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How to Maximize Your Hilton Free Night Certificates

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All of the major hotel chains like Marriott, Hyatt, and IHG offer free night award certificates you can easily earn from many of their co-branded credit cards. But if you ask us, Hilton free night certificates stand above the rest.

Other hotel chains cap which properties you can book using their certificates, but not Hilton: No hotel or resort is off-limits with a Hilton free night certificate. So while even mid-tier properties are out of reach with Hyatt or Marriott, you can book some of the best Hilton properties on the planet using these certificates whether you're planning a trip to New York or Boston … or the Maldives and Bora Bora.

To top it all off, Hilton free night certificates are easier (and quicker) to earn than competing hotel chains. And while it takes a bit of legwork to find nights that are eligible to redeem a Hilton certificate – especially at the priciest properties – it's fairly straightforward, making it a surefire way to cover a night at a Hilton hotel that costs $500 a night, if not double that or more!

That all makes Hilton free night award certificates the most powerful among the hotel chains. So let's walk through how you can earn them, how you can use them, and the best properties at which you can redeem them.



How to Earn Hilton Free Night Certificates

Hilton and American Express team up to issue a handful of different co-branded credit cards. And many of them offer these free award night certificates as a perk.

On some, getting a Hilton free night certificate is as as easy as keeping the card open and paying your annual fee. On others, you'll need to spend a certain amount each year to get one.

Here's a full breakdown of American Express cards that can get you Hilton's free night award certificates.


Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Hilton's top-tier credit card saw some major changes last year. But we still think the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is the best hotel card, period.

While it has an annual fee of $550, that comes with an incomparable amount of benefits that can easily offset that. And it starts with a lucrative Hilton free night certificate.

Each year you hold the card, you'll get a free night certificate that can be used for a standard room at almost any Hilton hotel in their entire portfolio (subject to availability). Unlike other hotel credit cards, you get this benefit right off the bat – not after your renewing the card for a second year.

The Aspire card also allows you to earn a second free night certificate by spending $30,000 or more on the card in a calendar year … and then another one if you're able to spend $60,000 or more in the same year.

In addition to the powerful free night certificate(s), the Hilton Aspire Card also provides automatic Hilton Honors top-tier Diamond status just for holding the card. It's the only hotel card that will give you top-tier status, unlocking benefits like more-frequent room upgrades, hotel club lounge access, and certificates of up to $25 each day to use for dining during your stay in the U.S. – or complimentary breakfast for two abroad.

The card also provides up to up to $200 every six months ($400 each year) in Hilton Resorts statement credit for incidentals charged to your card at participating Hilton resorts, usable for just about anything you charge to your room like spa treatments, restaurant charges, and more. You will also get a $100 Hilton on-property credit when you book at least a two-night paid stay at Waldorf Astoria and Conrad properties through HiltonHonors.com/aspirecard.

If that isn't enough, you'll get up to $200 in airline credits each year – doled out in $50 increments, each calendar quarter. These quarterly credits work for almost any purchase made directly with an airline or through amextravel.com.

Read More: Why the Amex Hilton Aspire Card is the Best Hotel Credit Card


hilton aspire card


Learn more about the Hilton Honors Aspire Card. (for full disclosure, this is our personal referral link)

All information about the Hilton Aspire Card has been collected independently by Thrifty Traveler and has not been reviewed by the issuer.


Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

The *Hilton Surpass* can also get you a free night certificate, but only after you spend $15,000 on your card in a calendar year.

You'll also get Hilton Honors Gold status just for holding the card. This will get you free breakfast at almost any Hilton hotel abroad, or a daily food and beverage credit at U.S. properties.

Lastly, you'll get up to $200 each year in statement credits for purchases made directly with Hilton. Credits are issued in $50 increments each calendar quarter. This means that even if you only stay with Hilton a few times per year, you can easily wipe away the card's annual fee with these credits alone.

The card has a $150 annual fee (see rates & fees).


*Hilton Surpass*


Learn more about the *Hilton Surpass*.


How Hilton Free Night Certificates Work

Once you earn a Hilton free night certificate, you'll get an email letting you know as well as instructions on how to redeem it.


Hilton free night award email


If get the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Cardyou'll typically get your first certificate within six or eight weeks of opening your card – and six to eight weeks after it renews each year, too. And if you earn a free night by spending $15,000 or more on your Hilton card, it typically takes about that long for a free night certificate to hit your account, too.

Hilton recently added the ability to see your free night award certificates in your Hilton online account. And while that has made it easier to track them, you still cannot use them online to make a booking yourself.

Rather, you'll need to call Hilton at 1-800-446-6677 to make a redemption. You'll need both your Hilton Honors account number and your Hilton free night certificate number.


hilton free night award booking instructions


Hilton free night certificates expire 12 months from the date they were deposited into your account… and you must book and stay by that date. You won't be able to apply a certificate for a stay after the expiration date.

But here is the most important thing to know when using a Hilton free night certificate. While they can be used at any property in Hilton's portfolio, you can only use them at a property if there is standard room award availability. 

Standard room award availability will be easier to find at some properties than at others, and the number of points required for a standard room will also vary: From 30,000 points per night at low-priced properties to as much as 150,000 points a night at the highest end resorts.

While searching for a room with points at Hilton.com, as long as you see “Standard Room Reward” listed as one of the redemption options, you're set. You'll be able to call Hilton and apply your free night certificate on that date.


hilton free night award standard room availability


If you're aiming to redeem a free night certificate at some of Hilton's most sought-after properties, this critical standard room award availability tends to come in waves – often very far in advance or closer to your travel dates. If the property you want isn't initially available, don't give up hope – you may just need to give it a few weeks.


standard room search on HIlton


Thrifty Tip: Click the “My Dates are Flexible” option when searching to get a monthlong view, helping you quickly zero in on the lower-priced nights with standard award availability.

Hilton previously restricted these free night awards to be used on weekends only, but that's no longer the case. Nowadays, any day of the week will work!


The Best Properties to Use Hilton Free Night Certificates

Hilton's free night award certificates can be used at any property in their portfolio as long as you can find standard room award availability. So as long as you can find award space, none of Hilton's 6,600-plus hotels are off the table.

But if you want to maximize the value  certificate, certain Hilton brands are going to get you far more bang for your buck than others. Generally speaking, stays at Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, LXR, or even Hilton's Curio collection properties will be your best bet.

Here are some of our favorite options for your Hilton free night award certificate, in no particular order.


Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal

The Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal is where I used my free night certificate a few years back. And the property is incredible.

It's easily the nicest hotel I have ever stayed at in Mexico, and one of my favorite hotel stays, period. But you’ve been warned: This hotel is not cheap … which is exactly why it's a great way to use your free night certificate.


Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal balcony


If you were planning to pay cash for a night at the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal, expect to pay north of $1,000 per night. After scrolling through an entire year’s worth of dates on Hilton’s booking calendar, I didn’t find a single date bookable for under $1,000. Many dates even top out at over $2,000 per night.


waldorf astoria los cabos pedregal pool


Standard room award nights price out at 120,000 points per night. As long as you can find availability at that price point, you can put a free night award certificate to use – and you won't regret it. Finding that availability can be tough, but it can be done!

Read our full review of the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal


Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam

The Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam is another great way to use your Hilton free night certificate.

Thrifty Traveler founder Jared and his family deployed a free night certificate on a trip to Europe and said the property was incredible. From the rooms to the service, they nailed all the details.


waldorf astoria Amsterdam lobby


The property itself spans six 17th- and 18th-century palaces with 93 rooms and faces Amsterdam's Herengracht Canal, the perfect location to explore the city.


waldorf astoria Amsterdam room


Standard room award nights price out at 110,000 points per night. Much like the Waldorf in Los Cabos, finding that award availability can be a challenge – especially during the spring and summer when trips to Amsterdam are most popular … and when cash rates are highest.


Conrad New York Midtown

The Conrad in New York Midtown is easily among the best properties in the Big Apple. And you can book it with your Hilton certificate, too.

Standard room award availability here costs 95,000 points per night. And unlike some of the other top-dollar properties on this list, finding that award availability is typically much easier.

With automatic Hilton Diamond status on the Hilton Aspire Card, an upgrade to a spacious suite – a mammoth (by New York standards) 500 square feet with a separate living room – could just be in reach.


conrad new york midtown


Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi

There is no shortage of Hilton properties in the Maldives, but the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi might just be the cream of the crop.


Waldorf Astoria Maldives
Photo courtesy of Hilton


In fact, it's one of the most expensive properties in Hilton's entire portfolio. Expect to pay between $1,600 and $2,200 a night – or a whopping 150,000 points a night for a standard room award using points. If you're looking to use a free night certificate, that is the rate you'll need to find.

I'll let the photo of this overwater villa speak for itself.


waldorf astoria maldives villa
Photo courtesy of Hilton


The standard rooms are 3,000 square-foot overwater villas with an infinity pool, and an overwater terrace. The villas can accommodate two adults and two children under 12.


Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

The Waldorf Astoria Grand Wailea is easily one of the best resorts you can book with points – and not just on the island of Maui, but all of Hawaii. Like many of the other properties on this list, you'll be hard-pressed to find a night bookable for less than $1,000 a night.


waldorf astoria grand wailea
Photo courtesy of Hilton


The property has nine pools across the resort including an adults-only Hibiscus Pool. And standard room award nights start at 110,000 points each night.

We've seen excellent award availability at the Grand Wailea time and time again. As of publication, there are plenty of dates bookable this fall and next winter.


Conrad Bora Bora Nui

Yes, your free night certificate from Hilton can even get you this view.


conrad bora bora nui overwater villas


It's the Conrad Bora Bora Nui, one of Hilton's best properties on the planet and well worth a spot on your bucket list – or your Hilton free night certificate. Standard award availability runs at 120,000 points per night.

While finding those rates isn't a sure thing, we've seen wide-open availability repeatedly over the years. Pair your free night certificate(s) with some Hilton Honors points for an unforgettable stay in French Polynesia.

Read our full review of the Conrad Bora Bora Nui!


Hilton Tulum Riviera Maya All-Inclusive Resort

Yes, you can even cover the cost of your food and drinks at an all-inclusive resort south of the border using your certificate.

Hilton has entered the all-inclusive resort space in Tulum in a big way with the Hilton Tulum Riviera Maya All-Inclusive Resort. The property has nine pools, 13 restaurants and bars, a luxury spa, and an exclusive family zone. And unlike many resorts popping up around Tulum, this one is actually on the ocean.


hilton tulum room
Photo courtesy of Hilton


Standard room award availability starts at 94,000 points per night, and that price includes your lodging, food and drinks, and many activities at the property. The property looks stunning, as do the rooms.


hilton tulum room
Photo courtesy of Hilton

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

The Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is another great way to use your Hilton Free night certificate in the Maldives.

Standard room award nights start at 120,000 points per night for a 1,600 square-foot beach villa – sadly, no overwater villas are available at standard rates here, so you'll have to keep your fingers crossed for an upgrade.

On the flip side, finding that award availability is much easier than most properties on this list, including for a trip during the Maldives' dryest season between January and March.


conrad maldives
Photo courtesy of Hilton


The property is home to the world's first undersea restaurant – Ithaa – which contains a panoramic coral garden view while you eat. It's truly one of the most unique experiences you'll find at a hotel anywhere in the world.


conrad maldives underwater restaurant
Photo courtesy of Hilton


Hotel del Coronado, Curio Collection by Hilton

Just off the coast of San Diego, you’ll find one of the oldest and most iconic hotels in the U.S.: The Hotel del Coronado, a Curio Collection property from Hilton.

It’s not just an icon of San Diego – it’s an American icon. It was designated as a California Historical Landmark in 1970, and as a National Historic Landmark in 1977.

The property is one of the few surviving examples of Victorian beach architecture and was constructed entirely from wood. It is the second-largest wooden structure still standing in the United States.


Hotel Del Coronado


I used my Hilton free night certificate here back in 2021. While the property itself is pretty incredible and worth a visit, the rooms are definitely on the older side and not the best. But you just won't see hotels like this any more – it's a piece of history, and easily worth using a Hilton free night certificate.


Hotel Del Coronado lobby


Standard room awards at the Hotel Del Coronado can be booked for 95,000 points per night, and a quick scroll through the booking calendar shows plenty of dates with standard rooms available.

Read our full review of the Hotel Del Coronado!


Waldorf Astoria Park City

Located just 30 miles from the Salt Lake City (SLC) airport, the Waldorf Astoria Park City is a great use of a Hilton free night award certificate – especially if you are an avid skier.

The property is on the Canyons Village side of Park City Mountain and has a gondola to get you to the base of the mountain for a day of skiing. You can also enjoy the heated outdoor pool and hot tubs once you are off the slopes.


waldorf astoria park city
Photo courtesy of Hilton


During peak ski season, cash rates are well over $1,000 a night. But you can cover that with a free night certificate when you find standard room award availability at 110,000 points per night. It's easier than you think: As of publication, there's wide-open availability – including during peak ski season!


Reykjavik Konsulat Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton

Iceland is not cheap. But there are a few great options for your Hilton free night award certificate right in the heart of Reykjavik that can help you save.

The Reykjavik Konsulat Hotel was formerly a department store that has now been turned into a beautiful hotel with contemporary Icelandic design.


Reykjavik Konsulat Hotel
Photo courtesy of Hilton


Standard room award availability can be booked for 80,000 points per night – and some times even less. After a quick scan of the booking calendar, you shouldn't have to work too hard to find nights eligible for your free night award.


Reykjavik Konsulat Hotel room
Photo courtesy of Hilton


The Canopy by Hilton Reykjavik City Centre is also a great use of a Hilton free night award certificate.


Conrad London St. James

Hotels in London can get expensive quickly – especially during the peak summer travel months. But you can use your Hilton free night certificate to book a night at Conrad London St. James.


Conrad London St. James exterior
Photo courtesy of Hilton


While cash rates can get pricey, standard room award availability starts at just 80,000 points per night. Most importantly, the property is less than a mile from Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace.

But finding award availability can be hit or miss – especially if you're aiming to visit London during the summer.


Tips for Maximizing Your Hilton Free Night Certificates

Seeing as you can book a free night award at any property in Hilton's portfolio (assuming you can find the award availability), they are truly the most powerful free night awards you will find.

But there are some do's and don'ts when it comes to getting the most out of them.


Redeem at High-End Properties

You can redeem free night awards at any Hilton brand. That means you could redeem for a night at the Hampton Inn in Fargo, North Dakota, or at the Waldorf Astoria in Los Cabos, Mexico.

While those properties are at opposite ends of the spectrum, they are treated the same way as far as free night certificates go. So to maximize your certificate, you are going to want to focus on Hilton brands like the Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, and Curio Collection, and other high-end properties.

These are the nicest hotels in Hilton's portfolio and are generally going to have the highest rates when paying cash. Of course, that means you're on the hook for covering the rest of your stay (in cash or points) if you're hoping to stay more than one night. But putting your certificates to use at these properties is the best way to squeeze as much value as you can out of them.


waldorf astoria los cabos pedregal


Search With the Calendar View

Using a Hilton free night certificate hinges on the property having standard room award availability, and it's your responsibility to find it.

Luckily, there's an easy way to speed up that search. Hilton has a calendar search function, which you can use to click through a month at a time and find the standard award availability you need to put a certificate to use.

Just head to Hilton.com and start searching for your preferred property. But when you go to select a date, enter just a one-night stay – and be sure to click “My Dates are Flexible.” Then, click the “Special Rates” tab and be sure to select the “Use Points” option.

hilton award booking flexible dates


From here, you'll see a calendar view. So long as you have the “Use Points & Money” box checked, it will display award rates for every day each month.

One slight hitch: A handful of properties require two- or even three-night stays in order to redeem points. If your search comes back completely empty, try searching for at least a two-night stay using this flexible search function.


Pair a Certificate with the Fifth-Night Free Benefit

If you plan on staying at the property for a while, you can always pair your free night certificate with either a cash or Hilton Honors points booking to extend your stay.

If you're using points, Hilton ups the ante with a fifth-night free on award bookings so long as you've got some level of Hilton status – but that's easy, as you can unlock instant status with any co-branded Hilton card or even the *amex platinum*.

Unfortunately, you can't use a free night certificate and Hilton Honors points simultaneously to get a fifth night free. You'll have to book these separately.

Let's say you're open to a six-night stay. In this case, you could use your free night certificate, and then make another reservation for five consecutive nights using Hilton points. If you did that, you would only pay for four – assuming all of those nights had standard room award availability.

While there isn't a way to combine a reservation from a free night award certificate with a regular cash or points booking, you should be able to merge the reservations at check-in or with a Hilton agent via chat beforehand.


Bottom Line

Hilton free night certificates are incredibly valuable – especially if you know how to maximize them.

Other hotel chains that offer certificates like these make all their best properties (and even some mediocre ones) off limits, but not Hilton. Combined with how easy and fast it can be to earn these certificates, it's an incredible perk.


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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