February 23, 2018
Review: Hilton Honors Ascend Credit Card

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Hiltons issues several personal credit cards in partnership with American Express. There’s the top-tier Hilton Aspire, the mid-tier Hilton Ascend, and the low-tier Hilton Honors card. There’s also the Hilton Business card for business users. This article breaks down the benefits and costs of the mid-tier Hilton Ascend card.


Sign-Up Bonus


The Hilton Ascend comes with 100,000 Hilton Honors points. Cardholders earn 75,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first three months of account opening and an additional 25,000 points after spending an additional $1,000 within six months of account opening.


Earning Points


The Ascend earns 12x Hilton Honors points per $1 at Hilton properties, 6x points per $1 at US restaurants, US supermarkets, and US gas stations, 3x points per $1 on everything else.



Redeeming Points


Hilton Honors points are mainly redeemed for free nights at Hilton properties. The exact number of points you’ll need will vary based on where you’re staying. You can pay for an award stay with only points or a combination of points and money. The points & money option can be a great way to maximize the value of your Hilton points.



For example, you could redeem 95,000 Hilton Honors points for a Beach Villa room at the Hilton Conrad Maldives and save yourself $902.


You can also redeem Hilton points for experiences like concerts, golf tournaments, sports games, Broadway shows, etc.


Perks


Cardholders earn complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status. This come with perks like 25% bonus base points, 5th night free when booking an award stay of five nights or more, complimentary internet access, late check-out, complimentary bottles of water, room upgrades, and complimentary breakfast at certain properties. Cardholders who spend $40,000 or more in a calendar year earn Hilton’s top-tier Diamond status.


Cardholders who spend $15,000 or more in a calendar year earn a complimentary weekend night reward.


You’ll also receive 10 free passes to Priority Pass lounges per year. Priority Pass is a network of over 1,000+ airport lounges around the world. It costs $27 per visit after you use up the 10 passes.


Fees


The Hilton Ascend card has a $95 annual fee. There are no foreign transaction fees.


Courtesy of Conrad Maldives


Should You Get It?


The value of Hilton Honors points is highly dependent on which properties you redeem them. You’d get 0.94 cents per point in value in the above example of a redemption at the Conrad Maldives. That would value the 100,000 point sign-up bonus at $940. Keep in mind that this is on the high value end of Hilton redemptions and not every hotel will get you 0.94 cents per point.


The card earns 12x Hilton points per $1 at Hilton properties. That’s a pretty good return on spending and is second only to the Hilton Aspire card, which has a $450 annual fee. Earning 6x points per $1 at US restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations is decent but there are other cards which offer better returns on those categories. The Ascend card is great for maximizing your return on Hilton spending.


Complimentary Hilton Gold status can be a very valuable perk if you don’t already have it through qualifying stays or another credit card like the Platinum Card from American Express. The complimentary weekend night reward is another fantastic benefit if you can swing the $15,000 in annual spending to get it. It’s fairly easy to redeem that for over $100 in value.


The Hilton Ascend can make a lot of sense if you frequently stay at Hilton properties. The annual free night reward more than makes up for the $95 annual fee if you can qualify for it. Even if you can’t, you can redeem the 100,000 point sign-up bonus for close to $1,000 in free hotel nights.


I’d say if you spend a lot of time at Hilton properties, the Ascend card can be a great way to maximize your return on Hilton spending while earning a healthy sign-up bonus for a nominal $95 annual fee.


Featured Image Courtesy of Hilton Conrad Maldives

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