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Citi and Hilton are launching a new Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Visa Signature Card with new spending bonuses and elite benefits. (Note: It is not replacing the current Citi Hilton Visa Signature card, which will still be available).
Rather than a sign-up points bonus, however, when new cardmembers spend $2,500 within the first four months of cardmembership, they’ll receive two certificates for weekend night stays at any of Hilton’s 3,800 properties worldwide, except certain Waldorf Astorias they haven’t specified, and all-inclusive and Hilton Grand Vacation properties.
Our contributor attended a launch event in New York last Thursday where Hilton Director of Communications, Scott Carman, said, “The benefits of this card to a cardholder are extraordinary, and they will find so many fantastic ways to maximize the card at our properties.”
Here are the card details:
-Two weekend-night stay certificates after a minimum spend of $2,500 during the first 4 months of cardmembership
-One free anniversary weekend-night stay certificate when cardmember spends $10,000 or more annually
-10 Hilton HHonors points per $1 spent on hotel stays within the 3,800 properties in the Hilton HHonors Portfolio in addition to base points normally earned for stays
-5 Hilton HHonors points per $1 spent on airline and car rental purchases
-3 Hilton HHonors point per $1 spent on all other purchases
-Automatic HHonors Gold Status plus an upgrade to HHonors Diamond Status when you make $40,000 or more in eligible purchases in a year
-No foreign transaction fees
-Access to Visa Signature Concierge 24/7
-Access to the best in music, sports, family entertainment and dining through Citi Private Pass
-$95 annual fee
There are a couple interesting features to this card, so let’s take a quick look at what it all means, though you should also take a look at our post comparing Hilton credit cards for a better idea of how this one stacks up, and we’ll have our Hilton contributor take a more detailed look at this new card and its benefits in the coming weeks.
Rather than a bonus points sign-up offer, Citi and Hilton have decided to provide two weekend-night certificates at any Hilton property worldwide including Waldorf Astoria hotels. In the Hilton could be worth anywhere from 15,000 points—for Category 1 properties—up to 100,000 points for Category 7 properties and Waldorf Astoria properties in low season, though possibly more if you can secure a weekend award night during a property’s high season. Those two free nights could also equate to thousands of dollars in value if cardholders use them at some of Hilton’s highest-end properties like the Grand Wailea in Hawaii, or the Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria. Weekend nights are Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The current Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature card offers just 40,000 points, though you would just have to spend $1,000 in four months to earn the bonus. The Hilton Amex offers 40,000 points after $750 in spend within 3 months. This offer even beats the Hilton Amex Surpass card, which awards a sign-up bonus of 40,000 points and an additional 20,000 points after $3,000 in spend within three months.
Cardholders will get 10 bonus points for every $1 spent on hotel stays within the 3,800 properties in the Hilton HHonors Portfolio (all 10 of their brands ranging from the Waldorf Astoria to Homewood Suites), 5 bonus points for every $1 spent on airline and car rental purchases and 3 bonus points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
Currently, the only card that compares in Hilton spending bonuses is the Surpass card, with 9 points per $1, while the regular Hilton Amex and the current Citi Visa Signature only offer 6 points per $1 spent.
The regular Citi Hilton Visa also only offers 3 points per $1 at supermarkets, gas stations and drug stores, and 2 points per $1 on everything else. Both Hilton Amexes offer 6 points on supermarkets, gas stations and drugstores as well as phone, cable, satellite and internet bills, then 3 points per $1 on everything else.
The spending bonus categories revolve around travel for the new card–so it seems to be aimed at Hilton’s high-end frequent stayers–but the 3 points for every $1 on everyday purchases is at least on a par with the three other cards, though if your major expenses are at supermarkets, gas stations, drugstores and on utility expenses like internet and phone, you’d earn more with another card.
In addition to the individual spending bonuses, cardholders who spend $10,000 annually get an anniversary free weekend-night certificate as well that can be used at any property, adding potentially a lot more value to having this card in your wallet if you spend that night at one of the chain’s high-end properties around the world.
The one shortcoming of this card is that both Amexes, the regular and the Surpass, earn 500 points every time you book a stay through a Hilton website, whereas there are no online booking bonuses with the Reserve.
This card offers automatic Hilton HHonors Gold status with perks like a 25% bonus on base points, complimentary room upgrades (and executive club lounge access if the upgrade is to an executive club room), the choice of 1,000 bonus points at check-in or complimentary continental breakfast for two daily, free internet access, and GLON reduced-rate redemption opportunities. Cardholders also receive Diamond status when they spend $40,000 annually, conferring a host of additional perks including a 50% bonus on all base points, free internet, a dedicated reservations center, room upgrades, access to the executive club lounge regardless of whether they are upgraded to a club room, 1,000 bonus HHonors points, complimentary continental breakfast daily for two, and other welcome amenities.
The elite status conferred by having this card blows the other offerings away since the only other card that offers Gold status is the Surpass, and that’s only for the first year—after that it’s Silver, though you can retain Gold after spending $20,000 within a year or Diamond status by spending $40,000 annually (same as this new card). The Citi Hilton Visa and the Hilton Amex grant automatic Silver status, and only the Amex elevates cardholders to Gold after spending $20,000 within a year.
AXON and GLON Redemptions
Hilton HHonors cardholders and elite members have access to two discounted award rates.
The first are GLON awards, which is available to HHonors elite members, and thus holders of any Hilton credit card that confers status. Four-night stay: 15% off standard reward rate. Five-night stay: 20% off standard reward rate. Six-night stay or longer: 25% off standard reward rate.
However, Amex cardholders can also redeem at AXON award rate for stays of four-night intervals, which are sometimes discounted more than GLON awards. However, because the new Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Visa Signature is not an Amex, cardholders won’t be able to redeem for AXON awards.
This card does carry a $95 annual fee, while the only other Hilton card with one is the Surpass, which has a $75 annual fee, so if you’re concerned about keeping your annual fee low, consider another card. However, you can more than make up for the value of the $95 fee with a well chosen redemption for those two free weekend-night certificates.
If Hilton is your main hotel program and your points strategy revolves around HHonors points, this card could actually be a great companion to the regular Hilton American Express, which charges no annual fee. Cardholders could use the Amex at gas stations, grocery stores, pharmacies, and on phone/internet/cable/wireless bills for the 6 points per dollar bonus; and then use this new Citi card basically everywhere else, including Hilton stays, and have automatic HHonors Gold status with no spending requirements. Plus, they’d still have access both to AXON and GLON redemption discounts but also enjoy all of the benefits that this new card offers.