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5 ways to maximize Marriott Bonvoy award night redemptions

There’s a lot to love about the Marriott Bonvoy program. You can transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to over 40 airline partners, but I usually prefer to redeem Marriott points for hotel stays. So, here are some of my favorite ways to maximize Marriott award night redemptions.

Stay for 5, Pay for 4

One of the easiest ways to maximize Marriott Bonvoy award redemptions is to use the program’s Stay for 5, Pay for 4 offer. This offer automatically lets Marriott Bonvoy members enjoy a free night every time they redeem points for four nights on a stay of five consecutive nights or longer.

Marriott fifth night free

You can enjoy the Stay for 5, Pay for 4 offer more than once on a single Marriott award stay. For example, if you redeem Marriott points for a 10-night stay, you’ll get the two least expensive nights free.

Marriott fifth night free

However, you’ll only get the standard cost covered on your free night if you book an upgraded room using Marriott points.

Marriott fifth night free

This perk means you may not want to redeem Marriott Bonvoy points for a four-night stay, as it may not cost you much more to redeem points for a five-night stay. By booking an extra night, you can extend your vacation — or effectively guarantee early check-in or late checkout — and get one more night toward qualifying for the next tier of Marriott elite status.

Related: How to maximize longer hotel stays by using a free night benefit

Combine points and cash

According to TPG’s valuations, Marriott points are worth about 0.84 cents each. So, I generally try to get at least 0.84 cents per Marriott point on my award stays. However, even with dynamic award pricing, you’ll sometimes see some nights within a specific stay have a higher or lower redemption value.

Thankfully, with Marriott’s Cash + Points combination feature, you can choose which nights to pay cash for and which to book with points. You’ll see a “Use Cash + Points” drop-down option under the points tab when you search award rates for stays of two nights or longer. If you click on it, you can compare the rates for each night of your stay.

Marriott points + cash

You can even use Marriott’s Cash + Points combination feature on a stay where you get a fifth night free. However, you must use points for at least five nights. For example, you can book a seven-night stay with two cash nights and five points nights.

Fifth night free on points + cash stay

Choose carefully which nights you want to book with points and which you want to book with cash. In the above example, I opted to avoid the most expensive 18,500-point rate of my stay by paying the least expensive $137 rate. Then, I decided to pay $141 instead of 18,000 points for my first night. However, be aware that the cash rates in the above screenshot don’t include taxes and fees.

Related: Maximize your points and miles with TPG’s calculator

Use the award calendar

If you have flexible dates for your travel, you can use Marriott Bonvoy’s calendar search to find less expensive award dates for your desired property. To use the calendar search, select “Flexible Dates” when starting an award search on Marriott’s website.

Marriott award booking

Click “Find Hotels,” then select “View Rates” for the property of your choice. Doing so will load an award calendar that you can view month by month.

Marriott award calendar

As you can see in the above example, if I wanted to stay at the Renaissance Nashville Hotel next February, I could redeem as little as 45,000 or as much as 76,000 Marriott points for a one-night stay. So, if you have flexible dates for your getaway or staycation, you might be able to snag a lower award rate.

Related: How to use Awayz to improve your hotel award searches

Plan a trip around an exceptional redemption

You can also maximize Marriott award night redemptions by planning trips around specific redemptions. For example, one of my favorite splurges was when I booked two off-peak 70,000-point nights at Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai shortly before Marriott dropped its award charts.

Even now, you can find rates with flexible cancellation policies at Al Maha that you can book for as little as 82,000 points or $1,311 per night. Redeeming points at this rate would give you a redemption value of 1.6 cents per point, almost double TPG’s valuation of 0.84 cents per point.

Marriott Al Maha

It’s a lot of points, but based on my experience at the property — which includes meals and two activities per person, per day for overnight guests — I’d confidently say it is worth spending two or three nights if you’re looking for a unique, memorable experience and enjoy outdoor desert activities.

Related: From an overwater villa in the Maldives to a private island: 8 luxury hotels you can book with points

Use your free night awards strategically

Finally, you can maximize Marriott award night redemptions by using your free night awards strategically. For example, if I have a free night award worth up to 35,000 points from my Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card or Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card, I’ll look for opportunities to use this night long before its expiration date.

I’ll usually seek out one-night stays that would otherwise cost me around 35,000 points, although you can top up certificates with up to 15,000 points from your account.

Marriott stay using free night award

However, it can make sense to check the nightly award cost on other stays and consider applying a free night award to one night instead of redeeming points. You’ll want to look for a night with a redemption cost of 35,000 points or less.

Marriott award stay

Don’t apply a free night award to a five-night stay you’re booking with Marriott points, though, as doing so would mean you wouldn’t get the Stay for 5, Pay for 4 offer.

Most Marriott credit cards offer a free night award each year on your account anniversary, but you can also select a free night award worth up to 40,000 points as a Marriott Choice Benefit each calendar year you accrue 75 or more elite night credits.

Related: Which credit card should you use for Marriott stays?

Bottom line

As you can see, many ways to maximize Marriott award redemptions exist. If you follow the suggestions in this guide, including using the Stay for 5, Pay for 4 offer, you’ll find it easy to get good value when redeeming Marriott points.