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The Marriott hotels portfolio is the largest globally, spanning thousands of properties worldwide. This is excellent news for Marriott fans as it means finding a hotel in which to stay has never been easier.
However, Marriott made waves in late 2021 when it announced it would be dropping its semi-fixed award chart. But it's not all bad news. To help out travelers, Marriott also stated that those holding free night certificates would be able to top-up with an additional 15,000 points from their account. This unlocks some incredible value for your certificate.
Let's take a look at a few Marriott hotels that are worth a top-up for your 35,000-point certificate.
» Learn more: The complete guide to the Marriott Bonvoy Program
Top up your 35K-point Marriott free night certificate with points
As it stands, two different credit cards offer an annual free night certificate worth 35,000 points:
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card: Earn 3 Free Night Awards (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card.
Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card: Earn three Free Night Awards after you use your new Card to make $6,000 in eligible purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership. Redemption level up to 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points for each bonus Free Night Award, at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees. Terms Apply.
Under Marriott's old award chart, using the top-ups on your 35,000-point Marriott certificate would allow you to jump up two entire categories, landing at former Category 7 hotels.
If you max out the top-up, you’ll be spending an additional 15,000 points on the free night. NerdWallet values Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.8 cent each, which means you’ll be redeeming $105 worth of additional Marriott points for your stay.
Titanium elite status members may also opt for a free night certificate as their annual choice benefit, worth up to 40,000 points.
While you may already get some good redemption values on your free night certificate, this top-up program brings it to a whole new level. Here are six great hotels to redeem your 35,000-point Marriott certificate with a top-up.
6 hotels to redeem your Marriott certificate with a top-up
There are plenty of Marriott hotels in Hawaii. However, the Mauna Kea stands out as a historic beachfront golf resort on the Big Island. Built by the Rockefellers, you won't even be charged a resort fee for staying here, which can save you upwards of $50 per night.
» Learn more: The best award flights to Hawaii
Marriott also has a handful of properties located in the Maldives, the quintessential reward traveler's destination.
Although you won't be able to redeem your free night certificate at the Westin for an overwater villa, your top-up points will allow you to redeem a beachside villa with a private pool, which is nearly as lovely.
Holders of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card receive an 85,000 point annual free night certificate. Terms apply.
Located just outside Dubai in the UAE, the Ritz Carlton is an all-suite property, which means using your certificate here will snag you a one-bedroom room with a private pool. Room rates regularly top $1,000 per night, and although off-peak rates are sporadic, it's well worth it when you find them. One example we found had us redeeming that free night certificate plus 15,000 points for a stay worth roughly $1,300.
» Learn more: The best (and cheapest) ways to fly to Dubai on points
Famous among theme park travelers, the Swan and Dolphin hotels are the only non-Disney resorts on Disney property. Such a location allows you to skip out on transportation and walk directly to parks such as Epcot.
The Swan Reserve is the newest iteration of these properties, located on the top floors of the existing Swan hotel. It falls as a former Category 6, which means you'd need just 40,000 points to redeem.
Room rates here hover between $300-$400 per night, making this a very valuable redemption option for your 35,000-point certificate and an extra 5,000 points.
Are you looking for a stay in the Caribbean? The Marriott Aruba is a massive all-in-one property that ensures you'll never have to leave your resort. Along with a casino, guests can enjoy beach access, adult-only pools and there are family-friendly options as well.
Since it's a Category 7 hotel, you'll need to top-up using 15,000 Marriott points on your annual free night certificate, but this is well worth it compared to the sky-high cash rates you'd otherwise pay.
» Learn more: The best ways to rack up Marriott Bonvoy points
Located on a private island, the JW Marriott Venice is a five-star hotel accessible only by water taxis. Although it's located just twenty minutes from the heart of Venice, you may end up spending all your time at this hotel, with three pools, cooking classes, a full-service spa and tranquil olive groves to explore.
Rooms here aren't cheap, either. As a Category 7 hotel, you'll need 50,000 points for a one-night stay at the old award chart's off-peak rate.
Final thoughts on topping up your 35K-point Marriott free night certificate with 15K points
Marriott’s decision to eliminate its award chart is less than customer friendly, opening the door to rapidly fluctuating pricing for reward redemptions. However, there is a bright side as Marriott’s simultaneous announcement regarding top-ups brings significantly more value to those who hold annual free night certificates.
Nowhere is this more clear than the 35,000-point certificate offered by the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card. Terms apply.
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