The Hilton Aspire Amex is one of the most rewarding hotel-branded credit cards. Here are 6 benefits to activate once you get it.

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire CardAmerican Express

You picked up a Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express and earned 150,000 Hilton points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months. Congratulations! Now you're ready to reap the rewards of the welcome bonus by booking some hotel award stays.

But the Hilton Aspire card has a lot to offer beyond the bonus points - if you aren't aware of the full list of benefits, you could miss out on some pretty incredible perks. Here are six things to do when you get the Hilton Honors Aspire card.

Keep in mind that we're focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which can far outweigh the value of any rewards.

When you're working to earn credit card rewards, it's important to practice financial discipline, like paying your balances off in full each month, making payments on time, and not spending more than you can afford to pay back. Basically, treat your credit card like a debit card.

1. Pick your airline for the annual incidental credit

First things first, you'll want to pick an airline for up to $250 in annual incidental fee credits. Basically, you designate an airline (ideally one you have upcoming travel plans with) and then any time you pay for incidental fees with your Hilton Honors Aspire card, you'll get reimbursed, up to $250 per year. This credit is re-issued every January. It's important to note that you cannot change your airline choice until the following year, so choose wisely!

What counts as "incidental" fees? Up until recently, it included airline gift cards. Unfortunately that's not the case anymore, but you can still use it for things like baggage fees, award ticket taxes, and in-flight purchases - but not actual airfare. Be sure to head to www.americanexpress.com/airlinecreditchoice to make your airline selection for the $250 credit.

Read more: How to use your Amex airline fee credit

2. Sign up for Priority Pass Select

Airport lounge access is awesome for long layovers, and helps you avoid paying for overpriced food at the airport. The Hilton Honors Aspire Card comes with Priority Pass Select membership. Simply activate your Priority Pass Select membership through your Amex account dashboard, and you can access over 1,200 lounges along with two guests, free of charge.

Priority Pass will mail you a physical card, but you don't need it. Simply download the Priority Pass mobile app, log in, and then simply scan your digital card at the airport lounge reception desk.

3. Check your Hilton status

One of the most valuable perks of the Hilton Honors Aspire card is top-tier Hilton Diamond status. Take it from someone who just got back from a four-night stay at a Hilton property in the Maldives: The free breakfast and bonus points offered to Diamond members really add up.

In my experience, Diamond status goes into effect almost immediately after card approval. But you don't want to assume that's the case and possibly miss out on rewards during your next Hilton stay. Check your Hilton status within a day and follow up a few days later if it has not been upgraded to Diamond.

4. Familiarize yourself with the various travel protections

American Express is renowned for the various travel and purchase protections on its credit cards, which extend to Hilton Honors Aspire cardholders. Charge your travel expenses to this card, and you'll receive baggage and travel accident insurance, car rental loss and damage insurance, as well as premium roadside assistance. If you come across trouble on your travels, the premium global assist hotline can help you coordinate medical care or whatever else you may need assistance with.

Read more: Avoid a huge medical emergency bill with one of these credit cards

Even if you're not a frequent traveler, you can get great use out of the ShopRunner and return protection benefits. ShopRunner membership normally costs $79 but Amex cardholders get it for free. Activate your membership and you'll receive free two-day shipping and returns at over 140 popular merchants.

Read more: The best American Express cards

Meanwhile, the Hilton Honors Aspire card's return protection and extended warranty cover your everyday purchases. If you're unable to return an item to a merchant within 90 days of the purchase date, American Express will refund the purchase price up to $300 (excluding shipping and handling). This benefit has a maximum of $1,000 per calendar year. The extended warranty offered to cardholders extends the manufacturer's warranty by up to two years, providing a little extra peace of mind.

5. Start planning travel with Hilton

The Aspire card is really designed to inspire Hilton loyalty, with perks like a free annual weekend night, up to a $250 resort credit every year and a $100 credit on two-night stays at select properties through the Hilton Honors Aspire website.

A common mistake is letting annual free night certificates expire. The Hilton Honors Aspire card offers one free weekend night every card anniversary and another one if you spend $60,000 per calendar year. The way to avoid this is to plan ahead. Think about where you'd like to go in the next year and figure out if there's a Hilton property where you can put your free weekend night and other card perks to good use.

Or be spontaneous: Earlier this month I booked a last-minute trip to the Maldives because I just knew I wouldn't find a better redemption for my free weekend night than the Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi, which was going for over $1,800 per night, pre-tax.

6. Check your Amex Offers

The Amex Offers program is one of the best benefits available to American Express cardholders. Year-round, I'm able to offset credit card annual fees through the statement-credit deals I find on Amex Offers. Whether it's 20% off at popular retailers or discounts at grocery stores or my insurance bill, the savings are substantial and really add up.

Read more: The best Amex Offers available now

Once your Hilton Honors Aspire Card application has been approved and you've set up your online account, be sure to scroll down to the "Amex Offers & Benefits" section on your account homepage. That's where you'll find Amex Offers, some of them tailored to you. New offers get added frequently, so be sure to check that section often and sign up for deals that might be of interest - even if you're not 100% sure you'll redeem them. Some Amex Offers are limited to a certain number of accounts and once capacity has been reached, everyone else misses out.

Click here to learn more about the Hilton Honors Aspire card.

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.

Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

Please note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they're subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.

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