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A Honeymoon Stay on the Wrong Nights — Reader Mistake Story

April 12, 2019
5 min read
A Honeymoon Stay on the Wrong Nights — Reader Mistake Story
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Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Ryan, who misunderstood the terms of a Hilton free night certificate:

My fiancée and I are getting married on Oahu this summer and decided to take a short honeymoon to Maui, since we don't have time for a longer vacation. We had both signed up for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, and thought we would use our free annual night to stay at the Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort on Maui. Nights at the Grand Wailea were running over $600 after resort fees and taxes, so we were excited to stay at a high-end resort and save much more than the $450 annual fee (see: rates & fees) for the Aspire card. However, we made some mistakes in our planning.

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Our first mistake was to book our flight before booking our room at the Grand Wailea. Due to flight prices, we decided to catch a red-eye out of Maui on Saturday night, arriving back on the mainland on Sunday. That was a few hundred dollars cheaper than flying out on Sunday morning.

Our second mistake was that after booking our flight, we waited two days before we got around to booking the hotel. It was only then we realized the free night certificate on the Aspire card is only redeemable for weekend nights. Since we're flying out on Saturday night, we can only use one of our free nights, meaning we have to either use another payment method or stay elsewhere for our first night. We were already outside the 24-hour cancellation period for our flights, so we couldn't cancel or change our tickets without paying a fee.

We have not yet decided what we'll do. We're considering paying for an additional night at the Grand Wailea — we could use our $250 resort credit to help subsidize the cost of the hotel night, but we'd still be paying close to $400. Alternatively, we are considering trying to stay at another hotel and then move to the Grand Wailea for the one night. We hope others can learn from our mistakes.

Among the wide variety of stories I get from readers, the most common mistakes involve simply failing to read the fine print. Hilton free night certificates offered by the Aspire card (and others) are only valid on Friday, Saturday or Sunday nights. Amex clearly markets those free nights as "weekend night rewards" and defines which nights are eligible in the terms and conditions, so any expectation they could be redeemed on weeknights amounts to an oversight by Ryan and his fiancée. I point this out not to chastise them, but to illustrate how attention to detail can help you avoid similar pitfalls in your own travels.

There are a few bits of good news for Ryan and his fiancée if they decide to pay for a second night at the Grand Wailea. First, since they each have an Aspire card, they could split payment across the two cards at checkout and redeem both of their up to $250 resort credits for a total of $500 toward their stay. Second, they may be able to lower their out-of-pocket costs further with some of the current Amex Offers for Hilton stays, one of which is a $100 statement credit for spending $500 or more at Waldorf Astoria properties.

Finally, redeeming Aspire resort credits won't prevent them from earning points. Between their bonus for Diamond status and the increased earning rate on the Aspire card, they can earn 34 points per dollar spent on their room rate, along with additional points depending on what sort of bonus promotion Hilton offers this summer. If they spend $500 on the room (not including taxes and fees), they'll net at least 17,000 points — that should soften the blow of having to pay for the additional night.

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending Ryan a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I'd like to do the same for you. Please email your own travel mistake stories to info@thepointsguy.com, and put "Reader Mistake Story" in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls.

Feel free to also submit your best travel success stories. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. Due to the volume of submissions, we can't respond to each story individually, but we'll be in touch if yours is selected. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

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

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

Featured image by (Photo courtesy of Grand Wailea)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
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Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

    Earn 100,000 points
    75,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees