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I love how easy it is to earn Hilton points! Sure, it costs 50,000 Hilton points for a top category 7 free Hilton night, but it is so easy to earn Hilton points. You can earn hundreds of thousands of Hilton points just by credit card sign-up bonuses.
Even better – anyone can get Hilton Gold status and get free breakfast and internet just by having the Citi Hilton Reserve card (along with 2 free weekend nights and other perks). This comes in very handy and saves you time and money when using those Hilton points for Big Travel with Small Money at Hilton hotels.
But I often get comments or email from readers that they tried searching for free nights at a Hilton online, but they could not find ANY free nights.
Here’s The Trick!
Always start your search for free Hilton award nights when you are logged out of your Hilton account if you do not have enough points for the length of your stay.
If you search for free Hilton nights when you are logged into your Hilton account, but you don’t have enough points for the stay, you will often see a message which says that there are no free nights available (even when they really are free nights available).
An Example – Logged into Emily’s Hilton Account
For example, Emily has 4,052 Hilton points in her account. This is much less than the 50,000 Hilton points needed for 1 free night in London.
She logged into her Hilton account and tried searching for 2 nights in London from October 9 to October 11, 2012.
But, as expected, she didn’t find any free hotel nights!
Step 1 – Log into Hilton.com
Emily logged into her Hilton account at Hilton.com
Step 2 – Search for Awards
She then searched for 2 nights in London from October 9 to October 11, 2012.
She clicked the box which said “Use Hilton Points” and then clicked the blue “Find It” button.
Step 3 – Search Results (No Availability Found when logged-in)
Despite searching for free hotel nights, Emily was shown results for paid nights.
She then clicked the “Book a Room” link and received a message which said: “There are no HHonors Reward Certificate rooms available for 09 Oct 2012 – 11 Oct 2012 at The Trafalgar London. ”
She clicked on each of the 27 London Hilton hotels and got the same message – that there were no award nights available!
But don’t worry – all you have to do is search for free Hilton nights when you are logged out of your account if you don’t have enough points for the length of your stay.
The Fix – DON’t LOG INTO YOUR Hilton Account!
Let’s see what happens when we search for the same dates as above, but without signing into Emily’s Hilton account.
Step 1 – Do NOT Log Into Hilton.com
Go to Hilton.com, but do NOT log into your account! If you are already logged-in, click on “sign-out”
Step 2 – Search for Awards
Search for 2 nights in London from October 9 to October 11, 2012 (the same dates in the above example).
Don’t forget to click the box which says “Use Hilton Points”
Then click the blue “Find It” button!
Step 3 – Search Results (Lots of Availability Found!)
You will see free night availability for all the 27 Hilton hotels in London!
If you click “Book a Room” you will see the different room types. Look out for standard room redemption for 50,000 points (Category 7 redemption example).
The premium room rewards are often not worth the extra points charged. If you want to actually book the room, you would need to earn the points required and then log-into your Hilton account to book the room.
Bottom Line: The Hilton website is quirky. You usually have to be signed out of your Hilton hotel account so see free night availability if you don’t have enough points for the length of your stay.