Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve: Travelers, Techies and Luxury-Lovers Rejoice
The Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card has it all: rewards, perks, travel technology and guaranteed luxury. It starts of with a hard-hitting signup bonus: 2 free weekend nights, with a bonus weekend night every year. This can be worth as much as $325 a night, if you redeem for a Tier 7 hotel – that’s a $650 signup bonus, one of the best in the business, and more than enough to offset the $95 annual fee. And we haven’t even gotten to the ongoing rewards yet. If you’re a Hilton guest, sit up and take note.
|Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Reserve Card|
|Annual Fee||Signup Bonus||APR , Variable*||APR Promotions|
|$95*||Earn 2 weekend night certificates good at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton HHonors portfolio after $2,500 in eligible purchases within 4 months of account opening*||15.24%* (Variable)||Purchase: N/A
International travel and elite status made easy
- 10 HHonors points per $1 spent at Hilton hotels
- 5 points per $1 spent on airline and car rentals
- 3 points per $1 spent elsewhere
Now, we value HHonors points at about 0.5 cents apiece, so your effective rewards rate is 5%, 2.5% and 1.5% for the above categories. But you receive a host of perks beyond that:
- EMV chip-and-signature compatibility, making the card easier to use abroad;
- No foreign transaction fee, a claim that the Amex Hilton cards can’t make; and
- Complimentary Gold elite status for the lifetime of the card, and Diamond status if you spend more than $40k a year.
As mentioned above, you do receive an anniversary gift of a free weekend night, which can be worth anywhere from $100 to $325. But there is a caveat: you must spend $10,000 a year to get the bonus. Unfortunately, Citi isn’t as upfront about that requirement as it could be. Remember also that you must spend $2,500 in the first 4 months to get the signup bonus of 2 free nights.
How does the Citi Hilton card compare with the best-in-class American Express hotel cards? It offers a better signup bonus and elite status than the Amex Hilton HHonors Surpass; it has EMV capability, and it has no foreign transaction fee – key for travelers. So yeah – the Reserve takes the gold.
Citi Hilton Reserve vs. Amex Hilton Surpass. Winner: Citi, easily
The Hilton Reserve is meant to poach customers away from Amex, starting with those holding the current Hilton champ, the American Express Hilton HHonors Surpass. Which one wins out? For most people, the waived foreign transaction fee, automatic Gold elite status and EMV compatibility will put the Citi on top.
As you can see, the Citi dominates in terms of technology, signup bonus and elite status, but the Amex offers a slight discount, improved bonus categories and more fringe benefits. It all depends on which you value more – though an international traveler would do well to avoid foreign transaction fees.