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One of the best perks of the Marriott Bonvoy program is the ability to get the 5th night free on points stays. While this gets an ample amount of attention, the fact you can use it on longer stays often flies under the radar. Here's a look at how to maximize this perk on long stays with Marriott.
Before understanding how to maximize the 5th night free for longer stays with Marriott (turning it into 2 or 3 or more free nights), let's first understand what this perk is.
What is “Marriott 5th Night Free”?
When redeeming Bonvoy points for a stay at a Marriott property, you get a free night if you stay at least 5 nights. Simple. Stay 5 nights, but you only cough up the points needed for 4 nights. The cheapest night is discounted to zero points. Marriott's full terms of this perk are found here.
Note that this only applies to points redemptions. This perk does not apply on paid stays (cash) or when redeeming free night certificates. You must redeem points for 5 nights in order for this perk to kick in.
This is a great perk, because you save points by not paying for the 5th night. It's advantageous to time your award stays with Marriott to be in groups of 5. This amounts to up to a 20% reduction in price when using your points.
Note that Marriott gives you the “cheapest” of your 5 nights as the free one. This can matter if your stay crosses from peak into standard / off-peak periods (see info here), so watch the numbers carefully.
Yes, you will still get the 5th night free even when redeeming points for 6 or 7 nights. However, the amount of “discount” you get goes down. You'll still just 1 night free in this stay.
What About on Longer Stays?
The bulk of the attention surrounding the Marriott “5th night free” perk focuses on 5 nights. Don't just stay 4 nights–stay for 5, because the next night is free.
What about longer holidays? While not discussed as much, yes, you'll get a free night for every 5 nights booked. I can confirm this with some examples and also personal experience.
Using the same hotel in Denver from the above example, we can see that a reservation of 10 nights gets 2 free nights. And because not all nights are priced the same, the 2 cheapest nights became the free nights.
While you do have the ability to customize payments with Marriott — paying cash for some nights and points for other nights — remember that you must redeem points in groups of 5 to get the 5th night free perk.
What if You Add Nights Later, and Now it's 5+ Nights? A Personal Example
In January of 2021, my wife and I went to Tanzania and stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton in Arusha. Our original idea: stay for 1 night, go do a safari, stay for 1 night when we come back, leave Tanzania the next day.
Instead, I wound up in the hospital with malaria. We kept adding a few nights, adding a few nights…hoping I would soon feel well enough to fly home.
All things said and done, we stayed at the hotel for 15 nights. That technically should qualify for 3 free nights, right? It didn't trigger automatically in the reservation system, because Marriott's website never saw 5 nights on one reservation.
When we got home, I called Marriott and told them what happened. I asked if they could give me credit for the 5th night free perk after the fact. After a few minutes on hold, they credited back the points. It worked for me even without booking all of the nights together. I wouldn't bank on this for the future, but it was nice that they honored it later on.
The Bottom Line
Booking 5 nights at a hotel may not be very common. But, if you're thinking about staying at a Marriott property for 4 nights, why not stay for 5, since the 5th night is free?
Even less common is staying for 10 or 15 or more nights, but you will also get the 5th night free in every group of 5 nights. This is a quality perk to use when booking award travel.
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