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Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card Review

By Christina Majaski

Reviewed by:
Rating:
4.5
On January 21, 2014
Last modified:May 6, 2014

citi hilton hhonors cardCredit cards offer a variety of rewards, from cash back, to points for merchandise, to airline miles and hotel stays. The Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card provides travel rewards to cardholders who frequent Hilton properties, with opportunities to turn purchases into free stays at hotels. With no annual fee and opportunities for multiple free nights at Hilton properties, the Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature is one of the best hotel rewards cards available.

Key Features

  • Sign-up Bonus. You receive 40,000 HHonors bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first four months of account opening, which is enough for eight nights at a Category 1 property.
  • Fees. There is no annual fee for the Citi Hilton HHonors Visa. The balance transfer fee is $5 or 3%, whichever is greater. There is a foreign transaction fee of 3%.
  • APR. The APR on balance transfers and purchases for the Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature card is 14.24%, based on your credit score and variations in the prime rate. A penalty APR of up to 29.99% may be applied to your account if you make a late payment or a payment is returned.
  • HHonors Points. The Citi Hilton HHonors Visa rewards purchases with HHonors points. You earn six HHonors points per dollar spent on hotel stays within the Hilton HHonors portfolio, three HHonors points per dollar spent at supermarkets, drugstores, and gas stations, and two HHonors points per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Membership Levels. The HHonors program has four membership levels: Blue, Silver, Gold, and Diamond. Based on your number of stays, nights, or base points, you achieve different tiers, and therefore different benefits. The first is the Blue tier. To reach Silver, you generally need either four stays or 10 nights in a calendar year. To get to Gold status, you need 20 stays, 40 nights, or 75,000 points, and Diamond status requires 30 stays, 60 nights, or 120,000 base points. Cardholders automatically receive Silver status.
  • No Preset Spending. The Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature allows some of the flexibility you might experience with a charge card. You are able to exceed your revolving credit line, but are required to pay the excess in full each month.
  • Citi Price Rewind. Citi Price Rewind is a program offered with the Citi Hilton HHonors Visa. It tracks prices for online vendors for purchases made with the card. After you register your purchase with the program, competing online prices are tracked for a period of 30 days. If a lower price of at least $25 is found, you receive a refund of the difference. These refunds are limited, however, to $250 per item and $1,000 per calendar year.

Advantages

  1. No Annual Fee. It is rare for a rewards card, especially a hotel credit card, to not impose an annual fee. For example, the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Card has an annual fee of $85, and the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Card has an annual fee of $65. Although both cards waive these fees for the first year, the Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature card never charges one.
  2. 40,000 Bonus Points. When you spend $1,000 in the first four months of opening your account, you receive 40,000 bonus Hilton HHonors points. This is enough for eight nights (at 5,000 points each) in a Category 1 hotel, or one night in a Category 8 hotel (which start at 40,000 points per night). Category 2 properties start at 10,000 points, all the way up to Category 10 properties which range from 70,000 to 95,000 points. This is one of the best sign-up offers by a hotel credit card currently available.
  3. Earn Bonus HHonors Points on Other Purchases. Not only do you earn six HHonors points for each dollar spent on Hilton purchases, but you also earn three HHonors points per dollar spent at supermarkets, drugstores, and gas stations, and two HHonors points per dollar spent on all other purchases. Similar credit cards reward bonus points for hotel purchases, but very few (if any) reward triple points on supermarket and gas purchases – and there are virtually no other cards that reward more than one point on “everything else” purchases.
  4. HHonors Points Do Not Expire. As long as you either earn HHonors points through participating partners, stay in a Hilton HHonors portfolio hotel, or purchase HHonors points – all within a period of 12 consecutive months – your HHonors points do not expire. In addition, there are no restrictions or blackout dates when you redeem points for standard rooms.
  5. Automatic HHonors Silver Status. Generally, Silver status requires four stays or 10 nights in a calendar year, but you are automatically upgraded from Blue to Silver when you become a cardholder. Benefits of Silver status include a 15% elite status bonus on all HHonors base points earned, late checkouts, complimentary bottled water, and complimentary access to fitness centers and health clubs. Silver, Gold, and Diamond members also receive every fifth night free on standard room reward stays of five nights or more.
  6. Earn Gold Status Faster. Gold status usually requires 20 stays, 40 nights, or 75,000 points, but as a cardmember you can gain Gold status with only four stays within the first 90 days of opening your account. A “stay” is defined as the time from check-in to check-out, regardless of how many nights you’re there. Gold status includes benefits such as a 25% elite status bonus on all HHonors base points earned, high-speed Internet, and, depending on the property, extra amenities. As an example of what is offered, Waldorf Astoria Hotels provide either 1,000 HHonors bonus points per stay or an in-room movie. You are able to remain at the Gold level for the remainder of the calendar year in which it was earned, as well as the subsequent calendar year. After that, you have to qualify with stays, nights, or points in order to maintain the Gold level.
  7. Choose From Many Hilton Properties. Included in the portfolio of Hilton properties are the Hilton Garden Inn, Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn, Waldorf Astoria hotels, and many others, all of which are available in a wide range of prices. You likely won’t have any problems finding a property at which you can redeem your rewards.

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Disadvantages

  1. No Promotional APR. Many rewards cards offer introductory APRs of 0% for a limited time on purchases or balance transfers, and sometimes both. The Citi Hilton HHonors card does not offer a promotional APR.
  2. High APR. If you do not intend on paying your balance in full most of the time, you should choose a credit card that offers a lower interest rate instead of rewards. In order to fully maximize the rewards potential of the Citi Hilton HHonors card, you should pay your balance in full, thus avoiding interest payments.
  3. Foreign Transaction Fees. Citi cards generally carry a 3% foreign transaction fee, which is the highest you’re going to find on a credit card. If you travel frequently outside of the United States, this is not the card you want to use for purchases, and you should instead choose one of the available credit cards with no foreign transaction fees, such as a Discover card, Capital One card, or certain hotel cards such as the Chase Hyatt Card and the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Card.

Final Word

The Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature card has no annual fee and offers one of the best rewards opportunities for a hotel credit card. If you frequent Hilton properties, you are able to earn a significant amount of points which are easily transferred into free nights. You are also able to earn points with everyday purchases.

However, if you don’t frequent Hilton properties, you should instead choose a credit card that rewards purchases in other ways, either with cash back, merchandise, or gift cards. Additionally, because of the foreign transaction fee, the Citi Hilton HHonors card is not ideal for those who travel frequently outside of the United States.

Verdict

The Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card offers opportunities to earn rewards, as well as one of the best sign-up bonuses available on any no-annual-fee rewards credit card.

Score

4.5 out of 5 stars: Most hotel credit cards include annual fees and provide the same, if not fewer, rewards opportunities than the Citi Hilton HHonors Visa, which also provides one of the best sign-up bonuses available.

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Editorial Disclosure: This content is not provided or commissioned by any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, or airline. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Christina Majaski
Christina Majaski has written for online and print publications since 2003 on topics related to personal finance, legal matters, parenting, and careers. She lives in the Minnesota tundra, where in her free time she enjoys reading, writing, interacting via social media, and hanging out with her daughter.

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