One of the benefits of the Hilton American Express cards is the ability to earn free weekend night certificates. These nights are good at Hilton properties worldwide, and depending on where you use them, they can be extremely valuable. This post will help you find the best uses of Hilton free weekend night certificates.
How to earn Hilton free weekend night certificates
Hilton free weekend night certificates can only be earned through their co-branded American Express cards. The top-tier American Express Hilton Aspire card offers a free weekend night at sign-up, although the night is known to take forever to post (SEE: Where should I spend my Hilton free night that *finally* posted?). Mine took two months. You also get a free weekend night on account anniversary, which is a fine perk for a card that has an annual fee of $450.
Additionally, if you spend a massive $60,000 in net purchases using your Aspire card, you’ll earn a second free night. The cost of this, unless you seriously have tens of thousands of Hilton spend per year (earning 14x in Hilton points) you can leverage from work stays, does not make any sense to me. You can put $60,000 in spend on a DoubleCash card and walk away with $1,200 in your pocket. It would be hard to get $1,200 out of your free night, and I would personally much rather have the cash.
The American Express Hilton Ascend card also offers the ability to earn free weekend nights, and for a much lower spend requirement. If you put $15,000 in spend on your card in a calendar year, you will earn a free weekend night. If you can use the card for primarily grocery and gas spend to meet this, earning 6x Hilton points per dollar, I can see this being worth it, especially if you can use your free night at a property going for $300+ per night.
Hilton free weekend night certificate basics
As the name suggest, your Hilton free weekend night certificate is only good on the weekend. Fortunately, Hilton gives you three nights to use it, as the weekend defined by the certificate terms includes a Friday, Saturday or Sunday night. You’ll be given a certificate number, which you’ll need to reference for the agent when you book.
The certificate is good for the room rate and tax of one standard room at any Hilton hotel. One nice thing about the Hilton free weekend night certificates is that you can use them for anybody, even a non-family member. There are more terms and conditions, such as the fact you cannot sell or barter your certificate, and click on the link in the preceding paragraph if you care to read them. These are the basic ones you need to know.
Searching for availability
To be able to use a Hilton Free Night certificate, there must be standard rooms available on points. If you search hilton.com and select ‘Points’ instead of cash at the top of the list of hotels, you’ll see the prices for each property and whether the price is a standard award. Sometimes a hotel no longer has standard rooms available, but they may have other room types available on points, and it will say ‘Premium Room Reward’ under the points price.
In general, I find premium room rewards to be a rip-off with Hilton. Often, the price per night is no more than $30-50 more, yet it may require twice the points. Every once in a while I’ll stumble onto a premium room reward that I might consider booking, but it is rare. And this is a moot issue when you’re looking to find the best use of Hilton free weekend night certificates, as you cannot use these to book anything besides a standard room.
There is no other special way to search for availability for your Hilton free night certificates. It’s as simple as looking for weekend dates (remember, Friday, Saturday or Sunday) at a destination of interest and seeing if standard room rewards are available.
Best uses of Hilton Free Weekend Night Certificates
While your Hilton free weekend night certificate is good at any hotel, there is a big difference using a certificate to cover a night at the Hampton Inn across town versus somewhere super expensive, such as the Conrad Hong Kong. You’re welcome to use it how you see fit, but I would suggest finding one of the more aspirational properties you might not consider booking, even with points. If you and your “Player 2” each have a free weekend night certificate, even better. Make a weekend out of it.
Here is my short list of places at which you can definitely maximize your certificate:
- The London NYC
- The Renwick Hotel NYC
- Reykjavik Konsulat Hotel
- Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam
- Alexandra Barcelona Hotel
- Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem
- Conrad Hong Kong
- Conrad Tokyo
- Conrad Osaka
- The Grand Wailea, Maui
- Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills
These are the most likely to be within reach of people’s general domestic and international travel plans. If you’re looking for super aspirational properties that may cost you more to get there and/or stay there than the certificate is actually worth, then here are a few other ideas:
- Conrad Bora Bora Nui
- Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa
- Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
- Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort & Spa
My thought with the latter list, especially Bora Bora and the Maldives, is that it takes so much effort to get there that there is a significant cost to using your “free” certificate. Whereas, if you were already planning on visiting Tokyo, burning your certificate at a luxury property could be awesome.
Booking your Hilton free weekend night award
Once you find the hotel you would like to book and that has standard availability, call Hilton Honors at 1-800-4HONORS (1-800-446-6677). Yes, it is 2019, but Hilton doesn’t yet have a way for you to book these awards online.
When I called to make a booking with my Hilton free weekend night certificate, the agent tried to tell me it was only good in the U.S. She seemed very unfamiliar with the certificate, and had me read the email I was sent and then give her the certificate code. I spent maybe two minutes on hold, and then she returned, saying it could be any property worldwide, and asking where and when I wanted to use my certificate. After that, is was smooth sailing.
I booked the Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund using my certificate (later cancelled). It may not be one of the very best uses of Hilton Free weekend night certificates, but I still consider it an excellent value. The flexible cash rate after taxes for the date I booked was $330 USD. It is a hotel for which I would never pay cash, and probably not the points rate either, which is 80,000 per night (yikes!). Definitely on the aspirational stay end of the spectrum, but not a $500 or $1,000+ hotel booking, which is certainly possible using a Hilton free weekend night.
Your booking confirmation will show as if you made it on points, even displaying the points price. But no points will be deducted from your account. I even checked the next day to confirm.
Wrapping things up
Finding a great use for your Hilton free weekend night is pretty easy. The only annoying part of the process is having to call instead of being able to book these online. I mean, it’s 2019. C’mon Hilton. My booking unfortunately took almost 20 minutes, including hold times and finalizing the award with the agent. I wish it was as easy as Hyatt or IHG, where I can be done in under two minutes. But this is definitely a fantastic perk of the Hilton Aspire card, and I hope you now have your own ideas for the best uses of Hilton free weekend night certificates.
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