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The combined SPG and Marriott loyalty program brought with it many changes — including some that were positive for travelers. One of the good changes is that a variety of co-branded SPG and Marriott credit cards award Marriott 35,000 point award night certificates at each account anniversary. This  includes some cards that didn’t previously have an anniversary award. In fact, there are now four co-branded Marriott and SPG credit cards that offer an annual free night worth up to 35,000 Marriott Rewards points at each renewal.

This annual award is a brand-new perk to those with the Amex SPG cards and it likely makes it in your best interest to pay the annual fee and keep those cards year after year. For example, if a $95 annual fee allows you to stay at a property selling for $200 to $300 per night, thanks to maximizing the value of that certificate, then you win.

Sheraton Kauai (photo courtesy of the hotel)
Use a 35k point certificate at the Sheraton Kauai. (Photo courtesy of the hotel)

I was recently awarded my very first Marriott 35,000 point certificate at the annual renewal of my Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express, so with that experience under my belt, here is how to use this type of award certificate.

For reference, the cards offering the annual 35,000 point Marriott certificate include:

How To Use A Marriott Rewards 35,000 Point Certificate

Once you’ve earned your annual free night certificate, it’s easy to use it at a range of properties.

Wait for Your Credit Card Account Anniversary

Once you reach your account anniversary with the cards described above, within eight weeks from that account anniversary date, a Free Night Award E-Certificate should be automatically deposited in to your Marriott Rewards account. I do not recall seeing an email alerting me that the certificate had been deposited in my account, but it is possible I missed a notification. I do know that my card anniversary date was mid-September and the award was deposited in early November.

Check Activity In Your Marriott Rewards Account

To see if an anniversary Marriott Rewards 35,000 point certificate has been deposited in your account, log in to Marriott Rewards and click on “Account Activity.”

You should see the certificate under “Earned Awards.”

Use The Marriott 35,000 Point Certificate Within One Year

The Marriott 35k anniversary certificates are valid for one year from the date of issuance, so be sure to use the certificate before it expires or its value to use was zero.

Search For A 35,000 Point (Or Less) Per Night Hotel

To use the Marriott 35k certificate, simply search for hotels using Marriott Rewards points like normal and select one that prices at 35,000 Marriott Rewards points per night or less. Choose your desired room type, and at checkout you will be given the option to pay using your Marriott 35,000 point certificate.

While you cannot upgrade the certificate with additional points to stay at a higher category hotel, you can use the certificate in conjunction with points to stay multiple nights on the same reservation.

Unfortunately, there are still some legacy SPG properties that do not permit the online use of Marriott Category 1–5 award certificates, so you will need to call Marriott to make those bookings until all of the properties are (hopefully) on one booking platform later this year.

The Best Hotels for a Marriott 35,000 Point Certificate

Obviously, the best use of a Marriott 35k certificate is at a hotel that costs at, or very close, to 35,000 points per night — though you can use them for lower-tier properties. You can use the certificates as one night of a longer stay, or when you just need one night of lodging on your journey. Some potential uses include:

Westin Snowmass (photo courtesy of hotel)
Westin Snowmass (Photo courtesy of hotel)

For more ideas on where to use Marriott 35k certificates:

Depending on when and where you redeem your award, these certificates can be used at hotels that sometimes sell for several hundred dollars per night, making them quite valuable.

Bottom Line

Annual hotel award nights make it much easier to say yes to credit cards that carry annual fees. My family will easily get several hundred dollars in value from the Marriott 35,000 point certificates that we will enjoy each year from a variety of our Marriott and Starwood co-branded cards. These awards can kick-start awards nights near the slopes for a ski vacation, get you close to a theme park, the beach, or even score you an above average room in the middle of a pricey city like Manhattan or Paris.

Know that you know how to use a Marriott 35,000 point award, where do you plan to put it to good use?

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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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