The free night certificate that comes with some Hilton American Express cards can help offset the card’s annual fee — especially if you know how to get the most value out of it.
What's more, due to the pandemic, any free weekend night award earned before Jan. 1, 2022, can be used any night of the week. And if you earn a free weekend night in 2021, the award doesn’t expire until Dec. 31, 2022.
Here’s everything else you need to know to get the maximum value out of your card’s free night award.
» Learn more: Hilton Honors: The complete guide
How to earn Hilton free night certificates
You can earn Hilton free weekend night certificates through any of three Hilton co-branded American Express cards.
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card comes with a hefty annual fee of $450, but cardholders receive a Hilton free night certificate every year (when you initially get the card and on your annual renewal). Cardmembers will earn an additional free night certificate after spending $60,000 on purchases on the card in a calendar year. Terms apply.
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card charges an annual fee of $95. Cardholders will earn a free night certificate after charging $15,000 in purchases on the card in a calendar year. Terms apply.
» Learn more: Guide to Hilton hotel lounges
The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card lets you earn multiple free night awards: One after spending $15,000 on the card in a calendar year and a second after spending $60,000 on the card in a calendar year. The annual fee is $95. Terms apply.
» Learn more: Which Hilton credit card should you get?
What are Hilton free night certificates worth?
The value of your Hilton free night certificate depends on which hotel you book and when. The free night can be used for “standard rooms” at almost any hotel in the Hilton portfolio (a few properties are excluded), although each property is free to determine what qualifies as a standard room.
Though you certainly can use free night certificates for more economical hotel stays, like at a Hilton Garden Inn or a DoubleTree by Hilton, we’d recommend checking out some of the sweet spots below that will help you get the most value from your free night award (sometimes worth more than $2,000).
High-value hotels to redeem your Hilton free night certificate
Here are some of the best Hilton hotels where your free night award can get you exceptional value.
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi
At the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, which opened in 2019, you’ll find crystal-clear blue water, luxurious overwater villas and accommodations that can cost thousands per night.
The Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi considers its King Reef Villa with Pool and Two Queen Bedded Reef Villa with Pool to be standard rewards, meaning you can use your Hilton free night certificates here.
The King Reef Villa with Pool is over 3,000 square feet, with a private infinity pool and overwater terrace offering views of the Indian ocean. If you were to pay for this room in cash, it could set you back almost $2,500 per night with taxes and fees (note that you don’t need to pay taxes or resort fees when redeeming a Hilton free night certificate).
Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, Maui
If the Maldives is too far away, redeem your Hilton free night certificate in Maui at the Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort. This expansive oceanfront playground boasts a 2,000-foot-long pool with waterslides, a grotto bar and even complimentary scuba lessons.
A standard room at this luxe hotel can cost upwards of $730 per night, including taxes and fees, making it a great option for your Hilton free night certificate.
Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam
The opulent Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam overlooks a UNESCO World Heritage-listed canal and is steeped in history, with a staircase that was built by the architect for Louis XIV of France.
This hotel is a wonderful use for your Hilton free night certificate, as it can cost about $950 per night, including taxes and fees.
Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, California
You might be noticing that some of the best Hilton free night certificate sweet spots are at Waldorf Astoria hotels — the most luxurious and often most expensive brand in the Hilton family of hotels. Enter the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, located on Wilshire Boulevard next to the world-famous Beverly Hilton and within walking distance of glamourous shopping on Rodeo Drive.
Paid in cash, a standard room can cost upwards of $840 per night, including taxes and fees.
Conrad Bora Bora Nui, French Polynesia
If you’ve dreamed of diving into the clear blue waters of Bora Bora, consider using your Hilton free night certificate at the Conrad Bora Bora Nui. Its standard room is a King Garden View Suite, which boasts almost 1,100 square feet, lagoon views and a separate lounge area.
A standard room can cost more than $815 per night, including taxes and fees.
» Learn more: Which hotels have handled COVID-19 the best?
Strategy for using your Hilton free night certificates
If you decide to use your Hilton free night certificates at a pricey hotel, try to use multiple free night certificates and points in a single reservation. That way, you don’t have to choose between moving hotels or paying a lot of money out of pocket to continue your stay there.
Using multiple free night certificates for a single reservation has become much easier since Hilton extended the expiration of all free night certificates issued in 2021 through Dec. 31, 2022.
The bottom line
There are many great places to redeem your Hilton free night certificates, including tropical islands, European cities and ultra-trendy destinations like Beverly Hills. By using your free night certificates to book Hilton’s more luxurious (and expensive) brands like Waldorf Astoria and Conrad, you’ll get the most bang for your free night certificate.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card