Throughts on the New Citi HHonors Hilton Reserve Card

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Over the last few weeks those who follow several blogs in the miles and points world have likely noticed some hints mentioned related to a new card that would soon be debuted.  Some of those hints were surrounded by a bunch of excitement about the new card.  Given the level of excitement about the card from those who had been given some advance into about the product, I was pretty exited as well!  New cards are good for everyone since no one has had them, so pretty much anyone with good credit can jump in and enjoy the sign-up bonus and other benefits.

Application Link: Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card

Yesterday the mystery card was revealed to be the new Citi HHonors Reserve card.  I spent a good part of the day trying to decide what I thought about the card.  I even posed a question on Twitter to see what others were thinking about the bonus and other related benefits.  The responses I got back, for the most part, mirror what I was thinking.  For me, I’m not sure that the card totally lived up to the hype I felt from others before the announcement.  However, that might have just been my own unrealistic hopes and expectations taking over.  I mean, what did I expect?  Free stays in a suite for life and a chef to cook me breakfast in bed at home twice a week?  Those would be great sign-up bonuses though!  While the card may not have lived up to the fantasy I created in my mind, it is still a very solid offer – at least for the first year.

Here are the main details:

  • Sign-up bonus of two weekend night certificates after spending $2,500 in purchases within the first four months of card membership.
  • An annual weekend night certificate good at more than 3,800 hotels and resorts within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio after $10,000 in annual purchases.
  • Elite Hilton HHonors Gold status as long as you have the card, which offers special benefits including HHonors point bonuses, free high-speed wireless, free breakfast at properties where it isn’t already included, potential executive lounge access and more.  Read more about Gold benefits here.
  • Top Tier Hilton HHonors Diamond status if you spend $40,000 on the card in a calendar year.
  • The weekend night certificates are valid for one (1) weekend night standard accommodation at category 1-7 hotels and select Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, subject to availability and excluding All-Inclusive or Hilton Grand Vacation properties. Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts that do not offer standard rooms are excluded.  (that basically means the nights are valid at most hotels in the Hilton family, but there are a few exceptions)
  • 10 HHonors Bonus points for each $1 spent on hotels stays within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio of brands, in addition to base points normally earned for stays.
  • 5 HHonors Bonus Points for every $1 spent on airlines and car rental purchases.
  • 3 HHonors Bonus Points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Advanced chip technology (can be somewhat useful overseas).
  • No foreign purchase transaction fees.
  • $95 annual fee not waived the first year.

As I said on Twitter yesterday, it is hard to kick a “two free nights” gift horse in the mouth.  I know some wish that the nights didn’t have the weekend restriction and/or were points instead of nights so that they could be potentially stretched further.  I don’t mind that they are nights instead of points since I would just plan on using them at a high-end property, but the weekend restriction is a little bit of a bummer since you and a partner then can’t both get the card and string together four free nights in a row somewhere.  The spending requirement is reasonable to obtain the two free nights, and requiring annual spending to trigger the anniversary bonus of one free night is something that I bet we will see more and more of.  That said, unless you are a big spender, it will be tough to divert that much spending to one card just for an anniversary bonus.

The points per dollar awarded at Hilton hotels are great, and the other categories are okay, but there are other Hilton cards out there with some pretty solid category bonuses as well.  In fact, I just wrote about some category bonuses for the Hilton HHonors Amex.  I do like that the card comes with no foreign transaction fees so that you can use it at the Hilton family of hotels around the world.  For those who are newer to Hilton, that includes Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, Hilton, DoubleTree, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn, Homewood Suites, and Home 2 Suites by Hilton.

I would highly recommend planning to use the free nights at the higher end hotels in order to get more value from them.  While there are some fantastic international redemptions that I am sure other sites will touch on, I would be very interested in using mine at the Hilton Waikoloa Hotel in Hawaii, or perhaps one of the Hiltons in New York City such as the Conrad New York or Waldorf Astoria.  Though right now the photo of the Hilton Waikoloa below makes me lean very strongly toward Hawaii!

There are many credit cards out there that can give you Hilton points.  Those cards are primarily issued by Amex (here and here) and Citibank (here and the new card announced in this post).  However, you can also convert Virgin Atlantic points received from that Bank of America card to HHonors points on a 1:2 ratio.  What this means is it shouldn’t be too hard to piece together a good sized free Hilton vacation for your family by choosing your credit cards wisely. Obtaining the new Citi HHonors Reserve card can be just the beginning of your free nights with Hilton!

In addition to the free nights, I think that the Gold status provided by this card that provides breakfast for two, free internet, possible lounge access, etc is a good benefit for traveling families.  I’m not sure whether it is enough to keep the card long term, but I am sure that it does make sense for some who have several stays a year in Hilton hotels.

Regardless of how long you decide to keep the card, I do think it makes sense for many to try this card out and enjoy the two free weekend nights.  Whether or not this card lived up to the hype is debatable, but regardless it is still a card that will make sense for many people to add to their collection.  Remember, even though this card just provides two free weekend nights, it may just be the beginning of how you piece together your Hilton vacation!

 

Disclosure:  I do receive a commission if you are approved for the Citi HHonors Reserve card using my affiliate links.  None of the other cards linked in this post are my affiliate links, as I only use my links when they provide the best possible offer.  As always, thanks for your support!

 

Comments

  1. Where can I find a list of the hotels that are excluded from the free stay list? Also, does all spending at a Hilton property earn 10 points per dollar, or just hotel stays? Would food and beverage catering charges get the bonus as well (I’m planning my wedding at a Hilton!)?

  2. You can get 4 nts at Waikoloa for 145,000.
    (Axon reward)Also I love Waikoloa, and the Marriott is 25,000 per night book 4 nts and get 5th free.

  3. @indy – everything charged to your card by a Hilton hotel gets the 10 points per dollar.

    I haven’t seen an official list of excluded properties for the free night certificates. I’m told that all hotels with standard rooms are eligible. All-inclusive hotels are excluded. And hotels that are only suites/villas are excluded. In total, it’s somewhere around 35 hotels that are not eligible across the Hilton chain.

  4. I do believe a couple can string 3 free nights together, since i think they classify weekend as Friday-Sunday and the 2 nights do not have to be consecutive. Then just combine the 4th weekend night at another time with a points stay.

  5. It’s kind of ridiculous that they are not providing a definition of what they consider to be a weekend for the purposes of the card.

    Starwood free weekend nights from the nice choice promo are good Thursday through Sunday nights, over half the week, for example. I suspect that is more generous than Hilton/citi are doing, but not publishing is silly.

  6. Gary has some inside info, and he reports that Fri, Sat, and Sunday nights count. That would mean three nights were possible if a couple each got a card. I have an email in to get clarification on a couple more points as well.

  7. We are at the Hilton Waikoloa right now. Our 4th trip here. Best family hotel we’ve ever been to. Back on topic, I see this new card as a good companion to the regular Hilton Amex (non-surpass version). For us, the benefits of keeping the Amex include the AXON awards (huge), and the 6X points at drugstores and groceries, and no annual fee. Combine that with this Citi card that gives you gold for $95 with no minimum spending (free breakfast &internet) and no Forex. If you are a family that spends a moderate amount of time each year at Hilton’s (10-20 nts), having both cards seems like the way to go.

  8. The free weekend nights would be useful at the Grand Wailea on Maui, normally 80,000 points a night, maybe combined with an Axon on another island. But you’d almost have to plan a trip around visiting a Waldorf Astoria property to get the most value from the free weekend nights.

  9. Sine it’s a brand new product, my strategy is to wait. If this card does not have that many people to sign up, they may run a promotion, like statement credit, or waiving the 1st year fee.

    Another thing is, I’ll wait for Hilton to solicit me. Give it a couple months, watch any hilton email.

  10. Is there a deadline specified in your aff links for this cc offer? I am wondering if I can put this one off for early Jan 2013.

    I agree, after all the hype, what a letdown!

    2 thumbs up for the Hilton Waikoloa village. Little C deserves a trip there!! Stayed there when it was only 100k pts for 6 nights…that was many years and several devaluations ago!!

  11. I have not heard of any specific end date for this offer. It may be around for a long time as their standard offer, or it may not be. I don’t know at this point. I haven’t seen any “limited time” advertizing though.

    Glad so many of you all like Hilton Waikoloa. It is on our “list”. 😉

  12. @JoC – Received an e-mail from Hilton last night pitching me the new Citi HHonors Reserve card, and no, no special promotional offer.

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