How To Redeem Marriott Anniversary Free Night Awards

Filed Under: Credit Cards, Marriott
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With the formation of the Marriott Bonvoy program at the beginning of 2019, and with so many changes having been made to the loyalty program and co-branded credit cards, I wanted to provide a rundown of how to redeem Marriott anniversary free night awards.

Marriott hasn’t necessarily made this that straightforward, and there are some important details that confuse people. So let’s look at what you need to know.

What Are Marriott Anniversary Free Night Awards?

Hotel credit cards often come with great perks that can more than offset their annual fees. This can come in the form of elite status, or in some cases in the form of free night awards.

A few co-branded Marriott credit cards 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 your free night award at the Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Airport

Which Credit Cards Offer Anniversary Free Night Awards?

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

Note that you can have multiple free night certificates, so if you had all three of those cards then you could be getting three free night awards per year.

Redeem your free night award at the Le Meridien Paro

When Do You Get Your Marriott Free Night Award?

These free night awards are an anniversary bonus. This means you generally don’t get one when you open your account, but rather you get one starting with the first anniversary of your account, and every anniversary thereafter. Note that:

  • This is an electronic certificate, so it will automatically be deposited in your Marriott Bonvoy account
  • Chase says that the certificate will be deposited within eight weeks, while American Express says it will be deposited within eight to twelve weeks (though often it will be faster than that)
  • The free night award is valid for a stay within 12 months of the date the certificate is issued

Redeem your free night award at the St. Regis Chengdu

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 8-12 weeks you’ll receive the certificate (at the latest).

How Do You Redeem Your Marriott Free Night Award?

Above I showed 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.”

Then you’ll see all the rates (in points and cash) for the properties that are available. Select a property that costs no more than the maximum number of points allowed with the certificate (either 35,000 or 50,000).

Let’s choose the Element Basalt Aspen, for example, which cost 25,000 points per night. So 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 eligible e-certificates that match your reservation.” This is the point where you can choose whether you want to redeem that certificate or want to redeem points.

If you choose to redeem the certificate you’ll see that the certificate is debited from your account, and your points will all remain.

Talk about a heck of a deal, compared to a hotel costing $400+ for one night (of course this is an extreme example).

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. So being able to pay a low $95 annual fee and getting a free night is a no brainer, in my opinion.

Redeem your free night award at the Marriott Kigali

Marriott Free Night Award FAQs

Hopefully the above answers most of the questions that people may have regarding these 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):

What Are The 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 Peak & Off-Peak Pricing Impact Free Night Awards?

As of September 14, 2019, Marriott will be introducing peak and off-peak award pricing, so their award chart will look as follows:

With this new pricing, you’ll still be capped at 35,000-50,000 points for a free night award, depending on which one you have.

The bad news here is that you’ll no longer be able to use a 35,000 point free night award at a Category 5 property in peak season (since it currently costs 35,000 points year-round, while it will soon cost 40,000 points in peak season).

Conversely, you will be able to redeem a 50,000 point free night award at a Category 7 property off-peak, while currently, that isn’t possible.

Can You Use A Free Night Award For Multiple Nights?

Say you have a free night award good for a 35,000 point hotel. Can you use it for a two-night stay at a hotel costing 17,500 points per night? The answer is no, unfortunately. The 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’d just need to book them separately, and then you can let the hotel know and they should be able to link the reservations.

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.

Do You Earn Elite Nights For A Stay Booked With A Free Night Award?

You sure do. This will count as a qualifying night towards status with Marriott.

How Can You Earn More Marriott Points?

See this post for the best credit cards for earning Marriott Bonvoy points.

Marriott Free Night Award Summary

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 one of these cards 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.

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 Business Card From American Express (Rates & Fees).

Regarding Comments: 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.
  1. “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.”

    Don’t really think this is true Lucky…it’s not about being certain times of the year, but if a hotel has less than X standard rooms left for sale, they just aren’t going to give them out as awards (different from the better Starwood standard of course). Have dealt with this for a number of different Marriott properties in the US and globally.

  2. About a year ago I canceled a reservation using my Anniversary certificate and assumed it would be re-deposited into my account. About a month later I still did not see it re-appear. I called Marriott and was told they would re-deposit it. I asked why it was not done automatically and there was no good answer. So trust AND verify is my experience.

  3. I had a Chase Marriott business card and an AMEX SWP that both converted to Bonvoy cards with annual free night certificates.

    I just used them to book 2 nights of a 3 night stay at the St Regis in Bangkok next February (3rd night on points). I wanted to get them booked BEFORE the peak/off-peak pricing kicks in, as I expect it to kill the St Regis as an option moving forward on the dates that I travel.

  4. Can I use a 50K FNA at a property that is 60K by paying the additional 10K using Marriott Reward points?

  5. @Lucky — Did you perhaps forget to include the regular or “consumer” AMEX BONVoY card ($95 AF) as also awarding one free night?

    You are showing the Chase Boundless ($95 AF), the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express® Card ($125 AF) and the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card ($450 AF), but not the Marriott Bonvoy AMEX card ($95 AF), which used to be the personal SPG AMEX card.

    I am looking in my Bonvoy account now and I see two unused free nights:

    — Premier Plus Free Night Award up to 35,000 points, Expires: xx/xx/xxxx
    — Amex consumer FNA up to 35k points, Expires: xx/xx/xxxx

    The first card, the Premier Plus, is now the Boundless, a card I just got physically on Friday to replace the Premier Plus. The second card is the Marriott AMEX that replaced the personal SPG AMEX and is missing on your list…unless things changed and I have not yet caught up…

  6. This appears to be a situation where you would have been better to keep the old Marriott Credit card with its terms of a Cat 5 hotel – based on Cat. not points.

    The new card is points based and now with the new levels – you can’t use it at a Cat 5 peak. The old card was cheaper as well.

  7. @Lucky- must I complete the stay by the expiration date, or just book the hotel with the FNA before it expires?

  8. You are also missing from your list the Ritz Carlton credit card, which many of us still have (and I will absolutely keep since it permits authorized users to be added for no additional fee and a Priority Pass–which is still usable at restaurants–for each authorized user). 50K free night certificate per year.

  9. You’re going to cringe at this. But I have friend who’s had her card since well before it was an SPG card. I sent her the link to this post so she can start using her Free Night Award.

  10. It is important to ensure that your card is entitled to a free night and call the customer service if you do not see it. Some people I know should have received it but did not see on their account. While the type differs between cards, such as some are as much as 50k points and others are less, Marriott makes it really easy to redeem compared to IHG where it is certain hotels and certain dates and you tend to need to plan very far in advance. Plus IHG tends to be only available on weekdays.

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