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Hilton Hotels offers free Diamond Status for active duty military members through the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express. Normally, this card costs $450 annually, but AMEX waives the fee for military servicemembers.
American Express currently offers 3 Hilton Honors personal credit cards and 1 business card. Together, you could earn 475,000+ Hilton points if you acquired all 4 cards and met the minimum spend on each. That's more than enough for a 6 night stay at any of the top Hilton properties.
- AMEX Hilton Honors Aspire Card 150,000 points
- AMEX Hilton Honors Surpass Card 125,000 points
- AMEX Hilton Honors Card 75,000 points
- AMEX Hilton Honors Business Card 125,000 points
You can upgrade the lower tier cards (Surpass and the plain Hilton Honors Cards) to the higher tier Amex Hilton Aspire card after 1 year of card membership. The military annual fee waiver is still applied.
This allows you to get up to 3 Amex Aspire cards per person. A married couple could have 6 Aspire cards and earn 6 free nights annually in addition to 6x $250 credits at Hilton properties. That's $1500 per year of credit. And again, you pay no annual fees on any of these cards as a military servicemember or spouse.
If you and your spouse each opened up your own cards, you could earn over 1,000,000 Hilton Honors points in just a few months. Looks like you'll need to take some more leave!
One million Hilton points is enough for 100 nights at some of Hilton's properties, like the Hilton Garden Inn Hanoi or 50 nights at the Hilton Garden Inn Bucharest Old Town in Romania.
Plus, even if you book the cheapest room in the hotel, you will probably get upgraded because of your automatic Diamond status through the Hilton Honors Aspire card.
Some of these welcome bonuses are at all time highs. You should apply for these cards when the bonuses are high because AMEX only allows you to get bonuses on their cards once per lifetime.
AMEX Hilton Honors Aspire
The perks of the AMEX Hilton Honors Aspire include:
- $450 annual fee waived for US military
- Complimentary Diamond Status
- 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points welcome offer after $4000 of purchases in the first 3 months (worth up to 18 nights of stays!)
- 1 weekend night reward after opening your account and every year on renewal
- $250 Hilton Resort Credit
- $250 airline fee credit (similar to the AMEX Platinum, also free for military)
- 14x Hilton Honors Bonus Points at Hilton properties
- No foreign transaction fees
If you add up the 18 nights stay (worth at least $1500), the 1 weekend reward night ($200), $250 resort credit, and $250 airline fee credit this card can easily give you $2200 of value in the first year PLUS the annual fee of $450 waived!
The free weekend night award can be cashed in at luxury properties that would normally cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars a night.
That's $2650 of value from this card alone. Learn how to apply for this card here.
AMEX Hilton Honors Surpass
The benefits of the AMEX Hilton Honors Surpass include:
- $95 annual fee waived for US military
- 125,000 Hilton Honors bonus points as a welcome offer after spending $2000 in the first 3 months
- 12x Hilton Honors points at Hilton properties
- Upgrade this card to another fee waived Aspire card and get all the benefits of the Aspire card x2
One tip I have is you can upgrade this card to an Aspire card. You can reap double the benefits, such as resort credit, airline fees, reimbursed, AND get an additional weekend night free annually. You will still pay no annual fees if you are an active duty US servicemember.
Learn how to apply for this card here. (Note this card used to be called the Hilton Honors Ascend card, but AMEX changed the name to Hilton Honors Surpass card in July 2019.)
AMEX Hilton Honors Card
This card has a welcome offer of 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $1000 in the first 3 months of Card Membership. This is an EASY way to add to your Hilton Honors points stash.
- You can upgrade this card to an Aspire card as well. That can get you 3x Aspire benefits per spouse!
- 3 Aspire cards would be $750 in annual Hilton resort credit + 3 free weekend nights annually.
- That's a free weekend away every year, just for holding on to these cards!
- And you will pay no annual fees if you are active duty US military!
Learn how to apply for American Express Hilton Honors card.
AMEX Hilton Honors Business Card
This card's best benefit is a welcome bonus of 125,000 Hilton Honors points after spending $3000 in the first 3 months. American Express waives the $95 annual fee for US military personnel.
One tip is that you can apply for this card even if your business doesn't make much money.Even if you only sell a few items on eBay or Craigslist, you should qualify for a business credit card. Driving for Uber or any of the other “gig” economy jobs qualify as businesses as well.
Use your Social Security number instead of a employer tax identification number and select “sole proprietor” from the list of corporation types.
Hilton Honors Diamond Status Perks
The tangible perks of Hilton Honors Diamond Status include:
- Executive lounge access (free food and drink)
- Late check-out
- Room upgrades up to 1-bedroom suite
- Complimentary breakfast at ALL Hilton Hotels
When I check in at any Hilton around the world, I have always been upgraded as a Diamond member. When we stayed at the Hilton Edinburgh Carlton, we were upgraded to a deluxe king room but more importantly we had access to the executive lounge.
Free happy hour, free espresso machine, free breakfast, and a nice place to relax and get some work done while on the road. Make sure you leave a nice tip for the wait staff, since you're eating and drinking for free!
Another excellent perk of Hilton Diamond status is the free breakfast. One of the best hotel breakfasts I ever had was at the Hilton Garden Inn Bucharest Old Town. My god it was good!
Sorry for the gratuitous photos of a hotel buffet breakfast, but just look at that bacon!
What are your favorite perks of the Hilton Honors Aspire card? What was the best upgrade you received as a Hilton Diamond member?