Category Archives: Hilton

Last Chance for 50k Limited Time Offer on Hilton HHonors Card

Last month the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card increased its sign up bonus to 50,000 bonus Hilton points after spending $1,000 in the first 4 months of cardmembership.

In addition, you earn a $50 statement credit after spending $50 on your first stay at a Hilton property.

That special limited time offer expires tomorrow April 18 at 5:00 PM ET.

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The card even comes with free Hilton Silver Status and the ability to earn Gold Status after only four stays.

This is the best offer I’ve seen for a no-annual-fee Hilton card.

How does it compare to my favorite Hilton card?

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50,000 Hilton Points + $50 Statement Credit with Citi Hilton Honors Card

The Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card has increased its sign up bonus to 50,000 bonus Hilton points after spending $1,000 in the first 4 months of cardmembership.

In addition, you will earn a $50 statement credit after spending $50 on your first stay at a Hilton property.

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The card even comes with free Hilton Silver Status and the ability to earn Gold Status after only four stays.

This is the best offer I’ve seen for a no-annual-fee Hilton card.

How does it compare to my favorite Hilton card?

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Predictions for Major Changes to Loyalty Programs in 2014

2013 was a year of several major devaluation announcements including:

  • United (kicks in February 1, 2014)
  • Southwest (kicks in March 31, 2014)
  • Delta (already kicked in on current award bookings for travel that starts February 1, 2014 or later)
  • Hyatt (kicks in January 7, 2014)
  • Ultimate Rewards (with three major transfer partners devaluing–United, Southwest, and Hyatt–the program took a major hit through no fault of its own)

But the more things change, the more they stay the same. We’re still getting outsized value from our miles and points and traveling the world in style for next to nothing.

What’s my outlook for 2014 and what’s my strategy for earning and burning the major points’ currencies?

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25,000 American Airlines Miles for 5 Hilton Stays

Yesterday I received an email for an offer that is incredible on the surface: 25,000 American Airlines miles and Hilton Gold Status for five Hilton stays!

How good of a deal is this? Should you register?

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Are Under-Categorized Hotels the Best Use of Hotel Points : Review of the DoubleTree Kuala Lumpur

I am a lodging cheapskate. My ideal trip length is four weeks, so hotel bills would add up quickly. Right now I haven’t been in the US since February, so I’ve had to come up with creative ways to sleep cheaply.

But just because I’m a cheapskate doesn’t mean I don’t want to stay at fancy hotels sometimes too. I’m jealous that Rookie Alli has two nights at any Hilton worldwide. I have my own two free nights at Hyatts worldwide that I’ll be sure to use somewhere way outside my price range.

There is a third way, though, between the extremes of free ultra-luxury and cheap adequate accommodation: under-categorized hotels are a fantastic value play.

Free nights at hotels cost a certain number of points that are decided by which category a hotel places the hotel into. For instance, a Category 1 Hilton costs 5,000 points for a free night. A Category 10 Hilton costs up to 95,000 points for a free night.

The number of points needed generally tracks the quality, location, and price of the hotel, but some hotels are under-categorized and represent fantastic value with points.

Last night I stayed in one such hotel, the DoubleTree Kuala Lumpur, which is a Hilton Category 2 property that costs only 10k Hilton points per night.

Continue for my review with photos of the DoubleTree Kuala Lumpur and a rundown of all the freebies I got. What hotel award charts might have sweet spots? What are the best value free nights you’ve gotten?

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Where Should I Redeem My Free Hilton Nights?

Earlier this month, I received my two Free Weekend Night certificates from Hilton after spending $2,500 in four months on my Citi Hilton Reserve card.

Hilton has some incredible properties around the world that cost as much for a night as my rent costs for a month, so I want to use my two free nights for truly aspirational stays I could otherwise never afford. And I want you to help me pick a property, since I’m sure MileValue readers have stayed at all these properties.

Hilton Bora Bora Nui, I could stay here…

I decided that I only wanted to redeem my certificates outside of the US at either a Category 9 or Category 10 hotel–why settle for less, especially when it’s free? I want to take a nice trip next summer, so I am looking at redeeming the certificates for a consecutive Friday night and Saturday night stay in June. I came up with five finalists.

What are my options? Where should I stay?

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When Will You Get Your Hilton Reserve Card’s Two Free Night Certificates?

This past February, I applied for a number of cards, including the Citi Hilton Reserve. I got the card for the free Hilton Gold status and the big benefit:

  • Earn 2 weekend night certificates good at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton HHonors portfolio after $2,500 in eligible purchases within 4 months of account opening.

I am excited to report that I now have my free night certificates!

What was my experience? How did I receive the certificates? How quickly did they arrive? Where am I thinking of using them?

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Hilton Points for Half a Cent Each Today Only…No Thanks

Update at 10:30 PM ET: These packages are all still for sale. None sold out.

Today is the second day of the last week of five weeks of discounted travel packages sponsored by the US Travel Association and American Express called Daily Getaways.

Every weekday at 1 PM ET, a discounted travel package or packages will go on sale and will sell out in a few minutes. Some of the offers will be awesome; some will be duds.

Today’s deal is discounted Hilton HHonors points in 100k, 150k, and 250k packages.

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What Credit Card Gets You the Most Free Hotel Nights?

Sometimes I want luxury, and sometimes I want quantity.

Last week I talked about the Three Best Credit Cards for Free Nights in Luxury Hotels.

But what about going to the other end of the award chart? A lot of times when I am traveling I just need a pillow and a roof, since I plan to be out exploring the city all day. What credit card sign up would net me the most free hotel nights? (20 in all!)

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The Three Best Credit Cards for Free Luxury Hotel Nights

For me, first class flights would be out of reach without miles. I can’t spend $10,000 for a first class flight on an airline like Emirates.

Luckily I don’t need to because I have plenty of miles, and I could fly economy class in a pinch.

Fancy hotels are similar. I can’t pay $1,000 a night for a hotel like the Park Hyatt Sydney.

And luckily I don’t ever need to stay in fancy hotels. When I travel, all I need is a roof and a pillow. But for those special occasions when I want to indulge in absolute luxury, I can by opening a single credit card.

What are the three best credit cards for luxury hotel experiences?

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Video of a Credit Card Application Reconsideration Call

A few weeks ago, Rookie Alli applied for her very first cards. Her cards were all instantly approved except the Citi® Hilton HHonors™  Reserve Card.

She really wanted the Citi® Hilton HHonors™  Reserve Card because it comes with two free weekend nights at almost any Hilton worldwide. With the recent major devaluation to the Hilton award chart, Hilton points are worth way less, but these two free nights are still two free nights.

Application Link: Citi® Hilton HHonors™  Reserve Card

When her application for the Citi® Hilton HHonors™  Reserve Card was not immediately approved, she did what I always suggest. She called Citi’s reconsideration line immediately. These are the reconsideration line numbers I use.

American Express (866) 314-0237
Barclay’s (866) 408-4064
Chase (PERSONAL) (888) 245-0625
Chase (BUSINESS) (800) 453-9719
Citi (800) 695-5171
US Bank (800) 947-1444

I’ve made several reconsideration calls, and this was Rookie Alli’s third. In our experience, reconsideration calls are painless and a bit of a misnomer. Most of our reconsideration calls happen not when the application is denied, simply when it’s listed as pending.

And most of the time, the agent only asks questions we’ve already answered on the application.

The one thing I always do to prepare for a reconsideration call is to rehearse an answer to the question of why I want the card I’m calling about. The best answers reference the co-branded partner (ie Hilton on the Citi® Hilton HHonors™  Reserve Card), some benefit of card membership besides the sign up bonus, or both.

For this card, Rookie Alli’s answer was going to be: “I want the Citi® Hilton HHonors™  Reserve Card because I travel a lot and am loyal to Hilton, so I want to have a card that has a high earning potential of Hilton points.”

It’s not difficult to formulate a good answer.

But as with many “reconsideration” calls, there were no tough questions and no reconsideration–just a short hold and an approval. Take a look.

Hopefully this video clears up any apprehension you might have about calling the reconsideration lines. Not all calls are this painless, but most are.

Recap

If your credit card application is not immediately approved:

  1. Come up with a reason you want the card that does not reference the sign up bonus and does reference the card’s co-branded hotel or airline.
  2. Call the bank’s reconsideration line.
  3. Tell the agent you wanted to see if the bank needed any more information to process your application.
  4. Answer the agent’s questions truthfully.
  5. Generally, be approved.

Was the Citi Hilton Reserve Just Majorly Devalued?

An example of the number one question I’ve gotten in the last few weeks:

Scott,

Should I use the free night certificates from my Hilton Reserve card by 3/28? After Hilton’s major devaluation (don’t get me started…), there will be 10 categories after 3/28 and the free nights are good at category 1-7 according to the terms.

Sam

Sam is asking about the two free weekend nights you earn by spending $2,500 within four months on the Citi® Hilton HHonors™  Reserve Card credit card. What makes the nights so valuable is that they are valid at almost every Hilton in the world including insanely fancy and expensive properties like the Conrad Koh Samui, which is going for $633+ per night in June.

18,920 Baht = $633

The Conrad Koh Samui is a category 7 hotel currently, the top category, which costs 50,000 points a night. So two free nights there is currently like getting 100,000 HHonors points worth of value from one credit card.

Starting March 28, the Conrad Koh Samui will be a category 10 hotel, the new top category, according to the new hotel categories list. Category 10 hotels will cost 70,000 to 95,000 points per night based on the season.

So Hilton points are seeing a major devaluation, especially at the top end. Two nights at the best Hiltons in the world at peak times was 100,000 points; now it will be 190,000 points.

But is the Citi® Hilton HHonors™  Reserve Card seeing the same type of devaluation? That’s what Sam wants to know. The card’s terms and conditions say that the free nights are good for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night stays at category 1-7 properties.

If these terms remained unchanged, it would be a huge devaluation. No longer would the free nights be good at the top tier properties like the $633+ Conrad Koh Samui. Instead they would only be good up to the new tier 7, which surely includes nice hotels, but not the kind that make you drool.

According to Mommy Points, the free nights from the Citi® Hilton HHonors™  Reserve Card will still be good at all the same hotels they are good at now.

Translation: the award chart devaluation is not a Citi® Hilton HHonors™  Reserve Card devaluation. You will now be able to use the free nights at the new Categories 1-10.

I’m working to independently verify this, but it is fantastic news for all of us–perhaps most of all Rookie Alli, who just got the Citi® Hilton HHonors™  Reserve Card. I’m planning to get the card soon, and I want to make sure I can get two nights at a hotel that I could never afford (or even if I could, I wouldn’t stay at because I’d feel guilty about the price.)

Two nights of the base room.

In recent weeks the Citi® Hilton HHonors™  Reserve Card has shot up the list of best Citi card offers. Unfortunately this isn’t because the offer has improved–just because all the other Citi offers have gotten worse.

Namely the two-browser trick that allowed us to get 100k American Airlines miles for one credit pull is dead (or very near.) And the other Citi cards that offer Hilton points are worth less as those points are worth less under the new award chart.

Here are the bullet points on the Citi® Hilton HHonors™  Reserve Card.

Application Link: Citi® Hilton HHonors™  Reserve Card

• Earn 2 weekend night certificates good at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton HHonors portfolio after $2,500 in eligible purchases within 4 months of account opening*
• Earn 10 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on hotel stays within the Hilton HHonors portfolio*
• Earn 5 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on airline and car rental purchases*
• Earn 3 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases*
• Enjoy the benefits of HHonors Gold status as long as you are a cardmember*
• No foreign transaction fees on purchases*
• Travel with ease and enjoy global acceptance with your Citi chip credit card
• Earn an anniversary bonus of 1 weekend night certificate at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton HHonors portfolio each cardmembership year with qualifying purchases*

The good news is that you don’t have to burn your Hilton award nights in the next month for maximum value. The bad news is that you do have to burn your Hilton points in the next month for maximum value.

Rookie Alli’s First Cards: Execution

Previously: Rookie Alli’s First Cards: Picking the Cards

Execution

My first cards couldn’t have been easier! While I did hit a couple of snags, none were very serious, and I am treating them as learning experiences. I applied for all five card in one day and was able to fit in the applications and any needed calls to the credit card companies around the other things I had to do that day: a kickball game and some flip cup.

I started with the Frontier card at 10:11 AM and was instantly approved online.

I even got to pick which Frontier mascot I wanted on my card. I went with Foxy Brown.

Excited after this positive start, I moved on to the United MileagePlus Explorer card. Again, instant approval! I’d been at this for 20 minutes and was two-for-two on these applications.

…Except that I had clicked the Submit button without adding a second cardholder to the account. That click was a 5,000 mile rookie mistake.

Chase lets you add an authorized user to the card and earn 5,000 extra miles upon first purchase.

On the application, I just skipped over the section because it wasn’t very noticeable.

I might be able to salvage those points, though. I’ll send a secure message to Chase and see if they will let me add a user for 5,000 miles. I’ll report back.

Disappointed about the United blunder, I moved on to the Discover it™. This is where I encountered my second snag of the day. I filled out my personal information, checked the Terms and Conditions box, and was redirected back to the original application page. Not letting this computer glitch deter me from my mission, I again filled out my info, checked the box, and… nothing.

A quick phone call to Discover informed me that they were having system wide technical issues, their staff was slammed, and could I please call back later? I called again that evening at 8:00 PM, concerned with the fact that I may have submitted two applications or maybe none at all. The agent told me that I had indeed submitted two, and that the first was instantly approved but the second was pending further review. I asked her to shut down the second application, which she did. Success!

The fourth card I applied for was the Mercedes-Benz Platinum card. Once again, I was instantly approved and received an email telling me I’d have my card in 2-3 days.

I applied on Sunday, and received it on Tuesday. Considering it was a holiday weekend, a 48 hour turnaround was quite impressive! I’m already working on the Global Entry application.

The final application was for the Citi® Hilton HHonors™  Reserve Card card. This was the only card that I was not immediately approved for.

That was fine. I learned from applying for the Citi American Airlines cards in November about reconsideration calls since I was not immediately approved for the Citi American Airlines American Express. In my experience, a reconsideration call is no big deal, but I like to prep what I am going to say before picking up the phone.

I know it’s important to convey enthusiasm for the card’s partner (Hilton) and all the card’s benefits except the sign up bonus, so that the bank will think you are a profitable customer.

At a minimum, I was expecting some questions. But after the rep confirmed my identity, he put me on hold, came back, and said I had been approved for the card. Here is a video of the call. Most of the five minute call was spent goofing off on hold.

Recap

I applied, and was approved, for five rewards cards.

My haul? After a combined minimum spend of $5,250, I will have 35,000 Frontier miles, 35,000 United miles, 50,000 Membership Rewards, free Global Entry, $400 in airline-fee credits or gift cards, two free weekend nights at almost any Hilton across the globe, free lounge access at hundreds of airports, access to huge cashback opportunities from Discover, free breakfast and internet at Hiltons, and a credit card with a fox on it. ;)

  • Frontier Airlines World MasterCard for access to its incredible award chart
  • Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Visa for United miles with a low minimum spend
  • Discover it™ for access to its 5% cash back rotating categories and amazing cash back mall
  • Mercedes-Benz American Express Platinum for the points, lounge access, airline gift cards, and Global Entry despite the huge $475 annual fee
  • Citi® Hilton HHonors™  Reserve Card for two free nights at a Hilton I could normally only dream of

Rookie Alli’s First Cards: Picking the Cards

Introducing Rookie Alli: Rookie Alli will be MileValue’s resident expert-rookie. She’ll write posts about getting started with miles and points from a beginner’s perspective. From the first cards and the first award booking to first class (hopefully), folks of all levels can learn from her triumphs and rookie mistakes.

Rookie Alli, scaring dogs since the ’80s

I just signed up for five cards and got 110,000 miles and points, two free hotel nights, $500 worth of statement credits, access to the best cash back mall, and a number of other perks.

Planning

Being new to the miles game, I currently only have two credit cards: the Citi AAdvantage Visa and American Express cards, which I applied for using the now-dead, two-browser trick in November. I met my minimum spends and collected my 105,000 American miles, and now I’m hooked.

Should I use the AA miles to go back to Hawaii?

Scott always says to wait 91 days between credit card applications, then apply for any cards you want the same day to maximize your approvals and rewards. After my 91 days passed, I was eager to see what my my next cards could be.

There were a couple of personal factors I kept in mind when deciding which cards I was going to include in my applications.

1. I wanted to keep my minimum spends relatively low, since I will be out of the country during part of the minimum spending period in countries where it is tough to use credit cards.

2. I have not hopped on the Bluebird/Vanilla train just yet, but I am comfortable using Amazon Payments to help meet minimum spends.

This goes along with my biggest piece of advice to fellow rookies: only dip your toes into the miles world to the extent you are comfortable. For instance, at first I was only comfortable getting two credit cards at a time. When I saw I could handle that, I decided I could handle more cards this time.

When I heard about Amazon Payments, I tested it out one month by sending $990 to a friend. I was comfortable with the results, so I continued using the service each month.

I signed up for a Bluebird card, but I have not activated it yet because I am still not comfortable with the idea.

3. I only wanted to apply for cards with an annual fee if I felt the card’s perks justified that fee.

I got into this game for free travel, so I don’t want to pay annual fees. But I am willing to pay an annual fee if I know I am getting way more in return than the fee costs.

4. I’m not ready for any business cards. I do probably have some small money-making activities that would qualify as businesses, but I’m not comfortable applying for business cards yet.

I know that most people can get business cards easily from reading How to be Approved for a Business Card, and that I am missing out on some of the best sign up bonuses, but business cards aren’t for me yet.

Using MileValue’s Best Offers and Best Practices, I ultimately decided to apply for five cards:

1.  Frontier Airlines World MasterCard

  • 25,000 bonus miles after first purchase
  • 10,000 bonus miles after spending $750 in the first 90 days for a total of 35,000 bonus miles
  • 10,000 mile one way awards within the USA
  • 15,000 mile one way awards to Mexico, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica
  • 5,000 mile discount on companion award tickets
  • 2x miles on Frontier purchases
  • $59 annual fee

This card was a no-brainer for me: miles after the first purchase, very low minimum spend to unlock the rest of the miles, and I’ve had really good experiences flying Frontier to and from Denver in college.

2.  Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Visa

  • 30,000 United miles after $1,000 in spending in the first three months
  • 5,000 extra United miles when you add another cardholder to the account
  • One free checked bag
  • Two United Club Passes
  • no annual fee the first year, then $95 thereafter

I wanted to earn some United miles because I know how valuable they can be, especially to Europe.

I know the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers a superior bonus of 40,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $3,000 in three months, but I wanted to keep my minimum spend low.

3.  Discover it™

  • 5% cash back on the first $1,500 spent on categories that rotate each quarter
  • Opportunity to use the Discover online portal for 5-20% cash back at many retailers
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • no annual fee

This might seem like a weird card to get because it has no sign up bonus. I got it because the card was an opportunity for me to earn a lot of cash back. I love the rotating 5% cash back categories.

The other big thing is this card will allow me to access the ShopDiscover portal, which is one of the best portals out there. The portal offers 5-20% cash back at a lot of places I shop and routinely offers better deals than miles-earning portals. For instance, no one comes close to offering 5% cash back at Apple.

courtesy evreward.com

4.  Mercedes-Benz American Express Platinum

  • 50,000 Membership Rewards after spending $1,000 in three months
  • $100 credit for Global Entry signup
  • $200 calendar-year airline-fee credit
  • Free airport lounge access (American, US Airways, Delta, Priority Pass)
  • $475 annual fee, not waived in the first year

This was the only card I was hesitant to apply for. When I first saw that $475 annual fee (!) I immediately disregarded it as an option to include in my applications. I thought no perks could justify that fee, especially since the fee would appear on my first statement–before I could enjoy anything I was paying for.

However, when I thought a little deeper about it, I realized that this card actually offers a lot of good bonuses. Bill covered how those airline-fee credits can be used to buy gift cards which can then be used to purchase flights, the Global Entry voucher will save me hours of waiting-in-customs time this year (my sanity must be worth $475, right?), and I know I can easily find a use for 50,000 Membership Awards.

Since the airline-fee credits are a calendar year bonus, I can get 2 x $200 gift cards plus $100 for Global Entry, meaning $500 in statement credits.

I guess I can give it a year-long trial run. I’ll get $400 worth of flights, $100 worth of Global Entry, free lounge access, and nearly a $1,000 worth of points for my $475 fee.

5. Citi® Hilton HHonors™  Reserve Card

• Earn 2 weekend night certificates good at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton HHonors portfolio after $2,500 in eligible purchases within 4 months of account opening*
• Earn 10 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on hotel stays within the Hilton HHonors portfolio*
• Earn 5 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on airline and car rental purchases*
• Earn 3 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases*
• Enjoy the benefits of HHonors Gold status as long as you are a cardmember*
• No foreign transaction fees on purchases*
• Travel with ease and enjoy global acceptance with your Citi chip credit card
• Earn an anniversary bonus of 1 weekend night certificate at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton HHonors portfolio each cardmembership year with qualifying purchases*

This one was tough because it had a large minimum spend and an annual fee. I went with it, though because I want two free nights at a super fancy hotel that I could otherwise never afford.

I’m channeling my inner Hepburn by picturing myself drinking champagne and eating macaroons in Paris

Recap

I chose five cards to apply for:

  • Frontier Airlines World MasterCard for access to its incredible award chart
  • Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Visa for United miles with a low minimum spend
  • Discover it™ for access to its 5% cash back rotating categories and amazing cash back mall
  • Mercedes-Benz American Express Platinum for the points, lounge access, airline gift cards, and Global Entry despite the huge $475 annual fee
  • Citi® Hilton HHonors™  Reserve Card for two free nights at a Hilton I could normally only dream of

Concluded in Rookie Alli’s First Cards: Execution

 

Will Citi Have the Next Hot Transferable Points?

According to this thread on FlyerTalk, Citi has announced that ThankYou Points earned from  its own ThankYou Point credit cards can now be transferred to Hilton HHonors points.

There some huge pros to this announcement but also some really troubling concerns that need further clarification. Read on for my analysis.

What is the transfer ratio of ThankYouPoints to Hilton HHonors points?

According to the Hilton website, ThankYou Points (TYP) can be transferred to Hilton HHonors at a ratio of 1:1.5. The minimum number of TYP that can be transferred is 1,000. They also must be transferred in increments of 1,000.

Is this transfer ratio better or worse than other possible HHonors transfer partners?

The 1:1.5 ratio falls in line with the American Express Membership Rewards transfer ratio. Take note that until January 31, American Express is actually offering a better 1:2 transfer ratio. For more details on that, check out my post Hilton HHonors-33% Bonus on Membership Rewards Transfers.

Starwood Preferred Guest points transfer to HHonors at a 1:2.5 ratio, but it takes some legwork. In general, this is a really poor way to spend your SPG points. However, if you are desperate for HHonors points and close to topping off an aspirational award, it might make sense.

To pull this off, you will need to transfer your SPG points to either Virgin Atlantic or Hawaiian Airlines.

Starwood Points transfer to Virgin Atlantic or Hawaiian Airlines at a ratio of 1:1.25 when you transfer in increments of 20,000. For example, converting 20k SPG points will net you 25k Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles. Virgin Atlantic miles then transfer to HHonors at a ratio of 1:2. For a step by step, check out Scott’s post Transferring Virgin Atlantic Miles to Hilton HHonors Points and Transferring Hawaiian Miles to Hilton.

In a basic example, transfer 20k SPG points to Virgin Atlantic to net 25k Flying Club miles. 25k Flying Club miles then convert to 50k HHonors points.

If the ratio isn’t that great, why is this announcement a big deal?

I’m excited about the news from Citi merely on the hope they add more transfer partners. Having just one transfer partner isn’t very exciting. It won’t tempt me to apply for the cards outright. However, if Citi can add more potential partners, especially airlines, then the value of a ThankYou Point could be mentioned in the same breath as American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards Points, two flexible point programs with many great airline and hotel transfer options.

As you know, we have a great Award Booking Service here at MileValue and love tackling all types of difficult and complex awards. When clients contact us, having flexible points like Chase or American Express gives us options. It opens up routes that wouldn’t be otherwise possible. It makes bookings much easier.

If Citi becomes the third flexible bank point currency, then more potential award redemptions are accessible to frequent flyers.

Wasn’t Citi rumored to have added some airline transfer partners last year?

Actually, yes. In March of 2012, FlyerTalk was abuzz about Citi potentially adding British Airways and Singapore Air. The supposed partnership was to take place in April but never materialized. The addition of Hilton to Citi’s portfolio hopefully rekindles some of those rumors. To read about that big letdown, check out the FlyerTalk thread here.

Do all Citi cards that earn ThankYou Points qualify for transfers?

No. According to Citi’s own terms and conditions listed below, you must have a Citi Premier or Prestige card to be eligible for transfers. Other cards that earn TYP such as the Preferred, Forward, and Standard cards, do not qualify.

Anything else worry you about the terms and conditions?

Yes! There is some real concern about T&C #3 on the list above. It appears that TYP earned through sign up bonuses are not eligible for transfers to Hilton. I can’t overstate how much of a dealbreaker this is. But I also am not sure that it’s true.

The vast majority of my Membership Rewards balance was earned through the sign up bonus. I’m sure Scott can say the same about his Ink Plus and Ink Bold cards. We simply don’t generate enough spend to accumulate the points for premium cabin redemptions. Sign up bonuses are the clear-cut best method in quickly attaining premium cabin awards.

According to this thread on FlyerTalk, the Citi Premier card was offering a 50,000 TYP sign up bonus as recently as last year. The card now as a standard 25k sign up bonus.

The possible sign up bonus exclusion from Citi TYP transfers is a massive negative for the program. The data points are still pretty scarce on FlyerTalk, so feel free to comment if the TYP earned through your sign up bonuses are eligible for transfer to Hilton.

If I can’t transfer ThankYou Points, what are they good for?

TYP can be redeemed for a variety of gift cards at a rate of $0.01/point. Citi Premier and Prestige cardholders can also redeem them for airfare at a rate of $0.0133/point. Using TYP for airline tickets gives you much more value and allows you to earn redeemable and elite qualifying miles on the trips. Citi is essentially purchasing the ticket for you.

Recap

Citi has added Hilton HHonors as a transfer partner to a select few of its ThankYou Point earning cards. The transfer ratio is not a good deal, in my opinion.

The potential for Citi to add additional transfer partners is extremely exciting. They were rumored to have an agreement with British Airways and Singapore Air, but that never materialized last year. If they were to add more hotel and airline partners, Citi could give American Express and Chase a run for their money when it comes to “Best Flexible Bank Point.”

I’m still very concerned about the language in the terms and conditions excluding sign up bonus points from transfers. If that turns out to be true, the strategic value of TYP diminishes greatly.