How Does The Hilton Free Night Reward Work? How Does The Hilton Free Night Reward Work?

How Does The Hilton Free Night Reward Work?

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The Hilton free night certificate is a fantastic benefit that can easily offset the annual fee of your Hilton credit card. Other hotel cards offer an annual free night to cardholders, but the Hilton free night reward stands out for its versatility and high value. In fact, we think it’s one of the best credit card perks available. Let’s find out why.

Hilton Free Night – Quick Highlights

  • No cap on categories or points cost.
  • Certificates can be used on any day of the week.
  • Stays with the certificate count toward elite status.
  • Hilton's fifth-night free perk can be used with the free night certificate.
  • You can use more than one award on a multiple-night reservation.
  • Nearly all properties are available to book with the free night certificate.

a luxury overwater villa at a luxury hotel

What is a Hilton Free Night Reward?

The Hilton free night certificate is pretty much exactly what the name says it is: a certificate for a free night stay. But, it's not just any old free night.

First of all, this free night can be used to book a stay at nearly any hotel in the Hilton portfolio. There is a small list of exclusions, but these mostly consist of all-inclusive resorts, residences, and Hilton Grand Vacations properties. That still leaves you with thousands of options.

The second reason why the Hilton free night certificate is worth so much more than your average award is that there is no cap on the number of points the free night can be used for. This means that if the property has a standard reward night available, you can use your certificate for it. In fact, Hilton has award nights that now go all the way up to 150,000 points, but you still can use your free night at these properties!

The certificate used to be only valid for weekend nights, but in October 2022, Hilton changed its policy to permit using free night rewards any day of the week.

Thus, you can use these rewards at places like the Waldorf Astoria Versailles-Trianon Palace. The hotel typically charges several hundred dollars per night, but redeeming a free reward night reward can save you a bundle of money.

How to Earn Hilton Free Night Certificates

You can earn Hilton free night certificates on three American Express Hilton Honors co-branded credit cards:

  • Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card: Earn a Free Night Reward when you open your account and every year after renewal. Cardholders also can earn an additional Free Night Reward by spending $60,000 in eligible purchases within a calendar year.
  • Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card: Earn a Free Night Reward after spending $15,000 within the first year and each calendar year thereafter.
  • The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card: Earn a Free Night Reward after spending $15,000 within the first year and each calendar year thereafter. Cardholders also can earn an additional Free Night Reward by spending $60,000 in eligible purchases within a calendar year.

How to Use a Free Night Reward

After meeting the specific requirements, your free night reward will arrive in your email in 8–14 weeks and will include your unique reward ID, so keep your eyes open for it. You also can see your available free night rewards and their expiration dates on the Hilton Honors website and in the mobile app — found in your account dashboard.

Free night certificates are automatically tracked along with your Hilton Honors point balance in AwardWallet, as well. You can add a Hilton account to your AwardWallet dashboard here.

Unfortunately, you cannot book a reservation online with your free night reward. To make a reservation with your free night, you'll need to call Hilton at 1-800-446-6677. The Hilton Honors representative will be able to see any available reward certificates in your account, but it's also helpful to have your unique reward ID handy just in case.

Finding Eligible Nights

Before calling Hilton to book your free night, check to see if the room you want to book has a “Standard Room Reward” available on your desired dates. You’ll also want to check that the hotel isn’t one of these excluded Hilton properties.

Each hotel sets its own terms for what qualifies as a standard room, but they make it easy enough to find eligible accommodations. In the photo below, you can see that there are two types of bookings available for this specific property (the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi): Premium Room Rewards and Standard Room Reward. Only the Standard Room Reward is eligible for the Hilton free night certificate.

Hilton free nights can be used when a Standard Room Reward is available

Selecting the 150,000-point Standard Room Reward will take you to the hotel's available rooms. The Waldorf Astoria shows a King Reef Villa with Pool available to book.

A Hilton free night reward could save you 150,000 points on this King Reef Villa in the Maldives

To summarize, we can book a night at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi because it is:

  • Not on the list of excluded properties.
  • Showing standard reward night availability.

This room's cash cost is over $2,000 for this specific night. Being able to use a free night certificate here is an absolute steal.

Cancellation and Expiration

If you need to cancel the reservation you made with a certificate, you'll need to first check the hotel's cancellation policy. The Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, for example, allows you to cancel with no penalty up to 14 days in advance.

Certificates expire one year after the date they are issued. Note that you must stay by this date — not just make a reservation.

Tips For Maximizing Free Night Certificates

If you are a high spender, have more than one American Express Hilton card, or both, there's a good chance you may have several Hilton free night certificates at once. Hilton allows you to use more than one certificate per reservation. So if you can find the availability, you can book several nights completely free using your certificates.

To take it another step, Hilton offers a fifth-night-free perk if you hold any level of elite status (which you will simply by having a Hilton credit card). Officially, the fifth-night-free benefit doesn't apply to reward certificate stays. But in practice, this benefit seems to apply to bookings of five or more nights that are paid with a mix of points and free night certificates.

Another way to maximize your certificate is bysticking with higher-tier properties where you can get the most bang for your (points) buck. You could use your free night at a Hampton Inn that only costs $90 a night, or you could use it at one of Hilton's top properties and save thousands of dollars instead. Need some inspiration? Check out our list of Hilton's best luxury properties you can book with points.

Final Thoughts

Hilton's free night certificate really is one of the best values around. The ability to book at nearly any property in the Hilton portfolio, despite point cost or category, means that properties like the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi — which costs 150,000 Hilton points a night or several thousands of dollars — is actually within reach for the average points-and-miles enthusiast.

Where have you used your Hilton free night reward certificate? 

Hilton Free Night FAQ

Can I transfer my free night certificates into another person's name?

No, Hilton will not allow you to transfer ownership of free night certificates. You can, however, redeem them for another person's stay — even if you won't be joining them for the stay.

Can free night certificates be combined via Hilton's Points Pooling feature?

No, the points pooling feature applies strictly to Hilton Honors points; you cannot pool Hilton free night certificates.

Can free night certificates from more than one Hilton account be used on a single booking?

Yes, you can combine free night certificates from different accounts into a single booking, but only the person named on the account can redeem the award when calling Hilton. For instance, if you and your spouse both have free night certificates, you can combine them into a single reservation by calling together.

Can I combine Hilton points with free night certificates and still receive the 5th night free?

Officially, the fifth-night free benefit is not valid for:

“…Points & Money Rewards, Premium Room Rewards, Room Upgrade Rewards, reward certificate stays or to any stays booked outside of Hilton channels…”

In practice, stays that contain a mix of points and free night certificates are eligible for a fifth night free. However, this is not always a great deal.

5 / 5 - (6 votes)
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  • According to 2 separate Hilton representatives, the free night certificate can NOT be used to book a room for someone else unless you will be staying with that person. Can you send your source t the contrary from Hilton’s terms and conditions? Thanks.

    • Ryan Smith says:

      Hi Mike, several of our writers have personally done this by booking the award and adding the other person as a 2nd guest name on the reservation.

  • spend $15000 get a free hotel night in a calendar year for the Surpass card. What about after $15000? Do I get another one or only one free night per year?

  • This is great! I love the free weekend certificate at Hilton but sometimes I’ve found it very challenging to redeem at attractive locations.

  • Excellent information!. Let me ask you if it is possible to apply this promo for stayings at Hilton Hotel in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

  • It’s a great benefit from their credit cards!

  • Still can’t believe they haven’t made these visible and bookable on the website/app like Marriott does. Calling to redeem is so 1997….

    • Sure, but quality perks like this are rare, so if they want me to call in, I have no problem at all, as long as they don’t touch any other aspect. 🙂

  • Hilton’s Aspire card really has a generous lineup of benefits. It’s become one of my favorite cards to use.

  • I don’t have any of these credit cards that offer the free Hilton weekend night, but it is interesting to learn of the few restrictions. I have other cards that offer a free night with other chains. I have put them to good use, but it is always difficult due to the value cap. Knowing this makes the Hilton night much more interesting.

    • Yeah, even though the night is usually restricted to a weekend night, it’s pretty easy to use with no red tape. I like it. 🙂

  • How do you book the 5th night free with a combo of points and certain? Call HH I assume? Are the reps willing to do this?

  • We just booked ours at a resort to simultaneously use the $250 credit making it a two night stay. GREAT thing it counts for weeknights this year as the Friday night we needed was all booked. 🙁

  • Great value from Hilton, too bad you have to call to redeem.

  • Matthew Weyer says:

    You mentioned 5th night free is possible, but “not always a great deal”? Can you clarify more, please?

  • You can definitely search for higher end properties, but sometimes that $125 room is worth more than the out-of-the-way travel to a better hotel. But it’s obviously a YMMV situation based on needs/wants.

  • I did not know that you can redeem the free night certificate in another persons name. This is a good perk aside from it being restriction free in terms of a point cap. I would definitely get a Hilton card because of this.