Amex Hilton Aspire vs SPG Luxury Card: Which is Better? [2018]

The SPG Luxury Card and the Amex Hilton Aspire are two new 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 SPG Luxury Card 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.

Interested in finding out the top travel credit cards for this month? Click here to check them out! 

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Welcome bonus

SPG Luxury Card

The SPG Luxury Card currently offers 75,000 points after you make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. This is lower than the 100,000 point offer that recently came out so it’s not the highest offer you’ll be able to find in the future.  

If you value Marriott points at .8 cent per point, then that’s $600 worth of points. I recently put together an article on redeeming Marriott points for free nights, and I found it’s often possible to get more value than that so the actual value of the welcome bonus for you might be much higher.

This is especially true if you transfer your points out to airline partners which you can do at a ratio of 3:1 (for most airlines). You’ll also get a 5,000 mile bonus when you transfer 60,000 points. So this welcome bonus could be worth 25,000 miles + 5,000 miles for various airline partners. This is huge for partners like JAL which offer great redemptions but are difficult to accumulates points for. 

If you want to get an idea on how many points will be required for a free night at a hotel, here’s the Marriott award chart. Notice that unlike the Aspire, the current welcome bonus doesn’t offer enough points to book a standard award at a top property.

The new Marriott award chart.

Amex Hilton Aspire

Hilton Aspire Bonus

The Amex Hilton Aspire currently offers 150,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. 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.

Hilton doesn’t have a published award chart anymore since they operate with a semi-dynamic currency. The very top properties are still capped at 95,000 points per night, though. So with a bonus of 150,000 Hilton Honors points, you’d be able to cover at least two nights at a very nice hotel but would still need more points to cover two nights at a top-tier hotel.

Right now, the Hilton Aspire’s offer is much more attractive at 150,000 points so I would take that over the 75,000 point offer for the SPG Luxury Card. However, when that SPG Luxury bonus goes back up to 100K or possibly even higher, it’s a very attractive option due to the ability to transfer points to airline partners at a ratio of 3:1.

Marriott points can make flying first class much easier with their travel partners.

Bonus categories

SPG Luxury Card

  • 6X on Marriott/SPG purchases
  • 3X on US restaurants
  • 3X on airlines booked directly with airlines
  • 2X on other purchases

If you value Marriott points at .8 cent per point, then getting 6X at Marriott properties is like earning 4.8% back on purchases which isn’t quite as strong as the Aspire. As a Marriott Gold member, you’ll earn a total of 18.5 Marriott points per dollar which comes out to 14.8% back which is also lower than the Aspire.

The 3X on restaurants and airfare is like earning 2.4% back which just isn’t competitive in today’s world of 4X and 5X on these categories. So in my opinion the bonus categories for the SPG Luxury Card are overall mediocre, at least from a pure value perspective.

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, car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies and at U.S. restaurants
  • 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points on other purchases

The Hilton Aspire offers a whopping 14X on Hilton purchases which is like getting 7% back with a valuation of .5 cent per point. This stacks on top of the 20X that you’ll earn as a cardmember via your Diamond status, so 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 a Aspire cardholder. Not many other hotel chains can compete with that.

Overall, the Aspire offers more value in return for spending on its own brand but 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 Reserve for spending money on things like travel, groceries, and dining.

Lounge access

SPG Luxury Card

The SPG Luxury Card offers Priority Pass membership for you and up to two guests per visit. Priority Pass is a network of over 1,100 airport lounges located all around the globe. These lounges differ in the quality they offer but you can generally find a comfortable place to relax with complimentary drinks and snacks.

The membership is worth $400 so this is a very valuable perk, although many card are offering memberships these days.

Amex Hilton Aspire

The Amex Hilton Aspire provides the same Priority Pass membership with the same guest policy. If you’re really interested in airport lounge access, then I suggest looking into the Amex Platinum which offers much more lounge access than a mere Priority Pass membership, including access to Centurion Lounges and Delta Sky Clubs.

Priority Pass lounge in Cape Town, South Africa.

Travel credits

Both of these cards come loaded with travel credits.

SPG Luxury Card

$300 property credit

The SPG Luxury Card offers a $300 credit towards Marriott and SPG properties that can even be used at room rates. Marriott has such a vast network that it’s very easy to take advantage of this credit. The terms and conditions don’t exclude properties like the Aspire, so this credit appears to be much broader than the Aspire’s resort credit.

$100 Global Entry/TSA Pre-Check credit

The SPG Luxury Card offers a $100 Global Entry/TSA Pre-Check credit. Global Entry is a great way to get expedited access through customs and immigration when arriving back into the US. And TSA Pre-Check allows you to breeze through security on your way to the gates.

The Hilton Aspire does NOT offer this credit. However, so many card offer this credit that it’s hardly a novelty anymore.

Amex Hilton Aspire

$250 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. It can also be used to purchase certain gift cards so keep that in mind. At $250, this is one of the higher airline credits offered by any credit card.

$200 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.

The credit can also be used to cover room rates for your stay just like the SPG Luxury card. However, unlike the SPG Luxury Card, the Aspire resort credit is limited to specific resorts so it might be easier for you to use the $300 credit from the SPG Luxury card. 

$100 Conrad/Waldorf credit

When you use your Hilton Honors American Express AspireCard to book through 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.

This $100 credit can be a little tricky so I’d suggest reading my article on the Hilton travel credits so that you don’t a make any rookie mistakes.

If I had to choose between the credits offered by the Hilton Aspire and the SPG Luxury card, I’m going to choose the Hilton Aspire. The fact that I can get $500 worth of value from the airline and resort credit is just too tempting for me but the broad $300 credit of the SPG Luxury card is still very attractive.

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

Hotel elite status

SPG Luxury Card

The SPG Luxury Card will get you SPG/Marriott Gold Status. Unfortunately, after the recent merger of these two programs, Marriott Gold Status isn’t as valuable because you no longer receive free breakfasts.

You can still receive some decent benefits like a 25% bonus on points earned from your stay, upgrades, 2pm late check out (based on availability), and complimentary wifi (you can read more about these perks here). But these benefits don’t compare to guaranteed free breakfast and lounge access offered by the Aspire.

This card does give you the chance to earn Platinum Elite status after making $75,000 in eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year but I would not go chasing that benefit, as I could put $75K worth of spend to much better use with other credit cards.

Another perk this card offers is 15 elite credits per year beginning in 2019. For a frequent Marriott loyalist, that can make a big difference.

Amex Hilton Aspire

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

If you truly want meaningful travel perks from hotel elite status, I think that the Hilton Aspire card wins hands down in this department and it’s really not even close. Heck, even the lower tier, Hilton Gold, would offer more than Marriott Gold when it comes to perks like breakfast.

The Aspire will get you lounge access.

Annual Free night

SPG Luxury Card

The SPG Luxury card will offer you one annual free night that can be used at redemption levels at or under 50,000 points with the new Marriott award chart. As I show in this article, 50,000 points will be the new off-peak price for category 7 properties.

This is huge because you can use your free night at some of the most luxurious properties, including The Edition Times Square ($852 per night) and The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay ($961 per night). Even if you use the free night for the standard category 6 price, there’s still a lot of very luxurious properties to choose from that go for over $400.

The great thing about this free night is that you’re not limited to weekends like with the Hilton free nights.

Amex Hilton Aspire

The Amex Hilton Aspire 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 (or even thousands when used at a top property).

While the weekend limitations do make it tougher to use, it’s pretty incredible to be able to cover a free night at the most expensive properties in the Hilton portfolio.

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

SPG Luxury Card

  • $450 annual fee

Amex Hilton Aspire

  • $450 annual fee


Both of these cards offer the same type of protections which include things like secondary rental car coverage, lost, damaged, or stolen baggage, extended warranty, purchase protection, roadside assistance, and others.

Foreign transaction fees

Both cards have no foreign transaction fees.


The SPG Luxury card offers complimentary Boingo Wi-Fi access.

Getting both the SPG Luxury and Aspire?

Could it make sense to get both of these cards?

Assuming you already have Global Entry, I think it all comes down to the travel credits and your use of the free nights. 

If you can utilize the $250 resort credit and $250 airline credit of the Aspire, then you’re already coming out on top of the $450 annual fee and so it’s a no brainer to hold on to the Aspire card, especially when you consider the other benefits that the card offers like Diamond status and the annual free night.

The SPG Luxury card doesn’t offer as much value with its status but it comes with an easy way to offset the annual fee down to $150 with the $300 property credit. At that point, it’s just a matter of whether or not you would normally stay at a Marriott property within a year’s time. That free night certificate could easily offer you several hundred bucks worth of value and offset the $450 annual fee.

So if you’d normally spend a few hundred bucks on airline incidentals, Hilton resorts, and Marriott/SPG properties each year then there’s a good chance it could make sense to get both of these cards. 

Just note that these are both credit cards so you don’t want to apply for the cards at the same time. You want to give yourself a week between applications.

Final word

These are two very solid premium-level credit cards that you want to consider based on your travel goals. The Aspire is one of the best hotel credit cards on the market and the SPG Luxury card is right up there with it. It all boils down to how you’d utilize the travel credits, elite status, and free nights, in my opinion but you might consider holding on to both of these cards depending on your travel goals and you loyalty preferences.


  1. I absolutely love my Aspire card. I have used both credits for 2018 an Dave used the lounge a few times. I’ve definitely got my money’s worth so far. We have a membership with Hilton Grand Vacations and I use my Aspire card for monthly payments at 14 ppd. It racks up the points quick. Plus, most of the resorts under HGV are on the list for the resort fee credit. Great card.

    1. That’s great to know about HGV — didn’t think about the earning potential there. Thanks for the input and I love the Aspire, too!

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