How To Stay At A Hilton Hotel For Free Until April 30th

Hilton HHonors Free Hotel Nights
Hilton points unlimited promo

How To Stay at a Hilton Hotel For Free

Hotels are expensive, except when they’re free. Today I’m going to show you how to use a limited-time promo that Hilton is running until April 30th, 2018 to stay for free, or almost free, at Category 1 Hilton properties. This hack could be a great way to explore a new city without having to pay for hotels or qualify for Hilton Gold or Diamond status for nearly free.

Editor’s Note: This post was guest-written by the same guy who showed you how to fly round trip to Africa (DC to Senegal) for 50,000 points.  While I believe that this trick for staying at Hilton properties for free will technically work, it’s not really practical for most of us.  And that was true of the Africa trick too.  Regardless, I love reading about what’s possible and I hope you will too.  You can find John’s website and award booking service here:
-Greg The Frequent Miler

It’s not everyday that a hotel promo comes along that essentially allows you to stay for free. I’m not talking about 4th night free, I’m talking about not costing you any of your precious points. I will go over how you can actually stack another bonus on top of this bonus offer to make it completely, absolutely and totally free or even get paid in points to stay at their hotels.

Hilton HHonors Free Hotel Nights
Hilton status match offer

The offer and setting yourself up for success

Before you make a b-line for your local Hilton there are a few things that we need to go over to make sure that you are set up to maximize this deal. First, you will have to register for the Hilton Points Unlimited promotion which you can do here. Second, you will need to have either Hilton Gold or Diamond status in order to make the numbers work.

There are a few of easy ways to get to Gold or Diamond without actually staying at hotels.

  • The first is matching your status from another program. Hilton will match your status from any other loyalty program. All you need to provide for validation is a screen shot showing your current status level or your membership card. You can find their status match page here.
  • The second is signing up for one of the new Hilton credit cards from American Express. They are slated to be released on January 18th and both the Business and the Ascend card come with complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status. Their new premium card, the Aspire card, comes with complimentary Diamond status.
  • The third way is if you are an Amex Platinum card holder or authorized user then you will automatically be given Hilton Gold status.

Now that you’ve signed up for the offer and worked out how you are going to get Gold or Diamond status it’s time to look at the fine print to make sure that we don’t miss anything. For this particular offer they exclude Hampton by Hilton Hotels in Mainland China. The offer clearly states that “There is no limit to the total amount of bonus points that may be earned during the promotion period with this offer” which is excellent. Hilton doesn’t allow you to book back-to-back stays at the same hotel and have them count as separate stays. So you will either need to wait 24 hours between stays at the same hotel or switch hotels each night if you wish to have each night credited as a separate stay.

Hilton HHonors Free Hotel Nights
Gold status is so easy to get even I have it

Finding the right hotels

In this post I have referred to Hilton Category 1 hotels, but as of March 1st, 2017 Hilton technically did away with hotel categories and instead moved to a new dynamic pricing scheme (which Greg wrote about here). What I am  referring to when I say Category 1 is Hilton hotels that cost only 5,000 points per night. While Hilton does not provide a way for you to easily search which of their hotels fall into the 5,000 points category, Award mapper is a great tool that allows you to select the points range you want to see and then narrow your selection by hotel chain. You can use this tool to find which Hilton properties are only 5,000 point per night.

Points Mapper map of Hilton 5,000 point hotels

One important component of this offer, and the reason that you need Gold or Diamond status to make it work, is that Hilton gives their elite status members an additional bonus each time they stay at select properties. They call this bonus the “My Way” hotel benefit and you can see the various bonus levels in the image below.

Hilton HHonors Free Hotel Nights
List of Hilton property bonuses

You may notice one very important thing about the “My Way” hotel benefits and that is that only two of the hotels that fall into what Hilton used to call Category 1 earn a decent amount of “My Way” membership bonus points. This is important because this is how we get all the way to free rather than having to shell out precious points to stay at our favorite Hilton hotel.

DoubleTree by Hilton and Hilton hotels earn 1,000 points per night on top of your 2,000 points per stay bonus. Most of the DoubleTree and Hilton hotels that are 5,000 points per night are either in the Middle East or Mainland China.

Hilton Garden Inn’s earn a respectable 750 points per night on top of your 2,000 bonus points per stay. They have 5,000 point per night locations in several countries in Europe, Asia and Central and South America.

Hampton By Hilton’s (formerly known as Hampton Inns) earn a measly 250 points per night on top of your 2,000 bonus points per stay and for that reason should be avoided at all costs (just kidding). This is the only brand with Category 1 hotels in the United States that I found. Even starting with the smaller 250 point “My Way” bonus there is still a way to stay completely for free which I will cover below.

One thing to keep in mind is that with the “My Way” bonus you have to select between free breakfast and a points bonus. It may make sense for most people to pay a few Hilton Honors points rather than cough up some dough for your morning meal.

One small caveat

While the wording for this offer makes it seem that the promotion should be activated just by staying at the hotel (even on points), because the offer is so new I only have confirmation of this offer working for someone who stayed at the hotel on points and charged something small to their room. You may wish to make a small charge to your room if you are planning on taking advantage of this promotion just to be sure that the points post without issue. Buying a bottle of water is enough to ensure that everything outlined in this post will work and that you will be able to stay for free (except for that bottle of water).

Adding it up

While no matter which way you look at it this is an incredible deal, the math works out slightly different for the different Hilton brands. If you are staying at either a Hilton Hotel or a DoubleTree by Hilton then every time you hit your fifth one-night stay you break even points-wise. Here is what that looks like:

Each stay gets you 2,000 bonus points.

You receive 10,000 bonus points after 5 stays.

Diamond and Gold members receive 1,000 bonus points per stay at Hilton and DoubleTree.

Five one-night stays X 2,000 bonus points = 10,000 points.

5-stay bonus = 10,000 points.

1,000 bonus points per stay for Gold and Diamond members X 5 = 5,000 points.

Total bonus points for 5 one-night stays = 25,000.

Redemption cost for 5 one-night stays in Cat 1 hotels = 25,000.

Total cost for 5 nights = 0 HHonors points.

The math is slightly less favorable for Hilton Garden Inn hotels but even if you just stay for 5 nights the points cost per stay is pretty marginal. Before you remind me that 250 points is actually more than zero, please keep in mind that Frequent Miler’s current reasonable redemption value for Hilton Honors points is $0.0045, less than half of a penny per point. That would mean that the approximate value of the 250 HHonors points you are redeeming for each one night stay is $1.13. In the next section I show you how you can stack another bonus on top of this to make your stays free or even have them pay you in points to stay.

Here is how we get from 5,000 points per night to 250 points per night.

Each stay gets you 2,000 bonus points.

You receive 10,000 bonus points after 5 stays.

Diamond and Gold members receive 750 bonus point per stay.

Five one-night stays X 2,000 bonus points = 10,000 points.

5 stay bonus = 10,000 points.

750 bonus points per stay for Gold and Diamond members X 5 = 3,750 points.

Total bonus points for 5 one-night stays = 23,750.

Redemption cost for 5 one-night stays in Cat 1 hotels = 25,000.

Total cost for 5 nights = 1,250 HHonors points ($5.63 equivalent cash value).

If you are staying at a Hampton By Hilton, with its much less generous “My Way” status bonus, you are going to be paying 750 Hhonors points per night after stacking up all the promos. That comes out to 3,750 HHonors points for five one-night stays ($16.88 equivalent cash value), which is still less than the cost of a standard one-night stay. Even with the smaller bonus you can still make the stays completely free and I will show you exactly how in the next part.

Hilton HHonors Free Hotel Nights
Hilton Stay More Earn More bonus offer

Making it truly free (or getting paid for your stay)

Wait! Don’t waste any of those Hhonors points! For the truly frugal (and dedicated) hotel guest you can actually get them to give you points to stay at their hotels!

As you can see from the picture above, once you hit 40 nights at Hilton properties you get a 10,000 point bonus. It costs between 0 and 750 points per stay, depending on the brand, for each stay up until 40 nights. So when you hit 40 nights you would be out 10,000 HHonors points if you were staying at a Hilton Garden Inn. Thankfully, the 10,000 point 40-night stay bonus kicks in at that point and brings your cost to exactly zero points for 40 one-night stays. If you were staying at Hilton or DoubleTree properties you would be up 10,000 points now and if you were staying at Hampton By Hilton you would be out 20,000 points after receiving the 40 night bonus.

It gets better! Because you get another 10,000 HHonors point bonus at 50 nights, you will be ahead 7,500 HHonors points at 50 nights for Garden Inn properties, 20,000 points for Hilton and DoubleTree and just 17,500 points shy of breaking even for the Hampton by Hilton customers.

I know that this might count as a punishment in some places but if you stay another 10 nights to get to the 60 night threshold then you qualify for an additional 30,000 bonus points. That would mean that if you used these promotions to complete 60 one-night stays at Hilton Category 1 hotels they would give you 35,000 points for staying at their Garden Inn hotels, 50,000 points for Hilton and DoubleTree and a far less sexy 5,000 HHonors points if you completed all of those stays at a Hampton property. No matter which property you choose, they all start earning you points by the time you reach 60 one-night stays. They are basically paying you between 83 and 833 HHonors points per night to stay at their properties when you hit 60 one-night stays.

Hilton HHonors Free Hotel Nights
View from my private suite at Conrad Koh Samui, where you won’t be staying for this promotion.

The ability to stack a limited-time Hilton hotels promo with a status bonus and a frequent-stay bonus makes it possible to stay at 5,000 points per night Hilton properties for free or even earn points for staying. You must register for this bonus and have elite status in order to get this deal to work. There are several easy ways to get status with Hilton including matching your status from another program or signing up for a credit card that gives you Gold or Platinum status. This opportunity is a great way to stay at Hilton properties for free, earn elite status, or both.

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