I currently have the problem where I have way too many hotel free nights sitting in our accounts. Most of them were received as a benefit for keeping a co-brand credit card. Because we didn’t travel much in 2020, the certificates sat unused. It’s totally a first world problem but I’d still like to try and do something about it.
Hotel chains have extended the validity of these certificates as it became evident that many of them were going to expire. If people aren’t using the free nights, then the value of holding the co-brand card diminished even further.
Many chains waited until the last minute to announce extensions or this case, where certificates expired before being reinstated. The extended deadlines are approaching sooner than you may realize and now’s the time to start formulating a plan.
We were able to burn the most difficult to use 25K certificate at the Fairfield Inn Savannah Airport. That left us with two 35K and one 50K certificates set to expire on August 1st, 2021.
That was, until I redeemed our 35K certificate from the Marriott Bonvoy Premier Plus Business card in the way it was meant to be used.
We needed to be in Cocoa Beach early in the morning. It’s only an hour’s drive from here but when you need to be somewhere at 6 AM, you don’t want to have to get up at 4 AM if you can help it.
I did a quick search and found several Marriott Bonvoy properties located a few minutes away from our destination. Award nights were selling for 35,000 points, perfect for the free night certificate. Even better was the cost of a room if we would have paid cash.
The Marriott Premier Plus Business card’s annual fee is $99 so this was a great value. For me, this is exactly the type of stay that free nights are meant for. When you only need a room and don’t really care where you stay.
It turns out that the hotel was really nice. Is it $275 nice for what we needed it for? Probably not.
If we were paying cash, we would have stayed at whichever hotel was the least expensive (and not a dive) or we could have not stayed at a hotel at all and made the early morning drive. This is what makes assigning a value to a free night so difficult.
For the time we’re in, I view every free night I can book as an accomplishment. Two Marriott certificates down and two to go. And then there are the IHG and Hyatt free nights we still need to find a use for.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary