Hilton Free Weekend Night Reward Certificate Not Returned After Canceling the Reservation

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A reader sent an email to me worrying about the Hilton Free Weekend Night Reward he earns each year from simply being the cardmember of the American Express Hilton Aspire Card. He used the free night reward to make a booking with Hilton, but after canceling the reservation, the free night reward never returned to his Hilton Honors account, and he could not book a new reservation.

I completely understand the frustration and stress that the reader has gone through, especially if he needs that Hilton Free Weekend Night Reward to book a new reservation at a Hilton property that award availability is hard to come by. 
Hilton Free Weekend Night Reward Certificate Not Returned After Cancelling the Reservation
Hotel del Coronado
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    Hilton Free Weekend Night Reward Cancellation Policy

    So what exactly is the cancellation policy on the Hilton Free Weekend Night Reward
    You can cancel the reservation after you make a booking using the Hilton Free Weekend Night Reward. As long as your reservation is within the free cancellation window, the free night reward will be returned to your Hilton Honors account. 
    The free night reward’s cancellation policy is just like bookings using your Hilton Honors points, and your Hilton Honors points will be returned to your Hilton account if your reservation is canceled within the free cancellation window. 

    Hilton Free Weekend Night Reward & Points Combination Booking’s Cancellation Policy

    Hilton allows you to combine the Hilton Free Weekend Night Reward with Hilton Honors points on one reservation. This is beneficial so that all your night stays will be under a single reservation, and therefore, you do not have to make any special request to ensure you are not checking out and re-checking in at a Hilton property. 
    However, it’s worth noting that you cannot mix the Hilton 5th Night Free with points benefit and the free weekend night reward on one reservation. See the following post for more details: 
    Hilton’s system treats the Hilton Free Weekend Night Reward is like Hilton Honors points. Therefore, you can cancel the reservation and receive a free weekend night reward and points back to your Hilton Honors account as long as your reservation is canceled within the free cancellation window without any penalties. 

    Hilton Free Weekend Night Reward Certificate Not Returned After Cancelling the Reservation

    Generally, when you successfully cancel a reservation that uses the Hilton Free Weekend Night Reward, the free night reward certificate should be returned to your account immediately. 
    Unfortunately, there are still some issues regarding Hilton’s system. In some instances, the free night reward is not returned to the account immediately as it should. I reached out to Hilton to learn more about the reason behind this, and this is what their response is:

    Please know that international bookings can take a bit longer to reflect the certificates and points back into the account after cancellation.

    I went through my past bookings and cancellations using Hilton Free Weekend Night Reward. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I canceled and re-booked my reservation for Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, United States, a few times. Each time, the free night reward certificate was returned to my Hilton Honors account immediately. However, the cancellations for my international bookings, such as Conrad Maldives Rangali Island and Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa, did not return my points and certificate immediately. 

    How to Request Hilton to Return the Free Night Reward Certificate After Canceling the Reservation?

    If your Hilton Free Weekend Night Reward is not returned to your Hilton Honors account immediately after you cancel the reservation, there’s no way to really expedite the process because:
    • Hilton call center’s supervisors cannot do anything about it.
    • The Hilton department that handles the issue does not have a phone number, and they can only be contacted via email. 
    • Hilton representatives cannot call the department internally either. 
    Here are some ways I recommend you do to request Hilton to return the Hilton Free Weekend Night Reward after canceling the reservation: 
    • Do not wait or take the Hilton representative’s words to wait it out 1 day, etc., because that will not work. If you are not in a hurry to use the free night certificate again, you may find yourself waiting for it to return, which can take up to weeks or months or never. 
    • Do not contact the property directly because they cannot return the certificate or the points, and it has to be done by Hilton directly. If a Hilton representative tells you so, hang up and call again. 
    • Contact Hilton right away and have the representative create a Loyalty Case for this matter. You can contact Hilton through the following methods:
      • If you are a Hilton Honors Diamond elite member, call the Diamond desk at 1-800-548-8690.
      • If you are not a Diamond member, call 1-800-HILTONS
      • You can contact Hilton via a web form here and describe the issue. 
      • You can also contact Hilton via Twitter and Live Chat.
      • A Hilton property gave me an email address [email protected] to request the certificate back. I have not tried this method personally, but I thought I would mention it here. 
    • Hilton’s representative will put in a loyalty case with a case number. It can take up to 5-7 business days, but in practice, if you stress your urgency and ask them to escalate the case, you likely receive the resolution within 24 hours.
    • You will not hear back via email, unfortunately. So you will have to keep checking your Hilton Honors account for the refund status. 

    Editor’s Note: While this is not 100% guaranteed, if you are worried about award availability while you wait, consider redeeming your Hilton Honors points for the standard award room’s stay if you have sufficient points. Once your free night reward is returned to your account, you can cancel the points reservation and hope that the standard award room type is put back into the inventory for you to use the free night reward. Unfortunately, Hilton’s system is not capable of switching the points reservation to use the reward certificate at this time. 

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