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“Reader Questions” are answered twice a week — Mondays and Fridays — by TPG Senior Writer Julian Mark Kheel.
If you have either of the two existing Citi Hilton Honors credit cards… well, you won’t for much longer. That’s because Citi Hilton cards are being converted to Amex Hilton cards in January 2018. But, as TPG reader Klavs asked us in an email, what does that mean for the free night certificate you were previously able to earn with the Citi Hilton Honors Reserve card?
I have in the past taken advantage of the free night certificate you can earn after spending $10,000 in a year on the Citi Hilton Reserve card. Is it still possible to earn the free night and what is the cut off date to earn it?TPG Reader Klavs
The Citi Hilton Honors Reserve offers cardholders the chance to earn a free weekend night certificate when you spend $10,000 on the card within a cardmember year. The certificates can be used at nearly any Hilton in the world with just a few dozen exclusions, so they’re a popular feature of the card.
It’s no longer possible to get a Citi Hilton Honors Reserve card — applications for both Citi Hilton cards were quickly discontinued after American Express won the entire Hilton credit card portfolio in June. Existing Citi Hilton Reserve cards will be converted to the brand-new Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card in January, but for current Citi Hilton Reserve cardholders, it’s been an open question as to what will happen to their free night certificates for 2017.
Well, the official company representative for Hilton Honors on FlyerTalk has responded to this question, and the complete answer is complicated but instructive:
“The anniversary date will remain as the date you opened your Citi Reserve account. You will be able to earn two weekend night rewards: one by spending $10K that you would have earned through Citi and then a second if you spend $15K with the new Ascend card. The clock starts ticking on the $15K spend threshold on January 30 when the Ascend account goes live. So if you’ve already spent $8k on your Citi Reserve card for your 2017-2018 “card year” January 30 – once you spend $2K more, you will receive the email from Hilton Honors with your Citi Reserve weekend night reward. That $2K counts toward the $15K required to get the Ascend card weekend night reward.”
Let’s unpack this answer to understand exactly what it means. First, since the Citi Hilton Reserve free night certificate is based on spend in a cardmember (not calendar) year, the anniversary date of your card is important. In her answer, the Hilton representative is stating that when Citi Hilton cards are converted to Amex in January, your anniversary date won’t change to January — it’ll still be whenever you originally signed up for the Citi Hilton Honors Reserve card.
Then even after the conversion to Amex, you’ll still be able to complete the Citi Hilton Reserve $10,000 spend until your 2018 cardmember anniversary. So for instance, if you originally signed up for the Citi Hilton Reserve card in April 2015, you have between April 2017 and April 2018 to spend $10,000 to earn the free weekend night, even though your card will be an Amex Ascend starting in January 2018.
But the really great news here is that the new Hilton Honors American Express Ascend card also comes with a free night perk — you’ll get a weekend night certificate for spending $15,000 in a calendar year (note the difference — calendar, not cardmember). So if you have an existing Citi Hilton Reserve card, in 2018 you can go for both the Ascend free night certificate and the old Citi Hilton Reserve certificate.
That means folks with an anniversary date in November or December have the biggest advantage, because nearly all of their spend for 2017-18 will count toward both free nights at the same time. Cardmembers with earlier anniversary dates, such as February or March, are at a disadvantage since their timeframe for double spend will only overlap for the first month or two after their Citi Hilton Reserve cards are converted to Ascend cards in January.
Finally, if you have an early month anniversary and are considering spending the $10,000, earning the certificate and closing your Citi Hilton Reserve card before the conversion to Amex Ascend, make sure you keep this info in mind from the Hilton Honors representative:
“Confirmed with our partners that you will in fact be receiving this year’s Citi weekend reward from any spend met this year on your Citi anniversary date (and not 6-8 weeks after spend is met, as previously announced). If your Citi anniversary date is after January 30, 2018 (the day your Citi Reserve account transfers to the Amex Ascend account), you need to keep your Hilton Honors American Express Ascend card account open in order to receive the weekend night reward.”
So depending on which month your original Citi Hilton Reserve anniversary falls, you might have to wait for your card to be converted to Amex in order to get the free night certificate since it will arrive at the original anniversary, not immediately after you meet the $10,000 in spend.
Yes, it’s complicated, but with complexity comes opportunity, and if you have the right anniversary date and can put some spend on your Hilton credit card at the right time, you can really make this changeover work for you. Thanks for the question, Klavs, and if you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Featured image of the Hilton Phuket by Hilton.