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Marriott recently announced its category changes for 2018 and, as you’d expect, most of the news was bad. Of the 1,330 properties changing category, over 1,000 moved up while only 250 or so moved down, meaning you’ll have to pay more points for an award stay at the vast majority of hotels changing categories.

There’s a silver lining, however, as a number of Category 6 hotels moved down to Category 5, making them bookable with Marriott free night certificates available to holders of the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card. With this card, you receive a free night certificate annually, good for a stay at a Category 1-5 property. With the changes having just gone into effect as of March 6, here are some of the best new options for redeeming your free night certificates.

JW Marriott Shanghai Tomorrow Square

Shanghai has one of the most distinctive skylines of any city in the world, and the unique design of the JW Marriott at Tomorrow Square — the eighth-tallest building in the city — certainly adds to that. The hotel is ideally situated next to People’s Square with easy access to three different metro lines. With cash rates often starting north of $200, this hotel is now one of the best uses of free night certificates.

Photo courtesy of JW Marriott
Photo courtesy of the JW Marriott.

Residence Inn Miami Aventura Mall

Miami is an incredibly fun city, but it can get tiring pretty quickly. If, like TPG himself, you find yourself growing out of some the “louder” hotel scenes, consider staying in Aventura on your next trip. Located on the north side of Miami, it still offers all the food, shopping, beaches and nightlife you’d expect, but you’ll also have a quieter place to retreat to at the end of the day. The Residence Inn is just a few blocks from the water and, like the name suggests, is next to one of Miami’s biggest malls. In a city that normally has sky-high hotel prices your free night will feel even sweeter.

Photo courtesy of JW Marriott
Photo courtesy of Marriott.

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

The Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun is the perfect blend of ancient history and all the modern finishes you’d expect. Wander through back alleys in the nearby neighborhood to find a bite to eat, or walk right across the street to visit the Sungnyemun gate, a relic of the fortress wall that surrounded Seoul during the 14th-century Joseon dynasty.

Photo courtesy of JW Marriott
Photo courtesy of Marriott.

Long Island Marriott

After completing extensive renovations in 2017, the Long Island Marriott is ready to show off its new “great room lobby” to guests. The largest hotel on the island offers easy access to nearby attractions such as Eisenhower Park and Nassau Coliseum. With over 28,000 square feet of event space, this hotel is ideal for both business and leisure travelers.

Photo courtesy of JW Marriott
Photo courtesy of Marriott.

Residence Inn Rio de Janeiro Barra da Tijuca 

The Barra da Tijuca district of Rio is best known for its beautiful beaches and rivers, but it’s also home to two newly minted Category 5 Marriotts. The Residence Inn and the Courtyard it shares a building with both dropped from Category 6 to Category 5 as part of this year’s changes. While the Courtyard looks nice enough, the Residence Inn boasts studio apartments (shown below) with fully equipped kitchens that make for a much comfier long-term stay.

Photo courtesy of JW Marriott
Photo courtesy of Marriott.

Renaissance Charlotte SouthPark Hotel 

The Renaissance SouthPark is located smack in the middle of some of Charlotte’s best shopping and dining, giving guests plenty of options to relax and recharge. Or you could stay in and enjoy locally sourced food at the hotel’s signature Flagstone restaurant. With a “local navigator” to help you discover the city’s hidden gems, guests are sure to feel right at home at this charming southern property.

Photo courtesy of JW Marriott
Photo courtesy of Marriott.

Featured image courtesy of the Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun.

Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Now that Marriott and Starwood have joined forces, you can transfer your points between the two programs depending on what makes the most sense for you. Each year after your anniversary date, this card will earn you 1 complimentary night stay at a category 1-5 location and you will earn 15 Elite Credits that will guarantee you at least Silver Elite Status.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $85.
  • Enjoy 1 Free Night Stay at a Category 1-5 hotel every year after your account anniversary date!
  • Earn unlimited Marriott Rewards points and get Free Night Stays faster
  • Earn 5 points per $1 spent at participating Marriott Rewards & SPG hotels
  • 2 points per $1 spent on airline tickets purchased directly with the airlines, at car rental agencies & restaurants. Plus 1 point per $1 spent everywhere else
  • The fastest way to earn Marriott Rewards Elite Status. Receive 15 Elite Credits guaranteeing Silver Elite Status or better.
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
17.49% - 24.49% Variable
Annual Fee
$0 Intro for First Year, then $85
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

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