Amex Platinum vs Hilton Aspire (Travel Credits, Bonuses) [2020]

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The Amex Platinum and the Amex Hilton Aspire are two premium credit cards issued by American Express that offer industry-leading benefits for their respective niches. But which card is better and could it make sense to get both of these cards? 

This article will compare the Amex Platinum vs Amex Hilton Aspire and show the highlights of both of these cards, such as the bonuses, travel credits, and hotel elite status offered. I’ll also explain why you might want to choose one card over the other and how it would make sense to hold on to both of these cards.

Update: Some offers are no longer available — click here for the latest deals!


Welcome bonus

Amex Platinum

  • 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months

The Amex Platinum will net you 60,000 Membership Rewards after meeting the minimum spend requirements. That’s a lot of points and at a WalletFlo valuation of 1.75 cents per point, that’s $1,050 worth of points, which you can use to transfer out to various loyalty program including:

Airline ProgramRatio (MR to airline)Transfer wait time
Aer Lingus1:1Instant
AeroMexico1:1.624 Hours
Air Canada1:1Instant
Alitalia1:1Instant
ANA1:148 Hours
Avianca1:1Instant
British Airways1:1Instant
Cathay Pacific1:148 Hours
Delta1:1Instant
El Al1000:20Instant
Emirates1:1Instant
Etihad1:1Instant
Flying Blue1:1Instant
Hawaiian Airlines1:1Instant
Iberia1:124 to 72 hours
JetBlue250:200Instant
Qantas1:1Instant
Singapore Airlines1:124 to 72 hours
Virgin Atlantic1:1Instant
Hotel ProgramRatio (MR to partner)Transfer wait time
Choice1:1Instant
Hilton1:2Instant
Marriott1:1Instant

So with the Platinum Card, you’re going to get a lot more flexibility with what you can do with your points. Also, one of the exciting things about the Platinum Card is that you can transfer out your points to these partners so that you can fly on business class and first class products. When doing so you’ll receive some pretty phenomenal value with your points which will be much higher than 1.75 cents per point.

You can transfer your Membership Rewards to Hilton Honors but it’s not a very favorable ratio and you usually will be losing value when you do so. But, if you catch the right promotion you can get some pretty good value for your points.

Amex Hilton Aspire

The welcome bonus for the Aspire is going to change from time to time. Sometimes you might come across an offer for 150,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.

150,000 Hilton Honors points is a lot of Hilton points but those points are not nearly nearly as valuable as Membership Rewards points. At a valuation of $.05 cent per point, you’re looking at $750 worth of travel. However, you can get much more value from your points if you use them at top tier Hilton properties, such as the Conrad and the Waldorf.

Unless you have a very specific need/desire for Hilton Honors points, I think most would agree that the welcome offer from the Platinum Card is the much more valuable and practical option.

Use Membership Rewards to fly first class on the new Singapore A380.

Bonus categories

Amex Platinum

  • 5X on airfare
  • 5X on hotels through amextravel.com

Amex Hilton Aspire

  • 14X Hilton Honors Bonus Points at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio worldwide
  • 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies and at U.S. restaurants
  • 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points on other purchases

Both of these cards offer an extremely competitive earning rate for one specific type of category. The 5X on airfare offered by the Platinum Card is fantastic. If you value Membership Rewards at 1.75 cents per point, that’s almost 10% back on your airfare which is industry leading. You can also get 5X on hotels through amextravel.com but you’ll lose out on your elite benefits most likely so I’m not crazy about that bonus category.

The Hilton Aspire offers a whopping 14X on Hilton purchases which stacks on top of the 20X that you’ll earn as a cardmember via your Diamond status (more on that below). Together, that’s 34X on Hilton purchases and at a valuation of .5 cent per point, that’s 17% back on Hilton stays.

Hilton almost always is offering special promos for earning 2X or 3X the points on your stays, so it’s not uncommon to net over 20% back on your Hilton stays as an Aspire cardholder. Not many other hotel chains can compete with that.

Overall, both of these cards leave a bit to be desired for everyday spending. I’d look into cards like the new Amex Gold Card or the Chase Sapphire Preferred/Reserve for spending money on things like travel, groceries, and dining.


Lounge access

Amex Platinum

Amex Centurion Lounges

The Platinum Card provides you (and up to two guests) with Amex Centurion Lounge access, which are some of the nicest lounges in the US. Getting access to these lounges is one of the major distinguishing features of the Platinum Card and is where a lot of the value for the Platinum Card comes from.

Priority Pass lounges

The Platinum Card also provides you and up to two guests with Priority Pass Select access, which will get you into over 1,000 lounges all around the globe.

Delta Sky Clubs

Whenever you fly Delta, the Platinum Card will get you into Delta Sky Clubs.

Amex Hilton Aspire

Priority Pass lounges

The only type of lounge access that you get with the Hilton Aspire is Priority Pass Select access.

The clear winner for lounge access is the Amex Platinum card. It’s probably the best overall credit card for lounge access so it’s really hard for the Aspire to compete with it. If you are a frequent flyer or just value having a comfy place to rest when you travel through airports, then the Platinum card might be better suited for you.

The Amex Centurion Lounge at HKG.

Travel credits

Both of these cards come loaded with travel credits.

Amex Platinum

$200 airline credit

This is an airline credit that can be used for various purchases like upgrades, lounge access, in-flight entertainment and meals, baggage fees, etc. 

$200 Uber credit

Platinum Card Members receive $15 Uber credits for U.S. rides every month plus a bonus $20 in December. If you regularly use Uber you’ll have no problem maxing out this credit. But if you only sparingly use the service, you might be leaving savings on the table so pay extra attention to how you’re valuing this credit.

Saks credit

You’ll be issued a $50 credit two times per year to use at Saks.

Amex Hilton Aspire

$250 airline credit

This is the same type of airline credit only it is even higher at $250.

$250 resort credit

The $250 resort credit is absolutely huge if you had plans to stay at any of the eligible resorts.

This resort credit can come in handy even if you booked your hotels with rewards. For example, if you stayed at the Conrad Maldives and you wanted to have lunch in their famous underwater restaurant, you’re looking at over $200 per person!

So this credit can help cover those nice meals, bar visits, and spa treatments that will usually come from out of your pocket. But it can also be used to cover room rates for your stay, which is a huge plus.

$100 Conrad/Waldorf credit

When you use your Hilton Honors American Express AspireCard to book through HiltonHonors.com/aspirecard for a two-night minimum stay at Waldorf Astoria and Conrad Hotels & Resorts, you will be eligible to receive a property credit of up to $100 per booking.

It’s pretty incredible that you can get $600 worth of credits from the Hilton Aspire card, which obviously wipes out the $450 annual fee. It’s not that hard to utilize the airline and resort credit so many people shouldn’t have an issue offsetting their annual fee.

The Platinum Card credits are nice, too. While they don’t cover the $550 annual fee, there are still many other benefits the Platinum Card offers that helps to offset that annual fee.

Use your resort credit for fine dining like at the Conrad Maldives.

Hotel elite status

Amex Platinum

The Platinum Card offers Hilton Gold status which is one of the best mid-tier statuses offered by any hotel program. With this status you can get upgrades, free breakfast, late check-out and sometimes even lounge access.

The Platinum will also get you Marriott Gold status. Unfortunately, after the recent merger of SPG/Marriott, this benefit isn’t as valuable because you no longer receive free breakfast.

Amex Hilton Aspire

The Hilton Aspire provides you with Hilton Diamond status which is the top-tier status for Hilton and one notch above Gold. The benefits are similar to Gold but you do get better upgrades, lounge access, and some other perks which make Diamond worthwhile.

For the average traveler just looking for free breakfast and a decent upgrade here and there, the Platinum Card offers enough for them. But if you want to maximize your odds of getting the best upgrades and value lounge access at Hilton properties, then the Hilton Aspire has more of what you’re looking for.


Other key benefits

Amex Platinum

The Platinum Card comes with a host of additional benefits that the Aspire doesn’t offer.

  • Car rental perks (read more here)
  • American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts (read more here)
  • American Express Concierge
  • Amex Platinum Special Events
  • International Airline Program (read more here)
  • The Boingo American Express Preferred Plan
  • Departures Magazine

You can read more about these benefits here.

Amex Hilton Aspire

The Amex Hilton Aspire has some additional benefits like concierge services but most notably it offers an annual free night that can be used at any Hilton property on a weekend night (Friday, Saturday, or Sunday). That’s a pretty fantastic offer because one free night could be worth hundreds of dollars and be enough to offset the annual fee (when used at a top property).

You also can get a free night when you spend $60,000 in a year on your card but I’m not too crazy about that benefit because you could put that $60,000 worth of spend to much better use on other credit cards.


Annual Fee

Amex Platinum

  • $550 annual fee

Amex Hilton Aspire

  • $450 annual fee

The Amex Platinum is going to cost you $100 more per year than the Aspire, which might seem a little odd at first because the Aspire is cheaper and comes with more travel credits to offset the annual fee. 


Foreign transaction fees

  • Both cards have no foreign transaction fees.

Global Entry TSA Pre-Check $100 credit

Only the Platinum comes with the Global Entry TSA Pre-Check $100 credit.


Getting both the Platinum and Aspire?

For a lot of people, it can make sense to hold on to both cards.

If you can utilize the airline credits and Hilton property credits of the Aspire card it’s a no-brainer to hold on to the Aspire if you have the Platinum Card. Even if you only partially used the credits and didn’t fully offset the $450 annual fee, you could think of the difference as your way of paying for Diamond status. So for example if you utilized $400 worth of those Aspire credits, it would be like paying $50 for Diamond status which would be well worth it for many people.

The only reason I wouldn’t hold on to both is if I didn’t care to stay at Hilton properties or was not able to use a substantial amount of the Aspire credits. Or maybe you only spend a couple of nights at Hilton properties per night — in that case, the Hilton Gold status offered by the Amex Platinum would likely be sufficient.

I’m a proponent of keeping multiple premium travel credit cards when it makes economic sense to do so. Because the Aspire comes with an outrageous number of travel credits, it’s very easy to justify holding on to both the Platinum and the Aspire card.


Final word

These are two very solid premium-level credit cards that you want to consider based on your travel goals. The Platinum is definitely the more robust card that offers a wider range of benefits and uses for your points. But the Aspire is one of the best hotel credit cards on the market and can supplement your perks from the Platinum Card if you’re a Hilton fan. Ultimately, I would consider adding this duo to your wallet.

UponArriving has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. UponArriving and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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