A couple of weeks ago, we had the news that Citi will be losing their Hilton cards to an exclusive deal with Amex. I, along with many others, thought that the Citi Hilton cards would continue to be offered by Citi at least for a while longer. Well, they are, sort of. They are no longer on the Hilton site but some links have been found. If you were waiting to apply for a Citi Hilton card, now may be the last chance to do it!
Which Citi Hilton Card Should You Get?
But, which Citi Hilton card should you get?
There are actually three links available and one of them does not have the negative 24 month language in it (meaning you should be just fine opening an account using that link if you have already applied for a different Citi Hilton card in the last 24 months). Here are the links and what they are offering:
- Citi Hilton No-Fee | 50,000 Points | Cannot get the bonus if you have opened/closed any Citi Hilton card in the last 24 months
- Citi Hilton No-Fee | 40,000 Points | No 24-month language on this offer page, for now
- Citi Hilton Reserve | 2 Free Weekend Nights | Cannot get the bonus if you have opened/closed any Citi Hilton card in the last 24 months
Now, let’s look at the comparisons on these cards.
|Card Benefits||Hilton Reserve||No-Fee Hilton|
|Sign-up Bonus||2 Free Weekend Nights||50,000 Points|
|Minimum Spending||$2,500 in 4 Months||$1,000 in 90 Days|
|Points per $ at Hiltons||10 Points||6 Points|
|Bonus Categories||Airline & Car Rental||Supermarkets, Drugstores, & Gas Stations|
|Points per $ on Bonus Categories||5 Points||3 Points|
|Points per $ On All Spend||3 Points||1 Point|
|Anniversary Bonus||1 Weekend Night w/ $10K Spend in 1 Year||N/A|
Biggest Differences Between the Hilton Citi Cards?
One has an annual fee, and up front at that, and one does not. One awards customers with free weekend nights, the other with points. One gives Gold elite status (which includes breakfasts among other things) and one gives Silver elite status (mostly worth nothing). Finally, one is more awarding with spending and the other is just mediocre.
As you can see, the Hilton Reserve has some great benefits for only costing $95 per year. But, it will matter most what kind of Hilton stays you plan on getting with the bonus.
Should You Get the Hilton Reserve Card?
The chart below shows you how many points are required for a free night in each category (however, this award chart technically no longer exists). Remember, because it can be tied to the price of a room, the cost could actually go down in points, depending on the low price point.
|STANDARD ROOM REWARDS|
|HOTEL CATEGORY||Hilton Honors POINTS REQUIRED FOR ONE FREE NIGHT|
|4||20,000 to 30,000 Points|
|5||30,000 to 40,000 Points|
|6||30,000 to 50,000 Points|
|7||30,000 to 60,000 Points|
|8||40,000 to 70,000 Points|
|9||50,000 to 80,000 Points|
|10||70,000 to 95,000 Points|
Higher Category Redemptions
But, for now, if want to stay at a hotel that is at or above a Category 6, the Citi Hilton Reserve card would give you the better advantage. Unless you were staying in a Category 6-8 during low/off-peak periods, the no-fee Hilton card is only going to give you enough points for a single night at any hotel up to Category 6.
The Citi Hilton Reserve card gives 2 free weekend nights at just about any Hilton property. That means it has the potential of being worth as much as 190,000 Hilton points. Also, remember that it is only good for 1 year from the day of issue. But, it is only worth that much if you use it at Category 10 properties during peak periods. It is also only worth more than the no-fee Citi Hilton card if you are able to use it at the fullest without stretching yourself to get the full amount.
By this, I mean that it is far too easy to let the awards claim an abundance of miles just in an attempt to get value from it. For example, if the free weekend nights were going to expire, you may find yourself burning miles/money to get to a big city/far away land just to use them. Not the best way to take advantage of this bonus!
Finally, remember that these are good for weekend nights. That is not a problem for most of us (weekend being defined as Friday, Saturday or Sunday nights) but it is something to consider.
Should You Get the No-Fee Citi Hilton Card?
Points & Money
Even though the Citi Hilton Reserve has a lot of benefit, the no-fee Hilton card is still something to consider (though not as generous a bonus as a few months ago). With the new Hilton redemption system, you can use a mix of cash and points at a more variable rate than the current points and money redemption system allows. This means you could pay as much cash as you want for a given room and use the points you have to offset the points.
5th Night Free
Also, keep in mind that your 5th night is free (if you are a Silver, Gold, or Diamond member) on award redemptions. If you are collecting Hilton points, the no-fee Hilton card is a better option to give you the points you need to get to that free 5th night. Having points without a set expiration date can be very valuable since they are flexible.
Some of the greatest value with the Hilton hotels are mid-tier category redemptions. It can be amazing what you can find for 30,000 points or so. While they not be so glamorous as a Waldorf Astoria, they are still highly functional and can present incredible value based on location.
Strategy for Applying
With Citi, you can apply for a personal card with 8 days of separation between 2 applications. So, technically, you could apply for both the no-fee Citi Hilton card and the Citi Hilton Reserve card – if you use the correct links and order.
In order to make it work, you would have to apply for the Citi Hilton Reserve first and then 8 days later apply for the Citi Hilton no-fee offer above that only has 40,000 points. As of now, that offer does not have the 24 month language and you should be able to get both cards.
However, there is no guarantee these links will still be around then or that they will not change the language. So, if you were going for the Citi Hilton Reserve anyway, just go ahead and try to tack on the 40K Hilton Citi card after 8 days. But, if you would prefer the Citi Hilton no-fee and the 50,000 points, apply for that one only.
So, which Hilton Citi card should you get? If you are interested in flexibility, point/money mixed redemptions, longer stays, and mid-tier hotels, go for the no-fee Hilton Citi card. But, if you want the high-end, big city-on-the-weekend hotels, definitely go for the Hilton Reserve card.
I would say that, for most people, the ideal card for the most value will be the Hilton Reserve. When the no-fee Citi Hilton card is up at 75,000 points, it is a more difficult decision. But, in the end, you are paying $95 for 2 weekend nights at top tier locations, should you choose. However, if you are trying to build up your Hilton point balance as fast as you can, the no-fee card should be the one for you right now.
It is fantastic to have options and hopefully this post has helped you to narrow those options down a bit more for you.
Editorial Note - Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
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