Unlock incredible value by using your free-night certificate at Category 7 Marriott properties

Jan 15, 2020

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Last year, Marriott switched to dynamic award pricing, which means that award rates for hotels now contain three different tiers: peak, off-peak and standard. While this has meant that many properties have seen an unfortunate surge in the per-night cost, it has also opened up some very high-end properties to holders of Marriott’s anniversary free-night certificate awarded by the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card.

You can use these certificates at hotels that cost up to 50,000 points per night, which has previously meant that they’re valid at properties up to Category 6. With the change, however, cardholders can now redeem their free nights at hotels up to Category 7 during off-peak pricing.

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Ritz-Carlton Kapalua
The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua is a great deal for 50,000 points per night during off-peak dates. (Photo courtesy of Ritz-Carlton.)

Let’s take a look at Marriott Bonvoy’s award chart, featuring all three pricing levels:

Marriott award chart
Marriott’s award chart with off-peak, standard and peak dates.

You’ll note that for every other award level, there is no cross between category pricing. However, Category 7 hotels at an off-peak rate drop to just 50,000 points/night, which is the same rate as a standard Category 6.

Related: TPG Points Lab: How significant is Marriott’s new peak and off-peak pricing?

For cardholders, this opens up an incredible opportunity to redeem free-night certificates at ultra-luxurious hotels, like the The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, a high-end hotel in Hawaii where rates regularly run $700 or more per night.

For a credit card with a $450 annual fee (see rates and fees), this is pretty amazing value (not to mention the other numerous benefits, including up to $300 in statement credits for Marriott purchases and automatic Gold elite status). Other options include the The Westin St. John Resort Villas (which also happens to be a PointSavers hotel).

Related: What is Marriott Bonvoy elite status worth?

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.)

You can even head to one of our favorite vacation destinations — the Maldives — and stay in a beachfront villa with a private pool at the The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort.

Related: Maximizing redemptions with the Marriott Bonvoy program

Image courtesy of Marriott.
(Photo courtesy of Marriott.)

If you don’t have the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card (or prefer a card with a lower annual fee), you can still redeem Marriott points for off-peak award nights at Category 7 properties for 50,000 points per night. There are plenty of ways to earn Marriott points, and right now is a good time to consider boosting your points balance because two Marriott cards are offering increased welcome bonuses:

Related: Which Marriott Bonvoy credit card is right for you?

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card also comes with an anniversary free-night award, but it’s limited to hotels that cost 35,000 points or less (up to Marriott Category 5 at standard pricing). You won’t find as many luxurious stay opportunities with a 35,000-point Marriott Bonvoy certificate, but there are still loads of options including family-friendly properties.

Bottom line

We talk a lot about the best ways to use your Marriott free night certificates, but this phenomenal sweet spot doesn’t appear to be widely known. If you’re planning a trip with the 50,000-point anniversary certificate offered by the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card, be sure to check Category 7 properties for off-peak pricing. You may just find yourself a very luxurious hotel for free.

Feature photo by Samantha Rosen/The Points Guy.

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

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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