Hilton HHonors Credit Card: Earn Points Quickly, Spend Them Wisely

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A Hilton HHonors credit card can speed you on your way to free stays and awesome perks – but which of the available varieties will get you there? We’ll break down the differences between the HHonors cards and help you decide which one’s right for you.

Rewards cards with annual fees, perhaps unsurprisingly, typically have better perks and signup bonuses, making them more attractive to rewards hackers and those who want to snag a quick bonus. However, the no-fee versions aren’t too shabby, making them better for long-term value. (Note: We value HHonors points at 0.5 cents apiece, so we’ll tell you the rewards rate as well as what we think it’s worth.)

Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Reserve Card
Citibank Hilton HHonors Reserve Credit Card
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on Citibank's
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  • 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*
  • Earn 10 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on hotel stays within the Hilton HHonors portfolio*
  • Earn 5 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on airline and car rental purchases*
  • Earn 3 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases*
  • Enjoy the benefits of HHonors Gold status as long as you are a cardmember*
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases*
  • Travel with ease and enjoy global acceptance with your Citi chip credit card
thumbsupPros
  • High rewards rate
  • No foreign transaction fee
thumbsdownCons
  • Has annual fee
  • Needs excellent credit
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: None
Transfer: None

Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card
Citibank Hilton HHonors Credit Card
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on Citibank's
secure website

starstarstarhalfstar
  • Earn 40,000 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points after spending $1,000 within 4 months of account opening*
  • Earn 6 HHonors Bonus Points for each $1 spent at a participating hotel within the Hilton HHonors portfolio.*
  • Earn 3 HHonors Bonus Points for each $1 spent on purchases at supermarkets, drugstores and gas stations*
  • Earn 2 HHonors Bonus Points for each $1 spent on all other purchases*
  • No annual fee.*
thumbsupPros
  • No annual fee
Annual Fee Signup Bonus APR , Variable* APR Promotions
None 40,000 HHonors Bonus Points after $1,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening. 14.24% or 16.24%* (Variable) Purchase: N/A
Transfer: N/A


You’re the one that I want

Here’s a quick guide to choosing between the four cards: How long will you hold the card?

  • As short as possible – just give me the rewards. You should go with the Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Reserve Card – with a great sign-up bonus, you can get your rewards and be on your way: 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*. You can redeem those nights for the top-tier Category 7 hotels. The $$95* annual fee pales in comparison.
  • I think I’ll have the card for 2 years or less. Choose a card with a high sign-up bonus since it will make up for the annual fee in the short term.
  • I will hold the card for more than 2 years. Choose a card with no annual fee if you don’t spend a lot on Hilton HHonors purchases, because the savings on annual fees will overcome the disadvantage of a smaller signup bonus.

What are your spending habits?

  • I spend more than $10,000 a year. Big spenders would be advised to choose the Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Reserve Card, because you’ll get a free weekend night’s stay as an anniversary bonus every year that you charge more then $10k to the card. You’ll also get complimentary Diamond elite status with the Reserve and Surpass ever year your spending exceeds $40,000.
  • I spend most of my money on restaurants, groceries and gas. Choose the no-fee Amex or Amex Surpass – they earn 2.5% and 3% rewards respectively on gas, groceries and restaurants. The Surpass is better if you’re only holding the card for a short time, or if you value perks like Gold status; the no-fee version is ideal for long-term use.
  • I spend most of my money on travel. The Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Reserve Card gives 5 points per $1 (we value this at 2.5% rewards) on airfare and car rentals; the other cards reward only grocery spending.

How do you travel?

  • I travel internationally. Again, the Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Reserve Card is your guy: With no foreign transaction fee and EMV technology, it’s traveler-friendly – not to mention that it earns 10 HHonors Points per $1 spent at Hilton. Plus, American Express isn’t as widely accepted abroad, so you’re better off with a Visa.
  •  I value elite status. Go with the Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Reserve Card, which gives you Gold status for as long as you’re a member. Both the Reserve and the Surpass offer Diamond status with annual spending over $40,000 a year.
  • I value airport lounge access. The Amex Surpass offers discounted Priority Pass lounge membership.

Check out our blog post for more information on how to use your HHonors points.

The big leagues: Hilton vs. the world

Now that we’ve compared the four Hilton credit cards, how do they stack up against other major travel cards? The benefit of a hotel credit card is that you get bonus rewards on hotel stays as well as perks like elite status. The downside is that your rewards are fairly limited – if you want to redeem for airline miles or gift cards, say, your rewards rate tanks. The question is: Do you stay at Hilton often enough that the rewards – both the higher earning rate and the redemption options – are useful? For comparison, here are our favorite traveler’s credit cards.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
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on Chase's
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The Chase Sapphire Preferred, another great general traveler’s card, is renowned for its astounding sign-up bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. The Sapphire offers 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining, and all other purchases earn 1 point per dollar. When you redeem points for travel booked through Chase, rewards are worth 25% more. Taking into consideration the 25% redemption bonus and your base rewards rate is effectively 1.25%, and your accelerated category rates are 2.50%. You are not tied to a specific airline or hotel chain. Rewards can be redeemed for any virtually any travel expense. It has an Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95. Again, it’s a better option for those looking to use their rewards for more than just Hilton stays, but the perks on the HHonors cards make those cards worthwhile for frequent guests.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
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on Capital One's
secure website

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is one of NerdWallet’s favorite travel credit cards. It’s both rewarding and versatile. Unlike the Hilton cards, which restrict you to redeeming rewards with specific travel services, the Venture allows cardholders to trade points for flights with any carrier, stays at any hotel or car rentals with any service. The rewards rate is a flat 2% across all purchases. It comes with a signup bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, equal to $400 in travelThe annual fee is reasonable: $0 intro for first year; $59 after that; the Venture charges no foreign transaction fee. It’s better for those unwilling to commit to one hotel chain, and those who travel internationally but are put off by a high annual fee.

 

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  • 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.