We Just Closed The Most Valuable Premium Card Available. Why The Hilton Aspire Had To Go

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Keep or Cancel the American Express Aspire Card
The HIlton Sal Cabo Verde

Keep or Cancel the American Express Aspire Card? Why We Decided to Cancel

The time has come to say goodbye to a loved one. The card I once called hands down the most valuable premium card on the market is no longer in our wallet(s). I closed mine at the beginning of the pandemic, as did Benjy, and my wife just closed hers. We tried for a retention offer on her account but there was nothing available. I wasn’t really expecting one after what she got last year, but it was my last hope of holding onto the card. Whether to keep or cancel the American Express Aspire card isn’t a question I thought I would ever ask myself, but it was time to let it go for a few different reasons.

Amex Aspire Card Perks

Before I get into why I closed our card I thought we should do a quick refresh on some of the great perks the card offers:

  • Hilton Diamond status
  • $250 Resort credit
  • $250 Airline Fee Credit
  • Free weekend night certificate
  • Priority Pass Select Membership – Free access for you and 2 guests.
  • $20 monthly restaurant credit until the end of 2021.

If you can maximize these perks I think Amex is still essentially paying you to keep the card.

Keep or Cancel the American Express Aspire Card

Keep or Cancel the American Express Aspire Card?

While travel has been picked up a lot, including for myself, it still isn’t where it was before covid hit. And because of that the hoops you need to jump through to maximize the Aspire are a little more difficult than normal.

The airline incidental credit can still be useful, it was on our trip to Alaska, but it isn’t as easy to use as it was a few years back.  But the real sticklers, for me at least, are the free night certificate and the $250 resort credit.

Free Night Certificate Back Log

Hilton is my secondary program, Hyatt being my main option, which means I stay at a Hilton 4-5 times a year most years. It will probably be less than that for the next year or two with the way things currently are.  Which means it is becoming more and more difficult for me to maximize the value of my free night certificates. That isn’t even including the backlog of free night certificates I already have.

We were able to burn a couple of them on our recent bougie trip to Vegas but I still have two set to expire next year. Throw in the fact that I will earn another next year by putting $15K in spend on my Amex Surpass card and you get the point. It actually turns out you can have too much of a good thing!

Hilton Resort

$250 Resort Credit

I have always thought the $250 resort credit is where the value on the Hilton Aspire card resided. The free night certificate and airline incidental credit made it breakeven card with the $450 annual fee. But, if you are able to use the resort credit then you are “in the money” and actually coming out ahead.

The problem with the credit is that it is restricted to “resorts“. Hilton does use this definition pretty loosely, and there are quite a few options on the list, but it is still restrictive. If it was simply a property credit then I would be singing a different tune today.

I don’t have any concrete plans to stay at qualified Hilton Resort in the next 12 months and, to be honest, I would rather not have to worry about it. There is already enough on my plate trying to burn free night certs and deal with airline miles and hotel points scattered everywhere from cancellations. I just don’t want to dedicate the mental bandwidth to following up a Hilton resort credit too. Now I just remembered I still have one Amex Platinum FHR credit to burn this year too…argh!

Why I Am Cancelling My Amex Aspire Card – Final Thoughts

My decision on whether to keep or cancel the American Express Aspire card really comes down to mental bandwidth. I don’t want any more on my plate to track or focus on. I also currently have a stash of Hilton points that have gone mostly untouched the last two years, soon to be 3 free night certificates left over and no desire to fork over another $450. My valuation of the card hasn’t changed, it is still a net positive card overall for most people That value surplus of value just isn’t enough for me to dedicate energy to right now. That doesn’t mean I won’t add it back to my portfolio a year or two down the road. It is actually pretty likely. I am hopeful it comes with an upgrade offer from my no fee Hilton card though 😁.

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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31 COMMENTS

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31 COMMENTS

  1. I spoke with Amex chat customer service looking to possibly cancel mine. They told me I could do a downgrade to the no annual fee Hilton card while I am not traveling and can upgrade right back to the Aspire whenever I am ready. I confirmed that she meant what she was saying and she confirmed. Seems like a way around the fee indefinitely if you’d like the card when travel picks back up.

    • That is an option for sure. I already have the no fee card so it wasn’t a good one for me but it makes sense for sure. I would only do it if you have never signed up for the no fee card though. Once you product change to it you can no longer get the sign up bonus.

  2. Mark, you say “I am hopeful it comes with an upgrade offer from my no fee Hilton card though ” What is the time frame from when you cancel the Aspire to when you can (hopefully) get an upgrade offer to get the card again? And how long do you have to have the no fee Hilton card before you qualify for an upgrade?

    • It is random but you do have to legally hold a no fee card 1 year (if from a sign up) before you could be offered to move it to a card with a fee. If you product change to it then that shouldn’t apply though.

  3. You forgot the best part, what did they offer/bribe you in order to keep the card? I’m contemplating canceling my card next month.

  4. I hate American Express these days I spend on Chase and Citibank cards mostly. Many years ago Amex were great)Have to say their two best cards are Amex Brilliant and Hilton Aspire
    The Amex Platinum cards are giant ponzi schemes pay fees to redeem miles and basically get over crowded lounge access where they happen to have them.Added insult to injury outrageous annual fees and less benefits.Never again
    Was worried about using up the Hilton resort credit but imagine how happy I was when it came off an Embassy Suites stay(assume by accident) paying for most of the the two nights!The airline fee credit I’ve had to fight verbally to get them wiped off when they weren’t coded properly.God bless Chase at least they credit anything travel related!
    HH Diamond status isn’t worth much perhaps better than swift kick in ones side. It essentially gets you a coffee and a donut or small fruit cup yawn and a blah room unless you negotiate.Though a few select hotels let you combine the two credits getting a real breakfast.

  5. Note possible to double dip $250 resort credit twice before annual fee posts and have to pay it. Find out your anniversary date of your account and stay at a resort just before the anniversary date, use the $250 for those date(s) and then use it again just after the anniversary date.

  6. Aspire is still a fantastic card. We spent 3 nights in Conrad Punta de Mitta (Mexico) in September… I booked the cheapest room for FREE using my free annual certificates (if you pay cash it will cost $700+ per night). When we arrived, we were upgraded to a large suite due to my Diamond status from the Aspire card (it’s $1200+ per night). Also we got free expensive breakfasts due to my Diamond status. On top of that, we had dinners at the hotel’s restaurants and we received $250 back due to the Aspire card.
    So, we got 3 free nights (worth $3600) + 3 free breakfasts (3 * $80) + free diners ($250). And yes, I was able to use $250 annual airline credit as well.
    So, I got $4350 from a card with $450 annual fee. Not bad.
    PS. I managed to find tickets LAX -> Puerto Vallarta for only $79. So, the whole trip was pretty much affordable.

  7. I pc’d my Aspire last year to the no AF card for similar reasons. Diamond isn’t worth it to me, with my travel patterns (so of course it’s been extended), the resort credit is a hassle since none of the resorts appeal and it the FNC was used at an airport hotel so nothing exciting. I’m happy some people can get outsized value from the Aspire- I’m just not one of them.

  8. Bad move. Really the only reason to cancel is if you need to free up the Amex cc slot. Best to downgrade to no AF Hilton card…or maybe Surpass (as long as you have already received the SUB for these, if not then sign up shortly before downgrading). Upgrade offers from Hilton no AF/Surpass are extremely common.

    • No you can always get the card again. The lifetime language is about the bonus but that only really lasts 4-7 years not your entire lifetime. Even during that time you can get the card just no bonus, getting it would reset the 4-7 year clock though.

  9. I hear what you are saying but this is a tough card to get rid off. I use the $250 airline credit,it is easy to use for 500 mile AA upgrade certs or I actually use them for travel on Spirit. The Big Front Seats are always a pretty good use of the $250 as most Spirit tickets are around $50 but the big front seats usually sell for more than the ticket cost.Big front is just about the same as most US carriers first class.The FNC can be a pain to use but can equal or exceed the $450 annual fee if you are staying at the right hotel. Just too much value to throw away for me.

  10. I have the Surpass and the Hilton business, you can spend 15k on both and get a free night certificate. If you use the Surpass at grocery stores and normal spending on the business card. So you can earn 2 free night certificates and 135,000 points. That would be good for 3 nights at the Hilton LXR in Anguilla. An $800 per night property.

    • I do like that combo. The Hilton Business is the only one I haven’t had so I will be adding that at some point in the future.

      • The $95 annual fee cards are the best. I also like the standard Marriott Amex card and the Business. I have both and 2 of the standard Bonvoy Amex cards, I downgraded the Brilliant.

  11. I am hoping to use some of the credit at the Waldorf Vegas while staying at Bellagio (we’ll see if that works), but then after that I’m cancelling for a prorated refund. Agree with your points, plus I’m really a Marriott/Westin for hotel stays.

    • We used ours at the WA Vegas but we were also staying there. I don’t think it works unless you bill back to your room. If you have an Amex Platinum I would maybe check FHR rates. If it is around $200 a night could use your credit and then bill back to the room to burn the other $250 plus get more property credit from the FHR etc.

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