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How Long Do Hilton Free Night Certificates Take?

The best free night certificate in all of hotel loyalty programs has to be the Hilton free night certificate. It is the only one not capped at category of points amount anymore. In all fairness you do need saver award space available to be able to use them though. Their massive value proposition is one of the reasons I continue to carry an American Express Hilton Surpass and Amex Hilton Business card and spend $15,000 on them each calendar year. Once you earn them, how long do Hilton free night certificates take to post to your account though? That is exactly what I am here to share with you.

Hilton Free Night Certificate Rules

There are some rules to Hilton free night certificates (FNC) you should be aware of:

  • You can use them at almost any Hilton property, except for this short list of exclusions (mostly all inclusive properties).
  • The hotel has to have Saver Award Space available.
    • This isn't always easy to tell with Hilton but it usually ends in 5K or 10K chunks. (Ex 25K, 40K, 60K etc.)
  • You can book any night of the week.
    • They used to be restricted to Friday, Saturday or Sunday only but that changed during Covid.
  • They are good for one year from the issuance date.

For more information on the Hilton free night certificate terms, how to earn & use them, check out our ToP Guide to Hilton FNCs.

How Long Do Hilton Free Night Certificates Take?

Timeline For Each Kind Of Certificate

I have completed the required $15,000 of spend already this year for the Amex Hilton Surpass and Amex Hilton Business card. I will share those recent data points for how long it took for the free nights to post to my account. I'll also share my timelines for the Amex Hilton Aspire card's free night certificates from when I had the card in the past. This should give you a good estimate on the timeline for every single Hilton free night cert you can earn.

Amex Hilton Surpass

My Surpass free night just posted yesterday so these data points are as fresh as it gets. The nice thing about the Hilton free night certificates earned via spend is that you don't need to wait for the statement to cut to earn them. Amex's own IT is the only potential roadblock, but more on that in a second.

  • $15,000 threshold purchase made on 6/13/23
  • Email from Amex congratulating me on 6/20/23
  • Email from Hilton saying the certificate was in my account on 6/21/23
  • The free night cert was dated 6/20/23

This is similar to the timeline we saw for my recent Amex authorized user bonus posting. It seems like the Amex system takes 5-7 days to catch up on recent purchases these days. It used to be done within a day or two.

Amex Hilton Business

We had some larger bills in the early part of the year (thanks, tax man) and I was trying to hit the $15K in spend before the annual fee posted in late January. My goal was to earn the free night certificate and then close the card after the fee hit my wife's card. We missed the cut off by a few days so we shall give it the old college try again next year. Here was our timeline for the free night:

  • $15,000 threshold crossed on 1/27/23
  • Email congratulating us on the certificate 2/3/23
  • The free night cert was dated 2/3/23

Another one that was exactly 7 days after the required $15K in spend was completed. The free night from the currently increased welcome offer posted within a week or two of the spend being completed from multiple data points I received after this article went live.

Amex Hilton Aspire

There are a few different things I want to look at for the Aspire card. I won't focus on the $60K in spend free night option because that is just too much spend. I will look at the time frame for how long it takes for the cert to post when you first sign up for the card, after upgrading to an Aspire and also after paying the yearly annual fee. These are older data points but it is what I have:

  • New Application
    • Took 10 weeks for mine
  • Upgrade
    • Took 9 weeks after accepting the upgrade offer from a Surpass card. I hope they bring back those upgrade bonus offers!
  • Yearly Anniversary
    • Takes 8 – 10 weeks for most. I didn't have personal records on this one so thanks Reddit

The free nights do not come quickly with the Aspire card. I imagine if you completed the $60K in spend you would get it in about a week like the other two cards though.

Hilton Free Night Certificate Timeline: ToP Thoughts

This should give you a good idea of what type of wait you will have for each Hilton free night certificate option. Some come relatively quickly and others can take a few months. Hopefully you can plan your necessary bookings around the Hilton free night certificate timelines a little bit better now.

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