Now live: Top up your Marriott free nights using up to 15,000 points
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We’ve seen a lot of Marriott Bonvoy news recently, and a change announced four months ago is finally here.
Last year, Marriott Bonvoy announced plans to eventually shift to fully-dynamic pricing for its 8,000+ properties. And last month, this change went live for some hotels. However, the loyalty program did announce that that you would soon be able to add up to 15,000 points to your free night certificates that come with select Marriott credit cards. This would open up properties that cost more points.
While there was no date in the original announcement, the ability to “top up” your Marriott free nights is now live.
Here’s how it works.
How to add points to Marriott free night awards
To use this new feature, start your award search as normal. Log into your account at Marriott.com and search for a hotel as your normally would. Make sure “Use Points/Certificates” is selected to see pricing in points, rather than cash.
Once you’ve found a property you want to book, click on the View Rates icon to see the details of the award price.
From there, you’ll see the total number of points you’d need for the stay across the different room types (note that for stays of two nights or longer, you’ll have to click on Customize Payments to see the nightly award rates).
After you click Select on your desired room, you’ll be taken to the confirmation page — and there you’ll see the option to redeem points or select any applicable certificate(s) plus additional points to make up the difference.
In this example, a 35,000-point certificate wouldn’t have been applicable to this stay in the past, since the award rate is 40,000 points for the night. However, you could use 5,000 of your Marriott points to supplement the certificate — a fantastic value, since the paid rate for this night comes to a whopping $643.30 (with taxes and fees).
Note that this functionality just went live, so it may take some time to appear for all properties and all members.
Rules for topping up Marriott free night awards
While this flexibility is a nice addition, there are some rules and limitations to keep in mind.
First, you can only add 15,000 points to your free night certificates. Thus, if your certificate is worth 35,000 points, the maximum you can redeem for is 50,000 points after adding the maximum of 15,000 points. Hotels priced at 50,001 or more points will be out of reach for this free night award certificate.
Second, free night certificate redemptions do not qualify for Marriott’s “fifth night free” policy. This perk only applies to points redemptions.
And, of course, you’ll face the standard restrictions that these free night awards have always had. You must book and complete your stay prior to the expiration date on your certificate. For many that were extended due to the pandemic, this could be as early as June 30, 2022 — giving you just a couple of months to put them to use.
If you try to search for a stay past the expiration date, the certificate will not show up as a payment option.
How to get Marriott free night award certificates
If you’re wondering how to get these free nights, there are two options.
Marriott Titanium Elite members can choose a free night award certificate as their annual choice benefit. This award is worth up to 40,000 points.
A simpler path to obtaining free night award certificates with Marriott Bonvoy is via credit cards. The following credit cards offer a free night award each year that you carry the card and pay the annual fee:
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Annual free night is worth up to 35,000 points.
- Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card: Annual free night is worth up to 35,000 points, and you can earn a second one (also worth up to 35,000 points) after you spend $60,000 in purchases on your card in a calendar year.
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card: Annual free night is worth up to 50,000 points.
- The Ritz-Carlton Credit Card (no longer open to new applicants): Annual free night is worth up to 50,000 points.
This could open up luxurious resorts like the Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Island on certain dates.
As of today, Marriott Bonvoy now allows members to combine free-night certificates with up to 15,000 points to book award stays across its global portfolio. This comes on the heels of IHG One Rewards, which also added the ability to top up free night awards recently.
With the full implementation of dynamic pricing still months away, it’s unclear whether this new functionality will ultimately deliver value in the long-run. However, it’s a great additional option for those with certificates who struggled to find eligible properties at which to use them.
If you’re planning a trip and see a hotel that costs more than what your free night certificate is worth, you can now add up to 15,000 points to your award to make that trip a reality.
Featured photo by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy.
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