2 free weekend night certificates
This is a great intro deal without a lot of strings attached. You can use the certificates at over 2,500 Hilton affiliated hotels for a free night on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
There’s no fee the use the certificate and you can even stay at very expensive hotels like the Waldorf Astoria in New York. So this could save you $500 or more in hotel expenses. It’s great for capping off a honeymoon and there’s no better intro deal for free nights at the nicer Hilton hotels.
HHonors Gold status
This earns you free breakfast at most Hiltons as well as space available room upgrades and late check-out. It’s a benefit usually earned after staying at Hilton hotels 20 times a year, but it’s yours as long as you hold the Reserve and pay the annual fee.
Anniversary weekend night
Each year you spend $10,000 or more on the card you get another weekend night certificate good at over 2,500 Hilton hotels, which can more than offset the annual fee in value.
No foreign transaction fees
It’s the only Hilton HHonors card that offers no foreign fees.
Trip delay and cancellation protection
If a flight you book with the card is delayed more than 12 hours, you can get $500 to cover hotel or other expenses.
And if you can’t make a trip you book with the card due to medical or other covered reasons, you can get reimbursed up to $5,000 for nonrefundable travel expenses.
High annual fee, but not the fastest for Honors points
The annual fee is $95 a year.
If you’re after the Honors Gold status, the Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express has a lower $75 fee, and earns points faster with 12x points on Hilton spend (vs 10x with the Reserve) and 6x at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations (vs 3x with the Reserve).
The only category where the Reserve comes out ahead is airline and car rental purchases at 5x (vs 3x with the Surpass Amex).
Honors points aren’t the most valuable
Hilton points aren’t the most valuable around, as it takes a lot of points just to get a free night at most hotels. Think 40,000 points or more for a decent hotel.
They make up for it by making the points really easy to earn, but if you’re simply trying to earn points for hotel nights via your card spending, other cards like the Chase Hyatt and Starwood American Express could earn you free nights at nice hotels more quickly.
Lots of hotels to choose from
Hilton Honors gives you access to free nights at one of the largest networks of good quality hotels around, many more than smaller hotel programs like Starwood and Hyatt.
Honors points can be used for free nights at Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Conrad, Waldorf Astoria, Hampton Inn, Homewood, and more.
You’ll pay a lot of points for a free night, which is why the card earns 3x points per dollar you spend.
Here are some examples for summertime stays:
Hotel points like Hilton Honors points are great because unlike airline miles, there are no change fees. And if a room is available for sale in cash, you can book it with points.
A downside is Hilton charges different point prices depending on when you’re staying at a hotel, so it’s hard to predict exactly how many points you’ll need until you’ve decided on your dates.
Get it for the free nights
If you’re planning to stay at a Hilton affiliated hotel, you might want to get the card for the free weekend night certificates upfront. They’re incredibly useful and don’t have any special award night restrictions. As long as a standard room is available for sale on a weekend night you can book it with a certificate.
The certificates are via email so there are no paper vouchers to fumble with or lose. And you can use both certificates together for a full weekend, or use them separately on different weekends. You can even book the rest of your stay with points, cash, or both.
If you like to think in terms of points, these 2 certificates are like getting a sign on bonus of 100,000 points or more.
Is it worth the $95 annual fee?
As we say above, if you value the Honors Gold VIP status, you’ll pay a lower fee with the Hilton Honors Surpass American Express.
If you can put $10,000 a year on the card, you’ll earn an anniversary weekend night certificate that can more than cover the cost of the annual fee when you use it.
If you want no annual fee, you have options.
The Visa earns 2x points on most spending and 3x points at supermarkets, drug stores, and gas stations.
But you’re better off with the no annual fee Hilton Honors American Express, which earns 3x on everything plus 5x at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations.
Can you hold more than one card?
There’s nothing stopping you from holding more than one Honors card.
For example if you travel abroad and like earning Honors points you may want to pair this card with the no annual fee Hilton Honors American Express, getting the benefit of no foreign transaction fees and Honors Gold status from the Honors Reserve, while getting the higher 5x earning power of the Honors American Express at restaurants, supermarkets, drug stores, and gas stations.
What should you do?
Get this card if you want the 2 free weekend nights to start, and if you can put $10,000 of spending on it each year, which works out to less than $1,000 a month.
That way you’ll get a free weekend night certificate each year, which can more than make up for the annual fee. And if you do a decent amount of international travel this is the only card that earns Honors points without foreign transaction fees.
Otherwise the Hilton Honors Surpass American Express will give you higher earning and the same Gold VIP status with a lower annual fee. But it won’t give you trip delay or cancellation protection.
If you want no annual fee the basic Hilton Honors American Express can get you better earning power in everyday spending categories. But if you’re earning points to get free nights, why turn down the opportunity to get a free weekend night every year by spending on the Hilton Honors Reserve card?
Follow @MileCards on Twitter for the latest updates and new offers
Foreign Transaction Fee Waived
Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?
Leave a comment below -- we'll reply shortly -- no need to use your real name. Or, use the email form at the top of the page for private advice.
"These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered."
Or, consider other cards for 50,000 more miles or points that transfer into United miles with additional flexibility for your everyday spending.
Reward nights start at 10,000 points. Free anniversary night (no points needed) good at any IHG hotel (Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, more).
$1,000 toward travel or transfer to United, Southwest, and more.