Beware the return. (I’m out of touch AND out of time.)

Sigh. I can be such a dumbass.

I wrote just yesterday about how I spent over $10,000 this year on my Citi Hilton Reserve card, and how I was excited to get an anniversary bonus of a free Hilton night.

I was feeling all prepared and on top of things because back in October, I called Citi to confirm this spend. I had carefully made a few big purchases on the card over the past few months, plus I had sprinkled in spend from several Vanilla Reloads, so I was confident that all was cool. The rep I spoke to agreed. I had definitely made over $10,000 worth of purchases on the card this year.


I then asked her when I could expect to receive my anniversary “free night” bonus. She responded that it normally took 6-8 weeks, and that I should keep an eye out for an email in late November or early December.

Again, great!

During my marathon retention call session yesterday, when I was deciding whether to keep or close this card, I realized that I had yet to receive this exciting email. So, I called Citi to confirm again. Yes, the rep told me. $10,226.81 had been spent on the card this year.

I wrote a secure message to Citi, asking them when I could expect to receive the free night certificate. This is the message I got in return:


Screen Shot 2013-12-27 at 5.45.15 PM.

Argh! This is so frustrating! But it’s totally my fault. I could have actually kept track of my purchases, or taken the time to look them up, statement by statement, in Citi’s irritating online system. But I relied on a customer service rep’s interpretation of what “$10,000 worth of spend in 2013” meant. (TWO customer service reps, but who’s counting?)

My bad, totally.

I know exactly what happened – I used this card to hold a few heavily-discounted, big-ticket hotel stays during a huge sale, and then I chose the one I wanted, and “returned” the rest. Months passed, and I kind of forgot about it. And then this happened.

So…no free night for me!

Lesson learned.

Has anyone else ever had a not-so-nice surprise like this? Do you have any lessons/tips to share?




  1. I have long known that Citi (and their reps) are far from perfect. Since I only put Hikton stays and VRC purchases on my HH Reserve card, I have a spreadsheet with monthly purchases. Just to be safe, I bought 2 extra VRCs. Looking forward to getting my free weekend night. Sorry this happened to you ๐Ÿ™

    • Points Pixie says:

      Grant – I need to take a page out of your book! 2014 is going to be the year of the spreadsheet!

      • I cannot believe anyone “doesn’t” use a spreadsheet to track spend in this game. Doesn’t have to be accurate to the penny (since I do a lot of MS in comparison to legit spend, it’s done in $100 increments). I use GoogleDrive and thus can see info across all platforms. Also have spreadsheet with basic CC details like CL/expiration/special features/min spend requirements – and when min spend is met, background color changes to green so easily see which cards I need to work on and which I can forget about. With that and Roboform storing my CC details, have everything at my fingertips.

        And who puts legitimate spend on a card like HH Reserve anyway? Ugh. What a waste.

        • Points Pixie says:

          Paul – To each her own ๐Ÿ™‚

          Normally I can remember many of these details in my head.

          Glad you found something to help you remember!

  2. pinkisnice says:

    I’m so sorry this happened to you also! I’m amazed you can keep track of all that you do without already being a slave to the spreadsheet. How do you manage all of the mayhem?!
    I keep a spreadsheet for just about everything – including travel journaling. It’s all about Google drive so you can deal in real time, wherever you are. All this said, the reps should have reminded you that you needed to have qualifying purchases, even if they didn’t have the exact amounts at your fingertips – I mean that was the purpose of your call. Plus, you returned the items in question 6 months before customer service was giving you info. You def need to pick your battles and it’s awesome that you have a great attitude about this, but I don’t think this one is *totally* your bad.

    • Points Pixie says:

      pinkisnice – Thanks for the support. I feel like at the end of the day, this was my problem. I could have taken the time to keep better track of my spend/returns. And really, I do feel like I get so much for free from this hobby that when something like this happens, I have to shrug and let it go.

  3. Do you have either of the rep’s names that confirmed your spend amount. You should be able to leverage that to get your free night, maybe even go as far as saying you will hit that amount in January to make up for it.

    • Points Pixie says:

      Steven – I am just going to let it go. I feel like this experience was a good reminder of the saying, “if you want something done right, do it yourself.”

      It *is* super irritating that BOTH of the reps confirmed my spend, especially since I told them why I was asking.

      • Just throwing this out there. But your willing to make all those calls for Retention bonuses but not one more for a free Hilton Night stay? And remember it could be a free Waldorf Astoria stay…. Just saying ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Oh no! This sounds just like something I would do! :-/ (I guess Iยดm just fortunate that my Chase IHG comes with the anniversary night by default) Still though….

  5. Hello again, I am surprised at you.
    You are so excellent a writer, yet you say you will “telephone” to ask for the
    night that two reps informed you, you are entitled to.

    My advice:
    do as I have done many times over the years:
    Look up who is top executive of Hilton, and write her/ him a strongly detailed letter stating the specifics. (this is easy as you have already detailed in your posts.)

    I like to hand write this kind of letter, to let the reader know how strongly you are concerned, as well as to inconvenience the reader to have to read a hand written, personalized letter.

    As you are a “loyal” customer of Hilton for years, state the situation, and ask
    for an “accomodation” by Hilton, because you did all the due diligence you thought
    was required. You should/can acknowledge you have learned a valuable lesson,
    which you have also passed on to your loyal followers of your website.
    However, more important, is the fact, two separate Hilton reps gave you erroneous information, which you relied upon for the expertise, and for which Hilton needs to address and take responsibility.

    Best of luck, and remember, Hilton is interested in keeping its customers.
    Each new customer costs more to obtain, than to keep a customer who has had a negative experience. Isn’t that the reason Hilton offers the free night & points?

  6. Points Pixie says:

    Lyn818 – Hello again! Thank you for your comment, as always. I really do appreciate all of your advice, and I do agree with your observation that new customers cost more to obtain.

    And thanks for reading my blog – I’m honored.

  7. Kendra, can we have an update, please? Did you get your free night????

  8. The worst one is when readers forget the annual fee is NOT part of the official spend and say end up $150-$500 short of some HUGE point goal. That is maddening. Oh and Citi did that to my Lisa one year, she had a $50 return and was just short of the new card bonus goal and they told her to go pound sand! ๐Ÿ™

    • Points Pixie says:

      Rene – This just happened to a good friend of mine as well who is just starting to get into miles/points collecting. He missed out on his 2 free Hyatt nights because of it ๐Ÿ™

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