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As the biggest hotel chain globally, Marriott has more than 7,000 properties in 131 countries. With such a wide footprint, odds are you've stayed at a Marriott hotel or two in your travels.
Along with the Marriott Bonvoy rewards program, which offers perks such as your fifth night free on award stays, Marriott provides an ability to combine different payment methods into a single booking. This is more than just convenient — doing so can save you a lot of time and money.
Below, we'll check out how to combine points, cash and free night certificates on your Marriott bookings, and inform you as to why you'd want to do so.
How Marriott Cash + Points works
Marriott currently operates on a semi-fixed award chart, which means you'll pay a standard amount of points per night based on demand. As a result, off-peak rates charge the fewest points, standard rates are a little more expensive and peak nights will cost you the most.
You can't decide which dates are considered peak or off-peak as a hotel guest. The number of points charged can also vary as much as 30,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for a single night, which can make a huge difference in your bill.
Marriott will be dropping its award chart in March 2022, so you'll want to book now if you're trying to guarantee a fixed price.
However, a few years ago, Marriott introduced the ability to customize your payments within a single booking when you book with points. Why is this important?
Let's say that you've got an upcoming stay in Orlando, Florida. You're looking to stay a total of seven nights but don't have enough points for the entire stay. You also have a single free night certificate from your Marriott Bonvoy credit card that you're looking to use.
It's possible to book these stays separately, booking with points for a few nights, booking a one-night stay with your Marriott certificate and paying cash for additional nights.
However, this comes with the hassle of checking in and checking out multiple times, attempting to get your reservation linked, switching rooms and possibly overpaying on a night that could otherwise be free.
Instead, you can navigate to the "Customize Payments" feature Marriott has set up and use multiple combinations of payments in one go. Even better, you can mix and match these payments strategically. Redeeming your points or certificates on expensive nights and shelling out cash on those that cost less can be a smart money move.
» Learn more: How to get the most value from Marriott Bonvoy points
How to combine points, cash and even free night certificates
It's easy to pay using multiple forms of payment on a single booking, but you'll need to do so in two steps.
First: Combine points and cash
To combine your payment methods, you'll first want to navigate to Marriott's website. Here, you can input all of your travel information, including your destination, dates of stay and number of travelers. Be sure to check the box marked "Use Points/Certificates."
Marriott will then populate a list of your results, including the cash rate and how many points it would cost you for the entire stay.
Keep in mind that if you're trying to use a free night certificate from a Marriott credit card, you may want to limit your search to Category 6 hotels or less, depending on the value of your certificate.
Holders of 35,000-point free night certificates can book up to Category 5 properties, while those with 50,000-point certificates can book at Category 6 hotels.
You can filter by category number by hitting the "All Filters" button.
Once you've selected your hotel, you'll be taken to a page showing you the individual charges for your hotel. Here you'll want to select "Customize Payments."
This will bring up a menu showing the rate for each night in both cash and points. From here, you can see which nights are most expensive and how you'd like to apply your points. Marriott will even tell you if you've selected the version that will give you the best cash value.
As you can see above, you're able to pay cash in the middle of your booking and still receive the fifth night free on the next available award night.
However, the nightly rate change can be much more extreme. For example, here's a stay at the same hotel just a week earlier:
Booked separately, you'll end up paying cash for either the first or the last night to receive the fifth-night-free benefit.
However, by choosing to customize and combine your payments instead, you're able to pay cash for the cheapest of these nights and still receive a free award night, thereby saving yourself nearly $70 on your stay.
You can use Points Advance to hold an award room before you've earned all the required points, though rates can still change during this time.
Second: Apply free night certificates
You may have noticed that you can't view your free night certificates on this page — that's fine; you'll do that in this next step. For now, pick how you'd like to pay for each night, then hit "Select."
If you haven't already logged in, you'll be prompted to do so now.
You'll then be taken to the checkout page, where you can find and attach any eligible e-certificates from your account.
Keep in mind that Marriott won't allow you to attach your e-certificate on a Points Advance booking online, so you won't see your certificates if that's the case. Instead, you'll want to have all the necessary points already in your account.
However, if you are still working on earning points, you can call Marriott and have the certificate manually attached to the reservation.
Once you've put together all the points, certificates, and cash you want to use, you'll just need to complete your check out.
» Learn more: Advanced tips for optimizing Marriott Bonvoy points
If you want to use points and cash at Marriott
There's a lot of value to be had with Marriott Bonvoy's program, especially if you're using points for reward redemptions. In addition, by taking advantage of the "customize payments" option, you can save money when using multiple payment methods and eliminate the headache of individually booking stays.
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 2022, 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