I pay $450 a year for a Hilton credit card, and I just earned half that fee back in a single night

Personal Finance Insider writes about products, strategies, and tips to help you make smart decisions with your money. Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

source
American Express

The premium Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has a hefty $450 annual fee, but it comes with so many perks, benefits, and rebates that it’s more than worth paying for Hilton loyalists.

One of the immediate perks that offers some value back for that annual fee: an annual free weekend night certificate.

That certificate comes each year, and unlike some other credit cards, you get it regardless of how much you spend on the card.

I got the Aspire card in October and just used my first free weekend night certificate – the process was easier than I expected.

Although you theoretically get the free night certificate right away, mine came a little less than two months after I opened the card – if I had a pressing need for it, I could have called AmEx and asked for it sooner, but as it was, I didn’t have any immediate plans to make a weekend reservation.

I got two separate emails: One from AmEx telling me to look out for the reward, and another from Hilton with the details – in particular, the certificate number and the expiration date. Certificates expire after one year.

To use the certificate, call the Hilton Honors desk at 1-800-4HONORS (1-800-446-6677), and let the representative know what day you’re looking to book.

You can combine your free weekend night with a paid – cash or points – stay, too. The representative will make separate reservations for the free and paid nights, but link them together so that it’s effectively just one stay.

Keep in mind that you can only use the free night if there’s availability at the hotel, though as long as you book enough in advance, you shouldn’t have an issue. Also note that there are a handful of excluded hotels – other than those, there are no restrictions on where you use it.

My wife and I spent this past weekend in Edinburgh, Scotland, and decided to use the free night reward at Hilton’s flagship property in the city: The Waldorf Astoria Caledonian.

Waldorf Astoria Caledonian Edinburgh Scotland Hotel

source
David Slotnick/Business Insider

The value of the free night reward obviously depends on which hotel you redeem it at. For the night we used the certificate, the Caledonian had a paid rate of £179.55, or about $235, plus taxes, so using the certificate here got me more than half of the value of this year’s annual fee back.

At least, that was the rate we would have paid for the original room we booked, a Queen Premier Room. Another benefit of the Hilton Aspire Card is that you’ll automatically get Diamond elite status in the Hilton Honors program, which, among other things, gets you space-available upgrades whenever you stay at a Hilton property.

Waldorf Astoria Caledonian Edinburgh Scotland Hotel

source
David Slotnick/Business Insider

There was upgrade space available this time – we were upgraded to a King Premier Room, which was larger overall and had a king-size bed.

Waldorf Astoria Caledonian Edinburgh Scotland Hotel

source
David Slotnick/Business Insider

We mostly spent the trip seeing friends or enjoying a weekend of unusually nice weather, but still took some time to enjoy the hotel itself. The Peacock Alley lobby lounge had tasty cocktails and pastries for afternoon tea, while the Caley Bar was a great, chic spot for a nightcap before bed.

Waldorf Astoria Caledonian Edinburgh Scotland Hotel

source
David Slotnick/Business Insider

We also had breakfast included, another benefit of Hilton Diamond status.

The Hilton Aspire card has a number of other useful benefits, including an annual resort credit up to $250 and a Hilton on-property credit up to $100 any time you book a two-night (or longer) stay at a luxury Hilton property through a specific website for cardholders.

However, the free night is one of the easiest to use, and can make it easy to get a big value back from the card.

Click here to learn more about the Hilton Aspire card from Insider Picks’ partner: The Points Guy.