Marriott Free Night Certificate: Maximizing for $300 in value

The Marriott free night certificate comes on your anniversary if you are a Marriott cardholder and is only valid on category 1-5 hotels. It’s common that people have a hard time getting value from these so I wanted to share how I have maximized the value of these certificates – to the tune of $300 each year. 

Marriott Free Night Certificate
Receiving the Marriott Free Night Certificate via email

Marriott Free Night Certificate – Getting $300 in value

In full disclosure, I have gotten the Marriott free night certificate three times. One time it did go unused. Marriott’s category restrictions can indeed be difficult to find worthwhile properties to use these at. For instance, my brother (not Ben, co-author of this blog, but our other brother) routinely redeems his at roadside hotels getting only in the low $100’s in value, which is pretty standard.

Luckily for me, a thing called Big 10 Football is a part of my life.

Iowa Hawkeyes Stadium
Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Michigan Wolverines

My husband is a BIG Michigan Wolverines fan. Which means occasionally we redeem our points for an average value but to get to a game we otherwise couldn’t have justified in our budget.

Last year we attended a Michigan vs Iowa game in Iowa City where the small number of hotels were $300+. We were able to find a Marriott property with award availability and apply our free night certificate – certainly justifying the $85 annual fee!

This year we’re attending the Ohio State vs. Michigan game, a famed rivalry, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ann Arbor hotels were almost completely sold out by the time we decided to go. But luckily there was a Fairfield Inn with award availability.  To give you an idea of the extreme value we received here are the rates for our weekend:

Fairfield Inn Ann Arbor Michigan game rates
Fairfield Inn Ann Arbor Ohio State vs. Michigan game rates – $339/night!

I’d say our annual fee here is also getting a very good value!

Bottom Line

I fully understand not everyone is interested in attending Big 10 football games in random small cities across the Midwest! But I write this to show various scenarios to apply free night certificates. Whether it’s a music festival that’s in town, the weekend of a big golf tournament, or New Year’s Eve, always plan well in advance and there’s a good chance you can apply that certificate and save quite a bundle.

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