I’ve been lucky that almost all of my points and miles redemptions have gone off without complication. It seems that the only time I have any trouble is when it comes to redeeming Hilton Free Weekend Night certificates. I wrote about one bad experience here where Hilton charged my credit card $920 to buy points without my permission when I was trying to redeem a certificate. This time, the bad experience was my own fault when I tried redeeming two weekend night certificates on weekdays.
Making the Hilton Free Night Certificate Reservation
I originally booked our three-night stay at the Conrad Maldives by using 285,000 Hilton points. I made this reservation almost a year in advance of our honeymoon so, over the course of 2018, I picked up two free weekend night certificates.
I earned the first in June as part of the welcome offer for keeping the Amex Hilton Surpass for a year and the second from opening the Hilton Aspire card this fall. In full disclosure, I realize that these are, in fact, free weekend night certificates and that our stay in the Maldives was during the week. It will never really make sense to me why Hilton wants to restrict the use of these to weekends when stays during the week are usually less expensive. So in June, I called to try to use my free weekend night certificate for one of the nights of my Conrad Maldives stay. The CSR didn’t have any issues redeeming it though she did have to break the reservation up into a two-night points stay and separate one-night stay with the certificate.
I had a similar experience when I called in November to use the second certificate, but now my reservation was one night on points and a two-night reservation with the certificates. Each time I applied a certificate, I was refunded 95,000 points so it seemed like everything worked out.
Where Did My Points Go?
We completed our stay at the beginning of December. After earning the points for the money spent at the Conrad Maldives, I was feeling proud of my 585,000 point balance. I was shocked when my balance dropped to 395,000 on December 29th.
I looked at my Points Activity and 190,000 points were deducted for the two-night stay at the Conrad Maldives. I never received an email about the deduction and may not have noticed for a while had I not been excessively logging onto Hilton’s website when I was bored.
So What Happened?
I called Hilton and was first chastised for using a free weekend night certificate during the week. In the eyes of the hotel, they had not been compensated for the stay since it was not a weekend stay. This explains why 190,000 points were deducted, but for some reason, one of the certificates was also redeemed. I was immediately refunded 95,000 points (as a 75,000 and a 20,000 point Guest Assistance Bonus) to cover the redeemed certificate. The CSR also opened a claim to get the other 95,000 points back in exchange for the other certificate. Basically, they were trying to honor how my reservation was originally booked, but the CSR wasn’t authorized to refund any more points.
The claim was opened and closed without any communication from Hilton. I called again two weeks later. The CSR told me I had until June to use my other certificate so the situation was resolved.
I felt that it was unfair that the payment for my reservation was changed without notice weeks after completing the stay. Since the CSR from my first call said they would honor how my stay was originally booked with the certificates, I felt that I needed to get my points back. Eventually, she was able to refund me the additional 95,000 points and opened a claim to have the active certificate removed from my account.
I’d say there are a few lessons here.
First, I definitely do not recommend trying to use a free weekend night certificate on a weekday. I wasn’t trying to be sneaky by using it during the week, I genuinely thought it wouldn’t be an issue since the hotel room was more expensive on the weekend. Having since looked at the terms and conditions, I think I was very lucky to have this play out in my favor since Hilton retains the right to cancel the reservation or charge for the room if the use of the certificate does not follow proper procedures.
Second, when dealing with customer service, sometimes it takes several phone calls to get the resolution you are hoping for. I may have been in the wrong for using the certificates, but I was without 190,000 points and was under the impression that my two certificates had been redeemed so something needed to be done. When I first called, their solution was for me to email Hilton and explain the situation. That obviously would not have gone anywhere so I asked to speak with the supervisor and was able to get back half of the points right away. The CSR is still getting paid whether or not they resolve the problem, so if something goes wrong with your booking, it’s up to you stay on it.
Lastly, it seems that Hilton can deduct large amounts of points from your account without notification. Normally, I get an email every time I redeem points. Let this be a reminder to always keep an eye on your balance!
I admit that I did not use the certificates in the way they are meant to be used, but I was not under the impression that I did anything wrong since Hilton confirmed my reservation. It is also concerning that Hilton can deduct large amounts of points from your account without notification. However, I truly feel lucky that I was able to get the resolution I was after given the terms and conditions. So do I recommend trying to use a free weekend night certificate during the week? Absolutely not. Let this be a lesson in what can happen if you do!