About Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff Published on: Apr 3, 2017

Hilton hotel fans just might love the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card, a credit card that offers free hotel nights if you can spend $2,500 in the first four months.

The Hilton HHonors Reserve is what’s known as a hotel rewards card, which means your purchases accrue points you deposit into a certain hotel chain’s loyalty program. Those points can then be used to “buy” free hotel nights.

Now it’s a given that there are plenty of hotel rewards cards out there: Hyatt, Starwood Preferred Guest, Ritz-Carlton, and Marriott are just a few of the hotel chains with cards.

But did you know that some hotels have multiple cards? For example, American Express has a Hilton HHonors Surpass card with a different set of perks and benefits.

If it’s the best deal you’re looking for, then it’s important to break every hotel rewards card down into different categories you can compare.

In this review, we’ll help you see what this card’s short-term benefits are, what its long-term benefits are and what other travelers are saying about this card.

We’ll wrap up with our final thoughts on this card, comparing it to a few others and giving a good sense of where this card stands amid the competition.

The Hilton HHonors Reserve Card’s Short-Term Benefits

So, think of the HHonors Reserve’s up-front perks as Citi’s way of getting you to sign up for their credit card.

They want to sweeten the pot just enough so that you’ll sign up, but not so much that they’ll lose money if you decide not to keep your card after the first year.

The HHonors Reserve Card’s Two Free Nights

If you can spend $2,500 within four months of being accepted for the card, Hilton will give you two free weekend night certificates.

These certificates can be cashed in for stays on weekend nights (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) at nearly all Hilton hotels around the world. Remember, the Hilton chain also includes:

  • DoubleTree
  • Embassy Suites
  • Hilton Garden Inn
  • Hampton Inn & Suites
  • Homewood Suites
  • Conrad
  • Canopy
  • Curio
  • Tapestry Collection

While the two free nights can be used at these brands, there are certain properties that are excluded, including the Embassy Suites at Waikiki, the Hilton Club in New York, several Hilton Grand Vacations properties and all Hampton hotels in China.

The Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card’s Long-Term Benefits

While the up-front perk of two free weekend nights is pretty interesting, the HHonors Reserve card’s long-term benefits will make you happy – or unsatisfied – over the next few years.

Citi’s Hilton Reserve card gives you four different benefits: Gold status, points bonuses, a free anniversary night and possible upgrade to Diamond status.

The HHonors Reserve Card’s Gold Status

Hilton, like many hotel chains, has a loyalty program that’s based on different tiers. The higher the tier, the more perks you get when you stay at a Hilton hotel.

If you get the Hilton HHonors Reserve card, you’ll get free Gold status. This level of membership is permanent as long as your Reserve card is open.

Gold status gets you the following perks:

  • 25% bonus on points you earn (more on that later)
  • 5th night free when you book five rewards nights
  • Discount on bookings
  • Digital check-in
  • Complimentary internet
  • Late check-out
  • Two complimentary bottles of water per stay
  • Welcome gift: bonus points or food/beverage

The HHonors Reserve Points Bonuses

Aside from certain purchases like poker chips and traveler’s checks, you’ll earn Hilton HHonors points for every dollar you spend with your card. Those points are deposited to your HHonors account and can be redeemed for free hotel nights.

Here’s an explanation of the three bonus categories (PPD = points per dollar):

  • 10 PPD on purchases made at Hilton hotels
  • 5 PPD on airline and car rental purchases
  • 3 PPD on everything else

We check with the Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers for the average yearly bills of a three-person American family and found that there’s a good chance you can spend at least $24,000 on your card per year.

Not counting any airline/car rental or Hilton purchases, that’s 72,000 points a year. Remember, though, you get a 25% bonus on your points because of your Gold status, so you’ll actually get 90,000 points.

How Far Will Your HHonors Points Take You?

So 90,000 points sounds like a lot, right? But how much are Hilton hotels? That’s the real question – 90,000 points doesn’t do you any good if hotels are 90,000 points a night.

When we did research on the cost of Hilton hotels for our Best Hotel Rewards Card of 2017 article and found the following chart:

  • Category 1: 7,500
  • Category 2: 12,500
  • Category 3: 25,000
  • Category 4: 30,000
  • Category 5: 35,000
  • Category 6: 40,000
  • Category 7: 50,000

Category 1 hotels are usually the lowest quality and less desirable locations, while Category 7 hotels are high quality in great locations.

However, this is a fluid list. For example, we searched a weekend stay in Savannah, GA, and results showed hotels ranging in price from 31,000 points to 46,000 points. As you can see, these points totals don’t match the rewards chart.

Our guess is that Hilton adjusts hotel prices based on season and demand.

Chances are you aren’t going to book a Category 1 hotel in the U.S. – there are only two. So, plan on booking at least a Category 2 hotel. With the 5th Night Free promotion, you can get one five-night stay and a two-night stay. Seven free nights: not bad.

Free Night on HHonors Reserve Cardmember Anniversary

Hilton will give you a free weekend night certificate on your cardmember anniversary if you can spend $10,000 in one year, which is pretty easy based on the numbers we talked about in the previous section.

Free HHonors Diamond Status Upgrade

If you can spend $40,000 in one year, Hilton will upgrade you to Diamond Status in that same year and for the year to come.

Diamond status gives you all the perks of Gold status, plus guaranteed room availability at least 48 hours before you arrive and a 50% bonus on all the points you earn.

Visa Signature Shopping & Travel Benefits

The Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve is a Visa Signature card, which means Visa will give you a series of insurance-style protections on things you purchase for shopping or travel.

These benefits each have their own limitations and restrictions, so it’s important to read through the benefits guide Citi sends with your card.

In the meantime, we’ll give you a brief overview of some of those benefits:

  • Global car rental insurance
  • Insurance for trip cancellation/interruption
  • Lost baggage insurance
  • Zero liability on fraudulent purchases
  • Automatic extended warranty on certain items
  • Return protection up to 90 days after purchase

As we said a few seconds ago, the payouts and limitations on each of these benefits are different, so make sure you read through your benefits guide.

The Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card’s Rates and Fees

This section is an overview of what Citi will charge you if you make a late payment or you don’t pay off your balance in full every month.

APR: Annual Percentage Rate

Like most credit cards, the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve has several different APRs, which is the interest rate you’re charged if you don’t pay off your balance in full every month.

Your APR for purchases and balance transfers is 15.99%, which means Citi divides that percentage by the number of days in the month.

They take that tiny percentage rate and multiply it by your daily balance during the month. They total up the results and that’s the interest you pay for the month.

If you want to use your credit card to withdraw money from your credit account, it’s called a cash advance and the APR is 25.99%.

The third type of APR you get with this card is a penalty APR, which is 29.99% and is applied to your account if you make a late payment or a payment is returned. Once you do either of these things, your APR for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances will be 29.99%. According to Citi’s terms and conditions, “the Penalty APR may apply indefinitely.”

Other Fees and Rates

There are two fees you need to know about: the Citi HHonors Reserve’s $95 annual fee you pay every year and the $35 you’ll pay if you’re late on a balance of more than $250.

Also keep in mind that Citi will charge you the greater of 3% or $10 for a balance transfer.

Pro tip: Set up automatic bill pay for your card and you’ll never have to worry about paying late.

What Other People Are Saying About the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card

Over the past 10 years, credit card rewards programs have become a pretty big deal. As a result, you can find reviews and comments on just about any credit card on the market right now.

Expert Reviews of the HHonors Reserve Card

Credit card experts pretty much agree that the HHonors Reserve Card is a great hotel rewards credit card. Here’s an overview of the scores we found during our research:

  • Value Penguin: 93%
  • NerdWallet: 3.9 stars
  • CreditCards.com: 4 stars
  • Credio: 91%
  • WalletHub: 4.1 stars

Some of the criticisms from these sites include the fact that Hilton’s redemption rates are high, that Hilton will sometimes adjust hotel redemption prices when it’s the busy season, and that the free weekend night certificates are only good for standard rooms.

Consumer Reviews of the Hilton HHonors Reserve Card

More than 160 reviewers on WalletHub gave the HHonors Reserve 2.9 stars. Several consumers said they like how the two weekend nights can be redeemed at high-priced hotels – a definite benefit of two nights instead of a certain amount of points.

Our Final Thoughts on the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card

The Hilton HHonors Reserve card offers two free weekend nights at most of their hotels, which is a deal equal to what you get with the Hyatt Visa card.

However, since the Reserve card gets you double points on all non-Hilton and car rental/airfare purchases, your year-end points total is much higher than the Hyatt card’s earning potential.

Now, while you can score seven free nights from regular spending and two free nights from your intro bonus, the HHonors Reserve card doesn’t give you nearly the points-earning potential of the American Express Hilton HHonors Surpass card.

The AmEx Surpass gets you three points for every dollar you spend on non-Hilton purchases and six points on every grocery store/restaurant/gas purchases.

The card also has an introductory bonus of 100,000 points, too. So, at the end of your first year, it’s quite possible you could earn more than 50,000 points on groceries/restaurants/gas and 60,000 points on all other purchases.

Add in the 100K bonus and you’re looking at more than 200,000 points your first year. That’s incredible, and the options you have for booking hotels is almost endless.

However, the AmEx Surpass card has a caveat: It’s usually reserved for people with excellent credit.

So, if you have credit scores below 720, your chances of getting this card are lower than if your scores were above 720. If you find yourself in the low 700s, the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve may be a better option for you.

If you’ve got great credit scores, the AmEx HHonors Surpass is an excellent choice and gives you some pretty incredible earnings potential.

Either way, it’s always important to remember that good credit scores get you the best offers. Read through our comprehensive guide to credit scores to understand what goes into your score and what you need to do to put yourself on a path to good scores.

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