The Hilton chain of hotels is one of the largest in the world with more than 4,200 hotels in 93 countries. That makes it’s rewards program Hilton HHonors and associated credit cards quite helpful. I’ve reviewed the American Express HiltonHhonors card (here) and there is a direct competitor from Citibank, the Hilton HHonors Visa Signature card. While I have known about the card for a long time, I’m considering to get it due to the very high sign-up bonus of currently 75,000 points – that’s 50% more than the best bonus on that card (or the Amex)! Should you get it? Read on!
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The HiltonHHonors card from Citibank is one of the few rewards cards without an annual fee AND with status in a hotel program – here is a summary:
- Sign-up bonus of 75,000 points, worth about US$300, after spending $2,000 in three months – that’s a great bonus, although it comes at a high minimum spend
- Earn Points for Spend
You earn 6 points per US$ spent at Hilton, 3 points/$ spent at supermarkets, drugstores and gas stations and 2 points/$ on everything else. At a value of 0.4 cents/point, that’s an earnings rate of 0.8 to 2.4 cents – not a lot compared to other rewards card and less than the similar AmEx Hilton
- HHonors Silver status; fast track to Gold after $20,000 annual spend
- HHonors points can be redeemed for stays at Hilton hotels or transferred to a long list of partners, including airlines, car rental companies and railroads.
- HHonors points can be transferred to other members, making it great for couples, families and friends
- Visa Signature travel and shopping protection (better than average)
- no annual fee, foreign exchange fee of 3%, EMV chip & signature
The sign-up bonus is the key attraction here. While it’s not enough for even one night at a top Hilton property (that requires 95,000 points/night!!), it does get you several nights at category 1 (5,000 points/night or 15 nights) or category 2 (10,000 p/night or 7+ nights). You should not get too excited about category 1 – there is only a handfull of those worldwide! I will be staying at one of them, the Hampton Inn Krakow, Poland, later this year! I consider the lower level Hilton hotels the best award value, not their top end!
The foreign exchange fee of 3% makes this a no-go for travel abroad – the fee eats up any reward points you might get! While similar to the AmEx Hilton, it’s just a poor choice for any travel card in my book!
HHonors Silver status is one step up from the regular “Blue” members and gives you a bonus of 15% on earning points, a 5th night free on award reservations, complimentary access to hotel gyms and two bottles of water – that’s not a whole lot of perks, but better than nothing. I have held this card for many years and will continue to do so – these benefits being one key reason. Given the low earn rates, I wouldn’t recommend putting $20,000 spend per year on this card – if you want Gold status, I’d suggest the Citibank Hilton Reserve card instead!
The Visa card has excellent worldwide accpetance and my experience with Citibank customer service in general is good – I’d rank it just below AmEx, but ahead of Chase or Capital One.
If you are just starting out with miles & points and are uncomfortable with credit cards carrying annual fees, the HHonors card from Citibank is not a bad starting point. You get good customer service, status with the Hilton rewards program, and a great sign-up bonus – all without an annual fee. You can find all the details on the card here and the sign-up bonus here. Even if you don’t plan on spending a lot of money on this card past the minimum spend, I’d consider signing up for the card just for the bonus.
I’d prefer the Citibank Hilton card over the AmEx Hilton card right now, just because of the sign-up bonus. You can sign up for it and find all the details here! If you don’t mind and annual fee, the Citibank Hilton Reserve card is a better bet with two free nights, Gold Status and currently a $100 statement credit (giving you essentially one year without a card fee). Hilton is one of the largest hotel chains in the world. While its rewards program has lost a lot of fans after a number of big devaluations, it’s still a program worth participating in. If you do, one of the Hilton credit cards should be in your wallet and you have plenty of options to choose from.