Master Thread ALERT: Citi Reserve not Awarding the Correct Number of Bonus Points!

Discussion in 'Hilton | HHonors' started by NYCUA1K, Feb 16, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,746
    Likes Received:
    5,090
    Status Points:
    4,270
    In addition to awarding automatic HHonors Gold status to cardmembers in good standing and charging no foreign transaction fee, the HHonors Citi Reserve Visa Card is a "devaluation buster" because it awards 10 bonus HHonors points per $ spent at Hilton properties (i.e., most on-property purchases that are included in one's folio during a stay), effectively doubling the number of points that a Diamond member earns with every stay. Specifically:
    You can therefore imagine my shock after I checked my Citi Reserve February statement and noticed the following:

    MISSING-HH-POINTS-FEBRUARY.jpg


    Between January 04 and January 14, 2014, I stayed at Conrad Bali (paid stay), Conrad BKK (award stay) and Conrad HKG (award stay), for which I paid $3,316.23, including incidentals. Because all three stays were at HHonors properties, I should have received 10 HH points/$ or 33K points. Instead, Citi had transferred just 9,949 points or 3HH/$ to my HHonors account! This means that the bonus points for my spend at HHonors properties were credited as general purchases @ 3HH/$ rather than @10HH/$ as per the T&C. The discrepancy between the points that I should have earned and those that were actually transferred to my HHonors account was so huge that I wondered whether this was an isolated or recurrent incident, so I checked my January statement:

    MISSING-HH-POINTS-JANUARY.jpg
    To my great dismay the bonus points for my Dec 21-26, 2013, reward stay at W=A Shanghai were also credited @ 3HH/$ instead of 10HH/$. Then I really got worried and ordered all my statements going back a year, to January 2013, to see how often I had been awarded fewer points than I had actually earned. The result is shown in the table below (months during which I spent nothing and did not earn any points are excluded):

    TOTAL MISSING-HH POINTS.png
    *Spend at the Waldorf Astoria (NYC) Bull and Bear Bar was credited @3HH/$

    As you can see, over a period of 12 months, Citi Reserve had transferred to my HHonors accounts fewer points than I had earned 6 times or 50% of the time, for a grand total of 45,387 missing points!

    I called HHonors Diamond desk to get an explanation and they told me to contact Citi Reserve because Hilton does not award the points; Citi Reserve does. I called Citi and they blamed it on Hilton, saying that the only way for Citi to know how to properly credit the points is if Hilton uses the correct merchant code. This sounds like B.S. to me because Citi Reserve has awarded me the wrong number of points even at properties where they had also awarded me the correct number of points (e.g., Hilton Singapore, they screwed it up in January 2013 but got it right in December 2013!). I have spoken with 3 different representatives at Citi Reserve to try find out the status of my request for retro-credit but got no straight answer other than they had filed a "dispute." Today, I decided to speak with a supervisor who promised to work with HHonors over the next couple of weeks to get it fixed and ensure that it will not happen again. I will be waiting for the outcome with bated breath...

    When a loyalty program fails to award the correct number of points 50% of the time, it is very likely a pattern and not an isolated incident. That is why I created this as a Master Thread where posters who have the HHonors Citi Reserve visa card can report what they find after checking their accounts to see whether or not they have been getting the correct number of bonus points. We would then know just how pervasive this problem may be...

    P.S. The rate of incorrect point transfer is actually worse since we should be counting only times when there were points earned to transfer. They got it wrong 6 out of 9 times or 67.7% of the time !
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2014
    estnet, vickers, Kalboz and 7 others like this.
  2. MX

    MX Gold Member

    Messages:
    2,215
    Likes Received:
    4,805
    Status Points:
    2,545
    Indeed it's a giant discrepancy. Thanks for alerting the community. Although I don't have any HHonors points myself, I'm very curious about the scale and eventual resolution of this issue.
     
    gconnery and NYCUA1K like this.
  3. flynow

    flynow Silver Member

    Messages:
    147
    Likes Received:
    170
    Status Points:
    360
    I have the American Express Hilton honors suppress card each time I check my points after stay for sure !!!!
     
    NYCUA1K likes this.
  4. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,746
    Likes Received:
    5,090
    Status Points:
    4,270
    I also have the AMEX (the HHonors Surpass) and did not find a single point transfer error related to that card -- something that I made sure to let Citi Reserve know.
     
    gconnery likes this.
  5. Thomask

    Thomask Silver Member

    Messages:
    562
    Likes Received:
    543
    Status Points:
    720
    That happens to me all the time too. Not just the mentioned Citi Hilton but MANY others as well. I think the only card it never happened is the SPG Amex card. I always check, compare and calculate.
     
  6. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,746
    Likes Received:
    5,090
    Status Points:
    4,270
    I have several loyalty cards that earn me miles or points and I just checked all of them for 'irregularities' in awarding miles or points by checking all the statements that I have ccess to. AMEX Surpass, UA Explorer, Hyatt visa, Marriott visa, SPG AMEX, AMEX Biz Plat: none showed any irregularities; not anywhere in scope and/or magnitude of the Citi Reserve. If I found discrepancies with these other cards, they were of just a few points due to small items that might or might not have been considered 'eligible spend.' The big ticket items were always classified correctly. That the HHonors AMEX Surpass was spot on every time for the past 2 years argues that there is no excuse for the HHonors Citi Reserve to get it wrong and blame Hilton for not providing the correct 'merchant code.' Hilton has been at this for far too long for them to make such a rookie mistake.
     
    vickers, gconnery, iolaire and 2 others like this.
  7. flynow

    flynow Silver Member

    Messages:
    147
    Likes Received:
    170
    Status Points:
    360
    Companies can make mistakes but it's best for your interest to doublecheck your points at the end of the billing cycle ! Happy traveling!
     
    jojim, NYCUA1K, Thomask and 1 other person like this.
  8. MX

    MX Gold Member

    Messages:
    2,215
    Likes Received:
    4,805
    Status Points:
    2,545
    Good point! As with billing errors, the CC issuer may refuse to investigate points errors that are more than 2-3 months old.
     
    gconnery likes this.
  9. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,746
    Likes Received:
    5,090
    Status Points:
    4,270
    ...except that in this case the CC issuer is the culprit. Refusal to investigate when there is little doubt about the CC issuer's culpability would be a terrible business and PR move. On the other hand, if the incident is isolated, meaning that there would be no consequence, they might refuse to investigate. The question is: Am I the only one who's gotten shafted by Citi? Considering the magnitude and frequency of the problem, I very much doubt it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2014
    othermike27 and iolaire like this.
  10. othermike27

    othermike27 Silver Member

    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    175
    Status Points:
    375

    I can add a small data point. I have held this card since August last year, and just checked my records: all charges were credited with the correct number of points. However, that was only 8 charges to meet minimum spend, and only one of those was due for more than the base 3:1 points award. On that one travel-related transaction, I got the correct 5:1 points, but in two entries. The first was the usual 3:1 credit labeled as "Bonus" on the statement, and the second was a 2:1 credit called a "Premium Bonus."

    While I keep a very close watch on all credit card charges, I usually only check points awards once in a while or maybe on large items. I have yet to find any discrepancy with points awards on Chase or AMEX cards, or with the associated airline and hotel accounts. Your experience is an eye-opener, particularly since the evidence they would seem to require to "investigate" the situation is right there on your monthly statements. The "wrong merchant code" excuse seems pretty lame, and a supervisor should be able to fix that just by looking at the names of the merchants involved. "Hilton Singapore...gee, now what code might that be...?"

    Please do post the final resolution of this.
     
    LETTERBOY and NYCUA1K like this.
  11. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,746
    Likes Received:
    5,090
    Status Points:
    4,270
    Thanks for the data point! The reason I did not post my statements before Jan 2013 is that I got the card in Sept 2012. Between then and Dec 2012, all my spend was aimed at meeting the minimum spend. There were no charges on the Oct 2012 statement, and the Nov 2012 statement just had one charge, the annual fee, which does not earn any points. Because I wanted to meet the minimum spend requirement by the end of the year, there were so many items on the December 2012 statement that it seemed by calculations that they had awarded me about 2,000 extra points based on how they categorized the items, some of which was clearly wrong because I was credited about 2500 points for travel-related items (airline tickets or car rentals) but there were no such items that I could find. This clearly indicates that the problem very likely is not with the merchant code but with Citi's computer's ability to correctly decode the merchant codes and award the points.
    The freakiest thing in all of this so far was when I called to report the missing points and asked the Citi representative to just look at my statement to see that I had stayed at 3 Conrad properties and that the points awarded (3/$ rather than 10/$) were wrong. She said that she could see that but needed to confirm with HHonors that Conrad is an eligible Hilton property. I said that Conrad was Hilton founder's first name! Right then I knew that this would be a problem. Citi does not appear to be set up to award the promised bonus point correctly, and I am surprised that there have not been more reports of irregularities posted here...:confused:
    I will make sure of it.

    Cheers!
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2014
    gconnery likes this.
  12. jojim

    jojim Silver Member

    Messages:
    52
    Likes Received:
    44
    Status Points:
    150
    Man, those were expensive stays
     
    gconnery and NYCUA1K like this.
  13. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,746
    Likes Received:
    5,090
    Status Points:
    4,270
    Standard Hilton rates but the stays, most of which are associated with business travel, tend to be relative long (as long as as 7 nights; 4 nights on average) -- the large folios are my fail-safe recipe for easily making Diamond (I need at most 12-13 stays) and stocking up on HHonors points to fight "devaluation", especially when factoring in quarterly promos, which have tended to favor long stays. The large number of points I get from most my stays may have been why I failed to notice that Citi Reserve was not transferring all the points that I earned on their visa card...:(
     
    gconnery likes this.
  14. jojim

    jojim Silver Member

    Messages:
    52
    Likes Received:
    44
    Status Points:
    150
    Gotcha. I know how you feel about points posting and not noticing or catching the mistakes. With all the different points currencies I collect and different stays, I tend to just pray they are all properly posted… Half the time I dont even know where they get the final numbers (usually for the better!) I know, thats bad...
     
    gconnery likes this.
  15. ssullivan
    Original Member

    ssullivan Gold Member

    Messages:
    27,358
    Likes Received:
    60,275
    Status Points:
    20,020
    I no longer have a Hilton credit card, but when I did, I was having this problem with Citi almost every single month. This was in the 2007-2009 timeframe. I finally gave up and cancelled the account.

    It would really help if Citi would itemize those points by the different earning rates the way Chase does with the Marriott Visa cards. I can look at my Chase statement, and my Marriott Rewards account, and see three lines – non-Marriott purchases, airline/car rental/restaurant purchases, and Marriott purchases. That makes it far easier to reconcile stuff like this, and I've rarely had an issue with Chase posting points incorrectly. I used to have it all the time with my Citi Hilton card.
     
    icurhere2 and gconnery like this.
  16. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,746
    Likes Received:
    5,090
    Status Points:
    4,270
    UPDATE!

    When we last met here, I was trying to recover some 45K in missing points that Citi had failed to award me for my stays at Hilton Family properties. I am happy to report that I have gotten all the points back and then some. However, it was a bit of an ordeal and I had to be persistent.

    The first time I contacted Citi CS to let them know that over a one-year period I was shortchanged by some 45K HHonors points because they, Citi, had failed to credit the category points correctly, I met with incredulity, which turned out to be just an act. They are well aware of the problem and their motto seems to be: start by telling the customers that such an error is not likely, and maybe they'll go away, "I am now looking at your statement, sir, it seems that all the points that you earned this period were correctly transferred to your HHonors account." That did not work with me because I had pored over the evidence and knew better. I told the CSR that if he was looking at my latest statement then we were both looking at the same thing and coming up with different numbers. Please compute: 3 stays at Conrad that should have earned 10 points/$ for a statement total of 33K points, were awarded 3 points/$ resulting in only in 9.9K of the 33K points being transferred. At this point the CSR started to play dumb, first saying that this happened because Citi had no way to know that the Conrad is a Hilton family brand. And then when I said that AMEX does not seem to have that problem at all, he said, well maybe I was be being impatient because "Points for Hilton stays usually post separately from points for the general categories, sometimes up to two billing cycles later." I said that I had looked at all my statements going back one year and that what he claimed has never happened. The points for all categories in a statement have always posted together." Cornered, the CSR finally said that he will open a "dispute", and that I should hear from them within 5-7 days. How about all the missing points for over a year? "A dispute will cause an automatic review of months past." Great!

    A week went by and I heard nothing, so I called again and went through a replay of what I had gone through with the first CSR. I thought enough was enough and asked to speak with a supervisor, who greeted me with the same type of skepticism. I made my mounting anger felt by raising my voice and saying that the reason I asked to speak with a supervisor was because I have been getting the same type of runaround when I have incontrovertible evidence that over the past year Citi had failed to transfer the correct number of points to my HHonors account 6 out 9 (67.7%) of the times when there were points to transfer. I said that I had downloaded all my monthly statements going back one year and if she would indulge me I would easily demonstrate to her that Citi owes me some 45K points in retro-credit. She said that at the time she had access only to statements for the prior 6 months, so I said just a subset would do. I then slowly showed her how again and again Citi had awarded me 3 points/$ for stays at HHonors properties that should have earned 10 points/$. Like the CSR, she blamed the problem on Hilton for not providing the correct merchant code. Bullshit! Why doesn't AMEX have the same problem? In fact, I was on the phone with one CSR when I insisted that she find the merchant code for my stay at WA Shanghai for which I got 3 rather than 10 points/$ because the property was not recognized as a Hilton property since it had used a name in Chinese rather than WA. That CSR had checked and sheepishly confirmed that the code used for that property was the same is that used for all the other Hilton properties. Citi's computer have a problem decoding merchant codes correctly but they will do nothing about it, preferring to perpetuate the problem and blaming it on the merchant.

    After the session with the supervisor, I said that the best way for this matter to be resolved would be for me to provide a written request that would list the monthly statements in which there was an error and the size of that error. She gave me a fax number and I faxed to them the evidence that I had provided in the first post of this thread, complete with the table and the amounts of the shortchange.

    A week went by after I faxed the request for retro-credit and I called again. This time I was taken seriously. They must have gone over my monthly statements for a year and noticed a recurrent error in awarding the correct number of points, even for a property named Hilton Singapore. I was told that their "investigation" had revealed that they did indeed owe me a lot of points and that I should check my March statement for all the points to appear. I asked how many points that would be and they said 46,974 points, including 5,000 points on Citi for my trouble. I said, that is very nice but if I am getting a 5,000-point bonus and my calculations had indicated that you owed me just over 45K points, should I not be getting around 50K points? Forgetting that this had already been checked and shown to be a Hilton property by one CSR, I was told that the discrepancy was due to the fact that I was not given any credit for what I had claimed to be a WA Shanghai stay because the merchant had not used the WA name. If I wanted 10points/$ for that stay, I had to send them a copy of the receipt that showed that this was a WA stay, which I did. That should add another 3,259 points, which with the 46,974 will come up to a nice total of 50,233 HHonors points in retro-credit!

    On March 7, the promised retro-credit points were transferred to my HHonors account and my Citi Reserve March statement also reflected the credit, as shown below:

    CITI-RETROCREDIT.jpg

    The problem of Citi not awarding the correct number of points has been around for a while. Google search revealed scattered threads or posts at TOBB, like these:
    However, it does not appear like Citi is eager to address the problem. If loyalty points are "currency", then every person they short-change who does not contact them to request retro-credit contributes to their bottom line. Since I am sure that the problem is rampant, the fact that it is not more widely reported (even here on MP) seems to indicate that people are simply not paying close enough attention to the points that they get on these Citi cards. Heck, it took me a whole year to notice! This means that Citi is getting away with not awarding millions and millions of points, worth thousands of dollars!

    Be prepared to keep contacting Citi to get your retro-credit because the problem will persist. I have a 7-night stay coming next week at Hilton Sydney that I intend to put on my Citi Reserve visa card. If after all the points that they have had to credit me retroactively Citi gets it wrong just a month later, that will do it for me. I will be done with Citi and start putting all my domestic and intl stays at Hilton properties on my AMEX Surpass, foreign transaction fees be damned. Better that than to waste time chasing credits from a company that does not seem to care -- a shame, really, because the Citi Reserve is a nice card.:confused::(
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2014
    anabolism, alanro, kmjaber and 4 others like this.
  17. LETTERBOY
    Original Member

    LETTERBOY Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,650
    Likes Received:
    2,522
    Status Points:
    1,425
    Kalboz, gconnery, MX and 2 others like this.
  18. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,746
    Likes Received:
    5,090
    Status Points:
    4,270
    Thanks for the link, which raises the question of whether the relative unpopularity of Citi's ThankYou loyalty program might not be related to their apparent inability to manage the awarding of various loyalty points earned on their credit cards -- something that Chase and AMEX pull off seamlessly month after month...
     
    Kalboz and gconnery like this.
  19. LETTERBOY
    Original Member

    LETTERBOY Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,650
    Likes Received:
    2,522
    Status Points:
    1,425
    I have no experience with, and little knowledge of, Citi's ThankYou points, but I would think that their relative unpopularity compared to Chase UR and AmEx MR is due more to the fact that the program has only one transfer partner. That partner is Hilton, and the transfer ratio is not very good, IIRC. The co-branded Hilton cards, both AmEx and Citi, have much better earning ratios.
     
    Kalboz and gconnery like this.
  20. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,746
    Likes Received:
    5,090
    Status Points:
    4,270
    It might be all interrelated. Citi appears to be a reluctant player in the loyalty business because there is no reason why they could not have set up their ThankYou points to be transferable to other partners like the other CC issuers had done. In fact, even the transfer of Citi ThankYou points to HHonors is limited only to two types of Citi cards. I have a Citi card that earns ThankYou points, but those points just sit in my account because the type of card that I have is not eligible for transferring points to HHonors, like I can my AMEX MR points. Thus, as a reluctant player in the loyalty game, Citi is playing the game badly and they may soon start to lose -- I will definitely drop them if I have to waste time chasing points that they incomprehensibly fail to transfer to my HHonors again and again.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2014
    Kalboz and gconnery like this.
  21. LETTERBOY
    Original Member

    LETTERBOY Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,650
    Likes Received:
    2,522
    Status Points:
    1,425
    That might make sense, but if they're such a reluctant player in the loyalty game, why were they so insistent on retaining the AA credit cards with the merger? That would've been a perfect opportunity to get rid of it, if they don't like the loyalty business.

    I can see why they do this - They're probably hoping that if someone wants to transfer points that much, they'll apply for those cards, which have higher annual fees (of course). AmEx does the same thing with MR - fee free MR cards can't transfer points (with the exception of the newly announced Every Day card).

    I'm not in the market for new credit cards at the moment, but if Citi hasn't resolved this by the time I am, I'll take a pass on their cards.
     
    Kalboz likes this.
  22. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,746
    Likes Received:
    5,090
    Status Points:
    4,270
    Someone thinks that they should be doing as other CC issuers are doing but this really does not seem like a preoccupation at Citi, otherwise they would not have a loyalty operation that is so messed up across the board.
    That would make sense except that one of two cards that enable transfer to HHonors, the Citi ThankYou Preferred visa card, has no annual fee,
    They look shakier and shakier to me the more I have to deal with them...
     
    Kalboz and LETTERBOY like this.
  23. gconnery

    gconnery Silver Member

    Messages:
    586
    Likes Received:
    459
    Status Points:
    620
    Thanks for posting all of this in great detail. Made me concerned and I went back and checked my Citi HH Reserve statements for last year. I didn't do the precise math (as others have said, the way Citi totals this points makes this difficult) but it appears the numbers are in the right ballpark. Just a data point. I will be watching for future errors and considering whether I should put HH spend on this card or a Surpass...
     
    Kalboz, MX and NYCUA1K like this.
  24. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,746
    Likes Received:
    5,090
    Status Points:
    4,270
    It may be that errors on Citi cards happen more frequently with stays at HHonors properties overseas. I cannot verify this because I use the AMEX Surpass for all my domestic stays and the Citi HHonors CC overseas because it does not charge a foreign transaction fee. All I can say is that the AMEX Surpass has gotten every one of my domestic stays correctly credited while Citi Reserve has bungled my overseas stays 67.7% of the time.

    Sent from my DROID4 GLOBAL using milepoint
     
    Kalboz likes this.
  25. LETTERBOY
    Original Member

    LETTERBOY Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,650
    Likes Received:
    2,522
    Status Points:
    1,425
    From the thread on TOBB I linked to, it seems that a lot of the problems with the AA cards happen when people have more than one card linked to their AA account. Does anyone here have more than one Citi Hilton card?
     
    Kalboz and MX like this.

Share This Page