The Best Uses of Marriott’s 85,000-Point Free Night Award
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Do you have an annual free night award from Marriott? These come as a perk on a handful of different Marriott credit cards. Each year, you’ll be able to redeem these awards for single-night stays at various Marriott properties around the world.
However, only one card comes with the coveted 85,000-point Marriott Free Night Award: the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card.
Let’s examine the five best uses of your 85,000 Marriott point award and whether they’re worth getting.
What is the 85,000-point Free Night Award worth?
The 85,000-point award is provided each year to those with a Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card. Terms apply.
NerdWallet values Marriott points at 0.7 cent each, making this award worth $595. This means you’ll want to redeem your award for a hotel stay at or above this amount to get the best value.
» Learn more: Your guide to the Marriott Bonvoy program
Does the free night award pay for itself?
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card is a premium travel card with an annual fee to match. You’ll pay $650 in fees each year, but in return, you’ll receive the 85,000-point award, a $300 dining credit and a variety of other perks. Terms apply.
The card also comes with a pretty hefty welcome offer: Earn 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy® bonus points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 3 months. Terms Apply.
With such a hefty fee for the card alone, the free night award, at minimum, will return a large chunk of the annual fee. It’s also possible to redeem your award for hotels charging over $1,000 per night, which means you can get great value from the award.
The best Marriott 85K hotels
Marriott dropped its award chart in March 2022 in favor of a dynamic award chart; pricing for award nights is now tied to the cash rate of a room. As a result, you’ll find dramatic pricing changes for properties based on demand.
While this change makes it more challenging to plan redemptions, it is possible to sort through nightly rates at ultra-high-end hotels to find outsized value for your free night award.
So, what can you get with 85,000 points at Marriott?
1. The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort — Miami, Florida.
Are you looking to stay within the United States? The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort is a 5-star resort located directly on the beach in Miami. Room rates here are universally expensive, which means you’ll be able to snag a great redemption value at this property.
Even better, the base room includes an ocean view, often considered an upgrade at other hotels.
While it can cost as few as 80,000 points for your stay, you can still use your free night award — valid for stays up to 85,000 points. And with a cash price of more than $1,000 per night, you’re still coming in well above this award's $595 baseline value.
» Learn more: Things to know before getting a Marriott credit card
2. The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert — United Arab Emirates
Famous for its exclusive destination within a nature reserve, the Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah is located in the UAE. Each room here is its 1,700-square-foot villa and includes a private pool for maximum enjoyment.
Cash rates at this property usually exceed $1,000 per night. In the below example, 5,116 AED converts to $1,392 — making this a great use of your free night award.
» Learn more: Your guide to Marriott award stays
3. The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort — The Maldives
The quintessential award traveler's destination, it’s easy to redeem your Marriott Free Night Award in the Maldives. The hotel chain features multiple properties, but among its best is the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort, whose base room includes an overwater villa and private pool.
Cash rates for these rooms are exorbitant — you’ll often find pricing upwards of $3,000 per night, so redeeming your award here becomes an especially appealing option.
Note that you’ll still be on the hook for transfers. In this case, a shared seaplane transfer costs $745 round-trip per adult, so you’ll want to factor that into your vacation budget. Also, you'll probably not want to go to the Maldives for a single-night stay, so be sure your trip budget can absorb the nightly rate for stays before/after you redeem your award.
» Learn more: Ways to maximize the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant AmEx
4. The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua — Hawaii.
If Hawaii has been on your list, consider the Ritz-Carlton Maui, whose rooms average $1,000 per night. While you won’t have a whole villa here, its location is much easier to access than other farther-flung destinations.
This hotel tends to have better close-in availability, so you’ll want to keep an eye out for room rates as your vacation approaches. Otherwise, the hotel charges a default of 120,000 points per night, which is well above the bounds of your free night award.
Max My Point is an excellent free website that’ll show you a year’s worth of award availability for Marriott hotels, making it easy to find dates for your free night award.
5. The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch — Colorado.
Are you a fan of the outdoors? The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch, located in Colorado, offers unparalleled access to the wilderness.
As a ski-in resort, you’ll be able to hit the slopes outside your room without needing a shuttle. In the summer, you can enjoy the excellent hiking nearby or the resort’s easy access to world-class golf courses.
Be aware that room rates here vary significantly according to the season. You’ll see nightly prices ranging from $320 to $3,100, so redeem your award with care.
If you want to redeem 85,000 Marriott points
Marriott’s most premium credit card awards cardholders a free night award worth up to 85,000 points each year. With its new dynamic pricing system, it can be more challenging to find great value when redeeming these awards, but there are still some excellent properties if you’re willing to search.
Whether you’re looking to snorkel at the St. Regis Maldives or ski at the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch, you’ll be able to redeem your award for a hotel stay that maximizes your Free Night Award.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card