If you travel frequently and are interested in earning points to redeem for stays at Hilton’s family of hotels, car rentals, vacations, or experiences, you may be familiar with the Hilton HHonors program. The Hilton HHonors program awards its members on eligible purchases with at least 3 HHonors Bonus Points per dollar spent and up to 10 HHonors Bonus Points per dollar spent on hotel stays within the Hilton HHonors portfolio*. The program is designed for frequent travelers, and as of today, new holders of the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card can take advantage of a big sign-up bonus: two weekend nights at a Hilton hotel.
Limited-time bonus: two weekend night stays
After spending at least $2,500 in purchases on the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card within the first four months of account opening, the HHonors program will send the cardholder two certificates, each good for one weekend night at most Hilton hotels. The only hotels not included are Waldorf Astoria locations that don’t offer regular-rate rooms. You’ll receive the certificates six to eight weeks after you’ve achieved the qualification threshold, and they will expire one year after they are issued.
If you continue to spend $10,000 on the card each year, you’ll receive one certificate for a weekend night stay on the anniversary of your card membership.
Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card cost and benefits
The Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card is a Visa Signature card, offering the amenities that come from this tier of credit cards. Like many other Visa Signature cards, the benefits like concierge service come with a cost. There is an annual fee of $95. The fee is not normally waived for the first year of membership.
International travelers will be pleased that this card does not charge additional transaction fees for purchases in foreign countries. Additionally, the card includes a chip that makes it compatible with the technologically superior point-of-sale card acceptance devices in Europe. Worldwide, an increasing number of merchants are no longer accepting credit cards with magnetic strips in favor of cards with microchips. These often require the cardholder to enter a PIN instead of a signature, similar to the debit card system in the United States.
All purchases are charged a variable rate of 15.24% APR and cash advances are charged a variable 25.24% APR. There is no introductory period with lower interest rates for purchases, transfers, or cash advances.
There are other fees holders of the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card should be aware of: a balance transfer fee of 3% or $5, whichever is greater and a cash advance fee of 5% or $10, whichever is greater and a late payment fee of up to $35.
Hilton HHonors Rewards program
For frequent travelers, a reward program based on points can be more valuable than a cash back rewards program. For that to be the case, you’ll need to make as much use out of the proprietary rewards as possible.
In terms of accumulating points, Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card holders earn 10 HHonors bonus points for every dollar spent on stays at hotels part of the Hilton HHonors portfolio. That includes Hampton, Embassy Suites, Doubletree, Conrad, and Waldorf Astoria in addition to hotels with Hilton in the name. The program provides 5 HHonors Bonus Points for every dollar spent with airlines and on car rental services. All other eligible spending earns 3 HHonors Bonus Points for every dollar spent. On the surface, this seems to be a better deal than the average rewards in cash back programs, usually around 1 percent to 2 percent, but the key to the program’s value is only understood by looking at how the HHonors Bonus Points can be redeemed.
The rate at which cardholders earn points differs depending on the card owned. Cardholders of the Citi Hilton HHonors Card (no “Reserve” in the title) earn a smaller number of HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar.
Hilton HHonors is somewhat flexible with their redemption program, allowing two-way conversions of their HHonors Bonus Points with various airline miles programs, but there is no good way to convert HHonors Bonus Points directly into cash. For the most part, you’ll need to spend or convert HHonors Bonus points to redeem their value.
The Hilton HHonors shopping mall offers electronics, accessories like purses, and entertainment such as a Kentucky Derby package for two (if you have nearly 4.5 million HHonors Bonus Points handy). To get an idea of the value of each point in terms of shopping, a Canon Pixma Office all-in-one printer goes for 95,500 HHonors Bonus Points. The listing does not present the printer’s model number, but the image matches the Canon PIXMA MX512 Wireless Color Photo Printer with Scanner, Copier and Fax, sold for $108.00 on Amazon.com currently, with a retail price of $149.99.
To use your HHonors Bonus Points for hotel stays, which will for most people be the main purpose of earning points in this program, the redemption rate is determined by the class of hotel where you’d like to stay. Hotel categories range from class 1 to class 7, so one night can cost anywhere from 7,500 HHonors Bonus Points to 50,000 points. Some Waldorf Astoria locations, depending on the time of the year, can cost as much as 60,000 HHonors Bonus Points for one night’s stay.
Owners of this card are granted membership in the Hilton HHonors program with gold status for as long as they are holders of the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card. Gold status sits just beneath diamond status and above silver status and provides a 25% bonus on HHonors Bonus Points earned and complimentary access to high-speed internet throughout Hilton’s properties as well as the highest speed offered in properties where there are speed options.
If these benefits are worthwhile to you and your traveling needs, apply for the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card.
Updated May 10, 2013 and originally published August 7, 2012. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @flexo on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.