A weekend at the beach: How I got a free stay worth $1,500 from 2 hotel credit cards

Apr 9, 2021

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Travel is coming back — and in many ways, it already has.

Recent data from Experian shows that U.S. consumer spending on travel has increased 14% from lows in March 2020.  And that’s just the beginning. The surge in travel demand will only continue as millions of more people get vaccinated daily.

In recent weeks, there has been an influx of travelers to leisure destinations, such as Florida. With both spring break season and pent-up desire to travel, hotels in many leisure-focused locales have been at or near capacity throughout March and April.

Related: If you haven’t made plans for Memorial Day, it may be too late

I was in Florida recently for a beach and food getaway (including this drive-thru dinner event), but I didn’t pay some of the exorbitant cash rates to stay at a hotel. Instead, I was able to leverage two free hotel night certificates from two different credit cards — and pay nothing at all. For the other nights, I used points.

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The Confidante Miami Beach. (Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)

Here’s how I managed to get over $1,500 in value for a South Florida beachfront weekend at two higher-end hotels, thanks to free night certificates on my World of Hyatt Credit Card and Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.

Related: The best hotel credit cards that come with an annual free night

The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

$1,000-plus value from the Hilton Aspire card

One of the most valuable perks of the Hilton Aspire card is a weekend night reward for each cardmember year (with even more flexibility to use the night on weekdays through 2021).

Even the most expensive Hilton properties (think: Conrads, Waldorfs and more) accept this free night. The only requirement is that the free night is valid on standard Hilton Honors awards — and there also is a list of several excluded properties. Most standard Hilton awards top out at 95,000 points per night.

(Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)

In a more normal year, I’d consider using this reward at extravagant hotels such as the Conrad Koh Samui, a resort that can easily charge $2,000 per night. Note that you cannot use a free night award at Conrad Koh Samui Residences (with their larger private villas).

However, during the pandemic, I’m more than happy to redeem a certificate for even a domestic trip during a much-needed warm-weather escape. The all-suite, beachfront Conrad Fort Lauderdale fit the bill perfectly. And with cash rates nearing $1,000 per night, even for a base-level junior suite, I was still able to get incredible value from my one free night certificate.

(Screenshot courtesy of Hilton)

With Hilton, all resort fees and taxes are waived on points and award stays — a huge win for a night where I would’ve been otherwise charged $145 in taxes and fees.

Of course, the Aspire card also provides a plethora of other perks, including top-tier Hilton Diamond status and up to $250 in statement credits for incidentals charged to your card at participating Hilton resorts. Diamond status provided free breakfast while the Aspire’s statement credit benefit waived my $100 dinner charge.

(Screenshot courtesy of Hilton)

Remember, the Hilton Aspire card has a $450 annual fee (see rates and fees). But as you can see, I was able to easily outweigh this annual cost from burning just one free night certificate alone.

Related: Hilton Surpass vs. Hilton Aspire: Which card is right for you?

$500-plus value from the World of Hyatt card

On my second night, I moved farther south from Fort Lauderdale to Miami.

The World of Hyatt card also gives you an annual free night certificate. But unlike Hilton, Hyatt limits this to Category 1-4 properties (up to 15,000 points). However, this can be worth way more than the card’s $95 annual fee, as long as you play your, well, cards right.

On peak days, the beachfront Confidante Hotel in Miami charges well more than $500 per night when factoring in taxes and resort fees. However, I was able to use my free night certificate for a coveted weekend night stay during a busy spring travel season.

The Confidante Miami Beach. (Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)

Similar to Hilton, all taxes and fees are waived on awards and free night stays. Even better, thanks to my top-tier Globalist status, I received a balcony room upgrade and a $70 breakfast on the house.

The World of Hyatt card has a $95 annual fee, which means I got 5x the annual fee value as a free night. That’s a pretty amazing deal, in my book.

(Screenshot courtesy of Hyatt)

Hyatt also has an ongoing promotion that awards 2,000 bonus World of Hyatt points for every two qualifying nights earned between March 1 and June 15, 2021. Even better, those with a World of Hyatt Credit Card earn an extra 500 points per two nights, for a total of 2,500 points earned for every two-night stay.

Additionally, all members earn a free night award valid at any Category 1-4 Hyatt after earning 10 qualifying nights during the promo period.

Bottom line

Hotel credit cards are underrated for the outsized value they can ultimately provide. Between both of these cards, I was able to get over $1,500 in value for a weekend in Florida from the two free nights and other card-specific perks.

If you’re looking to restart travel, now is a great time to add one or more of the best hotel credit cards to your arsenal. The World of Hyatt card and the Hilton Aspire card make a regular appearance in my own wallet, thanks to the value that they provide while away from home.

Featured photo of The Confidante Miami by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy. 

For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire Card, please click here.

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