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Hilton Hotels and their Portfolio cover 92 countries around the world. They are known for great service and a taste of luxury. It’s not surprising that Hilton is a popular choice with travelers and that they have a series of Hilton HHonors credit cards. Amex and Citi are two companies looking to pair up with their HHonors rewards program. Here, we compare two similar but subtly different cards to determine which is the best option to earn you a night at the Hilton: the Hilton HHonors™ Card from American Express or the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card.
Earning Points with the Amex & Citi Hilton HHonors Cards
Both the Citi & American Express Hilton HHonors cards offer three levels of point earnings. Starting with the Amex Hilton Honors card, for every dollar spend at a Hilton hotel or resort, you’ll receive 7 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points. For every dollar spent on food or gas in the US (except at warehouse clubs), you’ll receive 5 points. For every dollar spent on anything else, you’ll receive 3 points. With the Citi Hilton HHonors card, you’ll receive 6 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for Hilton stays. For every dollar spent at supermarkets, drugstores and gas stations, you’ll receive 3 points. For any other purchase, you’ll receive 2 points per dollar.
The Winner: The American Express Hilton card comes out way ahead in this face-off. With Hilton stays, special category purchases and the remainder of your spending, you’ll earn more points per dollar with Amex than with Citi.
Spending Points with the Hilton Amex & Citi Cards
As both cards are connected to the same Hilton HHonors program, they are obviously on equal footing in this category. The Hilton HHonors program allows you to use your points on stays at the Hilton hotel properties, Hilton spas and activities, exclusive concerts and events, and other standard options like charity donations and gifting points. If you’d like to use your points for travel, you can exchange increments of 10,000 points to all major airline and rail rewards programs. However, each provider has a specific exchange rate. For example, generally, 10,000 HHonors points gets you 1,000 miles as it is with Delta Air Lines, Virgin America and United. However, you can also receive 1,500 miles from American Airlines or Hawaiian Airlines. It’s worth keeping these exchange rates in mind as it might bring more value with certain airlines or by simply keeping your points for your Hilton nights.
Here we have another tie. Neither card has an annual fee.
Citi currently has a special offer to earn 75,000 bonus points if you spend $2,000 on your new Hilton HHonors card in the first three months. The regular sign-up is usually between 40,000-50,000 bonus points for $1,000 in the first three months. The Amex Hilton HHonors card offers 50,000 bonus points if you spend $1,000 in the first four months. Both of these offers are solid for no annual fee reward credit cards.
The Winner: The Citi Hilton credit card takes the cake here, especially with its current limited time offer. The Citi card offers 25,000 more points for the $1,000 more in spending. The extra Hilton HHonors points will earn you one extra night at a category 4 hotel, such as many of the Hampton Inns.
Bonus Hilton HHonors
Do you like to book online? The Amex Hilton cards offers an easy 500 bonus points each time you use their card and book a Hilton stay via the web. Citi offers an annual loyalty bonus of 10,000 points when you spend at least $1,000 staying at Hilton portfolio hotels.
The Winner: This match-up is tough, but Citi edges ahead with their loyalty bonus. If you’re after this card, then you’re likely booking a lot with Hilton. Booking $1,000 in a year will come about fairly quickly. Ten thousand points will be in your account quicker this way than the online booking method at only 500 points a pop.
As you’re seeking a Hilton card, you’re likely familiar with the HHonors status and the perks of the various levels. The Amex card gets you an automatic Silver status, with the possibility to upgrade to Gold by spending $20,000 on your card within a year. The Citi card also provides the automatic Silver status, but it has two options to upgrade to Gold. You can also spend the $20,000 in one year, or you can achieve it even quicker with four Hilton stays booked on your card within the first three months.
The Winner: Citi moves ahead in this category with its fast-track option to Gold status. Although spending $20,000 in a year isn’t an unreasonable option, you still have to wait for a year after account opening. With Citi’s 4-stay option, you can have Gold status in just three months once you’ve completed your stays. The wait and the cost are much less for Gold Status with Citi. The Silver perks are great, but it’s great to have the Gold level serious earning potential of 25% bonus on all base points earned.
Both cards come with a suite of insurances to provide you with peace of mind while traveling. Amex provides travel accident insurance, fee-based secondary car rental loss and damage insurance and their own Global Assist Hotline for emergency assistance and coordination. Citi offers their own versions of the same protections, though the Visa Signature loss and damage insurance does not require an additional fee per rental.
The Winner: Citi Hilton HHonors comes out with a slight win with the car rental insurance included without an additional fee per trip.
Both Amex and Citi provide great Hilton HHonors rewards credit cards for earning free nights and special experiences within the Hilton Portfolio. Both have great protections and no annual fee, making them easy to include as a travel companion. However, if you want to earn more free nights, your best option is the Amex Hilton card, but I say this with a condition. If you do earn Gold status by using the four-nights in the first three months option, the extra 25% bonus points earned for your Hilton stays will give it an edge over Amex as you’ll be earning 8 points per dollar instead of Amex’s 7. However, the Amex card overall will earn you more points on Hilton stays and day-to-day spending, getting you closer to those free nights.
Learn more: Citi Hilton HHonors
Learn more: Hilton HHonors™ Card from American Express
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