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Marriott Bonvoy offers its loyalty program members two ways of booking free night awards: with Bonvoy points or with free night awards. Points can be accumulated by staying at Marriott properties and by making purchases on co-branded credit cards. Most free night awards come from holding and renewing Marriott credit cards issued by American Express and Chase. Here are some tips on how to get and how to use a Marriott certificate.
What types of Marriott free night awards are available?
Marriott free night awards range in value, and that value depends on the method with which you earned it. Marriott certificates are worth the following number of Bonvoy points:
Up to 25,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.
Up to 40,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.
Up to 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.
If you still hold the Chase Marriott Bonvoy Premier card (no longer available to new applicants), then you receive a free night award with Marriott worth up to 25,000 Bonvoy points every year you renew the card.
Holding and renewing the following credit cards earns you a certificate worth up to 35,000 Marriott points:
The Marriott Bonvoy™ Premier Plus Business card.
The Marriott Bonvoy American Express® Card (not available to new applicants).
It’s also possible to receive a free night award worth up to 35,000 Marriott points by spending at least $60,000 on the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card or the Marriott Bonvoy™ Premier Plus Business Card during the calendar year. Terms apply.
If you have the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card or the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card (not available for applications), you earn a free night award worth up to 85,000 Bonvoy points every year after your card renewal month. Terms apply.
Every calendar year you reach 50 elite nights and then again when you reach 75 nights with Marriott Bonvoy, you’re eligible to pick an Annual Choice Benefit. A free night award worth up to 40,000 points is available as one of the selections when you reach 75 qualifying nights.
Where to find your Marriott free night award
If you have any Marriott free night awards available for use, you’ll find them in your account under “Activity.” Each certificate displays its value and expiration date, which is one year after it’s issued.
Other than during the coronavirus pandemic, certificates can’t be extended beyond their expiration date and must be redeemed and have a stay completed before that date.
Free night awards don’t post immediately upon credit card renewal. Allow up to 12 weeks for the certificate to be available for redemption through your Bonvoy account.
How to use a Marriott certificate
To use a Marriott certificate for a free night, begin searching among the hotel's 7,000 properties. Zero-in on those hotels' whose cost in points is close to the value of your free night certificate (35,000 or 50,000). It is possible to apply certificates toward a higher-priced room and cover the difference with up to 15,000 points.
When searching, know that seasonality is taken into account when pricing out hotel rooms.
Finding the Marriott that’s best for you
Marriott has a handy tool to help you narrow down your search by selecting the continent, the country you’d like to travel to and the number of points required to book an award night.
For example, Germany features more than 30 Marriott properties where a standard room goes for 35,000 points. Narrow down your search further by selecting your preferred location/city and the dates by clicking on “View availability.”
Because it’s possible that a room at any of these hotels can be priced at peak rates of 40,000 points, keep searching for availability until you find hotels that can be booked with certificates. Once you select your hotel and the number of nights, you should see how many certificates are eligible to be redeemed for free nights at your selected property.
Select which certificates you want to use and how many, and you’ll see them apply to your reservation in the summary of charges.
It’s possible to mix and match paid stays and free nights on one reservation. If your stay is longer than the number of certificates you have, simply pay the rest of the bill with your credit card or Marriott points and complete your booking.
You can’t redeem a Marriott certificate for another guest. You have to be staying in the room to use the certificates issued under your name.
» Learn more: Trouble using your Marriott free night certificates?
How to get maximum value from Marriott free night awards
Because each certificate’s value is limited to a specific point valuation, you want to make sure you book a hotel the uses close to if not all of the full amount of points. For example, the best bang for your buck for 35,000-point certificates will be at hotels that cost 35,000 points per night.
It also helps to consider how much the certificate costs you to acquire. Because credit cards that come with free night awards charge annual fees, you’re paying anywhere between $85 to $450 to earn these certificates. Try to redeem them at hotels whose nightly rates exceed the membership fees you pay.
For example, you get a free night award worth up to 35,000 points with the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card, which has an annual fee of $125 (see rates and fees). If you redeem the free night at a hotel that costs $350 per night including taxes, you offset the annual fee and get two to three times the value back. Terms apply.
Another great way to use Marriott certificates is to extend a vacation you book with either cash or points. Whenever you redeem enough Bonvoy points to stay five consecutive nights at one hotel, you get the fifth night free. So, one of the ways to get maximum value from your Marriott certificates is to use them to add one or two nights to your five-night reservation. With this method, you can get a weeklong stay paid by rewards.
Marriott free night awards don’t qualify for a fifth night free promotion, which means you can’t redeem four certificates and book five nights. The promo applies to stays booked with Bonvoy points only.
The bottom line
Free night awards that come as a reward for keeping certain credit cards every year make paying annual fees easier to swallow. Marriott certificates do have some restrictions, but they can come in handy for a ski weekend, a road trip to a national park or an overnight layover in an upscale hotel in Europe. As long as you redeem Marriott certificates for rooms whose nightly rates are high on your travel dates and offset the fees, you come out on top.
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