How To Redeem Marriott Bonvoy Free Night Awards

How To Redeem Marriott Bonvoy Free Night Awards

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Marriott co-branded credit cards offer a variety of perks, and one of the perks available on some cards is an anniversary free night award. This can be hugely valuable, so in this post I wanted to go over all the details you need to be aware of when it comes to redeeming these certificates, especially in light of them recently becoming more flexible.

What are Marriott anniversary free night awards?

Hotel credit cards often come with great perks that can more than offset their annual fees. For example, this can come in the form of elite status or free night awards. Most major hotel programs have some cards offering free night awards, including Hilton Honors, IHG Rewards Club, and World of Hyatt.

A few co-branded Marriott credit cards also offer an anniversary free night certificate that you receive on your account anniversary every year, which is valid for a one night stay at select Marriott properties.

Redeem free night awards at the Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Airport

Which credit cards offer Marriott free night awards?

There are three Marriott credit cards that offer anniversary free night certificates:

Note that:

Redeem free night awards at the Le Meridien Paro

When do you get your Marriott free night award?

Marriott free night awards issued as part of credit card perks are an anniversary bonus. This means you generally don’t get one when you open your account (unless it’s part of a bonus), but rather you get one starting with the first anniversary of your account and every anniversary after that. Note that:

  • These certificates are electronic, so will automatically be deposited in your Marriott Bonvoy account
  • Chase says that certificates will be deposited within eight weeks, while American Express says they’ll be deposited within eight to 12 weeks (though often it will be faster than that)
  • The free night awards are generally valid for a stay within 12 months of the date the certificates are issued (that 12 months is based on when you stay, and not based on when you book); we’ve seen some extensions to these since the start of the pandemic, though I wouldn’t expect that to continue to be the case
Redeem your free night award at The Ben West Palm Beach

How can you figure out if you have a Marriott free night award?

To see if you’ve already received your free night award, log into your Marriott Bonvoy account (not your Amex or Chase account), and then click on the “Activity” section. There you should see a listing of all of your unused certificates, including a credit card free night.

How can you determine your account anniversary date?

The easiest way to roughly tell your account anniversary date is to see when you were last billed an annual fee on the card. Just log into your Amex or Chase account, and see when you were last billed an annual fee.

You can expect that will be your anniversary date going forward as well, and then within eight to 12 weeks (at the latest) you’ll receive the certificate.

How do you redeem your Marriott free night award?

Above I’ve shown where in your Marriott Bonvoy account you can see your free night awards. Rather oddly, there’s no link there to actually click, though. To actually redeem your certificate, go through the same process you’d go through if you were to redeem points.

Go to Marriott’s homepage, and select your preferred destination, dates, and choose “Use Points/Certificates.”

Then you’ll see all the rates (in points and cash) for the properties that are available. Select a property that can potentially be used with your certificates. Certificates are generally valid for up to 35,000 or 50,000 points, but can be supplemented with up to 15,000 points, for a maximum of 50,000 or 65,000 points.

Let’s choose The Ben West Palm Beach as an example, on a night where 48,000 Marriott Bonvoy points are required (this means you could use a certificate worth up to 35,000 points, and supplement it with 13,000 points).

When you get to the booking page, select the points rate.

Then finally on the next page you’ll have the option of redeeming your certificate. You’ll see a box that says “You have 1 Free Night Award(s) eligible for this stay.” This is the point where you can choose whether you want to redeem that certificate or want to redeem points.

If the property you’re redeeming at is within the certificate limit, then just the certificate will be debited from your account, and points will remain. Meanwhile if you’re supplementing your stay with points, you’ll see the number of additional points required to top off your award.

Since Marriott Bonvoy has dynamic award pricing nowadays, the flexible award search feature is more valuable than ever before. When you go to the “Dates” section, just click on “Flexible Dates,” and then you can search for a month at a time.

This is a great way to find the nights that require the fewest points, and then you can scroll month by month.

Is it worth getting a Marriott card for the free night award?

Personally, I think there’s huge value to be had in having a co-branded Marriott card simply for the free night award on your account anniversary.

Take the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card from Chase, which has a $95 annual fee. A vast majority of Marriott properties retail for over $95 per night, especially after factoring in taxes and fees. Being able to pay a low $95 annual fee and getting a free night is a no brainer, in my opinion.

I’d argue the math potentially works out even better on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card from Amex, which has a $650 annual fee. While that annual fee might sound high, the card offers lots of great perks, including up to $300 in statement credits per calendar year (up to $25 per month) for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide.), plus a Priority Pass membership (enrollment required). The card’s certificate is also more valuable, and can be redeemed at a property costing up to 85,000 points (before a top off).

Redeem free night awards at the Marriott Kigali

Marriott free night award FAQs

Hopefully the above answers most of the questions that people may have regarding Marriott free night certificates. However, I figured I’d address a few more questions that people may have (and if you have any more, please let me know).

Are there capacity controls on free night awards?

Free night awards are subjected to the same capacity controls as points stays. Hotels are allowed to have blackout dates, but for most of the year, you’ll find that if a standard room is available for sale, it’s also bookable with points.

How does Marriott dynamic award pricing impact free night awards?

Nowadays Marriott Bonvoy no longer has an award chart, but instead award pricing is dynamic. That means the pricing can vary night-to-night depending on a variety of factors. The free night awards fully follow this dynamic logic, meaning that for a given hotel you might be able to use a free night award for one night, but not for another night.

The standard room award pricing at a hotel on a particular night determines whether or not you can redeem a free night award for that particular stay.

Can you use a free night award for multiple nights?

Say you have a 35,000 point free night award. Can you use it for a two night stay at a hotel costing 17,500 points per night? The answer is no, unfortunately. Each certificate is valid for a single night stay at a property costing up to 35,000 points.

Can you use free night certificates for back-to-back stays?

If you have two Marriott credit cards offering free night awards, can you use them for back-to-back stays? Yes, you sure can. You can even book them on the same reservation. Just start a search for a stay for as many nights as you plan on staying, and you’ll see the option of applying multiple certificates toward the same stay.

In the interest of being thorough, I should also mention that you could redeem two certificates for two rooms on the same night, should you be traveling with friends or family. Just book both rooms in your name.

Does the free night certificate count toward elite status?

Absolutely, when you redeem your free night certificate you’ll receive an elite qualifying night for that stay that counts toward Marriott Bonvoy status. For that matter, all elite benefits will apply on these stays as well, including complimentary breakfast at select brands.

Can you gift your free night certificate to someone else?

The free night certificate has to be used for a stay by the primary cardmember, so this isn’t a benefit that can be gifted to someone else.

What is the cancelation policy for free night awards?

The cancelation policy is the same as it would be if redeeming points, so it does vary by hotel, though generally speaking is quite flexible. If you do cancel a stay last minute, just keep in mind the expiration date of the certificate, as it can’t be extended.

Can you book a more expensive hotel and pay the difference in points?

While this didn’t used to be possible, it’s now possible to top off a free night certificate with up to 15,000 additional points. This means:

  • A 35,000 point free night certificate can be redeemed at a property costing up to 50,000 points
  • A 50,000 point free night certificate can be redeemed at a property costing up to 65,000 points
  • An 85,000 point free night certificate can be redeemed at a property costing up to 100,000 points

Bottom line

The anniversary free night awards offered by several co-branded Marriott credit cards can be an excellent value, in my opinion. This is a great additional perk if you have a Marriott credit card anyway, though it can also be a reason to get one of these cards, given just how much value you can get redeeming these.

I consistently redeem free night awards at hotels that would cost $250+ per night, and in some cases even significantly more than that. These certificates now have even more flexibility, as you can supplement them with up to 15,000 points to redeem at even more expensive properties.

What has your experience been with redeeming Marriott free night certificates?

The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card (Rates & Fees), and Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card (Rates & Fees).

Conversations (14)
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  1. Mark Leonard Guest

    Question about expiration date. For instance I have a cert expiring 6/30/2022. Does that mean the stay needs to be by 6/30 or I have to use and apply the cert to a reservation by 6/30 for anytime in the future ? Thanks for the help.

  2. ken Guest

    I didn't know you cannot book marriott certificates for others, which is a huge limitation for times like this when some people still just cannot travel. In any case, wheneven I call marriott, the customer service is bad, the attitude of the agents are usually non-caring. Worse than IHG, which is sad but it makes my life easier to concentrate on which brand I will be using in the future.

  3. vitadolce Guest

    The ability to cover up to 15k more points to use a free rewards night doesn’t seem to work for me. I found a hotel that is 37k a night and my free rewards night is up to 35k. When I try to redeem (and plan to top off the extra 2k in points), I get this error:
    “the value of the reward must cover the entire point value for the redemption night…”

    Help?...

    The ability to cover up to 15k more points to use a free rewards night doesn’t seem to work for me. I found a hotel that is 37k a night and my free rewards night is up to 35k. When I try to redeem (and plan to top off the extra 2k in points), I get this error:
    “the value of the reward must cover the entire point value for the redemption night…”

    Help? What amI missing?

    Is there somewhere on the Marriott site that details the ability to do this so I can reference when I call them?

  4. James M Guest

    With all the bad experiences and things written (in this blog and elsewhere) about Marriott and Bonvoy, why do you still extol and continue to write about them?

    It's generally accepted that one should avoid Marriott and their Bonvoy nonsense. And the same goes with Hertz.

    My opinion is you should just drop your coverage of these 2 sleazy companies.

    1. Eve Guest

      And what is the alternative? By comparison all other hotel loyalty programmes are worse then Marriott Bonvoy, both in points earning and redemption, and the benefits they provide.

    2. Merry Chris Moss Guest

      That's very funny. Good one.

  5. Lou Guest

    Just redeemed 35k cert + 15k points for New York Edition in July, $900 cash rates.

    1. pstm91 Diamond

      Are you staying on a Tuesday/Wednesday night or something? I was also looking at it for June and can't get it below 65k points...

    2. Lou Guest

      I had a Friday-Sunday trip at another hotel booked last year for this July, so I added one night checking in on a Sunday to add a night to the trip

  6. Sir Digby Chicken Caesar Guest

    Ben, I just wanted to take this opportunity to say I love your blogs. Thorough yet concise; you provide all the information that is actually needed and appreciated, without resorting to over-dramatisation or clickbait (mostly ) Even when you cover information that I already know, I still enjoy reading how you’ve worded it, and somehow (unlike many other blogs) when one of your articles doesn’t actually teach me anything new, it still feels validatory and...

    Ben, I just wanted to take this opportunity to say I love your blogs. Thorough yet concise; you provide all the information that is actually needed and appreciated, without resorting to over-dramatisation or clickbait (mostly ) Even when you cover information that I already know, I still enjoy reading how you’ve worded it, and somehow (unlike many other blogs) when one of your articles doesn’t actually teach me anything new, it still feels validatory and reassuring, because of how detail-orientated you are - and because of how many times you do actually provide new, useful, actionable information. It’s very obvious that you love what you do, and I hope you keep doing what you love for many years to come, because it’s amazingly helpful and insightful for (I assume) all of us regular readers - your articles have certainly helped me make better purchase decisions, maximise my travel opportunities, and made me more educated. I assume you know this already, but wanted to write it here just in case Thank you! And please keep up the good work you legend

  7. Tim Guest

    For real? Are you running out of topics? This topic is an insult.

    1. pstm91 Diamond

      Huh? Considering the use of supplemental points on top of the certificate kicked in today, it's very relevant.

    2. BobNL Guest

      Feel free to start our own blog and share your valuable thoughts... Pathetic ungrateful troll

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Sir Digby Chicken Caesar Guest

Ben, I just wanted to take this opportunity to say I love your blogs. Thorough yet concise; you provide all the information that is actually needed and appreciated, without resorting to over-dramatisation or clickbait (mostly ) Even when you cover information that I already know, I still enjoy reading how you’ve worded it, and somehow (unlike many other blogs) when one of your articles doesn’t actually teach me anything new, it still feels validatory and reassuring, because of how detail-orientated you are - and because of how many times you do actually provide new, useful, actionable information. It’s very obvious that you love what you do, and I hope you keep doing what you love for many years to come, because it’s amazingly helpful and insightful for (I assume) all of us regular readers - your articles have certainly helped me make better purchase decisions, maximise my travel opportunities, and made me more educated. I assume you know this already, but wanted to write it here just in case Thank you! And please keep up the good work you legend

2
pstm91 Diamond

Huh? Considering the use of supplemental points on top of the certificate kicked in today, it's very relevant.

1
Mark Leonard Guest

Question about expiration date. For instance I have a cert expiring 6/30/2022. Does that mean the stay needs to be by 6/30 or I have to use and apply the cert to a reservation by 6/30 for anytime in the future ? Thanks for the help.

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