcome Offer
A card's initial welcome offer is typically the first thing that turns my head. However, in the case of the Hilton Aspire, the current welcome offer of 150,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on the card in the first three months is just that: a welcome bonus on an already solid card product. Using TPG's valuation of 0.6 per Honors point, this bonus is worth approximately $900.
Can't really do much better than that among hotel card offers!
When I saw the array of perks and credits offered by the Hilton Aspire card, I instantly knew it was a winner. The annual resort credit, airline fee credit and free weekend night more than pay for the card's annual fee, and the other perks are enough for me to consider this a keeper card.
If you're still not convinced that the Hilton Aspire card is an excellent fit for the family wallet, here are several other posts that delve into more detail:
- Which Hilton Credit Card Is Best for Family Travelers?
- Hilton Amex Aspire Review
- How to Maximize the Hilton Amex Aspire Card
- Maximizing Redemptions With Hilton Honors
- Hilton Aspire vs. Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant: Which Card Is Best for Traveling Families
- The Best Hotel Credit Cards for Families
- The Best Hotel Chains for Families
For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire Card, please click here.
Featured image of the Waldorf Astoria Orlando courtesy of Hilton.
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