Maximizing Citi Hilton Reserve Free Nights

by on July 22, 2014 · 52 comments

in Citi, Credit Cards, Hilton, TPG Contributors

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Today, TPG Contributor Nick Ewen offers insight into how (and where) to use the 2 free weekend nights that come with the Citi Hilton Reserve card. 

One of the best hotel credit cards out there right now is the Citi Hilton Reserve Visa card. I added it to my wallet just a few months after it was first released, and it has provided a number of key benefits, including automatic Gold status, no foreign transaction fees, and 10 points/$ at Hilton properties (see the above post for full details). However, the one benefit that makes this card a must-have for me is the ability to earn free night certificates.

As a new cardholder, when you spend $2500 in the first four months of cardmembership, you’ll receive two free weekend nights at almost any hotel in the Hilton HHonors portfolio. Then, any year in which you spend $10,000 on the card, you’ll earn another free weekend night upon your account anniversary. In this post I’ll provide some additional details on these certificates, including strategies that will help you get the most out of them.

The all-inclusive Hilton Rose Hall is one resort at which you cannot use your free night certificates.

The all-inclusive Hilton Rose Hall is one resort at which you cannot use your free night certificates.

For starters, it’s important to keep in mind that there are a handful of hotels where you cannot redeem these certificates. They basically include two types of properties: all-inclusive resorts, and so-called “distinctive” properties. The latter of these two are generally smaller (boutique) properties or condo-style properties, many of which are Hilton Grand Vacations locations.

For only 36 “specialty” locations to be excluded is a really small number (less than 1% of Hilton’s more than 3,900 properties worldwide). In addition, many of these locations are ones that you shouldn’t redeem certificates or points at anyways, since they aren’t overwhelmingly expensive. For example, take the all-inclusive Doubletree in Costa Rica, where rooms over Thanksgiving weekend start at just $218 or 50,000 points per night. At less than half a cent per point, this is clearly not an optimal redemption, and you could get much better value from a free night certificate elsewhere.

Hilton defines a "weekend night" as either Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night.

Hilton defines a “weekend night” as either Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night.

Next, let’s go through some logistics of these certificates. According to Hilton, “weekend” night means these certificates are valid on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday nights. Another important detail is the actual spend. Like most credit cards, the $95 annual fee does not count towards your spending requirement, so be sure to factor that in if you’re cutting it close.

Also, for the anniversary certificate, it’s important to note that the $10,000 spend must be completed in the cardmembership year (as opposed to the calendar year). In other words, if you open your card on August 2nd, you have until August 1st of the next year to meet the $10,000 spend threshold. (Note that the $95 annual fee again doesn’t count towards this spend.)

Probably the most important logistical question is when and how the certificates are delivered. After meeting the minimum spend, whether it’s $2500 for the two sign-up bonus nights or $10,000 for the anniversary free night, you must wait for your statement to close. In other words, if you meet the minimum spend with a purchase on September 12th and your statement doesn’t close until October 9th, you’ll have to wait at least until then to receive the certificates. This is different from other cards (like the Barclaycard Arrival) that reward the sign-up bonus as soon as the qualifying transactionposts; with this card, the statement that contains the qualifying transaction must close to trigger the free night certificates.

Free night certificates like this are e-mailed to cardholders.

Free night certificates like this are emailed to cardholders.

From there, when you actually receive the certificate varies (unfortunately). The official T&C do not give a timeline for the sign-up bonus free nights, but they do say to allow 6 to 8 weeks from the membership anniversary to receive the free night certificate:

In practice, it appears that most of the sign-up bonus free nights are delivered (via e-mail) to the cardholder approximately 2-4 weeks after the qualifying statement closes. Mine arrived approximately two weeks after the statement closed, though this may vary. Each certificate will come in a separate e-mail. The anniversary certificate, meanwhile, has some greater variation in delivery time. This thread on FlyerTalk has some reports of two weeks, others of the 6-8 weeks described in the T&C, and still others at 12 weeks or longer. So what gives?

You’re basically at the mercy of Citibank and Hilton communicating properly. The free night certificates are connected to your Hilton account, but Citibank must tell Hilton HHonors that you have spent the $10,000 needed to earn the anniversary bonus. Apparently, something gets lost during this process. Fortunately, the aforementioned thread includes posts from Hilton HHonors’ new FlyerTalk rep, Anthony (“HHonors Representative” is his handle). He indicates that Hilton is aware of these issues and is working to resolve them. He also encourages members to send him a personal message if they haven’t received their certificate within the published timeframe.

One other thing to keep in mind; I have found that the free night certificates come to the email address listed on my credit card account, not the one on my Hilton HHonors account (in case they’re different). Since I travel predominantly for work, my company email is the one I use for Hilton, whereas my personal address is on file with Citibank. Even though the certificates come from Hilton, they’re delivered using Citibank’s email, and not the one used by Hilton HHonors.

Using Free Night Certificates

Every certificate from the Hilton Reserve card has a unique certificate ID associated with it, and you’ll need these when making a reservation. The certificates are valid for one year from the date of issuance, and mine have always arrived in my inbox on the date they were issued, so (ideally) the expiration clock won’t start until then.

Even though the certificates are connected to your Hilton account, they’re not listed anywhere online, in sharp contrast to the free night certificates offered by the Hyatt Visa. However, I have found that the Hilton HHonors phone reps can see these certificates when calling to book, so while it’s always nice to have a physical copy of them, you don’t need to worry about losing them permanently if you accidentally delete the email(s).

If you wanted to redeem your certificate(s) at the Conrad Maldives, you would need to find standard room rewards.

If you wanted to redeem your certificate(s) at the Conrad Maldives, you would need to find standard room rewards.

As I mentioned earlier, the certificates are valid at any Hilton property aside from the all-inclusive and “specialty” resorts linked to above. However, they can only be redeemed when a “standard room reward” is available. As a result, the first step towards actually using them is to open up the Hilton HHonors website and make sure that your desired property has a standard room available on the dates you want to travel. For example, if you wanted to use your free night certificates at the Conrad Maldives (following TPG’s example from last year), you would need to make sure they have either a King Beach Villa or a Twin Beach Villa at 95,000 points/night. A King or Twin Deluxe Villa falls into the “Premium Room Rewards” category, and thus cannot be booked using the free night certificate.

Once you’ve chosen a hotel and dates, all you need to do is call up Hilton HHonors at 1-800-HHONORS. Unfortunately, there isn’t any way to make these reservations online.

If you’re at all worried about availability, there is a way to make a speculative booking before you actually have the certificates in hand. As long as you have the necessary number of points in your account, you can make a standard Hilton HHonors redemption at the desired property. This will immediately deduct points from your account and generate a new “certificate” for the stay. Then, when you receive the free night certificate(s), call the number above and explain to the rep that you have an existing reservation and would like to use the certificate(s) for the stay instead of points. They should be able to swap out the certificates and refund the points to your account.

My wife and I redeemed free night certificates at the stunning Waldorf Astoria in Park City, Utah.

My wife and I redeemed free night certificates at the stunning Waldorf Astoria in Park City, Utah.

My wife and I used this technique when we redeemed our two free nights for a President’s Day skiing trip to Park City, Utah, where we wanted to spend two nights at the Waldorf Astoria. Figuring that standard rooms would likely sell out, I made an advance reservation for two nights at 80,000 points/night. Then, a little more than a month ahead of our arrival date, I received the two free night certificates from the card. As expected, there were no more standard rooms available using points. However, I called the Diamond line, and the rep was able to refund the 160,000 points, apply the two free night certificates, and keep the reservation intact. This was well over a year ago, so things may have changed since then, but this could be a way to lock in a reservation and then use the certificates once you have them.

Maximizing Free Night Certificates

Now that we’ve gone through the logistics of earning and redeeming free night certificates, it’s time to take a look at the best ways to maximize them. In no particular order, here are some things to consider:

The low paid rates at the Hilton Bonnet Creek made using the certificates a less valuable proposition.

The low rates at the Hilton Bonnet Creek make using certificates a less valuable proposition.

1) Look for expensive room rates. At the end of the day, any time we can use points or certificates, we’re keeping money in our pocket. I generally find that these certificates are (or at least seem to be) much more valuable when used for more expensive rooms. For example, my wife and I recently took a one-night “staycation” to Orlando, and we were looking at both the Hilton Bonnet Creek and Waldorf Astoria. However, paid rates at the two properties were only $107 and $168, respectively. It felt like a waste to use a certificate when the paid rates were so low. We wound up booking the Hilton Bonnet Creek at the paid rate.

2) Use over special events or holidays. I’ve found that Hilton HHonors is pretty good about their no blackout dates policy. If there is a standard room available, you can use points (or certificates) to book it, and generally speaking, this should apply even during peak periods when the paid rates are exorbitant.

There are still standard rooms available in Munich for Oktoberfest!

There are still standard rooms available in Munich for Oktoberfest!

For example, take the Hilton Munich City during Oktoberfest. As a Category 8 property, redemption rates are 70,000 points/night in September, and there are actually still some dates with standard rooms available at the end of that month (Oktoberfest starts on 9/20). However, the revenue rate jumps from just  106 per night on 9/14 to  559 per night after 9/20! If you can book early enough, the free night certificates can be very valuable around special events.

As a Category 10 property, the Hilton Labriz in the Seychelles is a terrific property at which to redeem your certificates.

As a Category 10 property, the Hilton Labriz in the Seychelles is a great candidate for redeeming free night certificates.

3) Redeem at high category properties. In addition to considering the paid rate for a stay, you should also look at the redemption rate using points. Using a free night certificate will always result in out-of-pocket savings; however, it will also save you Hilton HHonors points. Some of the more popular resorts at which to use these certificates are the eight Category 10 properties:

  • Doubletree New York
  • Grand Wailea
  • Conrad Koh Samui
  • Conrad Maldives
  • Conrad Tokyo
  • Hilton Bora Bora
  • Hilton Labriz
  • Hilton Maldives

You’ll also get good bang for your buck at many Waldorf Astoria properties, like my wife and I experienced in Park City last February. I generally don’t consider using free night certificates on rooms that require fewer than 50,000 points per night, but you can determine what redemption value works for you. The Hilton HHonors website has a handy standard room pricing tool that will help you decide. Remember that many properties now offer seasonal pricing, so a Category 8 hotel may require more points than a Category 9 property at certain points during the year.

The Hilton Quebec costs more points in June than May, so I thought about using the certificate for the last (most expensive) night of our stay there.

The Hilton Quebec costs more points in June than in May, so I thought about using the certificate for the last (most expensive) night of our stay there.

4) Redeem for stays that spill over into a month with higher pricing. With the new seasonal pricing model of the program, you may find that a stay with dates in two months has a rate change in the middle. This actually happened to me earlier this year. My wife and I spent three nights  (May 30 to June 1) at the Hilton in Quebec City, which is a Category 6 property requiring 30,000 – 50,000 points/night. They charge 40,000 points per night in May, but the rate jumps to 50,000 points/night in June.

Since the last night of the stay was more pricey, I thought about redeeming 80,000 points for the first two nights and using the certificate for the last night. I wound up not going in this direction, but it was nice to have as an option. Granted, 10,000 points isn’t a huge savings, but depending on the property, the difference could be much higher. The Grand Wailea, for example, jumps from 70,000 points/night in June to 95,000 points/night in July.

5) Extend AXON or five-night stays. There’s no question that four-night AXON stays are no longer as valuable as they were in the past, and with last year’s devaluation, elite members no longer have access to GLON redemptions that offered a consistent discount for stays of six nights or longer. Instead, with the program’s new fifth night free option, five- or ten-night stays are now the sweet spot in terms of trip length. If you’re looking for a six- or seven-night vacation, book a five-night stay using points (essentially offering a 25% discount) and then use the certificates for the extra night or two instead of being forced to pay the standard points rate for those extra nights. Just remember that the fifth night free benefit only applies to elite members (though you’ll earn automatic Gold status through the Reserve card).

Everyone has their own way of valuing these certificates, and what represents an optimal redemption for one person may be a total waste to another. However, this card really is, in my opinion, a must-have, even if for the free night certificates alone.

How have you used (or how to do you plan to use) your free night certificates from the Citi Hilton Reserve? Please share your own experiences and questions in the comments below!

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • tls62pa

    Used mine at the El Conquistador WA in Fajardo, PR. Beautiful location. Extremely large resort that was a little difficult to navigate, but we were put in a suite in the marina, which was very convenient access to the catamaran that takes you to Palomino Island (the resort’s private island).

    I’m having my fiance sign up for the card, which we plan on using for our honeymoon to the Conrad Maldives.

  • Christa

    I’m taking a trip to England/Scotland with my husband, daughter and mother in May 2016. I’m debating about whether to wait until a year before our trip tos ign up for this card and use the weekend reward certificate for our time spent in London, or go ahead and get the card now and start racking up points. I think waiting would be better if I wouldn’t get my following reward certificates until my card anniversary, unless you think this offer won’t be around in another year?

  • Lee

    We are using ours at the Hilton Mo’orea in 2 weeks

  • J

    conrad tokyo and conrad nyc! Conrad Tokyo was gorgeous!

  • Nick Ewen

    @tls62p, isn’t Las Casitas part of the same complex as El Conquistador? I know that’s one of the excluded properties, but I’ve heard that they share facilities (like the private island you mention).

    Great call on the Conrad Maldives. That’s one of my dream hotel redemptions…

  • Nick Ewen

    @Christa, that’s really up to you. London is May is a VERY good redemption, in my opinion. The big question is this: if you got the card now and started racking up the points, where would you use the certificates? If there isn’t a trip where you could get good use out of them, I would recommend holding off. You could always open another Hilton card to rack up the points (I’ll have a post next week about choosing the right one), and then open this card at the beginning of next year. If you plan it right, you could wind up getting the two free night sign-up bonus AND the anniversary night for your trip. If you open the card on February 1st and meet your minimum spend sometime in May (the fourth month of cardmembership), your first two certificates would be valid through June 2016. Then, you would (ideally) receive your anniversary certificate by the end of March 2016, meaning that you could have three free nights in London. Does that make sense?

    Unfortunately, I have no way of knowing if this offer would still be around next year. If I had to guess, I would say yes, since it’s a relatively new product, but I certainly can’t guarantee it.

  • Nick Ewen

    @Lee, the Hilton Moorea is a FANTASTIC resort. I would definitely recommend paying to upgrade to the overwater bungalow for at least one night (unless you can finagle a free upgrade…my wife and I didn’t have any luck!). Let me know if you need any suggestions on things to do!

  • Nick Ewen

    @J, agree about the Conrad Tokyo, though my wife and I were only there for about 16 hours (booked with pre-devaluation points). Haven’t tried the Conrad in NYC, but I may need to check it out next time!

  • Savvy Consumer

    Grand Wailea in Maui! Totally worth it when it came to using the certificate there, rooms were @ over $800/night!

  • NaritaBound

    Conrad Tokyo to see the Cherry Blossoms next spring! The booking process was very simple (I had checked online before calling to make sure the standard points space was available), and the csr seemed genuinely excited that I was using the certificates for such a high value redemption.

  • Lark


    Why not sign up for the Hilton Surpass AMEX now to start racking up points, and then sign up for this card later?

    I cannot imagine this Citi Hilton offer going away in the next year, but monitor the blogs – they’ll warn you.

    Surpass (I am sure tpg has a lucrative link):

    Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton HHonors portfolio of brands.
    Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets and at U.S. gas stations.
    Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on the Card.‡

  • ben

    I think the certificate says it is only valid for a weekend night, but can I use this on a weeknight as well?

  • Christa

    Do the $2,500 offer and $10,000 stack in the first year? Or would I have to spend $12,500 in the first year to get the bonus offer and the anniversary certificate?

  • Jason

    The certs clearly state “cannot be combined with 5th night free”

  • will b

    Has anyone had any luck getting hilton to extend the expiration date of a certificate?

  • Lee

    @Nick we did upgrade to a panoramic OWB. I figure I’m not going all theway to Mo’orea and BB to not stay in an OWB! We are doing an ATV tour with Alberts and looking to do a snorkel & motu pincic tour while on BB.

  • Ben

    I had the Citi Hilton Visa Signature Card and in March called and said I wanted the Citi Hilton Reserve card. Upon upgrading to this card I was informed of all the benefits I would receive, to include the two free weekend nights. Well yesterday I sent an email asking when I was going to receive my two free weekend nights since it had been 3 months since I met the spend requirement. I was informed that I would not receive the two free weekend nights because my account was converted and not a new application. This is in dispute and they are supposedly pulling the recorded conversation to see what I was told. If not resolved I have every intention on cancelling this card. Anyone else experience this type of nonsense?

  • Steve / Live Smart Not Hard

    Just redeemed two certificates for a January stay at the Grand Wailea Waldorf Astoria in Maui! At $500 per night, I’ll take it!

  • jason

    can i use these to book for someone else

  • LAKnight

    I used the weekend certificates for my stay in Conrad Hong Kong. It was awesome… Too bad the certificates are good for weekend only and I needed to adjust my stay accordingly.

  • Nick Ewen

    I have not actually tried this, but based on the T&C, it seems like you should be able to. You would still need to redeem the reward (in other words, do not have your friend/family member call on your behalf), but in theory, it shouldn’t be any different than using your points or miles to book a room or flight in another person’s name.

    Just be sure not to get caught selling or bartering it! Those activities are expressly forbidden…

  • Nick Ewen

    Yeah, I really like the Conrad in Hong Kong. I would love to see the certificates lose the weekend only restriction, but I doubt that will happen anytime soon.

  • Kevin Hanson

    This article lists the Conrad Koh Samui as a great place to redeem the free nights, but it is listed as an excluded property on Hilton’s list :-(

  • Kevin

    It’s actually just the ‘Residences’ at Koh Samui that are excluded. These are the gigantic 3-4 bedroom villas there. The ‘standard’ 1-bed villas are not excluded. I used my two weekend nights there in May, and it was fantastic. Nicest resort I’ll probably ever stay at in my life.

  • Kevin Hanson

    Wow that is terrific to know! You’re talking about the rooms with plunge pools?

  • Ted Dodger

    This is incredible. So, you really think that I would be able to book the Conrad Maldives using these nights? It is $2800/night! How do I know that the room I am looking at is in fact the “cheapest one” so that it will qualify? Thank you so much for this write-up.

  • Art

    Do you have to wait until the end of the card membership year to get a certificate for hitting $10k? Trying to figure if I can earn 2, then get a 3rd and use all 3 for a long weekend.

  • kevin

    Yup the private pool was quite the spectacle. I highly recommend staying there if it’s ever feasible for anyone

  • Jeff

    Do the free night certificates work for the over water villas at the Hilton Bora Bora?

  • Nick Ewen

    Unfortunately, yes, you do have to wait until the end of the card membership year to get the $10k certificate, even if you spend $10k in the first month. However, if you time it right, you could get all three valid during the same long weekend. If you applied today, you would have until November 22nd to hit the $2500 minimum spend. If you hit it that last month, your certificates would likely arrive sometime in December, and would thus be valid until next December. If you then hit $10k, your anniversary certificate should come 6-8 weeks after July 22, 2015, allowing all three to be used for a long weekend in October or November.

    Long story short, if your long weekend isn’t until next fall, you could make it work!

  • Nick Ewen

    Search for award availability on the Hilton HHonors website. I would recommend searching for just one night stays and checking the “Flexible dates” box. On the next page, click on “View Available Dates” and you should get a listing like the image below. Any date that has 95,000 points listed indicates that a “standard room” is available, and you should be able to use the certificate. The higher point values indicate that standard rooms are sold out for those nights.

  • Robert

    My wife had quite a problem with Citi and Hilton at the same time after we met $10K required spending last year. Last January an annual fee was charged automatically though we did not see the certificate for the next few months! We called Citi who transferred us to Hilton who finally told us that Citi is in charge. A few weeks later we called again just to go over and over again. After 45 minutes we were offered a courtesy bonus of 1K Hilton points and a case number! 10 days later passed no issue was resolved so we called to complain and investigate, so $100 credit was offered. Finally, the certificate was emailed to my wife barely last month. We cannot complain at the moment, since last Saturday we received somehow another certificate for a free weekend night :)

  • Nick Ewen

    Unfortunately, no, they do not. Each property defines its “standard” room differently, so when you search for award availability at the Hilton Bora Bora, you’ll see that only the “Garden Villa” shows up at the standard point rate (95,000 points per night). These are the only ones you can book with the certificates.

    However, when I visited Moorea, they did offer a discounted paid upgrade to an overwater bungalow, which I HIGHLY recommend doing, since it really is an incredible experience.

  • Nick Ewen

    Yeah, I’m not really sure why some get their anniversary certificate within a few weeks without any problems and others (like you) have to fight tooth and nail for it! Hopefully they are working on this issue, but as points & miles enthusiasts, we all know to be especially careful when it comes to tracking these things!

  • TheRealScottR

    I can’t find any available dates at that hotel

  • TheRealScottR

    Anyone find any available dates for Koh Samui?

  • Christa

    Does the $2,500 count toward the $10K needed for the year, or do you have to actually earn $12,500 in the first year in order to earn both? I would like to spend my $2,500 now on a trip to Washington D.C (and various other things) and then use my reward certificate for a trip to Germany next spring. Would using this certificate in Germany be a good value?

  • Nate

    Hey Nick, excellent article. I know the “over water” villas (Bora Bora) are not considered “Standard” rooms. However, after I typically book a room…there is an option to get a paid upgrade. Would this also be an option when booking with the certificates? Basically, unless I can get the over-water villa….a trip to Bora Bora isn’t worth it to me. Thanks

  • Nick Ewen

    Yes, there should be the option to do this. When I went to Moorea a few years ago, I emailed the hotel ahead of time and asked about upgrade options, but I have read many reports of folks getting an email from the hotel before arrival with this information. Once you are booked, I’d recommend contacting the hotel about your options. An overwater bungalow is DEFINITELY worth it, even if only for a night or two.

  • Nick Ewen

    No, the $2500 is part of the $10k, so you’d only need to hit the $10k in the first year.

    As far as Germany goes, it really depends on the room rate and destination. I have never been to Germany in the spring so I don’t know how “high season” it is there then. At the end of the day, any out-of-pocket savings is a win in my book!

  • Nate

    Much appreciated Nick. My wife and I would rather spend the coupons at another site if the over-water villas are not an option and I would hate to book it and get “stuck” with a non-over water villa. Thanks again Nick. Excellent article. I’ve been searching online for something exactly like this and have only found bits and pieces.

  • Nick Ewen

    I am seeing availability on almost every night from now through next summer, with the only exceptions being around Christmas and New Years. Search for a one-night stay using flexible dates, and then any night with 95,000 point rooms (or 80,000 point rooms in February and March) should be bookable with the free night certificates.

    Remember to look at the Conrad Koh Samui, not the residences…

  • Nick Ewen

    Happy to help! While I haven’t been to the Bora Bora Hilton, I have to say that the Moorea Hilton was still fantastic even without the overwater rooms. I believe that both properties really hold the overwater rooms for paid upgrades, so if you used the certificates and contacted the hotel well in advance, I really don’t think you would get “stuck” in a standard room. Either way, Tahiti is a fantastic place to visit.

  • Dave Schwartz

    I’m just back from 3 weeks of a thrilling vacation with multiple Hilton stays in Israel, Turkey and NYC. Let me underscore how my commitments to Hilton and American Airlines resulted in a frugal yet extraordinary 5 star trip of a lifetime.

    Conrad Istanbul, 3 free nights for an amazing 90,000 points and $0 as the hotel is undergoing renovation. The Conrad is located on a strategic hill overlooking the Bosporus just outside the madness of Istanbul. A $1 ferry ride to Asia or into Sultanhamet is a 10 minute walk.

    Hilton Tel Aviv, $125 a night for 28,000 points, regularly $475 a night. The best hotel in Tel Aviv, on the beach with exceptional amenities.

    The brand new (opened the prior week) Hampton Inn Brooklyn for $125 a night for 28,000 points. A short and easy subway ride into Manhattan.

    The Millennium Hilton NYC for a stunning $100 a night for 28,000 points regularly $425+ a night. Across the street from the Freedom Tower and Ground Zero, my upgraded corner room on the 44th floor had a stunning view of the Brooklyn Bridge, lower east side of Manhattan and perfect view of the 911 Memorial. Multiple subway entries are within feet of the front door.

    I splurged for 2 nights at the Waldorf=Astoria Jerusalem, where I was upgraded to an exceptional suite, stunning breakfasts included, free Wi-Fi and 5 star service and attention. Just down the street from the King David Hotel and the Old City a easy 3 block walk, The Waldorf Jerusalem is one of the most exceptional city hotels anywhere on earth!

    For each Hilton family stay, I used my Citi/Hilton Reserve Visa card, leveraging my Gold status which gave me free room upgrades, free breakfasts and free Wi-Fi in each Hilton property. I was treated as a highly valued customer with extraordinary attention to my welfare and comfort in each Hilton property.

    I’ll then get 10x in Hilton points for each dollar spent (at Hilton) on my next statement with $0 foreign currency spend. Overall, I estimate I saved over $5,000, enjoyed exceptional room upgrades and received extraordinary attention by leveraging my committed relationship with Hilton and Citibank. My only regret was there were no Hilton’s in Petra or Amman Jordan. However my stays at Movenpick/Petra and Hyatt/Amman were exceptional.

    To underscore the exceptional value and benefits I receive for giving my spend commitment to a few travel partners, I flew AA/Oneworld round trip SFO-NYC-AMM-TLV for 135,000 miles and $67.10, flying the entire itinerary in comfortable business class. I was “downgraded” from First to Business class NYC – SFO with AA introducing a brand new A321S due to be deployed for the SFO – Hawaii run and received a $300 voucher for my “downgrade”. In total, my business class flights returned a net gain of $232.90.

    As lifetime Platinum on AA with 2+ million miles, my commitment to AA and Hilton are solid – in concrete.

    Let me also give thanks and support to, for which I check in often and receive exceptional tips to leverage my thirst for frugal yet luxury travel worldwide. You “guys” do a great job of giving smart travelers insite into the unspoken rules for playing the game of enjoyable travel, thank you!

  • PRS12

    Has anyone had success using one certificate for a Thursday night stay or two certificates for a Thursday-Saturday stay? We will be cruising from San Juan in January with a Saturday departure and would consider getting the card for two free nights beforehand at the El San Juan ($289), El Conquistador ($269) or Caribe Hilton ($249). Not maximum value but our only upcoming trip of this nature. (Las Casitas is listed as an excluded property.)

  • Thomas Slaugh

    Just used mine at the Conquistador in May. Great resort. Loved the private island. Note that it is about an hour drive from San Juan. Stayed at the Caribe earlier in the week, and loved San Juan. The Caribe is close to the cruise docks. No info on El San Juan

  • Thomas Slaugh

    Does using the free certificate nights count towards 5th night free with status?

  • Rick

    Hey Nate, If you have both mile and coupons I would suggest staying at the Hilton Bora Bora. In 2013 we stayed 8 nights. The first 3 was the standard room, it was awesome even though it was on land. At any other place than Bora Bora you would be raving about the standard rooms. For our last 5 nights we upgraded to an overwater villa for $200/night. For our budget we split it 3 and 5 and had a fantastic time. You should make sure you are Gold before you go for the free breakfast for 2, it is very pricey otherwise and very very good with tons of choices for free.

  • Southpaw

    A lot of the hotels you mentioned above are now no longer available with the free two night certificates :(

  • Buzzlightyear

    Let me first start by saying that the above is a great article.
    In August 2014, I made an advance booking for a standard room with points for summer 2015 since I didn’t have the certificates in hand. Hhonors deducted points from my account to make that reservation. When I received the free night certificates last week in my email inbox, I called the reservation number and explained to the rep that I have an existing reservation and would like to use the certificates for the stay instead of points. They would NOT swap it out for the certificates since a standard room was not showing available. I explained that I am already holding a standard room with points and just need it to be swapped for free night certificate. Nope, they wouldn’t do it. Spoke with the supervisor as well and she too refused to do the swap.
    I am not sure if this was an anomaly, but wanted to share my experience from last week.

  • Carl Christensen

    Helpful, thanks.

  • Carl Christensen

    great info

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