Hilton’s rewards-card lineup has always been a bit confusing: Two Citi cards and two American Express cards, all with different annual fees, rewards and benefits.
Things are about to get pared down, though. Hilton is dropping Citi and going exclusively with American Express (a CreditCardForum advertising partner) starting Jan. 2018. Citi has already removed its Hilton cards from its website and closed them to no applicants.
Hilton and Citi began their co-branded relationship back in 2000, and the hotel chain’s relationship with American Express began even earlier — in 1995. The cards and benefits have changed over time, but, in recent years, the lineup has looked like this:
- Citi Hilton Honors Visa Signature Card (no annual fee): Going away Jan. 2018.
- Citi Hilton Honors Reserve Card ($95 annual fee): Going away Jan. 2018
- American Express Hilton Honors Card (no annual fee)
- American Express Hilton Honors Surprass Card $75 annual fee)
On Jan. 1, 2018, the Citi cards will go away, leaving the American Express cards. This is a win for American Express, which lost its Costco relationship to Citi in 2016.
Via The Points Guy, those with Citi Hilton cards will get moved to a different Citi product (no official details on which one). Your new card (whatever it is) will get mailed to you. Until Jan. 2018, you can use your Citi Hilton card as usual, and points earned with the card will be deposited in your Hilton Honors account.
What should Citi Hilton cardholders do?
The answer to this question will depend on which card Citi plans to move its existing Hilton card holders to. One thing is for sure, though — whichever card it is won’t (directly) earn you Hilton Honors points. If you want to continue earning Hilton Honors points, you have the following options:
Citi ThankYou Premier ($95 annual fee) or Citi Prestige ($450 annual fee): Both these cards allow you to transfer the ThankYou points earned on spending to various travel partners, including Hilton Honors. Will this transfer partnership remain, once Citi and Hilton sever their credit-card-issuing partnership? A Citi spokesperson confirmed to us that the news about the end of the card issuing partnership “is solely related to Citi’s co-brand credit card relationship with Hilton and has no impact on the transfer relationship.” So, assuming you want to keep a Citi card, the Prestige and ThankYou Premier are both good options for Hilton redemptions — especially because you can transfer your points to a variety of airlines, too.
The American Express Hilton cards: If you want a co-branded Hilton card and all the perks that come with it, consider switching over to one of the American Express Hilton products. They’re similar to the cards offered by Citi. For the most robust benefits, consider the Hilton Honors Surpass ($75 annual fee), which gives complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status and the ability to earn Diamond status through additional spending.
American Express Membership Rewards cards: Cards in the Membership Rewards program earn transferable points that you can redeem for Hilton Honors points (as well as frequent-flier miles with a list of airlines). There are a bunch of cards in the Membership Rewards program, with varying rewards and annual fees at every budget-point:
A generic travel-rewards card: Looking for ultimate flexibility and ease of use? Generic travel rewards cards allow you to earn “miles” and points that can be cashed in at a fixed value toward any travel expense, including bookings at any hotel. You won’t get the status perks and ability to transfer to real airline miles that you would with the cards above. But these cards are practically effortless to use — you redeem your points to cancel out the cost of a booking at Hilton or any hotel. Examples include the Capital One Venture card and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard.