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Regardless of where you’re traveling, hotel bookings always make for a large expense on any trip. However, the Hilton Honors program offers free night rewards that can be redeemed at one of their more than 7,000 hotels, which could save you a ton of money depending on where you choose to redeem them.
When you earn a free night reward it can be used at almost any of Hilton’s properties, whether it’s a low-budget option like Hampton by Hilton or a top-of-the-line location like Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts.
Obviously, if you have a free night reward that can be applied to any Hilton-owned location, you should choose the latter. After all, why would you book a $50 highway-side hotel room when you could book a luxury suite in the heart of the city?
In this article, we’re going to look at how you can get a Hilton free night reward, some benefits and challenges associated with this perk, and the best places to use it to get the maximum value.
Spoiler alert: You should try and use your free night reward at the most luxurious, well-located and expensive Hilton property that you can find.
How to Earn a Hilton Free Night Certificate
The most straightforward way to earn a Hilton free night certificate is by signing up for a co-branded Hilton credit card issued by American Express. There are four Hilton-branded cards, three of which give you the opportunity for you to earn a free night award (and one of which gives you a free night award just for signing up).
On top of the free night awards, which is one of the most valuable perks offered by these cards, you can also quickly rack up Hilton Honors points and be boosted to a higher elite status tier by signing up for one of these cards.
Here is the breakdown of the four Hilton-branded credit cards:
|Card Name||Annual Fee||Automatic Elite Status||Free Night Reward||Opportunity for Second Free Night Award||Spending Bonuses|
|Hilton Honors American Express Card||$0 (see rates & fees)||Silver||n/a||n/a||• 7X points at Hilton hotels
• 5X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets
• 3X points on all other eligible charges
|Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card||$0 intro annual fee for first year, then $95 (see rates & fees)||Gold||Earned after spending $15,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year||n/a||• 12X points at Hilton hotels
• 6X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets
• 3X points on all other eligible charges
|The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card||$95 (see rates & fees)||Gold||Earned after spending $15,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year||Earned after spending and additional $45,000 on eligible purchases in the same calendar year||• 12X points at Hilton hotels
• 6X points at U.S. gas stations and U.S. restaurants, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. providers, U.S. shipping, flights booked directly with airlines or Amex Travel and car rentals booked directly from rental companies
• 3X points on all other eligible charges
|Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card||$450||Diamond||One free night reward when you sign up for the card and every year after renewal||Earned after spending $60,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year||• 14X points at Hilton hotels
• 7X points on flights booked with airlines or Amex Travel, car rentals from select companies and U.S. restaurants
• 3X points on all other eligible charges
The Hilton Honors Aspire card is Hilton’s ultra-premium card that charges an annual fee of $450. Although that may sound like a high annual fee, this card offers perks like $250 in statement credits toward incidental airline fees and another $250 in resort statement credits toward eligible stays at Hilton resorts. You can offset that $450 annual fee quickly by redeeming your free night certificate for a hotel stay that would cost more than $2,000 in cash.
Hilton Free Night Award Benefits
Before you go ahead and sign up for a Hilton credit card to get the free night reward, it’s worth understanding what other benefits of the certificates are.
Stay Almost Anywhere
The main reason why the Hilton free night reward is so lucrative is that it can be redeemed at almost any Hilton property, regardless of the cash rate. No matter where you want to go, you can use your certificate as long as there’s an eligible Hilton property there and standard rooms are available. You can find the few exclusions on Hilton’s website.
With other hotels’ free night certificates, such as from IHG or Marriott, you have the option to book mid- and low-tier hotel rooms only. However, Hilton free night awards can be used for even the most luxurious and expensive brands under the Hilton umbrella.
For people who are used to traveling as cheaply as possible, the free night reward gives you the opportunity to throw your budgetary restrictions to the wind and have a taste of the high life for one night per year—without actually spending any money.
Resort Fees and Taxes Are Included
Oftentimes, you try to book a hotel room only to find out at the checkout page that taxes and fees have made it nearly twice as expensive as you thought it was. Well, luckily, with Hilton free night certificates, all taxes and resort fees are covered.
The certificates include both the room rate and taxes. And, if you’re a Hilton Honors member (which you are if you have a Hilton-branded credit card), Hilton won’t charge you resort fees.
That means that you won’t get hit with a bunch of unexpected fees when you book a stay using a free night reward.
Extended Expiration Window
Typically, Hilton free night rewards expire 12 months after the date of issuance. However, because of the COVID-19 travel restrictions, many hotels have extended the expiration window for their free night certificates, and Hilton has been particularly generous in this respect.
Here are the guidelines that Hilton has issued in regards to their free night rewards expiration windows:
- Free night rewards issued through June 30, 2020, expired July 1, 2022.
- Free night rewards issued between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, expire 24 months from their date of issuance.
- Free night rewards issued between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2021, will expire Dec. 31, 2022.
- Free night rewards issued between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2022, will expire 12 months from the date of issuance.
- Free night rewards can be used on any night of the week.
Previously, free night rewards have been eligible for use on the weekends only, but this recently changed to be able to use them any night of the week.
Hilton Free Night Award Drawbacks
Although free night rewards from Hilton are a fantastic travel offer overall, beware of a few minor drawbacks.
Must Be Redeemed Over the Phone
For reasons we can’t begin to understand, you’re not able to redeem your free night rewards online. Instead, you have to call Hilton’s customer service line at 1-800-446-6677 and talk to a real representative to make your booking.
When you call the representative, you’ll need to tell them the certificate ID number as well as the dates and the location you wish to book.
Lack of Availability
To avoid missing out on the opportunity to stay at your dream hotel, make sure that you make your free night reward booking in advance. The certificates can be used for standard rooms only. Even if there’s a room that costs $20 more than a standard room, if the standard rooms are sold out, you won’t be able to use your certificate.
Considering that most Hilton card holders understand that booking super-expensive hotels is the best way to get the most value out of their free night rewards, standard rooms at top-of-the-line locations (such as Waldorf Astoria locations) tend to fill up early. You’re going to have to book these hotels extra early to get a room with your free night certificate.
Unfortunately, for anyone who wanted to surprise their friend or family member with a free stay at a Hilton-owned hotel, free night rewards can’t be gifted. These certificates are non-transferrable and can be used only by the person whose name is on the certificate.
Some Hotels Are Excluded
While Hilton’s free night rewards certainly can be used at most Hilton-owned locations, there’s a list of locations that are excluded from eligibility. If the name of your desired hotel is on their exclusion list, then you won’t be able to use your free night certificate there.
How to Redeem Your Free Night Reward
If you want to see if a free night reward has been credited to your Hilton Honors account, you can log in on the Hilton website and select the “Profile” button from the menu bar on the top of the landing page.
Once there, you can scroll down to find the section that lists your “Current Rewards” and “Used Rewards” up to 12 months old.
However, you’ll still need to call in to actually redeem your free night. Hilton has not yet made these available to use online. To redeem, call 1-800-446-6677 to make your booking.
The Best Places to Use Your Hilton Free Night Rewards
When it comes to finding the best locations to get the most value out of your free night reward, there are no complicated calculations involved. Because you can use your certificate for any standard room at a location that isn’t on their exclusion list, you might as well find the most expensive and luxurious room that you can.
Of course, if you have to buy a flight to the other side of the world just to get the maximum value out of your certificate, then you’re probably not really saving money in the end. But, if you have some vacation time coming up and you can’t decide where to go, planning your trip around a free stay at a super-luxury hotel isn’t a bad place to start.
Here are some of the most expensive, top-rated properties in the Hilton portfolio that you can book using your free night reward (if they have availability):
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi
In terms of places where you could potentially use your free night reward, Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi is the cream of the crop. This is the most luxurious Hilton-owned property in the Maldives, one of the most luxurious hotels in the entire country, the most luxurious Hilton property in the world and the most expensive property in Hilton’s portfolio.
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi first opened its doors in 2019 and was immediately hailed as the crown jewel of the Hilton empire. This incredible island escape located about 40 minutes from Velana International Airport, the main international airport in Maldives, is accessible via yacht only.
Once you arrive at your standard villa, you’ll be greeted with 3,002 square feet of space, your own private infinity pool and direct access to the reef. There are also 11 bars and restaurants on the property, all offering different environments and cuisines.
A standard room at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi can cost between $1,900 and $4,500 per night, with the average being right around $2,500 per night. Getting a multi-thousand-dollar hotel stay for free might be reason enough to take a flight to Maldives.
Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal
Another high-value option for your free night certificate redemption that’s a bit more accessible for those of us in the United States is the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal, located right on the coast of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
This property’s standard rooms offer 856 square feet of space, a bottle of Clase Azul Reposado upon arrival, a private plunge pool, a private oceanside terrace, a fireplace, a king-size bed and a flat-screen TV. Plus, you have a personal concierge and butler waiting on you for the entire duration of your stay.
This property also features five dining options: a beach club, a champagne terrace, a hacienda-style restaurant, a seafood bar and another seafood restaurant built right on the edge of a cliff.
Standard rooms at the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal can go from $1,000 to $2,500, with the average being around $1,800 per night. This is a great option for those who want to use their free night reward at an ultra-luxury hotel that isn’t on the other side of the world.
Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort
If you want to experience one of Hilton’s most luxurious properties without having to fish out your passport, the Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort might be your best option for your free night reward redemption. It’s located in Wailea Beach on the Hawaiian island of Maui, right by the Wailea Blue Golf Course and ‘Āhihi-Kīna‘u Natural Area Reserve.
This incredible property offers standard rooms with either one massive king bed or two queen beds. All standard rooms also offer at least 640 square feet of space, a private balcony, a huge bathtub, a private water closet and a flat-screen TV.
This resort’s water features are its pride and joy. The property features a gorgeous spa with hydrotherapy pools, private snorkeling and scuba diving lessons, a watersports center, tons of pools, a 2,000-foot lazy river and, of course, a beautiful beach.
Standard rooms at the Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort cost between $850 and $2,000 per night, with the average being right around $1,600 per night. This is a fantastic way for you to redeem your Hilton certificates and visit one of Hawaii’s most beautiful islands.
Mango House Seychelles, LXR Hotels & Resorts
The Mango House Seychelles, LXR Hotels & Resorts is one of the newer super-luxury properties in Hilton’s portfolio, and it’s quickly made a name for itself as one of the most stunning.
The property has just 41 rooms, which means that you’ll need to book way in advance if you want to use your free night reward at this hotel. However, this property’s small size also gives it an intimate feel and the highest quality of customer service.
Each standard room at the Mango House Seychelles measures at 463 square feet and offers either one lavish king bed or two queen beds. They also feature floor-to-ceiling windows with outstanding views of the beautiful coast. The bathrooms are complete with a bathtub, walk-in rain shower, granite vanities and a private water closet.
The property also has an infinity pool, two regular pools, a spa, a watersports center and a gym that offers Spin classes to all guests. There are also five bars and restaurants, including a fantastic Japanese sushi and robatayaki restaurant.
A standard room at the Mango House Seychelles, LXR Hotels & Resorts goes for between $900 and $1,600 per night, with the average sitting at right around $1,200 per night. This is a great option if you want to explore the East African archipelago of Seychelles.
Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills
If you want a taste of what it’s like to be rich and famous in the United States, then Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills might be where you want to use your free night Hilton certificate. This stunning property is located in the famous Beverly Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles and is only a short drive away from Rodeo Drive and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Each of the standard rooms at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills comes with a California king bed or two queen-size beds, floor-to-ceiling windows, a furnished balcony and a smart home system that controls the drapes, lighting, service and entertainment.
The bathrooms at this property are made from the finest Italian marble and include two washbasins, a luxurious bathtub and top-quality Bluetooth speakers.
Standard rooms at this hotel go for $800 to $2,000 per night, with the average being about $1,100 per night. If you want to use your free night reward to experience the Hollywood lifestyle and get some great views of Los Angeles, the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills is the place.
Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
The Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi isn’t the only top-notch Hilton-owned resort in Maldives. While the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island isn’t quite as expensive as its Waldorf Astoria counterpart, it’s still a fantastic way to get a ton of value out of your free night certificate.
The resort occupies two private islands joined by a bridge and is accessible via a short seaplane ride from Velana International Airport. The available standard villas at the resort are either a beach villa (which measures at 1,614 square feet) or a water villa (which measures at 818 square feet). The water villas are typically harder to book as they’re in higher demand.
The beach villas have direct access to the beach, floor-to-ceiling windows, huge beds and a thatched-roof outdoor pavilion. If you’re able to book a water villa, you’ll get a private infinity pool, a bathtub with a view of the ocean and direct access to the surrounding reef. We suggest booking a water villa if they have any available.
A standard villa at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island costs between $650 and $2,000 per night, with the average being $1,100 per night. Depending on your preferences in amenities, you might even want to consider booking this location over the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi if you’re planning a trip to Maldives.
Zemi Beach House, LXR Hotels & Resorts
Zemi Beach House, LXR Hotels & Resorts is located in Anguilla, which is a beautiful Caribbean island that’s a whole lot closer to the U.S. than destinations like Maldives or Seychelles. This specific property is located on Shoal Bay Beach, around 10 miles from the ferry terminal and the Aurora Anguilla Golf Course, the only golf course on the island.
Every standard room on the property includes 600 square feet of space and lovely amenities such as a furnished balcony, views of the beautiful garden, a minibar and a beautiful bathroom with double vanities and a walk-in rain shower.
One of the best aspects of Zemi Beach House is the dining. Options for eating include an all-day restaurant that serves complimentary breakfast every day and a sea-to-table fine dining establishment with an in-house sommelier.
Standard rooms at Zemi Beach House cost between $600 and $1,300 per night, or around $1,000 per night on average. If you want to experience one of the best resorts on the Caribbean island of Anguilla, Zemi Beach House is a great place to use your free night reward.
Conrad Bora Bora Nui
Bora Bora has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in French Polynesia for its gorgeous beaches and wonderful resorts. Hilton’s top resort in Bora Bora, the Conrad Bora Bora Nui, is located on its own island and is only a short boat ride from Bora Bora Airport.
Every standard room, known as a king garden view suite at Conrad Bora Bora Nui, has a whole 1,087 square feet of space and offers great views of the crystal-clear lagoon. Each suite has a king-size bed, a separate living room, a furnished private terrace, floor-to-ceiling windows, Bluetooth speaker systems and a gorgeous bathroom.
Other features of the resort include five dining establishments (one of which has a Polynesian fire show on Friday nights), a luxurious spa, a fitness center, live entertainment and water sports like kayaking, snorkeling and scuba diving.
A night in a king garden view suite normally costs between $800 to $1,500, with the average cost being around $900 per night. If you want to see why Bora Bora has become such a popular holiday destination in recent years, use your Hilton certificate to book the Conrad Bora Bora Nui.
Other Ways to Maximize Your Hilton Free Night Reward
While staying in a super-luxurious hotel is definitely the most glamorous way to use your Hilton free night reward, there are other ways that you can use this certificate that might be more practical.
For instance, Hilton Honors members with an elite status tier of Silver or higher (which you already have if you’re a Hilton-branded cardholder) who book an award stay of five nights will receive the fifth night for free. If you choose to use your free night reward at the same location, then you could potentially have a six-night stay for the price of four nights.
If you have the Hilton Honors Aspire card in your wallet, another good idea is to go to a fancier resort for two nights and use the certificate for one night and the $250 worth of resort statement credits for the second night.
If that resort happens to be under either the Waldorf Astoria or Conrad brand, you’ll also have $100 in statement credits towards eligible on-site purchases. If you use all of these perks in a weekend, you can really get a taste of the high life without spending much money.
The Hilton free night award is without a doubt one of the most lucrative perks in the travel industry, mostly because it can be redeemed at some of the most luxurious and expensive resorts in the Hilton portfolio.
When you start to imagine yourself lounging at resorts like the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi or the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal, it’s hard to find a reason not to sign up for a Hilton-branded credit card to get this perk.
However, one thing to remember about the free night certificate from Hilton is that it’s a use-it-or-lose-it reward, meaning that you should make sure to redeem it before it expires. It might also make sense to use your certificate to save money on a hotel room at your friend’s wedding instead of going for the most expensive resorts in the world.
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