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What Happens to Citi HHonors Reserve Card Sign-up Bonus Now

Feb. 21, 2013
5 min read
What Happens to Citi HHonors Reserve Card Sign-up Bonus Now
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If you are (or were) a fan of the Hilton HHonors program, then you are probably already familiar with the Citi HHonors Reserve Card that came out in the middle of 2012. If you are like me, you are also curious about what impact the recent HHonors changes are on this card since some of the benefits are tied to hotel categories that have now changed.

First, here are the basics about this card and the sign-up bonus:

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  • Earn 2 weekend night certificates good at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton HHonors portfolio after $2,500 in eligible purchases within 4 months of account opening*
  • Earn 10 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on hotel stays within the Hilton HHonors portfolio*
  • Earn 5 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on airline and car rental purchases*
  • Earn 3 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases*
  • Enjoy the benefits of HHonors Gold status as long as you are a cardmember*
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases*
  • Travel with ease and enjoy global acceptance with your Citi chip credit card
  • Earn an anniversary bonus of 1 weekend night certificate at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton HHonors portfolio each cardmembership year with qualifying purchases*

If you read the fine print, you see that the two weekend night certificates that come with the sign-up bonus 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. Weekend night certificate is valid at participating hotels in the Hilton HHonors portfolio for twelve (12) months after the date of issuance, as noted on the certificate.

Up until the big HHonors changes from yesterday that increased the award chart from categories 1-7 to categories 1-10, the award nights that come with this card were good at almost all properties in the HHonors portfolio. The main exceptions were some time shares, all-inclusive places, and some Waldorf Astoria resorts that didn't offer standard rooms. My fear was that the free nights would still just be good at category 1-7 properties, thus excluding many of the high end properties that were now classified as categories 8-10.

So, I reached out to my contacts for this card yesterday and got the following answers:

  • The free night certificates can still be used at all of the same hotels that were outlined prior to this HHonors announcement.
  • The new category levels of 8-10 will not affect the usage of the two free weekend nights. The wording on the certificates will be updated to include that hotels within Categories 1 – 10 are valid for these certificates.
  • Hotels where the free night certificates can be used will not change as a result of the program updates announced on February 19, 2013. The free night certificates can still be used at all of the same hotels that were outlined prior to this HHonors announcement.

This is great news! This means that if you want to use your free nights at a property that is now up to 95,000 points per night, you are getting a ton of value from this sign-up bonus compared to the other Hilton sign-up bonuses that are available. Some examples of properties that can run as high as 95,000 points per night are Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort & Spa and Conrad Maldives Rangali Island. If you want to visit any of those properties (or any others that now cost a substantial number of points each night) using "free nights", then it makes much more sense to get award nights using the sign-up bonus with this card rather than just rely on spending up to 95,000 HHonors points per night!

For the purposes of this card, weekend nights are defined as Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, so if you and a partner both had the card you could use your free nights for a three-night long weekend. Of course, you could potentially add on additional nights using points or cash, if you wished.

Certainly the major changes to the HHonors program were bad news for many, especially for those who like to use their points for aspirational properties, but at least the sign-up bonus and annual free night from this card are still available to use at the top end Hilton properties that many of us would like to visit someday. I will note that while I consider the info I received about this card yesterday to be reliable, the official terms online have not been updated to reflect the category 1-10 language, so I do recommend keeping an eye on that verbiage yourself.