You spend a bunch of time and effort earning points in hotel loyalty programs, whether it’s by actually staying at hotels or by signing up for credit cards with high sign-up bonuses. It makes sense that you’ll want to get your money’s worth when redeeming those points for free hotel nights. You need to do some homework to know what your points are worth so you don’t waste them on an inexpensive room or overpriced redemption.
There’s also an easy way to save up to 25% on hotel point redemptions. It’s simple to use and works at inexpensive and luxury hotels of three different hotel chains.
Fifth (or Fourth) Night Free On Award Bookings At Marriott, Hilton and IHG Hotels
When you’re booking a hotel room by using your points, if you meet the requirements of each program, you’ll receive a free night if booking five nights or more at Marriott and Hilton hotels or a four-night or more stay at IHG hotels. Here are the rules for using the free night at each of the programs:
One benefit that’as survived the Marriott Bonvoy program integration is the fifth night free on award stays. It’s not that surprising when you consider this was previously a benefit of both the Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest programs.
Marriott’s eligibility for the fifth night free is the most generous of any program; all award stays of five nights or more are eligible.
In the past 12 months, we’ve saved 125,000 points using this benefit over three hotel stays of five nights each in London, New York and New Orleans. The free night is automatically applied when you go to book an award stay, so there’s nothing you need to do to activate the offer.
Hilton offers Honors elite (Silver, Gold, Diamond) members the fifth night free on award stays.
For every Standard Room Reward stay of five or more nights, every 5th night is free. Members can utilize the 5th Night Free benefit on an unlimited number of stays annually. Applies only to five consecutive nights within the same full Points Standard Room Reward stay at the same property, up to 20 nights, when confirmed at time of booking. No more than four free nights will be awarded per stay
While you do need to be at least a Silver Honors member to get the fifth night free, you can earn status with four stays, 10 nights, or 25,000 base points earned in a calendar year. You can also get Silver status by having the no-annual-fee Hilton Honors AMEX card. You can get Hilton Honors Gold status with the Hilton Honors Ascend AMEX ($95 annual fee) and Diamond status with the Hilton Honors Aspire AMEX ($450 annual fee). American Express Platinum cardholders are also provided complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status.
I tend to redeem my Hilton points shortly after earning them (also known as “Earn & Burn”) so I’ve never had enough of them for a four-night stay anywhere, forget about getting a fifth night free.
IHG Rewards Club
IHG Rewards Club has a fourth-night-free benefit for award stays but only cardholders of the IHG Rewards Club Premier credit card ($89 annual fee).
For each standard room Reward Night stay of 4 or more nights, every 4th night is free. Applies only to 4 or more consecutive nights within the same Reward Night point redemption room stay at the same property. With this benefit, eligible members will be charged the Reward Night point redemption rate for the first 3 nights, and 0 points for the 4th night of the stay, as applicable.
I wish the free night benefit could be open to all IHG rewards club members because it has tremendous value. Being able to save 25% on any IHG award stay can save you 50,000 points on a stay at a hotel such as the Kimpton Gray in Chicago. I value IHG points at 1/2 cent each, which is the price you’re able to buy them for, so saving 50,000 points is equivalent to saving $250. That’s a great value from an $89 credit card and you also get a free night certificate at any hotel costing 40,000 points or less.
If you have a stay of five nights or more, it pays to look at Marriott or Hilton hotels for reward stays to take advantage of the free night benefit to save 20% of the points required. If you’re staying for four nights and you have the IHG Premier card, I’d start my search with IHG hotels and take advantage of the fourth-night free perk.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary