Why Citi Hilton Reserve is Listed as the #1 Hotel Credit Card

On my best hotel credit card page I’ve got the Hilton Reserve in the number one slot.


The Hilton Gold Membership Benefit

Look, I’m no high class guy.  Seriously. I’ve spent sixteen years of my life living in a third world country (Papua New Guinea).  I’ve traveled in a 12 passenger van with 18 other people.  I once had an old lady (who I didn’t know) sit on my lap for a four-hour drive because the pick up truck was so packed.  I’ve slept in my clothes under the stars with only a backpack as a pillow.

However, I’ve come to really enjoy the perks of Hilton Gold status.


Hilton Gold saves you money and allows you to travel in extra comfort.  Usually, those things are mutually exclusive.  Either you need to pay more money and enjoy more luxury or pay less money and have less luxury.

The biggest benefit of Hilton Gold – free breakfast.

In 2012, I only stayed at three different Hilton properties, and here’s how Gold status saved us money:

  1. Hilton Budapest in the Castle district.  My wife and I spent 4 nights there.  Our breakfast would have cost 29 Euro (approximately $40 USD) per person.  To be clear, there is no way I would have paid $40 USD per person for breakfast, but I enjoyed being able to do it for free.  Every morning we were able to pick between a huge spread of breakfast items, cheeses, meats, and fruits.  Also, as gold members we could go to the lounge at any time during the day and get a cold Coke or water.  Each evening, there was a manager;s reception, and we had light snacks provided free of charge.  Learn more about our stay at the Hilton Budapest.
  2. Hilton Waikiki.  Our family of five was extended the gold benefit, though technically it is only for you and one other guest in the room.  We were all permitted to have breakfast for the week we were in Hawaii.  Just like we enjoyed in Budapest, our whole family was also able to have light snacks each evening.  We were able to spend a week in Hawaii for $356.71.
  3. The Curtis by Hilton in Denver.  My wife and I went to a play in Denver as our Christmas gift to each other.  The Curtis was having a 50% off sale when we were in town so we decided to stay over.  The room was $69 per night.  In the morning, we were offered our free breakfast benefit.  The breakfast buffet would have cost $29 per person.  We paid $69 and received a breakfast valued at $60.

Let’s say I conservatively estimate that we saved $10 per breakfast and $10 per dinner because the food was provided by Hilton.  In that case, Hilton Gold saved us $230, and we got to enjoy meals valued at nearly $800.

The Hilton Reserve card costs $95 per year (the fee is not waived the first year).  I think the $95 investment is worth it – even if you don’t travel very much.  Of course, if you only plan to spend one night in a Hilton, then it won’t make any sense for you to consider this card.

The gold benefit becomes even more valuable when you’re traveling to expensive destinations.  If I had a trip to Europe, I’d do everything possible to try and get Hilton Gold to be able to (1) eat better food , and (2) pay less money.

Turn Your Hilton Gold into Status With Other Hotels

One of the nice things about having Hilton Gold is that you can match your status with other hotel reward programs.

In 2012, I matched Hilton Gold to the following programs:

  • Marriott Gold
  • Priority Club Platinum
  • Club Carlson Gold
Sometimes a program will require you to show proof of stays in addition to your status, but if they don’t, you can easily request a status match with other hotel programs.  None of these programs had near the benefits of the Hilton Gold, but there was nothing to lose when status matching.  I did stay at all three branded hotels, and at the very least, I received bonus points because of the match.

What else comes with the Hilton Reserve card?

Two free weekend nights if you spend $2,500 in the first four months.

With proper planning, these two free weekend nights can be very valuable.  We had planned to get this credit card so we could have a weekend night voucher to use during an overnight in Hong Kong.  The Conrad Hong Kong is ranked #14 out of 426 hotels in Hong Kong on Trip Advisor.  A weekend night (when we’re planning to travel) would cost $460 for the night.  That’s a great way to use a free weekend certificate.

I should mention that we’re not going to do that because I got in on a Starwood promotion where I could get one free night anywhere with a paid stay.  Since I was planning on staying a night in Denver before a trip, I went ahead and paid for it.  Now I’ll be able to use my free night at the W Hong Kong which is #11 out of 426 hotels in Hong Kong.  The one disadvantage is that we probably won’t get breakfast.

To sign up for the Citi Hilton Reserve card or get more information, click here.

What benefits have you enjoyed from having Hilton Gold?


  1. Carol says

    Thanks for the great tip on turning Hilton Gold into status with other hotels! What method did you use to request a status match? If you called, what numbers did you call and what did you say? If you sent an email, which email addresses did you use and what did you say? Thanks in advance for your help!

    As always, I appreciate your down-to-earth, common sense approach.

    • says

      It all depends on who you want to status match with. If you Google Status match + the hotel chain you want to match you’ll be able to get the email address to make the request. I’ve only ever sent emails (I think).

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