How To Use the Marriott Boundless Free Night Certificate

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One of the top perks of holding the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card is it provides an anniversary free night certificate each year, just for having the card. This benefit alone can often justify keeping this card over the long term, as it takes very little work to redeem the free night certificate for more value than the $95 annual fee.

While anniversary free night certificates are a staple among Marriott credit card benefits, the redemption process can be confusing if you don't know what to expect. To make it easier, in this post we're covering everything you need to know about earning and redeeming the free night certificate from your Marriott Boundless credit card.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
Annual Fee$95
Welcome Bonus Limited Time Offer! Earn 100,000 Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card!
  • Limited Time Offer! Earn 100,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • 1 Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
  • Earn 6X Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy™.
  • 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Automatic Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year. Path to Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year.
  • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Earn unlimited Marriott Bonvoy points and get Free Night Stays faster.
  • 6X Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases

How to Earn a Marriott Free Night Award

There are currently three Marriott Bonvoy cards available to new applicants that offer an anniversary free night certificate. But, not all certificates are created equally. Depending on the card's annual fee, you can receive a free night worth up to 35,000 points or up to 50,000 points.

The Marriott Boundless provides a free night certificate up to the value of 35,000 points per night. For details on the free night offered with Marriott's other co-branded cards, check out our top picks for Marriott free night certificates.

All that's required to earn your free night certificate is to hold onto your card past the first anniversary and pay the annual fee. After your first year, you receive a free night certificate every year thereafter.

Redeem your 35K Marriott Free Night certificate at The Blackstone, Autograph Collection in Chicago
Redeem your 35K Marriott Free Night Certificate at The Blackstone, Autograph Collection in Chicago

Marriott Free Night Limitations

As you may have guessed, the principal limiting factor is the capped value of Marriott free night certificates. For instance, you can only redeem a 35,000-point certificate at a property charging 35,000 Bonvoy points (or less) for the night.

Making things more interesting is the fact that Marriott's Bonvoy program utilizes peak/off-peak award pricing. Each property is assigned a category number that determines its standard award price. However, the same property may charge a little less or a little more depending on the season. To utilize a free night certificate, the hotel has to be charging an award rate at or below the certificate's value on the night you want to redeem.

CategoryOFF-PEAKSTANDARDPEAK
15,0007,50010,000
210,00012,50015,000
315,00017,50020,000
420,00025,00030,000
530,00035,00040,000
640,00050,00060,000
750,00060,00070,000
870,00085,000100,000

As cash rates tend to mirror a hotel's category number (though not always), maximizing a free night certificate usually involves booking the highest category possible. It's possible to receive hundreds of dollars in value from a 35K free night certificate redeemed at a Category 5 property.

Award Night Certificate Validity

All Marriott free night certificates are issued after the anniversary of an eligible card. Once the certificate has been issued, you get twelve months to use it. However, unlike IHG free night certificates, you need to complete the free night stay within those twelve months—not just make the booking.

With that said, Marriott has made an exception this year in response to COVID-19. If you had a certificate set to expire in 2020, Marriott has extended its validity through January 31, 2021.

How to Redeem the Marriott Boundless Free Night Certificate

When you're ready to redeem your free night certificate, start by going to Marriott's homepage. Once there, the process largely mirrors that of making a points booking. Type your desired location and dates, and check the box for “Use Points / Certificates”:

Start your Marriott free night search like any other point booking

You'll see all the properties that fit your search listed with their respective award rate. As long as the rate is at or below the value of your certificate, you should be able to book a free night.

Select the property that you want to use your Marriott free night certificate

In this case, let's assume you have a 35K certificate to use, and you want to book The Blackstone (category 5 property) in Chicago. Once you select “View Rates”, you'll see a screen displaying all of your booking options—including rates for point bookings, cash bookings, or a combination of both. Select the points rate.

There will be a box that says, “You have eligible e-certificates that match your reservation” on the final booking page. This is where you can choose to either use points to complete the booking, or redeem your certificate.

At checkout, you can apply a Marriott free night certificate instead of points

If you decide to redeem your certificate, it'll disappear from your Bonvoy account when the booking is confirmed. In this case, a 35K certificate saves you over $300 compared to booking the same room at the cash rate!

Best Hotels to Spend a Marriott Free Night

If you're looking for some ideas, check out our article covering the best Marriott properties for redeeming free night awards. Meanwhile, here are a couple of our favorite aspirational properties to redeem 35K certificates to get you started.

JW Marriott Phuc Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa (Category 5)

Originally built as a 19th century French University, the JW Marriott Phuc Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa is a jewel on a beautiful section of the Vietnamese coastline. Hotel connoisseurs may recognize the eclectic and theme-based design of Bill Bensley — the famed hotel architect responsible for other beloved properties in Southeast Asia.

As a category 5 property, you can book a free night here using a 35K certificate for a good portion of the year.

Use any Marriott free night certificate at this property

Base rooms come with a beautiful view of the bay and typically cost over $430 a night. That's a heck of a deal!

Pier One Sydney Harbour, Autograph Collection (Category 5)

Part of Marriott's Autograph Collection, Pier One Sydney Harbour is a 5-star property located (literally) in the shadow of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. This makes it the perfect gateway for a vacation down under.

A 35K certificates can secure a night in a “Heritage Guest Room” under standard or off-peak pricing.

Track Your Marriott Free Night Certificates with AwardWallet

The only downside of earning Marriott free night certificates is having to keep track of them. Nobody should have to go through the pain of realizing you accidentally let one expire. Thankfully, AwardWallet makes it easy to keep tabs on all of your free night awards.

If you add your Marriott account to AwardWallet, you'll receive reminder emails whenever your certificates get close to expiring. This makes using them (and not losing them) a lot easier.

Final Thoughts

We love hotel credit cards that offer free night awards. In almost every case, the free night easily justifies the annual fee — even before factoring in other benefits.

No card exemplifies this better than the Marriott Boundless. The 35K anniversary free night award certificate easily justifies the card's $95 annual fee. Even better, it currently offers an increased signup bonus of 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

On a final note, don't get caught up thinking you have to use your certificates at the highest category hotel possible. While we've used comparable cash values as the value metric above, there are other ways to calculate their worth.

For example, I often end up using my certificates for last-minute overnight stays in airport hotels. It's simple, convenient, and it saves me from paying cash when I don't want to. Plus, waiting for the perfect moment to redeem a certificate is a recipe for it to expire unused.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
Annual Fee$95
Welcome Bonus Limited Time Offer! Earn 100,000 Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card!
  • Limited Time Offer! Earn 100,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • 1 Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
  • Earn 6X Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy™.
  • 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Automatic Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year. Path to Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year.
  • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Earn unlimited Marriott Bonvoy points and get Free Night Stays faster.
  • 6X Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases

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Comments

  • The COVID-19 situation doesn’t seem like it’ll be going away anytime soon this year (at least in the United States) and I don’t feel safe planning a trip yet either. Hopefully, Marriott will extend the January 31, 2021 and other early 2021 deadlines out for a few more months.

  • Using free nights is a challenge in this current atmosphere. I also find that hotels don’t let me transfer the free nights to family members so that makes it even more challenging.

  • I’ve noticed that if using the mobile app, it doesn’t provide the option to use free night certificates. This option only shows up if using the website to book. Has others experienced the same?

  • It is like paying $95 for a deluxe room in a stunning property. It is not a bad deal at all.

  • I, sadly, forgot about using my free night and it expired on me. Any advice on what you can do in this case? Would calling Marriott up to ask for an extension help at all?

  • I thought IHG changed their policy years ago so that like Marriott you need to use the certificate within the year (versus simply making a reservation). Has IHG changed back?

  • Here’s a warning to add to this otherwise accurate post. I used 4 nights of my suite certificate and received a confirmation upgrade email. However, the upgrade was only for a studio suite. I can get that easily as a Titanium member. So this upgrade was definitely not worth it. But, when I called Marriott to remove the upgrade certificates, they said that the entire original reservation must be deleted. Not just the certificate, but also the room and the rate. That meant having to rebook at a rate that was 25% higher than what I originally booked a month ago. Since Marriott Bonvoyed me, I plan to stay there only one night on the certificate and booked with their competitor. That way at least I get three nights credited back to my account. From now on I will initially book only one night, then only use one upgrade to see what type of room they assign. If I like their selection I will add additional nights and certificates. If I don’t, I simply cancel the one night.