Globetrotters Pay Heed: Citi HHonors Reserve Has EMV Capability
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Attention international travelers! The Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card card has joined the ranks of EMV chip-with-signature credit cards. What does that mean? Well, not only is it a darn good hotel credit card, but the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card is more compatible with vendors across the world than most American cards. If you’re partial to Hilton Hotels (or if you’re just looking for a good hotel card), this card is tough to beat. Both its rewards structure and its technological advantage make it one of the best cards for global travel available in the US.
EMV and waived F/X fees: Around the world with ease
EMV (short for Europay-MasterCard-Visa) is an alternative method of verifying plastic that’s gaining in adoption worldwide. While we Americans cling to our magnetic stripes on credit cards, the rest of the world, and Western Europe in particular, increasingly rely on chip-and-signature or chip-and-PIN technology. Some European merchants won’t even take American mag-stripe cards anymore.
The Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card has a pretty good rewards system, but its international compatibility puts the icing on the cake. There are no foreign transaction fees, and the card comes equipped with an EMV chip. Americans traveling abroad often face challenges due to compatibility issues. Increasingly, American credit card companies are realizing the importance of EMV technology to global travelers and implanting new cards with the technology. The Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card is one such card, offering EMV chip-and-sign technology. Even better, it waives its foreign transaction fees, which usually dock you 3% of all your overseas purchases. A traveler’s card indeed.
As far as rewards go, the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card is a champ. Every dollar spent at a hotel in the Hilton Portfolio earns 10 points. Before you get too excited, realize that 10 HHonors points translate to about 5% back. Whereas most rewards programs pay in points worth a penny apiece, the HHonors prefers to hand out triple the points worth only about $0.03. But even at that value, 10 points to the dollar isn’t bad.
What really gets us excited about the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card’s rewards program is the 5 points per dollar spent on airline and car rental purchases. By offering rewards that extend beyond the realm of hotels and reach into other travel territories, this card becomes more than just a hotel credit card. Remember, 5 points is about 2.5%. Still, accelerated rewards on common travel purchases is laudable. The Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card also offers 3 points, or 1.5%, on all other purchases.
Holding this credit card gives you automatic complimentary gold status for as long as you’re a member. Gold status comes with a bunch of great perks, including a 25% bonus on all HHonors points, which means you can tack another 0.25% onto your earning rates. With gold status, Internet access is free and you’re eligible for room upgrades as they become available. The list goes on to include things like continental breakfasts, complimentary beverages and bonus point sums. If you spend $40,000 a year, you’ll be upgraded to diamond status for even more benefits.
The only drawback of the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card is the annual fee of annual fee is $95. It’s a bit a steep, but absolutely worth the cost considering the rewards. If you earn the annual weekend night certificate, that alone more than covers the cost.
Domestic? Try the Starwood
If you’d like even more rewards, check out the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express. It has a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $65. We estimate the average rewards rate at 2.3% across the board. You’ll also get an excellent signup bonus: Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Unfortunately, the Starwood is less globetrotter-friendly. It doesn’t have an EMV chip and charges a 2.7% foreign transaction fee. But for a domestic hotel credit card, you can’t do much better.