Marriott Gets It Right – How To Top Off a Free Night Award with Bonvoy Points

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Free Night Award Top
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Marriott Free Night Award Top Off

I took several years off from Marriott and jumped back in last year.  As I expected, I was Bonvoyed soon after, but a solid redemption more than made up for it.  Ever since Marriott initially announced the ability to top off free night certificates awards, I’ve been interested to see how the feature actually panned out.  I finally have my answer, and I’m not disappointed.  Dare I say it, Marriott got it right.  Here’s how to complete a Marriott reservation with a free night award top off.  But first, what exactly is a free night award top off?

Free Night Award Top Off

A Marriott Bonvoy member can use up to 15k points to expand the value of a free night award. Essentially, this allows members the ability to access more properties with these awards.  Unfortunately, members can only top off free night awards on standard room types.

How To Book a Marriott Free Night Award Top Off

Step #1

Determine your free night award values in your online account profile and calculate your maximum booking value.  For instance, I had two 50k free night awards thanks to achieving my previous Amex Marriott Bonvoy Business card welcome offer.  I was eligible to top off for a hotel points rate up to 65k points per night.

Yes, I’m headed back here. It’s a long story.

Step #2

Browse locations and identify your preferred redemption.  Click View Rates.  In my situation, my upcoming two-night stay could not exceed 130k total points.

Step #3

Review eligible rooms and click Select on your preferred options.

Free Night Award Top

Step #4

Select the awards and points redemption option and the specific free night awards you want to redeem.

Free Night Award Top

Step #5

Review the rate details.  You’ll notice that the top off points apply automatically.

Free Night Award Top

Step #6

Review the hotel cancellation policy, attached awards, and points to be deducted.  Click Book Now and receive your confirmation number.  You’re all done!

Limitations

In my experience, combining multiple Bonvoy program aspects in one reservation can lead to errors.  In the past, the site wouldn’t allow me to book a reservation including fifth night free and free night awards.  Sometimes, the Marriott site displays a reservation that appears possible, but it errors out after clicking Book Now.  Therefore, it may be simplest to separately book a free night award top off reservation.  If your stay is longer, make reservations involving normal points rates, fifth night free, etc in another booking.  Just ensure to book the same room type.

What I’d Like To See Next

Marriott adding the top off capability undoubtedly opens up new, exciting options for Bonvoy members to redeem.  I’d like the ability to top off free night awards for upgraded room types beyond standard ones.  This would increase top off utility on the lower end of Marriott’s portfolio, such as limited service options like TownePlace Suites, Fairfield Inn, maybe even Courtyard.

Of course, I’d like the 15k points limit for top offs increased or removed entirely.  While I appreciate Marriott at least providing the 15k top off, it’s certainly inferior to other options.  For instance, IHG One Rewards has no cap for the amount of points to top off free night certificates from the Chase IHG Premier and Business cards.

Free NIght Award Top

Conclusion

Practically using the Marriott free night award top off option isn’t disappointing, and that’s a win for me.  Sure, I have a low bar for Marriott, but that comes from my prior experiences.  The process is extremely simple, and I had no problems booking my free night award top off reservation.  I look forward to using the feature again.  Have you made a Marriott free night award top off booking yet?  How was your experience?

Benjy Harmon
Benjy is a fan of points, miles, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently focuses on roaming throughout the USA for close to free. He enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

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2 COMMENTS

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

2 COMMENTS

  1. As stunningly unlikely as it is that Marriott would get anything right that actually benefited customers I have to agree with you on this one. Nicely done, Marriott.

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