I have a rather embarrassing confession to make. Until today, I’ve never used the Marriott free night certificate offered by the Marriott Rewards Premier credit card! While I realize this is a huge mistake, I really haven’t had a good chase to use them. In the past I was traveling so much for work that I rarely paid for my own hotel rooms. When I needed to pay for a hotel night, it usually wasn’t at a qualifying property.
After letting my second certificate expire I made a pledge to myself that I wouldn’t let another certificate expire, ever. Making good on my promise I finally booked my first hotel using the Marriott free night certificate from the Marriott Rewards Premier credit card. In the past I hadn’t booked a free night because I thought doing so was too difficult. I’m happy to report that the online booking process is extremely easy and hopefully this guide will help you find and book a free night at a Marriott property.
Searching For Eligible Marriott Free Night Certificates Stays
Marriott offers various types of free night certificates. Certificates offered by the Marriott Rewards Premier card are valid at all Category 1-5 properties. Marriott rates most of their brands by categories. In general, domestically lower tier brands (Fairfield, Courtyard) fit within the category 1-5 criteria. It becomes much harder to understand the category system internationally.
Marriott makes it easy to find qualifying category 1-5 hotels around the world. On the Marriott website, simply visit the Find & Reserve tab. Next, click on browse by destination. From there you can filter your results by location, brand, and most importantly category. Here’s a link to that page which is already filtered by category 5 properties.
The key here is to find a category 5 hotel property that you can use, but also find one with generally high-priced average room rates. The goal of course is to maximize this benefit annually to help offset the $95 annual fee of the Marriott credit card. For example, the JW Marriott in Vietnam is a category 5 hotel and has nightly room rates of over $300 USD a night. That would be a great use of the Marriott free night certificate. You’d clearly get enough value from that redemption to justify paying the cards $95 annual fee.
Booking A Night With The Free Night Certificate
Once you’ve located which property you wish to stay, you need to book. You can book your free night easily via the Marriott website. Start by searching for your hotel and dates. Prior to hitting the “search” button, make sure to select the “Use Points” option.
Once you find the hotel you wish to book, click the “view rates” button to see a list of available rooms.
At this point you’ll see which rooms you can apply the certificate or if you have to pay any additional fees or use upgrade certificates to book.
As you can see above, you can use a free night certificate for a Deluxe room, but also need to use 2 upgrade certificates to book an R Club room. For my stay I don’t need access to the Club Level since I’ll receive lounge access anyway thanks to my Marriott Gold status.
Once you select a room you’ll be directed to the payment page. On this page you’ll see an option to apply an unused free night certificate. Make sure you select the free night certificate option and click confirm. Within minutes you should receive a confirmation email for your stay.
The Marriott Free Night Certificate is one of my favorite credit card benefits. I love that I can book any Category 1-5 property in the world regardless of room rates with the certificate. In the past I hadn’t used the certificate because I either because I forgot or I didn’t know how. Going forward I don’t have any excuses not to use my annual certificate.
In fact, I just booked my 2017 free Marriott night for my night in Vietnam. While that stay isn’t the absolute best way to use the certificate, I’m still getting more than $100 of value. This year I’ve fully offset my annual fee and will definitely keep the card open another year. Next year I’ll make sure to do a little more research to try to get $200+ of value from this perk.