Hotel credit cards offer all kinds of fantastic perks, ranging from elite status to free night awards. In the case of Hilton Honors, there are four co-branded American Express cards, with annual fees ranging from $0 to $450. Three of these cards offer the opportunity to earn one or more free night rewards per year.
In this post I wanted to take a closer look at everything you need to know about redeeming Hilton free night reward certificates (you can read separately about how to redeem Hilton Honors points).
Which Hilton credit cards offer free night rewards?
There are three Hilton credit cards that can potentially earn you free night rewards.
Hilton Aspire Card free night award
The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card (review) offers up to two free night rewards every year:
- You receive one every cardmember year just for having the card, including the year in which you open the account
- You receive one when you spend $60,000 on the card in a calendar year
Hilton Surpass Card free night award
The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card (review) offers a free night reward when you spend $15,000 on the card in a calendar year.
Hilton Business Card free night award
The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card (review) offers up to two free night rewards every year:
- You receive one when you spend $15,000 on the card in a calendar year
- You receive one when you spend $60,000 on the card in a calendar year
Can you earn Hilton free night certificates from multiple cards?
You sure can. In theory, you could have all three of the Hilton credit cards that offer free night certificates, and you could earn up to five of these for your account per year, in conjunction with qualifying spending. Note that you’re also eligible for the welcome bonuses on each of these cards. Sometimes there are even further promotional offers to earn free night awards.
How soon do free night rewards post to your account?
In all cases, free night rewards post within 8-12 weeks of when they’re earned:
- In the case of those free night rewards earned through spending, expect the certificates to be deposited in your account 8-12 weeks after the spending threshold is reached
- In the case of the Hilton Aspire Card annual certificate, expect it to post within 8-12 weeks of your anniversary (and in the first year within 8-12 weeks of when you open the card)
For what nights are free night rewards valid?
Hilton free night rewards are valid for stays any day of the week. Historically these were weekend night rewards, which is to say that they could only be redeemed for weekend nights. However, that restriction has been eliminated permanently, and they’re now valid seven days per week.
How long are free night rewards valid?
Hilton free night certificates are valid for 12 months from when they’re issued. The stay needs to be completed within that timeline, and not just booked by then.
At which hotels can Hilton free night certificates be redeemed?
The Hilton free night certificates are valid at virtually any property where standard award redemptions are available, at properties costing up to 150,000 points per night. Specifically, Hilton free night certificates are valid at all properties except a few dozen, most of which are all-inclusive properties or Hilton Grand Vacation properties.
Most of the properties you’d want to redeem at are eligible for this certificate.
How do you view your Hilton free night certificates?
Once you earn a free night certificate you should receive an email from Hilton Honors with all the details (the email usually has the subject line “Your Free Night Reward has arrived!”). You can also view free night certificates directly in your Hilton Honors account:
- This only works on the Hilton website, and not the app
- Just scroll down past your basic account info, and you’ll see a section that shows your free night awards
- You can see how you earned the free night certificates, how long they’re valid, and what the last four digits of the certificate codes are
How do you redeem free night certificates?
While you can view your free night rewards online, you unfortunately need to pick up the phone to actually book. Just call up Hilton at 1-800-446-6677, and provide your reward code (it’s fine if you don’t have the code when calling — the phone agents should be able to look it up based on your Hilton Honors account number).
It sure would be nice if it were possible to make these bookings online rather than by phone. Free night certificates with virtually all other hotel loyalty programs can be booked online (this includes IHG One Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy, and World of Hyatt). Then again, I generally find this benefit to be so generous that I’m not going to complain.
Do you receive elite benefits when redeeming free night awards?
If you have elite status with Hilton (like Hilton Honors Gold or Hilton Honors Diamond status), then yep, all perks also apply when redeeming points or free night certificates. This could include benefits like room upgrades, complimentary breakfast, late check-out, etc.
But I don’t want to go to a great hotel for just one night?!
What’s the value of a single free night certificate for a redemption at a remote, aspirational property? Most people aren’t going to go to Bora Bora, the Maldives, etc., for one night… and they shouldn’t. There are two ways to approach this.
One way is to use the free night certificate as part of a longer stay. In other words, if you’re booking a stay of a few nights at one of these properties (either using cash, points, or a combination of the two), you can add on an extra night to the stay using this certificate.
Keep in mind that you can also earn multiple of these certificates, so you can potentially use them for back-to-back nights at the same hotel, which could make a for a great getaway.
Alternatively, there are lots of good city hotels where you can redeem this certificate. This is an area where Hilton keeps getting better, as the Waldorf Astoria and Conrad portfolios keep growing.
From the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, to the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam, to the Waldorf Astoria Dubai, there are so many great city hotels to choose from. Those are just a few examples. The point is, there are lots of fantastic city hotels where you can redeem a free night award that are closer to home (or closer to major cities).
American Express and Hilton have a great portfolio of credit cards, and the free night rewards are among my favorite perks offered:
- The Hilton Aspire Card offers one every year just for having the card, which for many people will more than justify the annual fee, in and of itself
- For the Hilton Surpass Card and Hilton Business Card, I think it can be worth spending $15,000 on the cards each year to earn an anniversary free night certificate
These rewards can potentially be redeemed for stays at hotels retailing for $1,000+ per night, so I continue to get great value out of this benefit.
To those who have earned Hilton free night awards, what has your experience been?
One reason Hilton makes you call to book is so they can try and sell you things during the call. I booked one last week and was given the "opportunity" to attend a timeshare sales meeting "exclusively" for Diamond members!