Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve x 2 – much hassle, finally got the certs

In August I did an experiment I came to deeply regret, a double application for the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card.

A number of Citi personal cards can be gotten 2 at a time. I recently did that for the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card when there was a good 40k ThankYou Points offer (now expired).

The HHonors Reserve card is a pretty good hotel card with HHonors Gold status being the major appeal. The sign-up bonus, which has been unchanged since card launch, is 2 weekend night certificates after $2,500 in eligible spend within 4 months of card opening. Contrast this to the other Citi and Amex Hilton cards which all award points for sign-up bonuses, that are generally worth roughly a one night’s stay at the the most expensive properties. Some people value the certs for weekend getaways, others value the flexibility of the points.

I was approved for 2 Reserve cards in August and completed the minimum spend for the first in my October statement, the 2 certificates received via email within 2 weeks of statement date.

The following month I completed the minimum spend for the second, starting the agony, detailed in many comment on the original post, a rough summary:

  • 2 weeks post-statement I called Citi and was told I had met the spend and the certificate request had just been sent out, that it may take 6-8 weeks to receive.
  • The period of 2-8 weeks post-statement I periodically called, Citi agents were generally helpful, occasionally they transferred me over to Hilton Hhonors which never knew anything. Each conclusion was that the certs were on the way. Note there is no way online to check certs in a HHonors account so you need to receive the email or call. Award Wallet cannot access them either.
  • After 8 weeks I had my fill of calling and started sending secure messages, to my surprise Citi was very responsive, always replying same-day or next day.
  • First go-round of secure messages Citi said they would investigate and send a written response, which arrived 10 days later to say my certs had been confirmed as issued by HHonors in October, which were the first set of certs, not the certs I was looking for.
  • Next go-round I emphasized to Citi that I have 2 accounts and HHonors must have thought it was an incorrect duplicate request. Citi told me it takes 6-8 weeks, though at this point it was already 10.
  • Citi apologized and gave me 200 HHonors points, promising to investigate again. That was Monday. Has anyone received a more measly apology award, ever?
  • Today, Wednesday, 2 certs showed up in the email.

Reader Al proposed the best course for those determined to get 2 Reserve cards to be opening a second HHonors account so as to have different account numbers on each. Just use the second account for one weekend stay, Gold benefits come with the card, so only minor issue is trying to put spend during the stay on the primary account or merging the accounts later. He is testing that method to get the certs. I hope it saves him and anyone else a lot of grief.

I am not sure the weekend will be worth all the wasted time, but like so many annoyances, once started down this road, I could not not admit defeat.

Update: see comment #4 from bill, it may no longer be possible to get 2 of the same exact Citi card, at least when not instantly approved for both, follow this thread on FlyerTalk for the latest.

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  • I love hearing about other people’s ordeals! I like knowing I’m not the only one. Are there blackout dates attached to the certs? The Fairmont Chase Visa has a similar sign-on bonus, but their hotels have property-specific blackout dates.

  • dealswelike

    Hilton accounts can be easily merged.

  • @Travel Bug – I believe it is important to be honest about all the hassle this hobby takes, so many people breathlessly hype their successes to show off or sell something, but even the masters will admit they have plenty of exasperation.

    “This certificate is valid for 1 weekend night standard accommodation at category 1-7 hotels and select Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts that offer standard rooms, subject to availability. This certificate may not be used at All-Inclusive or Hilton Grand Vacation properties.”

    Valid for 1 year.

  • bill

    I have had a recent experience with the normal citi Hilton card that the two browser trick only let me approve 1. Said its a new briefing they got on Hilton products that are identical.

    Someone else reported the same on flyertalk so the double card thing may be up Idn.. my experience recently anyway.

  • kelly sargent

    So funny about the 200 points! I also had an issue with Citibank over this card. Nothing this extreme…just people not wanting to answer a simple question via email. Told me I would receive an answer in the mail in 15 business days. Answer never came. Called them only to have them tell me they mailed me the answer in December. Told me to check my address because they sent it etc etc. ANYWAY the person who finally responded and answered my question gave me 200 Hilton points for all my troubles. I didn’t ask for anything but thought 200 was funny as a courtesy credit. Must be the “standard” for any issue!

  • @bill – thanks for sharing that, that will change my plans as I was thinking of another round of those normal Citi Hilton.

  • @kelly sargent – thinking about it, the 200 works in a sense because we both ended up going from angry to laughing at the absurdity of it!

  • What, you mean you can’t travel for free? 😉

    That was painful to read, thanks for sharing your experience. I think I will wait to get one card next year as I have already locked HHGold in until then.

  • @TravelBloggerBuzz – it is interesting how much my free trips cost me in the run-up and during the trip. Maybe we are not supposed to leave the airport or hotel and stuff our pockets with airline club and hotel lounge food to get the free experience?

  • Al

    Ill keep everyone posted. Right now,even changing the Hilton account linkage is quite an ordeal n not completed yet. They sent it off to Hilton for “approval”. I’m at 2,455 spend right now on the 2nd card which I am trying to change the Hilton account number.

  • FWIW – I’ve had amazing success with tweeting and DMs to @HiltonHHonors for help, e.g. immediate gold after min. spend (in past, before Reserve avail.) w/o waiting for “2-4 weeks.”

  • @Mark – sigh, I need to find a way to stop hating and start using twitter…

  • @ Al
    Keep us posted!

  • Al

    We appreciate the opportunity to assist you.

    Hilton has denied our request to change the HHonors number linked to this account. We will continue to report the HHonors points earned on this account to xxxxxxxx.

    You will need to contact Hilton to consolidate the HHonors account.

    Unfortunately, we are unable to accommodate your request at this time; however, we appreciate the opportunity to explain our position.

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