Creatively Using a Hotel Free Night Certificate – What’s Worked & Share!
Redeeming and seeing through a hotel free night certificate (FNC) to stay completion during the pandemic has been a struggle for many, including me. But having too many is a good problem. While some free night certificate expirations have been extended, travelers may actually lose other free nights without stays. Are there any options to creatively redeem a hotel free night certificate that you may not be thinking of? Today, we’re sharing what’s worked for a few of us here at MtM, and we encourage you to share your discoveries in the comments!
While I don’t hold any Hyatt FNC’s, others with MtM routinely do and shared their data points. Mark recently mentioned that Hyatt has given a member points for an expired free night certificate. Upon a night expiring, a member can contact Hyatt and explain the situation. Mark recalls that members have received 10k points for the unused category 1-4 FNC. They have offered 20K points for a category 1-7 cert in the past. It’s certainly not a great return in comparison to a normal redemption, but it’s better than nothing. There are rumblings that they may only be doing this for Globalist members now, as well. Share any data points you have below.
Ian mentioned another angle he took to improve his Hyatt free night certificate situation, albeit unintentionally. He accidentally redeemed a category 1-7 FNC for a category 3 property instead of an available category 1-4 cert. Ian contacted his Hyatt concierge to apply the right free night certificate to his reservation. The concierge applied the appropriate category 1-4 free night certificate and redeposited his category 1-7 cert with a new, extended expiration date. Not only that, Ian’s concierge didn’t remove the category 1-4 FNC. Ian’s success on all these fronts may not be replicable, but perhaps getting the new, extended expiration is.
In the past, I and others have successfully booked stay dates beyond the IHG free night certificate expiration. Essentially, the free night certificate expiration date noted in my account was the book by date. I’ve redeemed this way on several occasions. There are a few considerations, though. Once the expiration date passed, I considered the FNC unchangeable. I presumed I couldn’t cancel or change and still have access to it. Also, I’ve heard others haven’t been able to do this more recently than I have. But other searches I’ve done reflect it’s still feasible, however. As with many things, your mileage may vary.
While Hilton doesn’t advertise FNC’s this way, theirs are transferrable to others. On a free night certificate reservation call, my spouse booked her FNC and added me to the reservation. The agent advised that I can check in and out without her there. Her FNC has basically been given to me for my own use. This method has worked for others holding Hilton FNC’s, as well. I’ve heard that a few Hilton free night certificate holders had to talk to the front desk upon the other party arriving at the property for this to work. Nothing is guaranteed, but I haven’t heard any data points of this transfer method not working.
Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts
While not actually a free night certificate, many of us hold $200 credits thanks to the Amex Platinum for annual use with their Fine Hotels and Resorts or Hotel Collection programs. The credit is based on booking a “Pay Now” rate, many of which are also cancellable. I received my $200 credit a few days after booking the Pay Now rate. The date of the stay doesn’t matter for receiving the credit. Therefore, you can book a stay for a future calendar year while using the existing year’s benefit. Likewise, since you can receive the credit fairly immediately, you can theoretically book the stay for a date after you plan to close the Platinum card. I have not been asked to present my Platinum card for incidentals on Fine Hotels and Resorts stays, but I’ve heard other people have. YMMV, of course. Long story short, I look at this credit as one I just need to book annually; I don’t need to complete the hotel stay each year, though.
Data Points Needed: Marriott, Radisson
We don’t currently have any examples of how to creatively redeem a Marriott or Radisson hotel free night certificate. If you do, please share in the comments!
I’ve been fairly successful chipping away at my stack of free night certificates this year. We’ve used all of our IHG certs, Hilton FNC’s are zeroed out, and all but one Radisson e-cert is gone. Radisson may win, and I may actually let the last e-cert expire. I simply don’t need it, nor do I have much desire to use it. Nonetheless, hotel free night certificates remain a challenge for me. I must be a masochist, because I’ve doubled down on FNC’s – we just obtained more thanks to the outstanding Amex Marriott Business card welcome offer about a month back. We could all use help in finding new ways to consume free night certificates. Please share what’s working for you in the comments!
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Marriott let’s you book an award in your name and then add a second person to the reservation. You need to call Marriott to add the second name, it can’t be done at the time of booking, if the booking was done online. Second person is then able to check in for the stay, without the presence of the person whose name the room is reserved in.
Thanks for the DP.
@benjy – great article for those of us with expiring FNC’s. Although my redeemed cents were applied correctly, thank you for the reminder.
You should keep this article updated often for others to refer to year-round. Thanks again.
*”redeemed cents” should have been “redeemed certs”
I’m glad you found it useful. This topic is quite the moving target, but we’ll try to keep everyone updated!
I will add my data point for Hyatt 1-7 FNC’s. I am a Globalist, and I have 3 of these certificates. One was from qualifying with nights this year (2021) and 2 were from prior years that were already extended through end of December 2021 (due to Covid). I contacted my Concierge to ask about extending the certs since I wasn’t going to be able to get to a place where I wanted to use them before they expired. She replied to me that she was able to extend the one that I had earned in 2021, since I earned it “this year”, but the others were not extendable, however, if I contacted her after they expired (1/2022), she would be able to give me the 20k points/cert (like what you mention in your article).
I appreciate you chiming in with the useful info!
My wife and I are both globalist with Hyatt and had special circumstances. I have 4 (1-4 cat) and 1 (1-7 cat) certificate that expire at the end of 2021. My wife had brain surgery last month and I inquired about extending the certificates. I was told absolutely not to extensions and no points for surrender, but to contact them after the first of the year and they would see what they could do. Totally non comical on anything after the first of the year. I was pretty disappointed with the attitude and will just give my nights away. They will be reserved and call in for another individual to check in.
Does IHG allow you to book for someone else/give the free night away?
Yes, but you have to call on the phone and book so they can change the name as online it defaults to your name. I booked four consecutive nights for my sister last year using certificates.
* You can also gift Hyatt free night certificates either by booking directly under the other person’s name or if you want the other person to get elite night credit you can actually gift the certificate to the other person so they “own it” and make the booking then they will get night credit (you have to call to do this second option of gifting).
* For IHG I had several certificates that were expiring earlier this year that I wasn’t able to use so I “sold them” to my sister. Basically I just booked the hotel using her name since she was staying there and then she paid me cash. It was a win win as I made some money and she saved money by not paying the full rate as I gave her a discount.
Thanks for sharing!