11 best uses of the Marriott 50,000-point certificates for family vacations

Sep 25, 2019

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Within the Marriott Bonvoy program, you can book hotels (or even Marriott home rentals) using your points, but you can also use award night certificates that typically come in two different denominations — 35,000 points or 50,000 points. A 50,000 point certificate is typically awarded each year by the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card. Every time you renew, you get another certificate to use at hotels priced up to 50,000 Marriott points per night.

The Marriott loyalty program features multiple cobranded credit cards that offer a free award night worth up to either 35k or 50k Marriott points each anniversary. These certificates really help offset the cost of the annual fees of the cards — assuming you put them to good use. These cards offer a certificate worth up to 35,000 Marriott points each year (some other legacy SPG/Marriott card products also issue a 35k certificate):

A 35,000-point Marriott certificate is nice, but what’s nicer is the up to 50,000-point certificate you get at each renewal with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card. (The Ritz-Carlton Rewards card also offers the same 50,000-point certificate, but that card is no longer available to new applicants).

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex has a $450 annual fee (See Rates & Fees) but the annual 50,000-point award night, combined with the annual up to $300 in statement credits to use at participating Marriott properties, helps recoup that cost. If you value the $300 statement credit at roughly face value, and you can get more than $150 in value from your annual free night award, then the card quickly becomes a long-term keeper.

You can use these 50,000-point Marriott certificates at any Category 1–6 Marriott hotel with standard award availability on standard and off-peak dates. With the recent introduction of peak and off-peak pricing, the certificates have gotten a little more complicated to use.

You cannot use a 50k certificate to book a peak Category 6 date, but the good news is that you can now use them to book an off-peak date at a Category 7 property. Essentially, you can use them anytime a property displays for 50k points per night or less, regardless of category. Additionally, you may decide that an off-peak Category 6 date is a better value at redeeming 40k Marriott points per night than burning a 50k certificate.

TPG has a story on “Great Ways to Redeem Marriott 50,000-Point Free Night Certificates,” and they’re fabulous uses of these annual free nights. But they aren’t all practical for families. With spring breaks, winter breaks, summer and long weekends in mind, here are 11 of the best uses of the Marriott 50,000-point certificates for traveling families.

Related: Choosing the best Marriott credit card for you

Note: Be aware that many of these resorts do charge resort fees in addition to the annual award certificate.

JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

If your family is looking for a getaway to sunny Arizona, the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort has five pools (several are heated to 82 degrees), a lazy river, a waterslide and a splash pad. There are pool suites and cabana cottages available for rent if you want to go all-out on a pool day.

Once you are in the Phoenix area, you are within an easy driving distance to lots of natural beauty and hiking if you need a break from the resort life. But when it is time to head back to the resort, there’s ample tennis, golf and spa awaiting to mix up your days by the pool.

JW Marriott Bonnet Creek

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

One of the exciting new higher-end hotels for families that opened in 2020 is a stone’s throw away from Disney World. The JW Marriott Bonnet Creek has a shuttle to nearby Disney World, but it also offers a nice respite from the in-your-face version of Disney.

Here you’ll find not only a pool area with cabanas but also a impressive rock-climbing wall, putt-putt golf, and indoor kid’s activity center. There’s also a rooftop terrace where you can see fireworks from the nearby Disney theme parks (when those are happening).

The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas & Spa, Cancun

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

When you are again ready to travel internationally, the Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas & Spa is beachfront in Cancun and walking distance to many bars, restaurants and shops. The rooms at the Westin Lagunamar are also ideal for a family as every single room offers either a kitchenette or a full kitchen, a washer and dryer, and a balcony. Note that the standard rooms bookable for a 50k certificate sleep four, but with one bed and one pull-out sofa.

The Westin Lagunamar Resort in Cancun
The Westin Lagunamar Resort in Cancun (Image courtesy of the hotel)

The property offers many family-friendly activities, such as arts and crafts, sea turtle release programs, iguana feeding, board games, miniature putt-putt course and beach volleyball. You’ll also find a playground on the resort and a kids club. There are other Marriott properties in Cancun available for a 50k certificate, but note that the standard rooms at both the JW Marriott Cancun and The Ritz-Carlton typically only have one bed and may not work for a family.

Atlantis, Royal Towers, Autograph Collection

Atlantis in the Bahamas (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)
Atlantis in the Bahamas (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

While Atlantis isn’t my own personal favorite destination, kids love it. There’s a 141-acre Aquaventure waterpark, 11 pools, five miles of beaches, a casino and lots of (expensive) dining options. The less-expensive Atlantis Coral Towers is a Category 5 property that costs 35,000 points a night, meaning you can use a Marriott 35k certificate to stay there. But the nicer Royal Towers will require a 50k Marriott certificate, and cash rates for this particular tower can reach $400+ per night. (If you want to get Atlantis wristbands without actually staying there, here’s my No. 1 tip.)

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin

(Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

The Walt Disney World Swan (a Westin) and Dolphin (a Sheraton) have skyrocketed in the number of points per night required in recent years and now cost 50k Marriott points per night, though paid rates can also hit $500+ on peak nights. There are many less expensive award options in the Disney area, but if you want to actually be on Walt Disney World property while still using hotel points, these resorts may be your best bet. From the Disney Swan and Dolphin, you can walk (or take a boat) to Epcot or Disney’s Hollywood Studios (which is where you’ll find the brand-new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge). If these properties don’t work for your Disney vacation, here are some other nearby spots you can use your hotel points and still get some Disney perks.

Courtyard Anaheim Theme Park Entrance

Photo courtesy of Courtyard by Marriott Anaheim Main Gate
The Courtyard by Marriott Anaheim Theme Park Entrance. (Photo courtesy of the hotel)

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

You might be confused why a Courtyard by Marriott property is on my list of recommended places to use an annual award night worth 50k Marriott Rewards points. The short answer is that this hotel is just across from the gates of Disneyland, gets great reviews, sells for more than $350+ on peak dates, features a waterpark/pool area that kids would love and has rooms with bunk beds that sleep six. If you’re looking for Disneyland convenience for your family, I don’t think there’s a better use of a 50,000-point Marriott certificate. Should you have a 35k certificate to burn instead, I recommend the nearby Fairfield Inn Anaheim Resort.

SpringHill Suites Springdale Zion National Park

The Springhill Suites Zion National Park (Photo courtesy of the hotel)

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

In what may be another surprising inclusion on this list is the SpringHill Suites Marriott Zion National Park. Whether you’re on a cross-country family road trip visiting national parks or just visiting Zion itself, this property looks like a winner. It’s very close to the entrance of Zion National Park, has rooms that sleep five, features free breakfast, gets rave reviews and paid rates during peak season can be more than $300+ per night for this very modern-looking SpringHill Suites. Here are some other points-friendly hotels near various National Parks.

A room at the Springhill Suites Zion National Park. (Photo courtesy of the hotel)

Sheraton Lakeside Villas at Mountain Vista Avon

Image courtesy of hotel
Image courtesy of hotel

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

Many of the Marriott ski properties around the Vail and Beaver Creek area are 60,000 points per night, but one great exception for families are the 1,400-square-foot, two-bedroom villas that can be booked at the Sheraton Lakeside Villas in Avon, Colorado (near both Beaver Creek and Vail ski areas). These villas sleep up to eight people and have a fully stocked kitchen so you can keep food costs under control.

While you aren’t right on the slopes, this is a great compromise between having many conveniences of a ski home rental while still using hotel points or an annual award night certificate. Note that the resort isn’t always available in the middle of peak ski season, but if you have some date flexibility, you can find some available nights while the snow is falling.

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel Autograph Collection

Image courtesy of hotel
Image courtesy of hotel

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

First opened in 1965, this oceanfront resort can be found on the soft white sand beach at Kauna’oa Bay on the Big Island. It’s less than a 30-minute drive from the Kona Airport and would make for an amazing place to basecamp for family adventures on the western side of the island. During peak times, paid rates can shoot upward to $500 to $700 per night.

Other Marriott hotel options on the Big Island include the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort and the Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa, both bookable for 35k Marriott points per night. Here is TPG’s full review of this property.

The Westin New York Grand Central

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

New York City hotels can be very, very expensive — $300 to $400 per night is common for midrange hotels in Manhattan. The Westin Grand Central isn’t anything particularly special, but it’s consistent and can meet the needs of a family visiting the Big Apple. The hotel is located close to Grand Central and has rooms with two double-beds that can sleep a family of four. Some other 50k Marriott Rewards properties in NYC include…

Believe it or not, there are also some decent options in Manhattan if you want to use a 35k Marriott certificate. My personal favorite at the 35k Marriott level is the AC Times Square that is simple, clean and modern.

The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island

Photo courtesy of the Ritz Carlton Amelia Island
The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island (Photo courtesy of the hotel)

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

This list of the best places for families to use the Marriott 50,000-point certificate from the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card is not all SpringHill Suites and Courtyard-level properties. There’s also The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, which you can book with your free night certificate instead of paying rates that can creep close to $500 per night!

This Northern Florida beachfront resort has a kids club, family pool and even a pirate-themed tent for “camping” in the room! Ritz-Carlton resorts also usually have fabulous Ritz Kids programs that allow them to make family getaways extra special for the little travelers.

Grand Cayman Marriott

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

Grand Cayman is basically a perfect beach destination for families — or really, anyone. The water along Seven Mile Beach is usually calm and crystal clear, set against postcard perfect white sand. There are several available hotel options on Grand Cayman using Marriott points, but both the Westin and The Ritz-Carlton come in above the 50k points threshold, leaving you to book the Grand Cayman Marriott if you want to use a 50k certificate.

Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino

The Marriott Aruba Resort & Stellaris Casino (Photo courtesy of the hotel)

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

Last but far from least on the list of the best places for families to use 50,000-point Marriott certificates is the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino. Aruba’s Palm Beach is picture-perfect for families, and this Marriott resort has pools and kid-friendly activities to help take things up to the next level. If you want a few minutes away from the kids, there’s also an adults-only pool area and, of course, the casino.

Booking Category 7 properties with a 50k certificate

Your 50k Marriott certificate gets even more interesting if you can use it for a Category 7 Marriott property on an off-peak date. The easiest way to spot off-peak dates is with the flexible date calendar search. Here are some Category 7 properties that are particularly interesting for families:

Westin Maldives — Book a family beach villa

Westin Grand Cayman — Two double beds

Westin Princeville (Kauai) — Studio villa with queen bed and sofa bed

Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua (Maui) — Two queen beds

Bottom line

Remember, if you and/or your partner both have a Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card, you could string together a multi-night stay using one certificate for each night of your vacation.

For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex, please click here.

Featured image of the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

Earn 75,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months of account opening. TPG values 75K Bonvoy points to be worth around $600. Aside from the huge welcome offer you'll earn up to $300 in statement credits each year and 1 free night every year after cardmember anniversary. Terms apply.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Enjoy up to $300 in statement credits each year of Card Membership for eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
  • Earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy Hotels. 3 points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines. 2 points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive 1 free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points) at a participating hotel. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy unlimited airport lounge visits when you enroll in Priority Pass™ Select membership.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $450 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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