Category: AMEX Hilton Aspire

A Weekend in Vegas

Ever since I added the Hilton Aspire card to my wallet, I knew I’d be using it to go to Las Vegas. Vegas, and all that comes with it, is undoubtedly my favorite vacation spot. As ridiculous as that sounds, it is an adult playground and I will never get enough of it. To celebrate a milestone birthday later this year, I took advantage of some perks in my arsenal to develop a quick weekend with flair.

Airfare

Because I have MVP Gold status with Alaska Airlines, I have the ability to complete same day flight changes for free. I also am awarded some first-class advance-award tickets on select flights each year. For my departure, I found a great mile redemption of just 7,500 miles for the one-way ticket. I booked it, and even though the flight departs at an ungodly evening time (arriving after midnight), I have no intention of taking the flight. Instead, I will fly space-available on one of the earlier flights that day for free. What’s a trip to Vegas if it doesn’t start with a gamble, am I right?

On the return trip, I elected to book the first flight out on Monday morning. Though it is very early, it happens to be eligible for one of my free advanced-confirmation first class upgrades. This not only allows me to reduce my time out of the office and make the most of my weekend, it allows me to count on a luxurious return trip and free breakfast in-flight; even if I lose my shirt the day before.

Out the door, I confirmed round-trip airfare (including a guaranteed segment in first class) for just $147 and 7,500 miles. Because of my elite status, I am placed on a wait-list for a free first class upgrade for the first segment as well.

Hotel

Because I have the Hilton Aspire card from American Express, I not only receive one free weekend night a year, I also receive $250 in resort credits (good for room charges) each year. In Las Vegas, these credits can be used at one of six properties including the Elara, Tropicana and Flamingo. For my two night stay, I took full advantage of each of these perks:

Night One

After a quick set of queries, I determined that my first night in Vegas was going to be more expensive than the second. Accordingly, I aimed to redeem my free night for night one. I booked a room at the Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas. The standard room cost for this evening was over $600 including resort fees and taxes. Instead, I booked it for free.

Night Two

For my second night in Vegas, I was intent on booking a stay at one of Hilton’s six resorts to take advantage of the $250 credit. I found a King City View room in the Paradise Tower (preferred) of the Tropicana overlooking the Strip for a total of $245.45 including taxes and fees. After my $250 credit is applied towards the room charges, my stay will be free!

Summary

Because of my status with Alaska Airlines, and my credit card with Hilton, I will enjoy a weekend trip in Las Vegas, flying first class (at least on the way home), and spending the night in two premium rooms on the Strip for a total of $147. If I wanted to book the trip without using status, the same trip would have cost $1,069.51 (86% off). In addition, I was able to use some American Express Platinum membership reward points to have my wife join me from Nashville (a redemption worth $400).

Now to go make back that $147 at the Sports Book.

Why I’m Using the Hilton Aspire Card

Recently, Hilton increased all of their signup bonuses for their American Express cards including the Aspire Card; the high-end version of the branded card. This piqued my interest and caused me to consider the card’s addition to my wallet in 2019. The new sign up bonus of 150,000 Hilton Honors points seemed to make it worth my while alone.

In reviewing the details of the card, I ended up applying for the card that same day. As is typical for American Express, the card was express-shipped to me and I received it just two days later via UPS. The Aspire card carries a $450 annual fee without any trial period; however the signup bonus is valued at $1,200 which more than pays for the card in its first year. Here’s what else the card will do for you, and why you may decide to renew it in future years:

Diamond Status

Aspire cardholders receive complimentary, and immediate, Diamond Status with Hilton Honors; the top tier of the membership reward program. In addition to a myriad of inherited benefits, Diamond members are guaranteed Executive Lounge Access at properties offering them; and up to 1-bedroom Suite room type upgrades (up from Executive room types offered to Gold members).

$250 in Airline Incidentals

Similar to American Express’ other cards that offer airline incidentals, you must choose a single airline each year that you will redeem your incidentals with. Since I fly Alaska Airlines almost exclusively; they’re my choice. The $250 in airline incidentals will cover baggage fees, seat upgrades, change fees and in-flight food and beverage.

$250 in Hilton Resort Credits

Don’t be tricked by this one like I was! This is not a credit that can be used at just any Hilton. It is an annual credit reserved for one of 72 Hilton Resort properties listed here. However, with locations in the continental US, Hawaii, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America, you’re sure to find a resort that fits nicely into your travel plans. Personally, I’m looking forward to using it during a future trip to Las Vegas.

14x Hilton Honors Bonus Points

With TPG’s latest valuation of 0.8 cents/point, Hilton points are far from the most valuable on the market. But with 14x bonus points on Hilton purchases, you are receiving 11.2% back on your Hilton purchases; this return can’t be beat with any other card on the market. The card also offers 5.6% back on dining (7x points), but this redemption is less attractive if you’re using the American Express Gold or Chase Sapphire Reserve cards which offer a higher redemption on dining.

$100 On-Property Credit

Hilton offers a $100 credit when you book a two-night-minimum stay at select properties. This isn’t the most straight-forward perk to redeem and therefore I wouldn’t consider it too heavily when weighing the worth of the card.

Priority Pass Select

If you don’t already have it with another card, the Aspire will also offer you unlimited airport lounge visits for you and up to two guests as allowed by Priority Pass.

A Free Weekend Night

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you will receive one free weekend night each year after renewal. This free night turns into two if you place $60,000 in charges on the card each calendar year. Depending on your travel plans for the year, even a single free night’s stay could pay for the card itself.

Referral

For the reasons above, and with Hilton reservations already on my itinerary in 2019, I was motivated to add the Aspire card to my wallet. If you’re interested in applying for the Aspire card yourself, please consider accessing the American Express site by using my referral link here.