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Taking Another Look at Hilton, Hyatt, and Diamond Elite Status

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To begin, I must say I’m disappointed I wasn’t one of the lucky ones to receive Hyatt Diamond status. Although I did luck out with Hilton Diamond status.

I realize I’ll likely sound like a spoiled brat whining about something I didn’t get for free. Especially when others have spent much more time and money to actually earn the status. That said, the way Hyatt handled the Diamond status match – from free-for-all to the later restriction to only match SPG Platinum members, and all the missteps in between- was very mishandled.

Booooo

Booooo

Hyatt had an opportunity to capitalize on the SPG/Marriott merger and they blew it – unless you got the match, then you win. I likely would’ve gone out of my way to stay with Hyatt more in 2016 and beyond. This whole thing has left such a bad taste behind that it makes me want to actively avoid Hyatt, and only use them for free award night stays.

Although I think what Hilton is doing is genius, at least from a marketing perspective. And, let’s face it: Hilton has a much larger footprint than Hyatt (4,100+ hotels compared to ~600). And Hilton is in every place there’s a Hyatt with few exceptions.

For example, there are NO Hyatt hotels in Barcelona (where I’ll be in a few weeks). But there were 4 Hilton options:

Furthermore, the next time Hyatt has a Diamond status challenge to stay 12 nights, I won’t even consider doing it (even though you can complete it with only 9 nights if you have Citi Prestige). Why would I spend $1,000 on something so many others got for free?

Anyway, that’s my preamble – just wanted to clear the air here. Again, I completely understand I don’t “deserve” the status in way. It just sucks to see so many get it for free, even though my credentials where enough – at one point – to get me in, too. A case of “early bird gets the worm” if there ever was one.

But now, I’m taking another look at Hilton, as I expect to have more paid stays there, at least for now. And, it’s not as bad as you’d think.

Hilton Diamond Vs Hyatt Diamond

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Booking Barcelona: A Hilton Points Dilemma

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It’s been a minute, but remember when I was tempted by the 75,000 Hilton points signup bonus on the Citi Hilton Visa? And then I went ahead and got it anyway?

OK, flash forward to now. I have the 75,000 Hilton points, and just booked a trip to Barcelona in January.

Those are all great things, so what’s the dilemma?

To Points & Money, or just money?

This is how life has been lately: I think one thing sounds good, then turn it over in my mind and convince myself of its opposite. Then repeat, like an annoying little hamster wheel of indecision.

Why stop now?

Here are my conflicting ideas.

asd

The setup

Within the image above are the raw materials for a room at the Hilton Barcelona in January. The options are:

  • The room rate at $150 a night, prepaid (AKA $935 for 6 nights after taxes)
  • 30,000 Hilton points a night (AKA 150,000 Hilton points for 6 nights with 5th night free)
  • 12,000 Hilton points + $50 a night (AKA 72,000 Hilton points + $310 for 6 nights)

Pros and cons

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Seriously tempted by the 75,000 point Citi Hilton Visa offer

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I sense an app-o-rama coming on after pondering the benefits of the Discover It card. And now the Citi Hilton Visa has its highest-ever 75,000 point bonus. I heard this offer was ending on August 31, 2015.

Some cards simply aren’t worth keeping any longer, like the POS that is the Barclaycard Arrival Plus and the completely, utterly, insanely useless Chase British Airways Visa (RIP to both. I’ll bury you next to Club Carlson).

Kinda sorta semi-interesting

Kinda sorta semi-interesting

But, out with the old, in with the new.

What’s so dang special about the Citi Hilton Visa?

For one, its earning structure:

3 Hilton points per $1 at... drugstores?!

3 Hilton points per $1 at… drugstores?!

Are they crazy? 3X at drugstores is asking for it, no?

CVS, here I come!

If I max out the $4,000 limit on PayPal My Cash cards, that’s 144,000 Hilton points per year ($4,000 x 3 points per dollar x 12).

Not bad!

Maximizing Hilton points

If I’m strategic, each month I’d earn 2 nights at a Category 1 property or 1 night at a Category 2 property… and there are a lot of Hilton Category 2 hotels all over the US and Europe.

If I’m doubly strategic, I can save up some points and get the 5th night free on a 5-night award stay.

5 nights at a Category 2 hotel costs 40,000 points. So the sign-up bonus alone would be good for 10 nights at Category 2 hotels.

And 20 nights at Category 1 hotels! Useful if you want to go off the beaten path.

I already have Hilton Gold status through FoundersCard, but this card does offer Hilton Silver status automatically, which unlocks the 5th night free benefit.

I wish it offered an ongoing annual benefit for renewal, but since it’s a Citi card, you can’t rule that out. Citi is known to have generous, aggressive retention offers.

Because it’s a no annual fee card, you can get the points and throw it in a drawer if you hate it. And let it age your credit accounts.

A good deal considering it doesn’t have an annual fee – but not as good as the Amex no annual fee Hilton card.

Still, for 75,000 points… I’m thinking of pulling the trigger on this one.

Bottom line

So interesting to see the sign-up bonuses on various cards come and go, benefits get added and taken away, devaluations, and new perks… and how they all tie in together.

If you can live with Hilton’s categories, maximize the Category 1 and 2 properties, and take advantage of the earning structure, this card might be a good one to add to the arsenal.

If you hate it after the initial sign-up bonus, who cares? Throw it in a drawer and let it age your other credit accounts. And Citi is known for retention bonuses, so you might get an annual injection of Hilton points by calling and asking.

I’m thinking of doing it… 5 nights for the price of 4 at a Category 2 hotel costs 40,000 points, so the sign-up bonus on this card right now would be good for 2 such jaunts.

Is anyone else thinking of getting in on this offer? 

Thank you for using my links! (And yes, the 75K offer is available there!)

Hawaii: 10 Days and 3 Islands for $100 a Day

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card was my first premium credit card.

Before that, my credit history was full of collections, defaults, and charge-offs. My credit score was in the low 500s.

In early 2012, I resolved to finally get my credit under control. I used my tax return (in conjunction with my full-time job at the time) to pay down my credit cards to $0. I started making big payments at the end of January.

By late February, my credit score shot up to 702! Pretty amazing – but was I ready to apply for a premium card?

My relationship helped

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