I picked up the Citi Hilton Reserve credit card in my last round of credit card applications, largely because I want to use the two free weekend nights at the Conrad Hong Kong when I’m there later this year. I like that the card gives free Hilton Gold status (although I may have already obtained that through other means…) and that it’s a chip and signature VISA card, but I dislike that there’s a $95 annual fee that’s not waived for the first year, the $2500 minimum spend requirement is pretty high for a hotel card, and that the free nights are only valid on weekends (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday).
I’ve already hit the $2500 spend threshold to get the sign-up bonus, but now I’m wondering if I should continue spending on the card to hit the $10,000 annual threshold for the free annual night.
Really, the question is whether $7,500 of incremental spend is better spent on the Citi Hilton Reserve card or a different credit card, like the SPG Amex (which everyone is pimping right now because of a higher sign-up bonus; if you want yourself some credit card pimping, read pretty much any other travel blog), as I wouldn’t try to hit this threshold in lieu of meeting minimum spend requirements on other credit cards. By spending $7,500 on the Citi Hilton Reserve, I’ll get 22,500 Hilton points and another free weekend certificate when my annual fee is due; by spending $7,500 of the SPG Amex, I’ll get 7,500 SPG points.
In terms of aspirational rewards, the Citi Hilton Reserve seems like the obvious choice since the annual certificate can be used almost anywhere while 7,500 SPG points only gets you one night at a Category 3 hotel, but I feel like this is a little misleading. It’s less appealing that you don’t get the annual certificate until after you’ve had the card for a year, rather than getting it once you hit the annual spend requirement, and I feel like the 22,500 Hilton points from the spend itself aren’t that useful since I don’t really want to go to an all-inclusive resort in Egypt, and there aren’t many low category Hilton hotels I want to stay at (on the other hand, I feel like there are numerous Category 1 or 2 SPG hotels that I’d happily stay at). Essentially, this means that I’ll just be getting a one-night stay at a nice Hilton somewhere, as it’s not really feasible to extend my stay with points. The other hurdle is in the unlikely event that I can’t actually hit $7,500 in spend, I feel like the spend is essentially worthless if put on the Citi Hilton Reserve, while it’s definitely not worthless on the SPG Amex
Thoughts? Am I making this too complicated? Is the correct answer to get better at manufactured spending and make all of this discussion moot?