Middle Age Miles

How Fast Does an Amex Hilton Ascend $15k Free Weekend Night Certificate Arrive? (and Two Other Important Data Points)

Executive Summary

My Hilton Free Weekend Night Certificate arrived less than 3 days after I completed the $15,000 calendar-year spend requirement on an Amex Hilton Honors Ascend card. In addition, we learned two other important things about the certificates – no resort fees, and you might be able to use a certificate past its expiration date.

How Fast Does a Free Weekend Night Certificate Arrive?

The Amex Hilton Honors Ascend card comes with a benefit of a Hilton Free Weekend Night Certificate after spend of $15,000 on the card during a calendar year. (Other Amex Hilton co-branded cards also have a similar Free Weekend Night Certificate benefit based on spend in a calendar year – the Aspire card earns a certificate after $60,000 in spend, and the Business card earns a certificate after $15,000 in spend.)

These certificates can be quite valuable. Although they may only be used on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights and expire one year after they are issued, these certificates may be used at almost any hotel in the Hilton portfolio worldwide (including Hilton’s high-end brands such as Waldorf Astoria, Conrad and Curio), with only a few exceptions, so long as a standard room is available. 

Philly and I have used these certificates for some valuable stays within the past few months:

I’m looking forward to hanging out with Pepper the Robot
again at the Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas!

The official Amex terms and conditions say that the Hilton Free Weekend Night Certificate will be delivered within 8-12 weeks of hitting the purchase requirement. However, for the certificate we just earned, the certificate was delivered in less than 3 days!

Our specific dates were:

  • Monday 5/20/2019 – Made the purchase that hit the $15k 2019 calendar-year threshold
  • Thursday 5/23/2019, (1:07 am) – Received an email from Hilton Honors: “Your Reward for a weekend night has arrived” (see this article’s featured image)

Note that there was no requirement for a statement close between the time the spend threshold was met and the time the certificate issued. Also, note that when we published an article last year on this same subject, we reported that the certificate was delivered in 10 days, compared to 3 days this year.

Our confirmation email from Hilton Honors included our certificate number and instructions for redemption. In short, the instructions are: Find a room at any hotel in the Hilton portfolio with standard award availability on a weekend night, call 1-800-HHONORS (1-800-446-6677), and provide your certificate number and preferred date to book the room.

We recently did this again to book our upcoming stay at the Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas (WA Vegas). The process was quick and easy. The entire call took less than 5 minutes, and we received our confirmation email within a few minutes after ending our call with the Hilton phone agent.

Two Other Important Data Points About Hilton Free Weekend Night Certificates

When I called to redeem our certificate for the WA Vegas, I was fortunate to get an experienced and helpful agent on the line. I took the opportunity to ask her some questions for additional data points related to the Hilton Free Weekend Night certificates:

Data Point 1 – No resort fees when you use a Free Weekend Night certificate

Like virtually every hotel in Las Vegas, the WA Vegas charges a resort fee. And it’s a hefty one – $45 per night, plus tax (total $51.02). The agent confirmed that we won’t be charged the resort fee when we use our Free Weekend Night Certificate at the WA Vegas.

The agent said that Hilton never charges resort fees when you use a Free Weekend Night Certificate. (And, she also said that Hilton never charges resort fees when you book award stays using Hilton Honors points, either.)

Data Point 2 – You might be able to book a room past the expiration date of a certificate, if you call in before the certificate expires

On our certificate redemption at the WA Vegas, the night of our stay would be just a few days before the certificate expired. I took this opportunity to ask the Hilton agent a hypothetical question – if I had been trying to book a date after the certificate expiration date, perhaps a month later, and I asked nicely, would they be willing to extend the certificate so I could use it?

(I’ve seen conflicting data points on this in the past. I’ve seen some reports saying that the expiration date is hard-and-fast and the stay must occur before the expiration date or else the certificate is lost. Yet I’d seen at least one report of someone being able to book with a certificate past its expiration date by calling in to Hilton before the certificate expired.)

Her answer to my hypothetical was Yes, they would have extended my certificate if I was asking to redeem the certificate a month after the expiration date. Beyond that, she was hesitant to give specifics. It seems to be a matter of discretion. The agent specifically referenced that if I had some “good reason” that I couldn’t use it by the expiration date, that would help. She also suggested that elite status would help. My takeaway was that they were willing to be flexible, but they certainly weren’t going to reveal any specific rules.

But the important data point here is – Hilton may be willing to extend the expiration date on a Free Weekend Night Certificate, if you call in before the certificate expires with a specific room booking request.

What’s your experience with Hilton Free Weekend Night Certificates? Most importantly, have you tried to use a certificate past its expiration date? How did that turn out? Please share with us and other Middle Age Miles readers in the Comments!

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12 thoughts on “How Fast Does an Amex Hilton Ascend $15k Free Weekend Night Certificate Arrive? (and Two Other Important Data Points)

  1. Rob

    Good to know they are still delivering these promptly, thanks. We have 3 Ascends between my wife and I (2 of them were from converted Citi Hilton Reserve) and I’ve taken all of them up to about $14,800 of spend. Since most of our travel is already booked for this year, I figure I can just charge $200+ per card toward the end of the year and delay the onset of the 1 yr expiration clock. But if something pops up in the meantime where I think the certs will come in handy, I can always spend the extra $200 when I need it, get the cert and use it. So it’s almost like extending the life of the certificates by 7 months if you play it this way.

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi Rob – Thanks for the insightful comment. Brilliant strategy. I did something similar but with a slight twist. Like you, I took it up to about $14,800 early in the year and waited. Why did I strike with the last $200+ to cross $15k now instead of waiting further? It’s part of an upgrade-downgrade strategy. My Aspire hits its 1-year anniversary around July 1. When the AF hits, I want to downgrade it to Ascend, and then I’ll start working on spending $15k on that card to get another free night. In the meantime, I’ll be hoping for an upgrade offer on my current Ascend. I wanted to have already hit the $15k so I can upgrade on a moment’s notice if I get the upgrade offer. If no upgrade offer comes along, I’ll just sit tight and then upgrade right before I have a Hilton stay where Diamond status would make a difference to us.

      I went ahead and hit the $15k this week because I wanted to leave plenty of time to receive the certificate before my current Ascend goes on the “upgrade watch clock” on July 1. I figured 6 weeks would leave plenty of time for any complications to work themselves out. Turned out I needn’t have worried! I easily could have given myself another month or more.

      Maybe I should turn this comment into a full article – probably worth publishing – and now I’ve basically written it in this comment!

      1. Rob

        Wow – ya, definitely article worthy idea. That’s a great idea. I’ve been keeping my wife’s 2 Ascends hoping for an upgrade to Aspire to come along, but she hasn’t gotten any upgrade offer for Aspire. I too was thinking if she gets an upgrade offer for Aspire, I would then finish the spend on the Ascend, get the cert for 15k, then accept the upgrade offer to Aspire and get the free cert that comes with that one also.

        Unfortunately, I’ve been waiting over a year for an upgrade offer for either one of her Ascends and nothing so far. I was half wondering if spending 15k on each of them is acting as a deterrent, like maybe Amex thinks they don’t need to offer an upgrade because we are already spending nicely on both of her Ascend cards.

        Hopefully, it will work out for you though. That is a great plan!

        1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

          I’ll work up the article and give you due credit!

          I’m disappointed to hear that you haven’t received an upgrade offer for more than a year. I’ve read some DPs (mostly if not entirely on Reddit Churning) where a lot of people seemed to be getting upgrade offers within a few months. Interesting theory about “deterrent” spend. I hope that’s not the reason!

        2. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

          Hey Rob – Just posted our article – thanks again for your contributions! ~Craig

  2. Bob

    Craig: Thanks for the info. My recent experience is a little different. I earned the fee weekend certificate from my “under the wire” approved Surpass card sign-up offer from last year (I was one of those who got the card at the beginning of last year). My one year anniversary hit in February and I should have gotten the free weekend night cert by the end of April. Alas, I did not receive it and had to call to get Hilton to send it. To her credit, the CSR immediately saw the problem and had the cert posted within a few days. My case may have been special, as the Surpass was “upgraded” involuntarily to the Ascend last summer, and, after the annual fee hit (getting me the free cert), I immediately upgraded to the Aspire (with the 150k point upgrade offer). I was hoping to get the Aspire weekend cert immediately, too, but apparently that won’t come my way until the card’s first year anniversary (or should I press for that now, too?). Thanks.

    1. Rob

      The terms of the normal Aspire card application says you get one Cert within 8-14 weeks after opening the credit card and 8-14 weeks after your anniversary date. The datapoints I’ve seen are mixed though, some upgraders get told to wait til anniversary, some get one a few weeks after upgrading. I would think it is at least worth calling them and making like you absolutely expected it because of the language on the regular card application page. And then if they still say no, try one more time and say, so you kind of screwed me with the upgrade offer, because if I would have ignored your special offer and just applied for the card normally, I would have gotten a free weekend night upon signing up. Good luck. Let us know how it resolves.

    2. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi Bob – Thanks for the comment. That’s an interesting scenario. Good thinking to call in about the Surpass one-year certificate. I’m glad that worked out.
      We published an article back in Feb about when free night certificates from new Aspire cards arrive (for both upgrades & brand new cards). Our conclusion was that they are likely to arrive about 2 months after the date of upgrade or application approval. Here’s the article: https://www.middleagemiles.com/2019/02/21/when-does-my-free-night-certificate-on-my-new-amex-hilton-aspire-card-arrive-and-how-can-i-use-it/
      Has it been more than 2 months since your upgrade to Aspire? If yes, that would be cause for some concern. Like Rob says, though, the terms say 8-14 weeks, so Amex may not do anything until the 14 weeks have passed. I think Rob gave you some solid advice on how to handle things if you don’t receive the certificate after 8-14 weeks have passed. And I’ll echo Rob one more time to say – Good luck and please let us know how it resolves! ~Craig

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi DaveC – It’s calendar year. Have a great rest of the Memorial Day holiday weekend! ~Craig

      1. Issac jones

        So essentially if you sign up in the end of the year you can double dip and get the first certificate before the end of the year and another in the next year when the annual fee hits?

        1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

          Hi Isaac – That’s correct … although if you’re just starting now, you’ll have quite a challenge getting approved, getting the card, and spending $15k by Dec 31! Happy holidays! ~Craig

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