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Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve: Banks Fight, You Win

July 24, 2012
Credit Cards
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  • Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card

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The Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card has it all: rewards, perks, travel technology and guaranteed luxury. It starts off with a hard-hitting signup bonus: 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*. The annual fee is $95, which is more than offset by the value of the bonus. And we haven’t even gotten to the ongoing rewards yet.

Designed to compete with the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express, the Citi Hilton Reserve puts its best foot forward. Let’s start with rewards:

  • 10 HHonors points per $1 spent at Hilton hotels
  • 5 points per $1 spent on airline and car rental purchases
  • 3 points per $1 spent elsewhere

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 perks beyond that, including:

  • No foreign transaction fee, a claim not all 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.

You’re also eligible for an anniversary gift of a free weekend night if you spend at least $10,000 a year on the card.

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 Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express, and is generally a more traveler-friendly option. But when it comes to the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, the Citi version just can’t compete.