How to Earn & Redeem Marriott Bonvoy Free Night Awards

Taking advantage of free night certificates is one of the essential ways to maximize value from a hotel loyalty program. 

While these certificates are “free” in the sense that you aren’t paying cash for your stay, they almost always come with an acquisition cost, whether it’s through credit cards, stay activity, or special promotions.

That’s why it’s important to pay attention to how you redeem the certificates and ensure you’re coming out ahead.

In this article, let’s go over how to earn, redeem, and maximize Marriott Bonvoy’s Free Night Awards.

In This Post

How to Earn Marriott Free Night Awards

1. Amex Bonvoy Credit Cards: Anniversary Free Night Award Worth 35,000 Points

The easiest way for Canadians to earn annual Free Night Awards is through the Canadian-issued Amex Bonvoy credit cards:

You won’t earn the free night during your first year of holding the card; instead, it’ll be deposited to your Marriott Bonvoy account within 6–8 weeks of renewing the card for a second year, and every year after that in which you continue to hold the card.

In both instances, it should be relatively easy to recoup the value of the $120 or $150 annual fee you’re paying on either Bonvoy card. 

Credit Cards
Credit Card Best Offer Value
90,000 Bonvoy points $750 Apply Now
85,000 Bonvoy points $642 Apply Now

2. Amex US & Chase Bonvoy Credit Cards: Anniversary Free Night Award Worth 35,000–50,000 Points

Getting involved with Marriott Bonvoy co-branded credit cards in the US opens up many more opportunities to rack up the free nights.

In particular, you’ll earn anniversary Free Night Awards on the following US credit cards which are open to new applications:

  • American Express US Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card: Anniversary Free Night Award worth 85,000 Bonvoy points
  • American Express US Marriott Bonvoy Business Card: Anniversary Free Night Award worth 35,000 Bonvoy points
  • Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card: Anniversary Free Night Award worth 35,000 Bonvoy points

Furthermore, the following two products are no longer open to new applications, but can still be added to your portfolio through product switches:

  • American Express US Marriott Bonvoy Card (available as a downgrade option from the Bonvoy Brilliant): Anniversary Free Night Award worth 35,000 Bonvoy points
  • Chase Ritz-Carlton Credit Card (available as an upgrade option from the Bonvoy Boundless or Bonvoy Bold): Anniversary Free Night Award worth 85,000 Bonvoy points

As with the Canadian side, these Free Night Awards are deposited to your account within 6–8 weeks of renewing the card for a second year, and every year in which you continue to hold the card thereafter.

In addition, sometimes the US credit cards get creative with their limited-time signup offers, and may include Free Night Awards in lieu of Bonvoy points.

As with the Canadian cards, the optimal redemptions of Free Night Awards should easily outweigh the annual fees on all credit cards.

3. Amex US & Chase Bonvoy Credit Cards: Free Night Award Upon Meeting Spending Requirement

In addition the Free Night Awards you stand to earn as a welcome bonus or as an annual benefit, you also have the opportunity to earn an additional Free Night Award upon meeting spending requirements on Amex US and Chase Bonvoy credit cards. 

You can earn an extra Free Night Award with the following cards upon meeting a minimum spending requirement:

  • American Express US Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card: Free Night Award worth 85,000 Bonvoy points as an “Earned Choice Award” upon making $60,000 (USD) in eligible purchases
  • American Express US Marriott Bonvoy Bevy Card: Free Night Award worth 50,000 Bonvoy points upon making $15,000 (USD) in eligible purchases
  • Chase Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful Card: Free Night Award worth 50,000 Bonvoy points upon making $15,000 (USD) in eligible purchases

Note that your total spend is tallied per calendar year (not cardholder year), and there’s a limit of one bonus Free Night Award based on spending per card and calendar year.

With the relatively high spending requirements required to earn a Free Night Award, it’s worth considering if you should concentrate your purchases into your Bonvoy cards, or if the spending is better done with other cards.

4. Titanium Elite Annual Choice Benefit: Free Night Award Worth 40,000 Points

Outside of credit cards, another Free Night Award that you can reliably earn year after year is through the Annual Choice Benefit upon reaching Titanium Elite status with 75 elite qualifying nights each year.

You’ll be entitled to select one of six benefits upon achieving this threshold, and the Free Night Award worth 40,000 points is generally considered the most valuable choice.

5. Special Promotions: Various Free Night Awards

Sometimes, Free Night Awards are also distributed as part of a seasonal promotion or a targeted promotion. These are always nice when they come around, but they aren’t necessarily Free Night Awards that you can reliably earn every year.

For example, Marriott Bonvoy’s recent targeted promotions gave a few lucky members the chance to earn a Free Night Award worth 35,000 points after just two paid stays.

If you were targeted for this promotion, you could have easily maximized it with a few cheap mattress runs, even if you weren’t planning any organic stay activity.

6. New Member Promotion: Free Night Award Worth 25,000 Points

Every now and then, Marriott Bonvoy also puts on a promotion to incentivize new members to sign up for the program. Typically, you’ll earn a Free Night Award worth up to 25,000 points upon completing two paid stays with Marriott.

This happens to be the lowest-value Free Night Award out there. Still, if you’re a new Marriott Bonvoy member, it’s a nice incentive to start participating in the program.

How to Redeem Marriott Free Night Awards

You’ll see your active Free Night Award certificates under the “Activity” tab of your Marriott Bonvoy account on desktop, and on the “Certificates” page of the “Account” tab on the app.

Each certificate will display an expiration date, which is the date you must stay by, not just book by.

Which Rooms Can You Book with a Free Night Award?

In order to redeem a Free Night Award, there must be standard award availability for your desired night (i.e., the underlying night must be bookable on Marriott Bonvoy points).

Note that premium award redemptions (i.e., those marked with “Redemption and Points Upgrade”) are not eligible for Free Night Award redemptions.

How to Redeem Your Free Night Award

Applying Free Night Awards to an upcoming reservation can be done on both the Marriott website and the app.

If you’re about to make a booking for which you have eligible Free Night Awards, you’ll be offered the choice of applying them to the booking (although you can always choose to book with points instead and save your certificates for later):

You can even apply multiple Free Night Awards to the same stay:

Top-up Your Free Night Award with Up to 15,000 Points

Keep in mind that it’s possible to “top-up” the face value of a Free Night Award with up to 15,000 points.

For example, you could book a hotel worth 39,000 points using a 35,000-point certificate, and then pay an extra 4,000 points on top.

Marriott will automatically detect if you have any certificates with a face value within 15,000 points of your proposed redemption, and show you the option to apply the certificate plus any difference in points:

Strategies for Maximizing Marriott Free Night Awards

Let’s think about some of the best strategies for maximizing your Free Night Awards as a Marriott Bonvoy loyalist.

On the earning side, the most basic strategy for earning Free Night Awards is by picking up the two Canadian-issued Amex co-branded cards, resulting in two certificates every year for a net $270 outlay.

If you stay frequently enough with Marriott to reach 75 elite qualifying nights, you’ll also earn a third Free Night Award worth 40,000 points without having to pick up another credit card.

Then, it’ll be all about the US credit card game: picking up the Amex Bonvoy Brilliant and Amex US Bonvoy Business will give you two more Free Night Awards, worth 85,000 and 35,000 points respectively.

Furthermore, this combination of cards will also stack their elite qualifying nights into a total of 40 (25 from the Amex US Bonvoy Brilliant, 15 from the Amex US Bonvoy Business), giving you a leg up towards 75 elite qualifying nights per year and the 40,000-point certificate there too.

On the redemption side, the ideal scenario is to redeem your free nights as per the following criteria:

  • Book a hotel whose underlying price in points meets or exceeds the face value of the certificate, topping up with points if necessary
  • Book a hotel whose underlying cash cost is as high as possible

Indeed, an easy way to evaluate the value of a potential redemption is to apply our Points Valuations to the face value of the Free Night Awards.

For example, we currently value Bonvoy points at 0.8 cents/point (CAD) or 0.6 cents/point (USD), so you should be looking to get at least $280 (CAD) or $210 (USD) of value out of a Free Night Award worth 35,000 points.

Redeem Free Night Awards for great value at the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort

However, it may not always possible to tailor these optimal redemptions exactly to your upcoming travel plans, especially if you’re earning several of them year after year. And keep in mind that these certificates do have expiration dates attached, whereas Bonvoy points can always be saved for future redemptions.

Therefore, if your Free Night Award is coming close to its expiration date (and you aren’t able to get it extended further), it’s certainly okay to redeem them for slightly less than optimal value too, as long as you’re recouping their original acquisition cost in the form of any credit card annual fees.


Marriott Bonvoy’s Free Night Awards are an excellent vehicle for unlocking outsized value in the program.

Even though you’ll be putting in a relatively small upfront amount in the form of credit card annual fees, you’re often able to earn double or triple that value at the time of redemption.

You can also fine-tune exactly how many credit cards to hold (and how many Free Night Awards to earn) based on how frequently you stay with Marriott.


  1. Shanky

    Hi Ricky,
    Did something changed on the certificate expiration? The article says you can book before the expiration and not stay before the certificate expiration date. I just tried to book and couldn’t select the certificates.

    1. Ricky YVR

      The article says: “Each certificate will display an expiration date, which is the date you must stay by, not just book by.”

  2. RAY

    Question re the Bonvoy Gold status earned from Canadian Pltinum Amex: should Bonvoy credit 25 Nights to my account or there is no nights added for the status

  3. Jay*

    Looks like someone selected their Titanium Elite Choice Benefit a bit too early. 😏

    1. Ricky YVR

      Did I mess this one up? Looks like I messed this one up.

  4. Tod

    Can I have two of the same card linked to one Bonvoy account? I currently have a Canadian Bonvoy card and my p2 will be getting one too. Can I link her Bonvoy card to my account to have 2 35k free nights? Thanks!

    1. Ricky YVR

      No – her Bonvoy card would have to be linked to her own Bonvoy account. If the names on the credit card and the loyalty account are not the same they won’t be able to link successfully.

  5. milegosu

    American Express reps. It would be nice to see a Marriott Brilliant Card as well in Canada. I would also welcome the ability to get 30 EC

    1. Ricky YVR

      Love that this is a thing now. The Bonvoy Brilliant would be a lovely addition although I’m not sure we have the market to support it. Happy to be able to hold onto the US card.

  6. Euro Traveller YYZ

    Do annual free nights count towards elite status?

    1. Ricky YVR


      1. EH

        Can I use two FNA certs to book two rooms for the same date? The Marriott FAQ says I will need to make two separate reservations. If I do so, can I stay in one room and my friend stays in another? Thanks.

  7. Fatari Fahim

    I have both the business and the personal card, can I use it as a 2 free night booking? or does it have to be separate bookings? or each account only allowed one free nigh? like how elite qualifying nights overlap

    1. Ricky YVR

      Yes, you can earn two free night certificates and apply them to the same booking.

      1. Arbaaz Kasmani

        Hey! Seems like lots has changed since this post was made.
        As you mentioned in your video and on another article, The bonvoy brilliant is offering a free night certificate for a room worth upto 85,000 but how does that work with the new dynamic pricing coming up? Debating whether it’s worth applying for a US card with the change incoming soon.


    2. Fatari Fahim

      oh nvm i misread the dates on the blog, i thought it was the booking date, turn out to be the expiry. my bad.

  8. jol

    Last year I tried to pursue a repeated signup bonus but never receive the bonus…maybe someone else luckier got it!? 😉

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