Posted in Hotels

The Hilton Golden Ticket

In the summer of 2019 we signed up for a Hilton Surpass Card from American Express. Part of the Welcome Bonus for signing up for the card was a Free Weekend Night Certificate. This certificate is like the Willie Wonka Golden Ticket. First of all, it doesn’t have a cap on what hotel category or points level you can choose from when redeeming. Additionally, it it is good on weekend nights, which tend to be more expensive. That means that this certificate has a lot of potential value.

Earning It

It was perfect timing when we signed up for the card because we were about to head into our heavy fall travel season. By using the card to pay for some of our travel costs, we had no trouble reaching the spend threshold in order to earn the Welcome Bonus. So our certificate was issued with an expiration of September of 2020.

The Plan

I was so excited at all the possibilities for using this Golden Ticket and wanted to make sure that I chose a fabulous location so that we would get the most value from it. We were in the first stages of planning a 30th Anniversary trip to Portugal for September of 2020 so I began my search there. When looking at our potential itinerary, I found the Conrad Algarve Hotel would work perfectly. This posh hotel had a weekend night price tag for our dates of over $400 per night. How is that for getting plenty of value from this certificate.

Conrad Algarve – photo by Hilton

When March of 2020 rolled around, I had a definitive plan for Portugal and was ready to start booking our travel. That was when everything shut down for Covid 19. Drat! I was happy that at least Hilton jumped in right away and extended the expiration on our certificate to September of 2021. They also opened it up so it could now be used for any night of the week. There was still hope.

Plan B

Our new plan was to simply postpone our trip to September of 2021. The certificate would still be valid and we continued to be excited about visiting Portugal. This seemed like the best possible solution.

But it was pretty early in the pandemic and we had no idea how long and drawn out it would be to get the virus under control. Here we are in March of 2021 and although we are now vaccinating people, the virus is still a very real threat. So much so, that foreign travel is still not an option. Double Drat!

So Now What?

Our Golden Ticket is set to expire in early September of this year and travel is still a mess. I have been scrambling doing research to find a viable domestic location for redeeming the certificate in a way that still gets top value. The best options that I have found are in Hawaii. But Hawaii has been struggling to sort out the rules for people travelling from mainland US. We don’t have time to do a 2 week quarantine.

Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort photos by Hilton

Since I have been fully vaccinated, I was hoping for the quick development of a vaccine passport and for Hawaii to agree that vaccination would allow you to skip the quarantine. So far they are still floundering on these subjects. Because the situation changes almost daily, I just continue to follow all their travel updates and watch for any new developments.

In the meantime, we have this awesome Golden Ticket but the time we have to use it is ticking away. I will continue holding out a few more months for Hawaii, but at some point I may end up having to move on to Plan D. Who knows maybe Hilton will extend the expiration date again!

It feels like we have won the lottery, but just can’t figure out how to collect the winnings.

Dream, Plan (and plan again), Save, Adventure!