2 Free Weekend Nights & Free Gold Elite Status with Citi Hilton Reserve Card

[Emily & I earn a referral if you apply for the Citi Hilton Reserve card using the links in this post.  Emily and I are extremely grateful to all readers who apply for the card using our link!]

Citi Hilton Reserve Review

Link:   Citi Hilton Reserve

Citi Hilton Reserve Credit Card

Citi launched the Citi Hilton Reserve card which should be useful for folks looking to get free Hilton hotel stays, for Big Spenders to get top-tier Diamond elite status and a free weekend night, and for folks who stay at a Hilton for a few nights a year to get Hilton Gold elite status for free breakfast and internet.

In 2007 Chase hired Gordon Smith, a top American Express credit card executive to head their credit card division.  Citi followed in 2010 by hiring Jud Linville, another American Express credit card executive to head their US credit card operations.

And the new Citi Hilton Reserve card goes head-to-head with the American Express Hilton Surpass card, and in my opinion, is a better card than the American Express Surpass card.

With the Citi Hilton Reserve, you get 2 free weekend nights valid at most Hilton hotels, free Hilton gold elite status (free internet and breakfast) which can save at least $30 a day, and no foreign transaction fees.

If I was new to miles and points, I wouldn’t apply for this card instead of the 2 Citi American Airlines cards first.  But the Citi Hilton Reserve card is worth considering later on (and perhaps you can get 2 of them) – especially since it isn’t a Chase card and because almost everyone can save money with the free weekend nights at a Hilton hotel or with Hilton gold status.

1.   2 Free Weekend Nights

You get 2 free weekend night certificates (weekend = Friday, Saturday, or Sunday) at any Hilton hotel after spending $2,500 within 4 months.  The certificates are valid for 12 months from when they are issued and your Citi Reserve card must be open when you redeem the certificate.

The good news is that this includes category 1 to 7 Hilton hotels which cost 7,500 to 50,000 points a night AND Waldorf Astoria hotels which cost 60,000 to 80,000 points a night.

The annual fee is $95, so you’re effectively getting each night for $47.50 in addition to the free internet and breakfast because of the Hilton gold status!

The bad new is that you can only redeem the free night certificates for weekends i.e. Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, so you can’t use them to have a week long vacation in Paris.  But you could use the certificates for the weekends and use regular Hilton points for the remaining days since there are many other ways to earn  450,000 Hilton points.

You also cannot use the free night certificates at all-inclusive or Hilton Grand hotels in addition to Waldorf Astoria hotels which do not offer standard rooms and have all suites or villas.

Hilton has over 3,800 hotels, and I’ve been told that fewer than 50 hotels are excluded.  I’ve asked for a list of excluded hotels.

You can use the free night certificates at the Grand Wailea in Hawaii, the Hilton in Paris, or the Hilton in Bora Bora which offer standard rooms, but won’t be able to use them at the Waldorf Astoria in the Maldives which has only suites & villas.

You can usually get 2 Citi Hilton or Thank You cards every 3 to 4 months, unlike the Citi American Airlines personal cards which require a wait of 18+ months before applications.  I wonder if folks can get 2 Citi Reserve cards and 2 sets of free weekend nights at the same time as well…

2.   Free Gold Elite Status

You get free Hilton Gold elite status for as long as you have the card.  Hilton Gold elite status is the best mid-tier status of any hotel chain because it includes free internet AND free breakfast, in addition to 25% extra points for paid stays, and a shot at room upgrades.

You also get a 15%, 20% & 25% discount when redeeming for a 4, 5 or 6 or longer night award as a Gold member.

The benefits of Gold elite status apply to both paid as well as award reservations using Hilton points.

Granted that there are often other ways to earn free Hilton Gold status, but for some folks Gold status can save you money when you stay at Hilton hotels and may be a reason to keep this card after the 1st year.

For example, if internet and breakfast each cost $10 per day at the hotel, you save $30 per day (more in expensive cities) if there are 2 of you in a room.  So you recover the $95 annual fee in about 3 nights.

The American Express Hilton Surpass card offers free Gold status, but only for the 1st year after which you get only Silver elite status.

Status matching to get free Hyatt nights in suite

You may also be able to match Hilton Gold status to a Hyatt Diamond trial if you have a few points in your Hilton account, though sometimes you need to have a few stays in your Hilton account.  You may only be able to match to Hyatt Diamond status once in your life so choose wisely!

This means that you have Hyatt Diamond status for 60 days and 4 confirmed suite upgrades in Hyatt hotels for paid stays.  And you can keep the Diamond status if you stay 12 nights within the  60 days of your trial Diamond membership.

But if you apply for the Chase Hyatt credit card as a Diamond member (even on a trial), you should get the 2 free Hyatt nights in a suite!

You can email Hyatt at goldpassport@hyatt.com.or call Hyatt to ask for the status match

3.   Free Weekend Night After Spending $10,000 Each Year

You get a free weekend night after spending $10,000 within your membership year (1 year from the date when you are approved and resets each year).

The free weekend night is not valid at all-inclusive or Hilton Grand hotels in addition to Waldorf Astoria hotels which do not offer standard rooms and have all suites or villas.

This isn’t, in my opinion, as good as the Chase Priority Club card which gets you a free night every year just by keeping the card (worth every cent of its $49 fee) or even the Chase Hyatt card which gets you a free night in a category 1 to 4 Hyatt hotel.

But I do see this as the trend going forward – cards which make you spend money to earn an additional benefit each year.

4.   Top Tier Hilton Diamond Status After Spending $40,000

The Citi Hilton card also gets you top-tier Hilton Diamond status after spending $40,000 within a calendar year (January to December).  The Diamond status is valid for the year in which you earn in and the entire next year.

Diamond status gets you a 50% point bonus on paid rooms and a real shot at good room upgrades.

The American Express Surpass card also gets you Hilton Diamond status after spending $40,000 a year, but you do NOT get the free weekend night which you get with the Citi Reserve card after spending $10,000.

So Big Spenders are better off earning Hilton Diamond status on the Citi Hilton Reserve card since they will get top tier Hilton Diamond status AND a free weekend night for spending $40,000.

 5.   No Foreign Transaction Fees & Card Has a Chip

Unlike the American Express Surpass card which charges a 2.7% foreign transaction fee, the Citi Hilton Reserve does NOT charge a foreign transaction fee.

Paying a foreign transaction fee is usually never worth the miles and points you earn, so this is a welcome feature of the card.

The card also has Chip and Signature technology, which could make using automated machines in certain countries easier to use, but don’t count on it.

6.   10 Points at Hilton Hotels, 5 Points for Airline and Car Rental and 3 Point per $1 for Everything Else.

You earn 10 points per $1 spent at Hilton hotels which is better than the 9 points per $1 spent using the American Express Surpass card.  And this is also the better card for using at Hilton hotels outside the US because it doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.

However, you do earn 500 points for online bookings made using an American Express Surpass card, so the extra 1 point per $1 could be a wash depending on how much you pay per stay.

The American Express Surpass card earns 6 points per $1 at spent supermarkets, drugstores, gas stations, phone, internet & cable, so that could be more valuable to some than the 5 points per $1 spend on airlines and car rentals with the Hilton Surpass card.

7.   $95 Annual Fee

The $95 annual fee is not waived for the 1st year, but I’d gladly pay that for 2 free weekend nights at a Hilton hotel worldwide and free Hilton Gold status.

Why you still want a no-fee American Express Hilton card

Both the American Express Surpass card and the no-fee American Express card get you access to AXON awards where you can redeem 4 nights at a top category 7 hotel for 145,000 points.

With the Citi Hilton Reserve, you would have to pay 170,000 points for 4 nights at a top category 7 Hilton after the 15% discount.

So the best strategy if you collect Hilton points (and there are lots of ways to do that) could be to get the Hilton Reserve Card for the free nights, gold elite status, and potential to earn Hilton Diamond status, but to also get a no-fee American Express Hilton card for access to discounted award redemptions.

Bottom Line:  The Citi Hilton Reserve card is a welcome addition from Citi which hasn’t had a lot of new offers in the miles and points world. I wouldn’t get the card for the free weekend nights unless I knew I was going to use them within the next 12 months since the free night certificates expire, but the card does give you an easy way to get 2 free weekend nights & free internet and breakfast.

If you stay at Hilton hotels more than 3 or 4 times a year and don’t have Hilton Gold status, it could be worth paying the annual fee for Hilton Gold Status.  And the card is the best option for Big Spenders who can spend $40,000 for Hilton Diamond status.

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153 Responses to 2 Free Weekend Nights & Free Gold Elite Status with Citi Hilton Reserve Card

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  5. d,

    i follow you daily in the morning ( with my starbucks ) .. i applied (thru your link of course).
    citi said they had to do an additional review. (my credit score is excellent, pay off the cc’s
    monthly). i had the surpass hilton but downgraded to the regular hilton (does not make sense to pay an annual fee). the citi card has the awards nites.

    can you tell me what the holdup might be ? thx you for an awesome website!

  6. d, i applied for the citi hilton reserve card. they advise me they have to do a further review. i have excellent credit,pay off my cc monthly. i just downgraded from the hilton surpass card as this makes more sense (award nites).

    can you tell me what the review might be ?

  7. @di – It could just be a routine review, but you can call the reconsideration line to get approved.

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  11. Hey! Just wanted to let you know that I received my two night award certificates 10 days after my statement closed after I spent $2,500+ on the card. I’m using the certificates for a weekend stay at the Park Lane Hotel in London where the standard room is starting at GBP 299 per night! I find this to be an incredible deal! Thank you for your reviews on the card!

  12. @Ben – Very nice! Have a great trip.

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  14. I have a question about this paragraph on the sign up page for this card:
    “Weekend night certificate(s) is (are) earned after purchase requirements have been met with the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card. Weekend night certificate is valid for one (1) weekend night standard accommodation, double occupancy, subject to availability, at any property in the Hilton HHonors portfolio, excluding those listed at HHonors.com/weekendcertificate. Weekend night certificate is valid at participating hotels in the Hilton HHonors portfolio for twelve (12) months after the date of issuance, as noted on the certificate. The weekend night certificate applies to one (1) weekend night in a standard room and corresponding taxes; and does not apply to gratuities, resort fees or incidental charges.”

    So does this mean that:

    1. You cannot use the 2 nights (weekend only) consecutively

    OR

    2. They will send you 2 certification worth one free weekend night each

    The language about “Weekend night certificate is valid for one (1) weekend night standard accommodation” has me confused.

  15. @avi404 – It means #2. You can use them consecutively.

  16. I applied using your link for the card and had to called in to verify some information then was approved today. Thank you for the great information!

  17. @Joan – Congrats and thanks for using our link!

  18. Do you have that list of 50 hotels that do not take the free weekend certificates? I am hoping to use it for the Koh Samui Conrad, among others….

  19. I might have missed this in the comments……

    Any experience using these certificates with a co-pay to upgrade into another room category, specifically if a “standard” room is not available.

  20. @S – You can use the certificate at the Koh Samui if there are standard rooms available.

    @Jay – I don’t believe that you can do that.

  21. I just booked two nights at the Hilton Garden Inn in Chelsea, NYC for Thanksgiving weekend. Reg $485/night. Great deal and looking forward to it!

  22. @Ron – Have a great holiday weekend there!

  23. Hi, what do you mean by ,”you might be able to get 2 card since it is not chase”. Is it possible to get 2 Citi Hilton Reserve card?

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  25. Hey Everybody!
    I am about to hit my minimum spend on this to get my weekend certs. I know this may sound stupid but can I not use these for a Thursday and Friday? I guess I figured if you can use it on a Fri/Sat/Sun why wouldn’t they let you use it on a Thurs/Fri?
    Is it possible? Thanks!!
    Mike

  26. @Mike Rudd – You can’t use it on a Thursday night unfortunately.

  27. The terms say “double occupancy”. Does anyone have experience using the certificates with 2 adults and 2 kids? I would like to use these for a family trip next year, but am unsure whether Hilton will allow it.

  28. I’m planning a trip to Europe in Jan 2015. Which cards are best for acquiring free nights in Europe specifically? I don’t have a spend problem.

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  34. Have you (or anyone reading this) had any success getting Citi to waive the annual fee? This card sounds great, but I can’t see myself keeping it after the first year – given the annual fee and no FREE annual benefit (other than the gold status), as I don’t see myself spending $10k per year to get the one free weekend night. Thanks for any insights!

  35. Can you help me understand this, I get two free weekend nights for meeting the spending limit. Is that a one-time deal or do I get that after meeting the spending limit every four months? Or is is once a year? Why is this a great deal if you only get the two weekend stays one time only?

  36. @marshdom – It doesn’t hurt to ask about the fee waiver. But the free Hilton gold status means free breakfast and internet which can save money if you stay at Hilton hotels.

    @David P – You get the 2 free weekend nights after completing the spending 1-time only. But the card is worth keeping if you stay at Hilton hotels because of the free breakfast and internet.

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  41. paul westron

    You get a $100 statement credit after a stay at a Hilton Portfolio hotel. within 3 months. Therefore, the fee is free and you make $5 if you do one such stay.

  42. paul westron

    You also receive a $100 statement credit after staying at any Hilton Portfolio hotel within the first 3 months. So, there really is no fee and you make $5 if you do one such stay.

  43. I already have a no fee Amex Hilton Honors card. Can I apply for this citi hilton card and link it to my hilton account for the gold status? Or will there be conflicts?

  44. @David – You will get Gold status as long as you enter the same Hilton number in the application.

  45. Two questions…

    1) Does the free breakfast apply to both myself and my fiance on our honeymoon if the card is only in my name?

    2) We are planning our 8 night honeymoon to Moorea which is a category 9 hotel. Since the free weekend stays only apply to category 1 through 7, would I be able to use them to get a discounted stay at a category 9?

    Thanks,
    Stephen

  46. @Stephen – You can use the free nights at the Hilton Moorea if there are award nights available. If your fiance is in the same room as you, you both get breakfast.

  47. Thanks for being my one stop travel rewards resource! I’m about to apply for the citi hilton reserve, but wondering if I’ll have an issue with approval. I currently have the Amex surpass, Amex hhonor, and citi hilton signature with good credit score. My plan is to replace the surpass with the citi hilton reserve for the richer benefits. However, I’m a stay-at-home mom and not sure how to address the income section of the application. Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated.

  48. paul westron

    Turns out the $100 statement credit is NOT TRUE. I went round and round with Hilton and they deny it is part of their offer. They seem to be correct. That feature does not appear on their website for this offer. Still a good deal even with the fee.

  49. How many credit cards are too many? I have 38 credit cards at the present time. So far in the last 9months got 650,000 points. I’m going to try for 250,000 more points Tuesday July 8th. Do you think I’m going to have a problem with to many cards?

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