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 me, Hilton free night certificates stand above the rest.
Unlike other hotel chains that place caps on which tiers of properties you can book using these certificates, there's no points cap on how much a hotel night can cost with Hilton free night awards – whether you're looking at cash or award rates. So while even mid-tier properties are often out of reach with these certificates, you can book some of the best Hilton properties in the world.
Plus, it's easier to use these free night certificates than it ever has been. In the past, Hilton free night certificates require you to stay on a weekend: Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Hilton updated that throughout the pandemic – allowing you to use Hilton free weekend night certificates any day of the week – not just on weekends!
And in October of 2022, Hilton announced that that change will be permanent. You can now use Hilton free night certificates on any night of the week, indefinitely.
That all makes Hilton free night award certificates the most powerful among the hotel chains. So we'll 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
We think the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express might just be the best hotel card, period.
While it does have an annual fee of $450, it 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 first full year with the card.
The Aspire card also allows you to earn a second free night certificate each year by spending $60,000 or more on the card in a calendar year.
In addition to the powerful free night certificate, 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 status, unlocking benefits like room upgrades, hotel club lounge access, and certificates of up to $25 each day to use for dining during your stay.
The card also provides a $250 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 an annual $250 airline fee credit for incidental charges on your select airline each year. If you are familiar with the $200 credit provided by The Platinum Card® from American Express, this works the same way.
Related reading: 10 Great Ways to Maximize Your Amex Airline Credits This Year
And as a cherry on top, the card comes with a Priority Pass Select membership that gives you access to over 1,300 airport lounges across the globe.
Apply Here for 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 Honors American Express Surpass® Card also provides 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.
The card also provides a Priority Pass Select membership, though you'll be limited to only ten visits each year.
The card has a $95 annual fee (see rates & fees).
Click Here to learn more about the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card.
Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
Like the Hilton Surpass Card, The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card provides a free Hilton award night certificate … but only after you spend $15,000 on your card in a calendar year. You can earn a second free night certificate when you spend an additional $45,000 on the card in the same 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.
The card also provides a Priority Pass Select membership – though you'll be limited to only ten visits each year.
The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card has an annual fee of $95 (see rates & fees).
Click Here to learn more about the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card.
How to Redeem Hilton Free Night Certificates
Once you earn a Hilton free night certificate, you'll get an email informing you that it is in your account along with instructions on how to redeem it.
Late last year, Hilton 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 can not apply them to make a booking yourself online. Rather, you'll need to call Hilton at 1-800-446-6677 to make a redemption. And you'll need both your Hilton Honors account number and your Hilton free night certificate number.
Hilton free night certificates expire 12 months from the date they were deposited into your account… and you must book and travel 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 property to property. But when you are searching for a room with points, as long as you see “Standard Room Reward” listed as one of the redemption options, you will be able to call Hilton and apply your free night certificate on that date.
If you're aiming to redeem a free night certificate at some of Hilton's most sought-after properties, our experience shows it's typically easier to find standard room award availability the closer you get to your travel dates. So if the property you want isn't initially available, don't give up hope – you may just need to wait until your trip draws closer.
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+ hotels are off the table.
But if you are looking to maximize your certificate, certain Hilton brands are going to get you further than others. Generally speaking, stays at Waldorf Astoria, Conrad or even Hilton's Curio collection properties are going to be your best bet.
Here are 11 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 earlier this year. 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.
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.
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. As we got closer to the date of our stay, standard room awards became much more widespread. So don't give up hope if you don't initially see award space.
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 recently 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.
The property itself spans six 17th- and 18th-century palaces with 93 rooms and faces Amsterdam's Herengracht Canal, which is a quick walk to the main shopping district.
Standard room award nights price out at 110,000 points per night. As long as you can find availability at that price point, you can put a free night award certificate to use at the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam.
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi
There is no shortage of Hilton properties in the Maldives, and the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi might just be the cream of the crop.
In fact, it is one of the most expensive properties in Hilton's entire portfolio. If you are paying cash, expect to pay between $1,600 and $2,200 a night. If you are looking to use points, standard rooms can be booked for 150,000 points per night. So 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.
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.
Hilton Maldives Amingiri
The Hilton Maldives Amingiri officially opens for business this July and will be yet another great option in the Maldives for your Hilton free night certificate.
The renderings of this new property look great, but one thing about this property really stands out. At the Hilton Maldives Amingiri, overwater pool villas are base rooms. Better yet, all rooms come equipped with their own private pool.
The property itself is just a 20-minute boat ride from the Velana International Airport in Male (MLE). While being that close to the airport may detract from the feeling of seclusion many travelers are looking for in the Maldives, there’s an upside: The unavoidable transfer costs to get from the airport to your resort are much cheaper.
The Hilton Maldives Amingiri charges $300 per adult (13 and up) for roundtrip speedboat transfers and less for younger children.
And as we first reported last week, the property has wide-open standard award room availability starting from July through the end of the booking calendar. Any date you see for 110,000 Hilton Honors points is also bookable with your free night certificate.
Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort
The Waldorf Astoria Grand Wailea is simply one of the most luxurious properties you will find in Hawaii. And 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 if you are paying cash.
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.
In doing a quick search, availability seems to be best eleven months or more out. Close-in bookings seem to be mostly unavailable, but it is always worth checking if you want to stay here.
Hilton Tulum Riviera Maya All-Inclusive Resort
Hilton has entered the all-inclusive resort space in Tulum in a big way with the brand new Hilton Tulum Riviera Maya All-Inclusive Resort.
The property has nine pools, 13 restaurants and bars, a luxury spa, and an exclusive family zone.
Standard room award availability starts at 84,000 points per night, and that price includes your lodging, food and drinks, and many activities at the property. Renderings of the new property look beautiful.
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 – no overwater villas are available at standard rates here. Award availability can be tough to find during the Maldives high season (December through March), so again, it will pay to plan ahead here.
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.
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, Curio Collection by Hilton.
It was built in 1888 by Elisha Babcock, Jr., and Hampton L. Story. 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.
I used my Hilton free night certificate here in 2021. While the property itself is pretty incredible and worth a visit, the rooms are simply old 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.
Standard room awards at the Hotel Del 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.
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.
During peak ski season, cash rates are well over $1,000 a night. But if you can find standard room award availability, it should be bookable for 95,000 points per night.
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.
Standard room award availability can be booked for 80,000 points per night. 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.
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.
While cash rates can get pricey, standard room award availability starts at just 80,000 points per night, and the property is less than a mile from Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace.
After a quick scan of the booking calendar, there are plenty of nights with standard room award availability.
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. That's especially true through the end of 2022 as they can be used any night of the week.
But with the number of properties technically available for booking, 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 the 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.
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 will simply make them worth more.
Search With the Calendar View
Using a Hilton free night certificate hinges on the property having standard room award availability. That means it is important to know what dates will actually work for your certificate. But that is easier said than done, as Hilton doesn't make searching for award nights very intuitive.
But there is a way to quickly pull up a calendar view that will show you all the nights with standard room award availability.
Let's take a look at the Waldorf Astoria Park City. After doing a quick search on Hilton's site, I randomly threw in dates for a stay.
From here, you can click on the date (July 29), and it will pop open a full booking calendar. Make sure to select “My Dates are Flexible.” Once you've done that, hit “Update” and run the search.
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 within a month. For this example, 95,000 points is the standard room award rate, so you can easily see the dates that will work for your certificate.
It's also helpful if you are planning to pair your free night certificate with a longer award stay.
Pair with the 5th 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 Platinum Card® from American Express.
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.
So for example, if you wanted to book a six-night stay, you could use your free night certificate, and then make another reservation for five consecutive nights. 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.
Hilton free night certificates are incredibly valuable – especially if you know how to maximize them. And while these certificates were historically only good for a weekend night stay, Hilton has now made them redeemable any night of the week.