Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.
Update: Some offers are no longer available — click here for the latest deals!
The Chase Hyatt card and the Citi Hilton Reserve card are two of the hottest hotel rewards credit cards. Right now both cards offer two free nights as their sign-up bonuses as well as additional perks that can be quite valuable. The cards are similar in many ways but do have differences that might make you prefer one over the other. So here’s a rundown on some factors to consider when comparing the Chase Hyatt card vs the Citi Hilton Reserve.
The first things to be aware of are the restrictions for the respective credit cards.
The Chase Hyatt credit card is not subject to the Chase 5/24 rule but you should still consider the Chase 30 day rule. This is a major plus for the Hyatt card since many other Chase co-branded cards are subject to the 5/24 rule.
The Citi Hilton Reserve is subject to the new Citi application rules that limit you to one bonus per brand per 24 months. So if you’ve gotten the Citi Hilton no-annual fee card’s bonus within the last 24 months, you will not be eligible for the Reserve’s bonus, subject to maybe receiving a targeted mailing without the 24 month language.
2 Free nights sign-up bonus
- 2 free nights at any Hyatt worldwide of any category when you spend $2,000 or more during the first 3 months
- 2 Free weekend nights (Fri, Sat, Sun) after making $2,500 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening. These certificates can be used at hotels of any category subject to several exclusions where these certificates cannot be used. Here is the list of excluded properties.
Both cards can be used to redeem exceptionally nice rooms that could cost $1,000 or more a night if used towards top category hotels. (More commonly the value will be around $400 to $500 a night for a top hotel but the possibility is always there to go even higher with both cards.)
So the question isn’t necessarily one of value with this comparison but instead you might be more concerned with which free night certificates are easier to use?
The Hyatt free night certificates are good for any category and can be used on any day of the week. Meanwhile, the Hilton Reserve restricts its free nights to weekends and excludes all-inclusive hotels and many “distinctive” properties.
While there are fewer restrictions with the Hyatt free night certificates, there are far more Hilton properties, so you might have better odds of finding a property with availability that you really want to stay at with Hilton.
However, consider that both hotel programs have around the same number of top category hotels. Hyatt has 8 category 7 hotels and Hilton has around 10 category 10 hotels (properties are continuously being reclassified). Even for their second best level, Hilton doesn’t outnumber Hyatt too bad. Since I only redeem my free night certificates for hotels in the top 2 categories, the difference isn’t substantial enough for me to go with Hilton over Hyatt. And the ability to use the free nights on weekdays for Hyatt makes up for the difference in the number of properties for me.
Thus, all things considered, I’d probably take the 2 free nights from Hyatt over Hilton.
Obviously paying $20 less each year is preferable so Hyatt wins this comparison.
Hyatt just announced that it’s changing its Gold Passport program to “World of Hyatt.” What this means for the credit card is that you’ll be granted a different status. According to View from the Wing now that will get you “Discoverist” status.
The Discoverist status is similar to the old Hyatt Gold Passport Platinum status but it’s missing some of the prior benefits.
- Before you could spend $40,000 for 10 elite nights
- No more 72 hours guaranteed room availability
- The 15% in bonus points is dropped to 10%
- Upgrades now limited to “Preferred room within the room type booked”
- M-Life gold status down to pearl
In addition to those changes you still get
- Premium internet
- Late check-out to 2pm
And the added perk of
- One free Category 1-4 night after trying five different Hyatt brands (up to two times)
You get to enjoy Hilton HHonors Gold status as long as you’re a Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve cardmember. Gold status can offer you a range of benefits including:
- 5th night free
- Complimentary internet
- With Gold elite status, you automatically receive a 25% bonus on all the HHonors Base Points you earn.
- Complimentary Breakfast
- Eligible for upgrades and occasional executive lounge access
I think the Hilton card has the Hyatt beat on status benefits since Hilton Gold offers free breakfasts, the upgrades don’t seem to be as restricted, and there’s always the option for the 5th night free. Still, I get Hilton Gold status with the American Express Platinum Card, so this additional perk really doesn’t carry much weight for me.
- Get 5,000 bonus points after you add an authorized user to your account and make a purchase with your card during the first 3 months from account opening
- Earn an upgrade to “Explorist” through the following year with $50,000 in spend on the card each calendar year.
- Plus, 1 free night every year after your cardmember anniversary at any Category 1-4 property
- $100 statement credit (you’ll need to spend the $100 in one transaction) Charges that will be reimbursed by the $100 statement credit include (but may not be limited to):
- Charges at hotel restaurants
- Retail stores
- Earn an upgrade to HHonors Diamond status when you make $40,000 or more in purchases each calendar year.
- Earn an anniversary bonus of one weekend night certificate good for one weekend night (standard room, double occupancy) at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton Portfolio after you spend $10,000 on purchases each year (starting from your Annual Fee Date) and remain a cardmember.
The $100 statement credit for the Reserve is not always offered so I can’t consider that a guaranteed benefit, but I just left it in for your awareness.
I think what makes the Hyatt the more worthwhile option is the free anniversary night that requires no additional spend. The $10,000 requirement isn’t too bad on the Reserve but for many people the opportunity cost of putting $10,000 on the Reserve versus additional credit cards probably does not make it worth it. When you also factor in that there’s a lower annual fee on the Hyatt card, its perks seem better.
Bonus earning potential
- 3 points per $1 spent at all Hyatt properties
- 2 points per $1 spent at restaurants, on airline tickets
purchased directly from the airline, and at car rental agencies
- 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases made with your card
The card comes with a number of other benefits, including bonus earning potential. The card earns bonus points at the following rates:
- 10 HHonors Bonus Points on hotel stays within the Hilton Portfolio
- 5 HHonors Bonus Points on airline and car rental purchases
- 3 HHonors Bonus Points on all other purchases
If you really want to earn Hyatt points you’d probably be able to earn more with the Chase Sapphire Reserve or even the Preferred in some cases, since those can earn more than the Hyatt card with the same spend.
Also, while the Hilton bonus category spend isn’t bad, the American Express Hilton Surpass actually offers better bonus earning potential. It earns the following rates:
- Earn 12 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio.
- Earn 6 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card:
- at U.S. restaurants
- at U.S supermarkets
- at U.S. gas stations
- Earn 3 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
The fact that American Express offers two Hilton cards is another factor to consider when choosing between the Hyatt and Hilton Reserve, since you could quickly accumulate 160,000 or more HHonors points with those cards to use in addition to your free nights. Unfortunately, Hyatt doesn’t have that same option.
Overall, both of these cards are solid in that they can offer you a substantial amount of value if used effeciently. The perks are similar of each card but I like the flexibility that Hyatt offers with its two free nights that can be used any day of the week and the free anniversary night that doesn’t require any additional spend. Thus, while I’m a fan of the Hilton Reserve card (and actually have it right now), I’d prefer the Chase Hyatt card.
H-Town based Attorney turned credit card rewards expert. Founder of UponArriving.com.