One of the lingering issues from the COVID pandemic and subsequent travel shutdown was that people who held co-brand hotel cards that awarded free nights as a benefit had these certificates sitting in their accounts, waiting to expire. All of the hotel programs stepped up and extended, and extended and extended the expiration dates of the free nights as it became clear that many people weren’t willing to travel extensively until they felt it was safe to do so.
Many customers, including us, have a combination of certificates from 2019 that were almost unusable in 2020, certificates earned in 2020 due to expire in 2021, and certificates we’re earning in 2021 that are good until 2022.
Personally, we had the most free night certificates with Marriott but we also had ones from IHG and Hyatt. Since we started to travel again, even if it was for road trips, I’ve prioritized using up these free nights before they expire.
Here’s how I’ve done since the end of 2020 and thru 2021.
- 25K Marriott Free Night from the Chase Marriott Bonvoy Premier – Fairfield Inn and Suites Savannah Airport
- 35K Marriott Free Night from the Premier Plus Business card – Residence Inn Cape Canaveral Cocoa Beach
- 35K Marriott Free Night from the Marriott Bonvoy AMEX – Courtyard New York JFK Airport
- 35K Marriott Free Night from the Marriott Bonvoy AMEX – Springhill Suites Cape Canaveral Cocoa Beach
- Unlimited IHG Free Night from the IHG Select – Kimpton Arras
I was doing pretty good using our free nights and only had a 50K Marriott cert, 3 category 1-4 Hyatt free nights and 3 IHG 40K free nights.
However, our travel plans for 2021 are crystalizing. There are few other places to use free night certificates either because there’s no hotel in the area we’re staying or the hotels are out of range for the certificates.
I decided that using a free night was better than letting it go to waste so I redeemed our three IHG free nights at the Candlewood Suites New Braunfels. It’s not an aspirational redemption but rooms were going from $100 to $170 a night and the free nights came from IHG cards with annual fees of $49 to $89.
I’m down to a 50K Marriott and three Hyatt certificates. I’m hoping to find somewhere to use those Hyatt nights before they expire at the end of the year.
Not bad considering where I started this journey. Now it’s time to reconsider if I need to keep all of these cards that give me free nights or should I ditch them and go back to booking the room that fits our needs the best for the lowest price.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary