It’s now possible to top-up your Marriott Free Night Award by up to 15,000 Bonvoy points, making them more flexible of an instrument to redeem for a free night’s stay.
Top-Up Your Marriott Free Night Award
As of today, you’ll be able to combine your Free Night Award with up to 15,000 Bonvoy points to stay at higher-priced hotels than the face value of the free night certificate.
For example, the Amex Bonvoy Card or Amex Bonvoy Business Card issue Free Night Awards worth 35,000 Bonvoy points on your cardholder anniversary when you renew the card in the second year, and every year after that.
If you hold one of these certificates, you’ll now be able to redeem that towards a hotel stay priced at up to 50,000 Bonvoy points, topping up any difference as needed.
|Credit Card||Best Offer||Value|
|80,000 Bonvoy points||$555||Apply Now|
|55,000 Bonvoy points||$399||Apply Now|
Consider the following stay at the Delta Toronto, where the points price makes a lot of sense to book compared to the prevailing cash rate:
In the past, it wouldn’t have been possible to apply a Free Night Award worth 35,000 points to this redemption, given that the rate is a higher 39,000 points.
However, now that the Free Night Award top-up feature is live, Marriott will automatically detect if you have any certificates with a face value within 15,000 points of the rate, and show you the option to apply the certificate plus any difference in points:
If you’ve gotten into US credit cards, then you may hold the Amex US Bonvoy Brilliant Card, which delivers a Free Night Award worth 50,000 Bonvoy points as an anniversary benefit.
This certificate can similarly now be used towards free night redemptions that otherwise cost up to 65,000 Bonvoy points. You’ll also note that it’s possible to top-up multiple Free Night Awards at once as part of a single overall stay.
(Note that you won’t be able to top-up a Free Night Award if you’re booking a “Redemption with Points Upgrade” rate, even if the rate is within 15,000 points of your Free Night Award’s face value.)
The Free Night Award top-up also applies to the certificates of various other face values that exist out there:
- The Free Night Award worth 25,000 points as an occasional new member signup bonus or targeted promotion can now be redeemed for a stay of up to 40,000 Bonvoy points.
- The Free Night Award worth 40,000 points as a Titanium Elite Annual Choice Benefit can now be redeemed for a stay of up to 55,000 Bonvoy points.
- The anniversary Free Night Award worth 85,000 points from the Fall 2021 or present-day welcome bonus on the Bonvoy Brilliant Card can now be redeemed for a stay of up to 100,000 Bonvoy points.
Marriott Free Night Awards Are Now More Flexible
With the introduction of the ability to top-up Free Night Awards, these instruments have now gotten a fair bit more flexible.
No longer do you need to aim for the exact face value of the Free Night Award in order to maximize its usage; instead, any amount within the range of the face value plus 15,000 points will ensure you’re getting full value from it.
You’ll get an anniversary Free Night Award every year, which should now be easier to tailor towards your travel plans and redeem for a hotel stay that would’ve otherwise cost you a cash amount that’s higher than the cards’ annual fees of $120 and $150, respectively – thus justifying keeping the cards year after year.
However, it’s worth recognizing that this favourable change to Marriott Bonvoy is being carried out in conjunction with the decidedly unfavourable movement towards dynamic pricing and the elimination of openly published award categories.
In fact, the two changes very much go hand-in-hand: if there were dynamic pricing without the ability to top-up free night certificates, then the value of those certificates would be drastically limited, since many hotels that had previously cost, say, 35,000 points might’ve veered just out of reach into 36,000 or 37,000 points.
Marriott is certainly offering us continued value out of our credit card benefits – but only after having purposefully diluted the waters beforehand. As we’ve mentioned before, we’ll need to wait until 2023 and beyond to see how Marriott’s grand scheme of dynamic pricing truly shakes out.
The functionality is now live on both the Marriott website and app, so you can go ahead and use your certificates towards future stays that may have previously been just out of reach.
It’s great to see this feature finally being launched, allowing us greater flexibility in burning up our Free Night Awards for hotel stays that fit our travel needs.
Here’s hoping that Marriott’s ever-evolving dynamic pricing model will continue to keep many of our favourite redemptions within 15,000 points of the common Free Night Award face values.