Marriott Will Allow You to Combine Free Night Certificate + Points in 2022
Starting in 2022, you will be able to combine a free night certificate with points for stays with Marriott. For guests, this provides greater flexibility and access to more premium hotels. However, there could be some drawbacks to this.
Update 4/30/22: This is now available online.
Marriott Free Night Certificate Basics
When you receive a free night certificate with Marriott Bonvoy, it’s worth a set number of poitns. For example, here are 2 awards that both say they are worth 35,000 points. Even if I would use them at a hotel charging 10,000 points per night, I can use the award for 1 night. I don’t get a voucher or residual points. This is the maximum the certificate is worth.
Depending on which Marriott co-branded credit card you have, the value of your free night certificate can range from 25,000 to 50,000 points. That’s a big difference. At present, points pricing at a Marriott hotel can range anywhere from 5,000 points per night to 100,000 points per night.
You Can Combine Points + Marriott Free Night Certificate in 2022
In a big change, Marriott has announced that you’ll be able to add points to your free night award, starting in 2022. Whatever your free night certificate is worth, you’ll be able to add up to 15,000 points to it.
Let’s say you want to go to Disney World in Orlando and want a hotel that offers extra perks but can be booked on points. There’s a whole list of benefits to booking your Disney stay this way.
Since my free night certificates are only worth 35,000 points, I wouldn’t be able to book this stay at the Dolphin hotel. That’s because this date is in peak pricing, charging 60,000 points per night. That’s more than 15,000 points over the value of my free night certificate.
However, I could book the Orlando World Center Marriott. It’s charging 40,000 points per night. That’s less than 15k over the value of my free night certificate.
There are a few important things to note:
- We don’t know exactly when this will go live. It’s not available yet but will start in 2022 sometime.
- The maximum number of points you can add on top of a free night certificate is 15,000.
Lest we think this is all sunshine, there could be some negatives here. Marriott is moving to dynamic pricing in March 2022. The award chart we’re accustomed to will go away. Thus, points requirements for a hotel can vary…and vary greatly. Using your free night certificates can become trickier. The ability to add a few points on top of the certificate to book a stay may seem like a good solution.
On the flip side, envision a world in which hotels routinely cost 36,000 points–just out of reach for your free night certificate. If hotels routinely price themselves just a bit above the value of free night certificates–thus you consistently need to add points to them–this will devalue your Marriott awards even further.
For anyone who complains that I might be giving ideas to unscrupulous hotels, I’ll reply that I have no doubt hotels are already considering this. I’m not telling them anything they haven’t had committee meetings about before now. I’m sure of it. So how easy or difficult will it be to use these free night awards in the world of dynamic pricing? It’s anyone’s guess.
I see some positives and negatives here. The ability to add points to a Marriott free night certificate can help you when traveling to a popular destination during a peak period. Think of holiday travel and Spring Break. However, the fact this is rolling out around the time that award charts will disappear gives me pause. I’m nervous about how this will play out.
Once this goes live, we’ll test it out and provide updates to show you how this new feature works in practice.