It's no secret that all of us in the ToP team are big fans of Hilton Free Night Rewards certificates. These certificates are valid for a one-night standard room stay at nearly any Hilton hotel. These include some incredible properties across Hilton's brands, like Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, and LXR. In this ToP Guide, we cover how to earn Hilton certificates, the rules for redeeming certificates, and how to use them. As always, we include a couple of tips to help you get the most out of your certificates.
What are Hilton Free Night Rewards
Hilton Free Night Rewards certificates can be redeemed for a one-night stay at nearly any Hilton property, subject to availability. Certificates can only be used for rooms available to be booked at the “standard room” rate for award bookings. This makes it easy to check availability, since if a room is available at the standard rate, it means it's available for Free Night Rewards purposes.
Until a couple of years ago, certificates were only valid for weekend stays. During the covid-19 pandemic, Hilton made these certificates redeemable any day of the week. Hilton recently made this change permanent, much to our joy.
You can redeem certificates at nearly all Hilton properties around the world, regardless of brand. Hilton has a list of the few properties excluded from certificates, which mostly consist of vacation clubs. This list is available here. The list of exclusions has fewer than 40 properties listed. This means you can redeem your certificates at over 99% of Hilton's more than 6,800 properties worldwide.
The widespread use of Hilton certificates make them more valuable than Hyatt or Marriott certificates. Hyatt category 1-7 certificates cannot be used at category 8 properties. This excludes such aspirational hotels as the Park Hyatt Kyoto and the Park Hyatt Sydney. Meanwhile, Marriott's Free Night Awards are subject to Marriott's dynamic pricing for awards, so you never know what you can actually get for your certificate.
How to Earn Free Night Rewards Certificates
You can earn Hilton certificates through three different Hilton credit cards: Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card, the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, and the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. You can check out our review of the Hilton personal credit cards here, and our review of the Hilton Business card here.
The Hilton Aspire card offers one complimentary Free Night Reward certificate when you open the card and every subsequent year after. This benefit alone can fully offset the Hilton Aspire's $450 annual fee.
The Hilton Surpass and Hilton Business cards both offer the ability to earn a Free Night Reward certificate when you spend $15,000 on the card during a calendar year. The certificate alone is enough to offset the $95 annual fee for each of these cards, just like with the Hilton Aspire. Meanwhile, the Hilton Business card offers the ability to earn a second certificate when you spend $45,000 during a calendar year.
In addition, every once in a while Hilton and Amex offer limited time promotions where you can earn a Hilton certificate if you spend a certain amount on your card. One of the last ones involved spending $8,000 on the Hilton Surpass card during a certain period of time. This was particularly good for those who were still working on the $15,000 spend since they were now spending towards two certificates!
Lastly, Hilton and Amex every so often make Free Night Rewards certificates part of a Hilton card's welcome offer. For example, currently, the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card‘s current welcome offer is for 130,000 points after you spend $5,000, plus you can earn a Free Night Reward after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months. This of course stacks with the $15,000 spend to earn the annual certificate with the Hilton Business card. So if you spend $15,000 within the first 6 months, you'll earn two certificates plus the 130,000-point welcome offer!
According to the terms & conditions, certificates typically post within 8-12 weeks from when you meet the spend. Likewise, the Hilton Aspire's anniversary certificate also is expected to post within 8-12 weeks. But usually, certificates post much sooner, as we break down in this post.
Rules for Redeeming Certificates
Certificates are valid for 12 months from the date of issuance. You must complete your stay by the certificate's expiration date. This means that if your certificate expires on December 31, you must check out by December 31. In 2020 and 2021, Hilton extended the expiration date on many certificates. But that no longer appears to be the case as of 2022.
You can use as many certificates as you have and then combine your multiple nights into a single reservation. Although Hilton offers a fifth night free on award stays, certificates do not qualify for this benefit. This means you cannot book 3 nights with points and one night with a certificate and get a fifth night free. Nor can you redeem 4 certificates and get a fifth night free. So between redeeming points or certificates for a 4-night stay, consider whether you'd like to stay for a free fifth night. Or better yet, stack a certificate onto a 4-night points stay to earn a sixth night free!
Unfortunately, you cannot gift or transfer Hilton certificates. Certificates may only be used by the person whose name is on the reward. That said, Hilton makes it easy to transfer and pool points together. So even if you can't share your certificates, you can receive points from others and use those along with your certificate.
Using Free Night Rewards Certificates
To redeem a Free Night Reward certificate, you must first find standard room availability. To do this, just search Hilton's website for award space at the property you want to visit. Rooms labeled as a “Standard Room Reward” are bookable with a certificate. Once you find availability, all you have to do is call Hilton Honors at 1-800-446-6677 to book. Unfortunately, certificates cannot be booked online.
The calendar view function on Hilton's website is your best friend for searching for standard room availability:
Hilton Free Night Rewards certificates provide incredible value. You can use them at over 99% of Hilton's properties, regardless of the cash cost for a stay. You just need to find standard room availability, which Hilton's website makes it easy to do. While it is annoying that you can only redeem certificates over the phone, the calls are usually pretty quick.
Have you had any good uses of Hilton Free Night Rewards certificates? Come share your experience in our Facebook group!