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Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card: Slow and Steady Wins the Race

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Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card: Slow and Steady Wins the Race

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It’s easy to find credit cards with outstanding perks – but they often come with steep price tags in the form of annual fees. That’s not the case with the Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card, which charges an annual fee of $0. If you’re looking for a card that gets you free Hilton hotel stays, offers high ongoing value and doesn’t require excellent credit, this card may be a good fit.

At a glance
Annual fee $0
Foreign transaction fee 3%
Stand-out perk Automatic HHonors Silver status with a fast-track to Gold status (see details below)
Signup bonus Limited Time: Earn a $50 statement credit after spending $50 on your first stay at any hotel within the Hilton Portfolio during the first 3 months of account opening. Earn 50,000 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points after making $1,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening.
Verdict: If you want HHonors Silver status, but don’t want to pay an annual fee, this could be the card for you.
Good for:
  • Someone who spends a lot at Hilton portfolio hotels
  • Someone looking for long-term value
Bad for:
  • Someone who wants to use points for airlines
  • Someone who wants to use the card overseas

In this article:

Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card: The Basics
Where the Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card shines
Extra benefits to consider
Where the Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card falls short
Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card versus its competitors
Should you consider the Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card?

Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card: The Basics

When you get the Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card, you’ll be able to take advantage of these features:

  • You can get automatic HHonors Silver status, with fast-track to Gold status after 4 stays within 90 days of account opening, or when you make $20,000 or more in purchases each calendar year.
  • You can redeem HHonors points for free stays at 4,200 hotels and resorts in 93 countries. And if you’d rather spend your points elsewhere, you could also convert them airline miles or buy event tickets with them.

All in all, the Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card can help you earn lots of travel perks at a minimal cost. And if you frequent Hilton portfolio hotels, you’ll rack up even more rewards.

Where the Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card shines

Free stays, travel perks, loyalty bonuses — these are just a few reasons the Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card could be the right deal for you.

A decent signup bonus and no cap on rewards – This card even comes with a signup bonus: Limited Time: Earn a $50 statement credit after spending $50 on your first stay at any hotel within the Hilton Portfolio during the first 3 months of account opening. You can also earn 50,000 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points after making $1,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening. The Nerds value Hilton HHonors points, which can be redeemed at hotels, airlines and events, at 0.44 cents each — meaning that the signup bonus is equal to about one free hotel stay. On top of that, the card has an annual fee of $0 and no limits on how many points you can rake in.

Loyalty bonuses for cardholders who stay at Hilton – If you stay at Hilton portfolio hotels regularly, you’re in luck — you’ll earn 10,000 bonus Hilton HHonors Points every year you put more than $1,000 of Hilton expenses on your card. This could add up to big savings for frequent travelers.

An easy way to upgrade – With the Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card, you’ll get automatic HHonors Silver status, which gets you a free night’s stay after every fifth night spent at a Hilton portfolio hotel, as well as a 15% bonus on the base HHonors points you’re earning.

That deal gets even sweeter when you book four stays within the first 90 days of opening your account, or when you make $20,000 or more in purchases each calendar year — which qualifies you for Gold status. You’ll get the same benefits as you would with Silver status, but instead of a 15% bonus on your base points earning, you’ll get a 25% boost.

Extra benefits to consider

Aside from free hotel stays, the Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card also offers other benefits you can take advantage of, whether you’re at home or on the road.

Travel and emergency assistance – This card gives you access to a 24/7 concierge service. If you need medical or legal referrals during your trip, or if you have to make last-minute arrangements, you’ll be able to get help right away.

Car rental insurance – If you put your car rental on your Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card and decline the company’s collision loss and damage insurance, you may be covered against theft or damage.

Price protection – With Citi Price Rewind, you don’t have to worry about overpaying for big-ticket items. Citi will reimburse you up to $300 per item, up to $1,200 a year, if the same item is found on retailers’ sites at a lower price within 60 days.

Where the Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card falls short

When it comes to redeeming points and traveling abroad, the Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card has shortcomings.

Low redemption values – The Nerds value an HHonors point at 0.44 cents, a fraction of what points on some cards are worth. In comparison, a Starpoint from  Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is worth 2.3 cents when redeemed for hotel stays. If your goal is to rake in the most rewards over a short period of time, this card may not be your best bet.

Limited options for redemption – When you convert your HHonors points to airline miles, they lose a big chunk of their value. For example, 10,000 HHonors Points only fetch 1,000 Virgin America Elevate Points, or 850 US Airways Miles. If you want to use your card for flying and earn airline credits at a faster rate, you may be better off with another travel card.

Foreign transaction fee – Because the Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee, it’s not a good idea to use it for making purchases abroad.

Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card versus its competitors

So how does the Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card compare to other travel cards? Let’s take a look:

Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card vs. Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card

If you’re interested in saving more at Hilton portfolio hotels, there’s a good chance that the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card is also on your radar. It shares several benefits of the  Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card, but earns rewards faster, gives cardholders HHonors Gold status rather than Silver status, and charges an annual fee of  annual fee is $95.

The Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card also comes with a bigger signup bonus than the Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card: Earn 2 weekend night certificates good at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio after you make $2,500 in purchases within 4 months of account opening Assuming you’re going to spend that much on your card anyway, this is a much better deal — and the annual fee will pay for itself once you qualify for that bonus.

Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card vs. Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Compared with the Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express offers a much higher redemption rate — 2.3 cents per Starpoint — for hotel stays. You can also redeem your Starpoints for airline miles on over 150 airlines, with no blackout dates.

But the Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card may still win out for you in the end if you want more hotels to choose from: Starwood properties includes 1,100 hotels, whereas the Hilton portfolio includes 4,200 hotels. The Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card also has an annual fee of $0, whereas the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express has an annual fee of $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $65.

Should you consider the Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card?

The Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card isn’t the fanciest card on the market, but if you frequently stay at Hilton portfolio hotels, it could save you a bundle in traveling costs in the long run. Even better, you’ll automatically get HHonors Silver status with an annual fee of $0. If you love those Hilton perks, this card is a pretty sweet deal.

Claire Davidson is a staff writer covering personal finance for NerdWallet. Follow her on Twitter @ideclaire7 and on Google+.


Image via iStock.

  • Mfo52

    We’ve used hilton points for about 20+ years, and stayed at some of the nicest hotels in the world . For example, we’ve had multiple great experiences in Paris at the Arc Hilton. I am always very polite and friendly to the front desk staff, ask for any upgrades, and be sure to fill out compliment cards. Rooms have always been great.