Citi Hilton Reserve Card and Certificate Review

Best Reward Cards

Back in February, we were curious about the "2 weekend night certificates" offer from Citi Hilton Reserve Card.  $95 annual fee, $2500 spending requirement, redeem at Hilton hotel worldwide for standard room rate two nights all seemed achievable.  Two nights at Hilton would cost at least $300 including tax from our past experience. The "worldwide" redemption option includes Hilton Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Conrad Hilton which are two prestigious Hilton resorts available in Florida, London and Hong Kong for example.

Hilton Reserve Card reward certificates

We received the two Hilton certificates in mid-July. Fri, Sat, Sun are considered weekend.  I looked through the Hilton hotel category chart for hotel choices, and Hilton hotel standard room rates for HHonor point ranges.  (Recommend to consider hotel categories at least 4 or above)

I would rate this card 4.5 out of 5.0 because of the following.

  • $95 for two weekend Hilton night stays is a good price, considering typical rate at a decent hotel stay around $120 at least.
  • The certificates can redeem standard rooms at participating Waldorf Astoria and Conrad hotels worldwide, which may require 80,000 Hilton HHonor points per night.  Some hotel stays may be cheaper in money payment than redeemed by HHonor points, probably those hotels do not prefer HHonor points redemption.  For example, one night at Waldorf Astoria at Orlando prices $224.  One night at Hilton Garden Inn at Napa prices $260 but asks for only 50,000 HHonor points.  I suggest to use Hilton certificates to redeem only those standard rooms which require more than 50,000 HHonor points per night.

Waldorf Astoria at Orlando Disney

  • Hilton Reserve Card earns you Hilton Gold Status for at least 12 months for $95, and 10x for each dollar spent at Hilton Hotel.  For example, the Gold status made Wi-Fi service complimentary at our stay in Embassy Suites Hotel near Monterey Beach.  $250 spent at Embassy became 2500 Hilton HHonor points.  If $250 standard room can be redeemed by 50,000 HHonor points, 2500 points is worth about $12.5 or 5% rebate.

  • Certificate expire one year from issue.
  • Annual fee $95 can not be waived. Certificate is received via email about 5 months from the day the card is approved, and spending requirements are met.  We met the spending requirement in the first 2 months, but the certificate was received on the fifth month.  As a result, we have only 7 months to consider where and when to redeem the certificates, if we do not want to pay $95 fee again.
  • Certificate redemption require Hilton Reserve Card to be present the day of the hotel stays. In other words, we should not cancel the credit card until the certificates are redeemed.
  • Certificate can redeem only standard rate room, which may be unavailable during peak seasons or unavailable when near travel dates for certain Hilton hotels.
  • People who live in the West Coast, for example, California, may find only a couple redeem-worthy hotels.  Living in East Coast such as Floria would not have this issue, because of availability of several Waldorf Astoria.  One would not want to use the certificate to redeem a low-category Hotel hotel room.

Where did I redeem Hilton certificates valid for weekend standard room?

We plan to visit a close friend in Irvine, California, so conveniently reserved two weekend nights at the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort at Huntington, which is 30 minutes drive away from our friend's home.  The Hilton certificates covers tax and tips, about $550 with AAA membership, but do not cover parking fee.  Without AAA membership, the cost would be about $680. Considering we paid $95 for the Hilton Reserve card annual fee, the savings is about $450 to stay at a Category 9 Hilton hotel.

The Waterfront Beach Resort, a Category 9 Hilton Hotel

Standard room rate, 50,000 Hilton HHonor points

The email confirmation indicates that an upgrade option is available.  The cost is an extra 40,000 Hilton HHonor points for two nights.  In other words, Hilton certificate is almost equivalent as 50,000 HHonor points per overnight stay in our case.

Isa had about 41,000 HHonor points left.  She made the decision to save the points for overnight stay at Napa valley, California later.

  • May not apply for Hilton Reserve Card until you know for sure your next traveling will be in the next 12 months and staying at Hilton would be convenient and a-must, as you already pay $95 for the card membership fee*.  This would not be an issue if you are interested to keep Hilton Gold membership status by paying $95 per year.
*When the card is cancelled, a prorated refund is returned, thus not full $95 fee

Non-participating Hilton hotels
All Inclusive Properties:
DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Hotel Central Pacific -Costa Rica
Hilton Bodrum Turkbuku Resort & Spa
Hilton Dalaman Sarigerme Resort & Spa
Hilton Hurghada Long Beach Resort
Hilton Hurghada Plaza Hotel
Hilton Marsa Alam Nubian Resort
Hilton Nuweiba Coral Resort
Hilton Papagayo Costa Rica Resort & Spa
Hilton Puerto Vallarta
Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa
Hilton Sharks Bay Resort

Distinctive Properties:
Conrad Koh Samui Residences
Embassy Suites Waikiki Beach Walk
Kingston Plantation Condos
Hilton Surfers Paradise Residences
Royale Palms Condominiums
Elara, a Hilton Grand Vacations Hotel-Center Strip
Grand Waikikian Suites by Hilton Grand Vacations
Hilton Club New York
Hilton Grand Vacations Club at Waikoloa Beach Resort
Hilton Grand Vacations Suites - Las Vegas (Convention Center)
Hilton Grand Vacations Suites at Hilton Hawaiian Village
Hilton Grand Vacations Suites at SeaWorld
Hilton Grand Vacations Suites at South Beach
Hilton Grand Vacations Suites at the Flamingo
Hilton Grand Vacations Suites on International Drive
Hilton Grand Vacations Suites on the Las Vegas Strip
Hokulani Waikiki by Hilton Grand Vacations Club
Kings Land by Hilton Grand Vacations Club
Parc Soleil Suites by Hilton Grand Vacations
Park City Hilton Grand Vacations
Valdoro Mountain Lodge by Hilton Grand Vacations Suites
West 57th Street by Hilton Club
Ho'olei at Grand Wailea 
Las Casitas, A Waldorf Astoria Resort
Qasr Al Sharq, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel

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