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Rumor: Possible fee increase and benefits change for the Amex Hilton Aspire

Rumor: Possible fee increase and benefits change for the Amex Hilton Aspire

Old Mar 9, 23, 1:46 pm
  #16  
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Originally Posted by StangGT909
The flight credit line says good for “airfare” not just incidentals. That would be a mild improvement.

“What if” they didn’t make you select an airline, what if it worked for all?


Seems like things like selecting an airline is their way to advertise a benefit but make it hard to redeem. If they make it quarterly, I’d say that makes it difficult enough, it would be nice if they opened it up to more airline choices
You're right, I definitely glossed over that. "If" they allow you to do any carrier, then I guess I have an easier way to get $200 where I was getting $250 before.
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Old Mar 9, 23, 2:08 pm
  #17  
 
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I got this card when I bought a Hilton Grand Vacations timeshare to earn 14x points on annual maintenance fees. The current hilton credit is triggered by paying my maintenance fee so that is like "free" money. That & the airline credit & free night easily cover the AF and make the card a no-brainer. Moving these benefits to quarterly and reducing the amounts is a bummer to me and I am not sure if it will be worth keeping the card or not. Definitely will have to evaluate if/when this goes through. I do like if the airline credit doesn't require you to select a single airline and covers airfare, I can probably still use that quarterly, but if the hilton statement credit goes to quarterly or to just luxury/lifestyle then that could be a big loss to me. I don't need the lyft credit and I already get Clear through my Amex Plat so neither of those are of real benefit to me. Definitely feels like a "getting less and paying more" scenario. If the AF was unchanged I would stomach this better but would still be disappointed.
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Old Mar 9, 23, 3:06 pm
  #18  
 
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First, diesteldorf, thank you for posting the possible changes to the Aspire card and starting this thread. I would ask you to switch the URL positions, as the Thrifty Traveler link applies to the first image you posted and the Reddit to the second image.

https://i.redd.it/9dvm5aplvola1.jpg


Clearly, the possible changes as posted by Thrifty Traveler are much more palatable than those indicated by the Reddit image posted by the OP.

First, you get a $120 Lyft benefit whereas there is none proposed by the Reddit image.

Second, you are given a semi-annual (every 6 months) $100 credit to be used at essentially superior Hilton family properties instead of $50/quarter to be used at any Hilton property -- I would prefer the $200 semi-annually to the $50 per quarter just because you have to stay at least 4x/year and once per quarter for use of the entire credit -- much easier to spend $100 every 6 months at 1 or more hotels and better hotels than a Hampton et. al, at that! Also remember, if Diamond status is going to mean anything, it will be at a better hotel, rather than a run of the mill lower value Hilton property.

With respect to the loss of the resort credit, this is a vastly easier way to use such a type of credit, especially for those of us who do not live where many of those resorts are located.

For those in the North East USA, this is a major benefit as we only have the Doubletree Lancaster or the Hilton Ocean City, and although I like the latter, an extra $100 to spend at a superior property near me is a decent trade-off, IMHO. I would think that Canadian members would like this, as well.

The $50 airline credit per quarter is marginally better if you can re-adjust your choice per quarter, and it can be used for airfare, which does away with the fiction for many airlines of an "expense" and for those who fly AA or Delta, I would think this is a definite plus.

The essentially free Clear membership I guess is a positive, as well, especially if you do not have any card with a premium travel benefit such as this -- the current Aspire card does not have any sort of travel membership that would expedite your processing at the airport.

The annual fee on the card is going up no matter what we wish and at $550, it still generally provides better value than the Marriott card at $650.00

The real question is it better to hold the Surpass and get Gold status and have an extra $450 in your pocket and spend $15K to an uncapped free night; or
Have Diamond status, an uncapped free night, $400 in spend to defray the $550 annual fee = ~ $150 annual fee.

With the added perks noted by Thrifty Traveler, I would still hold the card -- those identified by the Reddit image posted by the OP in the first entry to this thread makes it a much harder and closer proposition -- for me.

Here is hoping that Thrifty traveler's version wins out!

Last edited by COLINDAD; Mar 9, 23 at 3:18 pm
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Old Mar 9, 23, 4:00 pm
  #19  
 
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I hope thats not the case but at this point nothing surprises me.
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Old Mar 9, 23, 6:25 pm
  #20  
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I would probably cancel my Aspire if the changes went the way the rumor / trial balloon read.

• Any lessening of the resort credit going down would be a devaluation important to me. Used to be a $250 resort credit.

• As many have said, Diamond status for mostly US travel is not worth $550. I can get a lot of nice breakfasts out for $550 a year.

• Priority Pass already cut out the restaurant program, which sucked for me, because I liked that and traveled routinely through some airports that had that, but not lounges. Been considering changing to another credit card for that benefit.

• Don't care about CLEAR. I view that as a way to sneakily sell you a subscription, not a benefit. Unless my whole family gets CLEAR, it's not useful to me. And perhaps I'm wrong, but CLEAR rubs me wrong in seeming more "privacy intrusive" when compared to the already intrusive TSA PreCheck and Global Entry that my family already has.)

• No foreign transaction fees on an AMEX is silly, because most of the countries I've been to this last couple years don't take AMEX for anything other than my Hilton stays. I used my Visa to pay for a $200 tour in Thailand last week and paid the whopping $1.30 fee because they didn't take AMEX.

• Airline credit that is good towards airfare instead of just incidentals is a positive though. I don't check bags and I don't order drinks on the plane.

All I want out of a credit card / loyalty program is free nights, on-property credit good towards rooms as well as incidentals, and as good an airport lounge program they can set up. I've been Aspire since it came out, and have thought about switching, but I'm at Hilton properties pretty monogamously....
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Old Mar 9, 23, 7:07 pm
  #21  
 
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I don't like breaking up the credits (airline and hotel) into quarters - I want to be able to use them when I can, not when I'm told I have to. And while I'm happy it's changed to all hotels and not just resorts, I don't like the reduction in benefits with a tandem increase in AF.

I'm just happy I've got a Surpass to fall back on. Still get breakfast with Gold.
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Old Mar 9, 23, 7:30 pm
  #22  
 
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Originally Posted by Adelphos
IMO, a better deal than the card as proposed would be to downgrade to the $95 Surpass, and to spend 15K on that card for a free night annually. The main thing is that Gold and Diamond status are more or less indistinguishable. If Diamond status were better, maybe there would be more value in the Aspire fee.

The changes to the credits depend entirely on your stay and spend patterns...
If you put $15k on the Surpass for the free night, assuming a reasonable blend of Hilton ($4-ish k) and non-category spend and that Hilton continues to count card points as base points (which is also of a piece with the "encourage actual spend" approach), you get Diamond by base points and the FNC (and 150-ish k Hilton points, which is likely another 2 free standard nights). If one couldn't make Aspire credits pencil out, that's not a bad alternative.
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Old Mar 9, 23, 8:48 pm
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Eujeanie
I don't like breaking up the credits (airline and hotel) into quarters - I want to be able to use them when I can, not when I'm told I have to. And while I'm happy it's changed to all hotels and not just resorts, I don't like the reduction in benefits with a tandem increase in AF.
There are two different versions in the two screenshots. It’s unclear if any of those will be implemented.

I just paid my annual fee, so I guess it’s all extra hypothetical for me since I assume they can’t easily take away bennies, especially if I have already used them
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Old Mar 9, 23, 9:20 pm
  #24  
 
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The ONE thing that would make me canx my Aspire would be to take away the FNC at renewal OR cap it out like Marriotts or IHGs. That doesn't seem to be on the table.
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Old Mar 9, 23, 9:34 pm
  #25  
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So it’s all hypothetical for now…

- $100 increase in AF + $50 in reduction in airline credit is a big negative $150.

- current airline credit is easy enough for my needs (UA TravelBank), so changes are not really an improvement for my needs.

- $100 *2 at brands I may not stay at…. not better than the previous resort credit for me. Maybe worth $100

- $50*4 - easy to use in quarters I stay at Hilton, but no guarantee that I do stay at Hiltons every quarter. Probably worth at most $150.

- Lyft credit is pretty much worthless to me.

- ability to earn more free nights… doubt I will be interested in putting $30k or $60k on this card given the opportunity cost compared to other cards.

- CLEAR - already have Amex Plat credit. Worthless as long as I have the Plat.

- No Forex… whoop-dee-do

General thought:

Last edited by notquiteaff; Mar 9, 23 at 9:44 pm
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Old Mar 9, 23, 9:53 pm
  #26  
 
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As the above posts demonstrate, this is going to fall on how best one can use the other perks that AMEX might add -- and that is up in the air at present as we don't know what the final card product will look like.

However, I think it is a good bet that the annual fee is going up to $550 and therefore, if the additional hotel/airline credits do add up to ~ $400.00, regardless of whether you use all of them or not, it will be either:

1). $95 Surpass + Gold status = some form of Breakfast; vs at best

2). $550 Aspire + Diamond status + 1 Uncapped Free Night + ~ $400 in various hotel/airline credits to be used.

If you can maximize these credits, well then, I think the choice is pretty clear -- Paying $95 for the privilege of Gold status and some form of free breakfast or Paying in essence $150 for Diamond status + Uncapped Free Night.

Therefore, for only $50 more you get the Uncapped Free night - so long as you can use the approximate $400 in potential associated credits -- and Diamond status, as well as some other perks that will be good for some and redundant for others.

I don't think it is an appropriate comparison to compare the Aspire card as it presently is to what it might become, because we all know that inflation has increased the cost of everything and lets be frank, a card that gave you essentially $500 in credits + Diamond status + an uncapped Free night was a steal for an annual fee of $450.00 -- that is why my wife and I each started out with 2 cards per person!

Yes, we are losing ~ $100 in associated credits vs generally easier to use credits in return (and United is my carrier of choice also) and an increase of $100 in the net annual fee, but if it follows along the lines as I have speculated, I still will keep the card, because the alternative Surpass card provides less bang for almost the same buck!
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Old Mar 10, 23, 3:28 am
  #27  
 
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COLINDAD, the Diamond and Gold breakfast benefits are exactly the same, they have nothing to do with a credit card.

I have always liked having both the Aspire and the Surpass - I do max out on the Aspire benefits, and additional points with Hilton stays, airfare, rental cars and restaurants (14x and 7x). But we stay home and eat at home more often than we travel and eat out, so having 6x at supermarkets with the Surpass (only 3x with Aspire) and using the Surpass for every other non-Hilton spend easily gets us to $15K each year and another FNC.

I would never be able to put $30K on the Aspire.

I'm sure no matter what they do we'll have until our next renewal date (and mine just happened) so we'll have a while to see what we want to keep or not.
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Old Mar 10, 23, 8:32 am
  #28  
 
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Originally Posted by Eujeanie
I'm just happy I've got a Surpass to fall back on. Still get breakfast with Gold.
No guarantee that AmEx wouldn't also redo the Surpass at the same time. In fact, I would think it is more likely than not.
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Old Mar 10, 23, 8:58 am
  #29  
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Originally Posted by COLINDAD
Second, you are given a semi-annual (every 6 months) $100 credit to be used at essentially superior Hilton family properties instead of $50/quarter to be used at any Hilton property -- I would prefer the $200 semi-annually to the $50 per quarter just because you have to stay at least 4x/year and once per quarter for use of the entire credit -- much easier to spend $100 every 6 months at 1 or more hotels and better hotels than a Hampton et. al, at that! Also remember, if Diamond status is going to mean anything, it will be at a better hotel, rather than a run of the mill lower value Hilton property.
The $200 luxury and lifestyle credit may be the worse change of them all. It is worded as "purchases" at their most expensive properties. The previous $100 credit seemed similar to this, but no one talked about it, because it wasn't a good value. Sure I could extract some value from this. However, the $250, which I could use all in one stay at any resort, on the room, is vastly superior than having to do their most expensive brands, every 6 months, and purchase $100 worth of stuff. Personally, I would the $50 quarterly on any Hilton purchases. Not by much, but by a little.

Those with multiple Aspires are in for the most hurt.
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Old Mar 10, 23, 9:23 am
  #30  
 
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Good for you that you will avoid the price increase this time! At least you will have time to contemplate the changes.

I do know that the Gold and Diamond breakfast benefits are exactly the same -- all I was trying to show was that if one were to get a combined $400 in credits -- and you can utilize them fully regardless of how they are rolled out (be it quarterly or semi-annually) -- then for only $50 more you can get Diamond AND an uncapped free night -- all things being equal vis a vis breakfast -- and likely some other perks that are to be added by AMEX.

Thus, the amount of "breakage" of the credits would likely be significant in one's decision to re-up for the Aspire. Consequently, a purported $50 fee increase over the Surpass netting one Diamond status and a free night, is certainly a decent price to pay over the $95 Surpass.

As to your maxing out the 15K on the Surpass to achieve an uncapped free night, I certainly can see the argument for doing so.

I, however, having the Hyatt and Chase Flex credit cards often get a 5X Ultimate Rewards or 5X Hyatt points for my supermarket spend and I feel that is a better return on my spend -- but I do understand that others may put a different value on what one earns on that spend.

Since the pandemic, we too, have been eating out less and spending more at the supermarket -- the purchase of an instant pot will do that to you -- so I do know that this category is important.

So too, given that we have the JPM Reserve, we use that as our car rental credit card of choice for the primary rental coverage and the ability to earn 3X Ultimate Rewards per $ spent.

So, in the end, it will matter what other cards one has and which programs one also is invested in.

We seem to favor the Ultimate Rewards universe and its partners more than the AMEX/Hilton universe, although with instant Diamond status with the Aspire and the way the old card was structured, we most definitely took advantage of that opportunity -- and likely will do so with whatever changes come that way with respect to the card.

We had been slowly paring back our 2 per person Aspire cards even before these potential changes and this will accelerate that -- but I foresee that we likely will both still carry 1 Aspire card when all is said and done.

Consequently, reasonable minds will differ, but if one can swing using the potential $400 in combined credits per year plus other perks, the re-constituted Aspire card will still retain it's luster as compared to the Surpass card.

Originally Posted by Cledaybuck
No guarantee that AmEx wouldn't also redo the Surpass at the same time. In fact, I would think it is more likely than not.
If they do -- and I am not saying they won't -- and they could hike it to $125/year, then they would have to add some extra benefit to it -- otherwise it will be too costly as is.

After all, the personal Hyatt credit card gives you a Category 1 - 4 free night for your $95 which always pays for itself and the Chase and AMEX Marriott cards also give you a free night @ 35K points, I believe.

Unlike the dire warnings concerning Marriott's decision dispensing with award charts, I think that there are a number of hotels that can still be had for that amount of points -- moreover, the ability to add up to 15K points to those certificates expands their use immeasurably.

Therefore, I just can't see AMEX raising the Surpass annual fee without giving something else -- after all, only the most invested Hilton fan will go for the Surpass when the alternative to that annual fee is a credit card that gives you a free night up to a certain category level that is hawked by its competitors.

Originally Posted by Super Mario
The $200 luxury and lifestyle credit may be the worse change of them all. It is worded as "purchases" at their most expensive properties. The previous $100 credit seemed similar to this, but no one talked about it, because it wasn't a good value. Sure I could extract some value from this. However, the $250, which I could use all in one stay at any resort, on the room, is vastly superior than having to do their most expensive brands, every 6 months, and purchase $100 worth of stuff. Personally, I would the $50 quarterly on any Hilton purchases. Not by much, but by a little.

Those with multiple Aspires are in for the most hurt.
Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn't that $100 credit for a specific rate plan and thus, as you indicated, was not a good value?

I do see where your spending $250 in 1 shot at a resort is beneficial, but not everyone has decent resorts to use that dough at easily.

Sure, if you reside in sunbelt states it is easier, but not so for the rest of us who don't.

Remember, airfares and car rentals have been hiked, as well, so that idyllic resort vacation comes with a much higher cost for many of us, as opposed to those who can jump in their car and drive to a resort.

As I have noted above, the only resorts within a drive of Bos-Wash are the Doubletree Lancaster and the Ocean City Md, resorts, and one could stretch the resort in VA Beach, as well, I guess, but these hardly constitute the most desirable resorts one would want to spend $$ and/or uncapped free nights at.

On the other hand, spending your $100 credit (and not $50 credit) at a nice upper echelon Hilton hotel in an urban area, or wherever, is pretty easily utilizable what with the breakfast credit being curtailed for all members.

Now I know that with you being centered in CLE, many people situated like you have even less of an opportunity for a nearby resort, but that only makes my case, not only is the Northeast bereft of such locations, but the Midwest is even more so! Thus, the added costs to simply use the $250 per annum resort credit comes with a much higher opportunity cost to utilize as opposed to when the Aspire was first launched.

So, in the end, the downgrade of the credit in your eyes makes it that much less desirable to you whereas for me it is much more utilizable -- thus, it will depend on one's circumstances, but I can tell you this, there is a heck of a lot of population in the Bos-Wash region, not to mention other regions without nearby resorts.

Heck, if you take out the Myrtle Beach resorts and the golf resorts -- admittedly not everyone's cup or tea -- the entire Eastern Seaboard is bereft of such resorts until you hit the Florida state line, save for the Grand Vacations Club on Hilton Head -- and even that may not often be available at reasonable points cost, if at all!

That's a whole lot of people who can't simply jump in their car to spend a long weekend at a resort while still keeping an eye on their costs and, therefore, I unquestionably welcome this proposed change -- I just hope it is made on a semi-annual basis.

Last edited by Canarsie; Mar 10, 23 at 10:04 pm Reason: Consolidation.
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