How To Redeem A Marriott Free Night Certificate

I imagine this is probably exceedingly obvious to Marriott loyalists, but for those of us who are just learning our way around Marriott Rewards, I figure this is worth a post.

Historically I’ve been a Starwood loyalist, though with Marriott’s takeover of Starwood, I’m now also a Marriott Rewards Platinum member through their status match offering. While my priority is always to stay at Starwood hotels when possible, they don’t have nearly as big of a global footprint as Marriott does. As a result, I’ve found myself occasionally staying at Marriott hotels.

Marriott’s global promotions are typically called “MegaBonus.” During Marriott’s MegaBonus promotion last fall, they offered a Category 1-5 free night certificate after making just two stays at any Marriott family property. That’s really generous — I easily qualified for that, and am now just getting around to redeeming the certificate for an upcoming airport hotel stay, as it expires in July 2018.

This is my first time redeeming a Marriott free night certificate (in the past I’ve only outright redeemed points), though these are similar to the ones they offer through their co-branded credit card, so the redemption process should be identical.

Anyway, to find your Marriott Rewards free night certificate, simply log into your Marriott Rewards account and click on the “Activity” tab, where you’ll see a section with “Unused Certificates,” assuming you have any to redeem.

That part is straightforward enough, though what tricked me was that there was nothing there to click on to go through the booking process, and I couldn’t get the website to display an option to redeem the certificate, at least not initially.

It took me a while to figure out the correct process, and then it was obvious. To redeem a Marriott free night certificate you just click “Use Points,” as you’d do if you were redeeming points for a stay.

On the next page you’ll see all the options for redeeming points. In this case I didn’t even have enough points for a free night, so interestingly it only showed me hotels that were within the category range of my certificate. This page lists the category of each property, so you can easily verify that a property is in an eligible category.

On the next page you’ll see the price in points, so you’ll want to select the base room. It let me select this even though I didn’t even have enough points in my account for the room I wanted.

Finally the last page before you confirm the reservation shows your e-certificates as a payment method option. Since I didn’t have enough points, I had the option of paying $62.50 to buy 5,000 points, or the option of redeeming a certificate.

So I apologize if this is exceedingly obvious to everyone else, but it took me a good five minutes to figure out how to redeem the certificate, and figured it was worth a post. Just go through the process of making a points booking (even if you don’t have enough points), and then the last page before confirming the booking, select the eligible e-certificate that you want to use for the booking.


  1. shoot…. I’ve been a Marriott Plat for years and always called to redeem certs because I couldn’t figure out how to do it online!

  2. Not on point…but has anyone noticed something strange with IHG? Looking in LA area only saw cash and points at every hotel I checked, no only points redemptions.

  3. I did this just yesterday, and the process was weird because even though I did everything you outlined, it said it was redeeming points, and the receipt shows I used points, but no points were deducted and the certificate has been used, so the process worked, but it’s incredibly confusing because it shows the wrong information.

  4. I had tried to do it through the app, and saw no certificate option and accidentally redeemed points. I quickly cancelled the reservation and tried again through their website with better success.

    They really could make it easier.

  5. I’m in Asia now and I noticed one my IHG hotels was no longer offering points only. It was cash and points, and the points were only worth around .05 each. Only staying now for the annual $49 IHG Platinum credit card renewal and free night.

  6. Can these free night certificates be shared with others? Or does the person who earned the certificate have to stay at the hotel?

  7. @paul v. Just like me. Was about to make the same comment as you did.
    @Lucky. Thanks. Good to know it can be done online.

  8. I had to call to redeem my free night since I didn’t have this option online. Frustrating to see that technically it can be done online when the system is working correctly.

  9. My Marriott Free Night Cert expires 4/18, but i don’t have a need/desire to stay at a Category 5 or lower hotel between now and then. Should I just book one close to my home for the night credit towards annual/lifetime status rather than just letting it expire?

  10. @Mr. S. The info I got from the Marriott Reservation agents is that the certificate holder has to stay there. Now there were times when my son needed to stay in a Marriott hotel using my certificate, so I booked it under my name, put my son’s name on the reservation and said that he will arrive earlier, and I will arrive late at night (I did not :-))). It worked, there were no questions asked either when he checked in and out…… But then again, we have of course the same last name.

  11. @DLPTATL: I have the same issue, called Marriott and they said that they can renew it by 1 year if you do not use it. I am Platinum, my wife is Gold member. They said both statuses qualify for this extension.

  12. Thanks for this. Not sure if it’s by design or not, but the process to redeem these certs is way too confusing. Make you really work for actually redeeming it.

  13. Totally helpful. New to Marriott and could see the cert in my account but could not figure out how to use it. Thank you very much.

  14. Very timely post! I just redeemed my first Marriott free night certificate as well from the recent MegaBonus promotion. I ran into some issues so hopefully I can help others avoid the same problems:

    1) I booked three nights and wanted to use points for one night, the free night certificate for one night, and my Marriott rewards card for the third night (paying “cash” for one night scored me 2,000 bonus points through a different MegaBonus). When I booked online choosing to redeem points for two nights there was no option to select to use the free night certificate for one of those nights. However, there was a note on the page saying my “e-certificate would be sent to the hotel”. I figured that was in reference to the free night certificate and so I booked the reservation. What I learned is that when you book you must make sure you have the option to select to redeem your free night certificate when booking as shown in the screenshot in the post. If you don’t have that option, call and book over the phone. There is sometimes a delay in having the free night certificate deposited in your account and when the option to use it shows up during the booking process

    2) I checked multiple times with the hotel during my stay to make sure the e-certificate was applied. What I didn’t know is that regardless of whether you book with points or book using a free night certificate the only thing the hotel gets is an “e-certificate”. The hotel kept telling me they had the e-certificate; I just didn’t know they only saw it as a points booking and not as points plus a free night certificate

    3) A week after my stay and after calling Marriott twice since my free night certificate was not applied to my stay I talked with a Marriott Rewards agent who was able to submit this to a group that reviews cases like this. She originally told me that it could not be applied retroactively since my stay was over, but when I explained what happened she submitted it to the group for review and two days later they redeemed my free night certificate and reimbursed me the 25,000 points for the Cat 5 night that had been deducted from my account

    Marriott could definitely do a better job during the booking process and in their help documentation on their website to make it easier to use the free night certificates.

  15. The timing of this post couldn’t have been better. I’m headed to South Florida next week for spring training and had a cert I wanted to use.

  16. What a perfectly timed post! I went online this morning to try to figure out how to use my certificate, couldn’t figure it out and was going to call Marriott later today. Thanks Lucky!!

  17. @Kate & @Rick- I just checked IHG and saw the same thing (points + cash) but if you click through the points + cash booking it will take you to the points only/points + cash/cash only page. Then select points only and confirm booking.

  18. Thanks for the info ! I just got my first year cert with the Marriott card. Definitely useful.

  19. @Daniel B. Thanks for the tip! I’m Gold through matching my SPG status to Marriott. I’m going to give it a try to get the expiration extended.

  20. I had some challenges when I tried to book using the certificate as well. Was able to book online directly, but I realized the stay has to be before the certificate expiry date. The certificate payment option did not show up when I tried to book a stay in September (my certificate expires in June). Luckily I was able to use it for another stay in March.

  21. The free Cat 1-5 certificate expiry date is the last day of validity unfortunately which is a bit confusing. They will extend once provided the source of the certificate is still valid. This caused a problem with a recent redemption attempt as the Chase Marriott Rewards credit card offered in CANADA has been cancelled. Thus no more free nights. And if the card is not valid you cannot extend the date of the certificate.
    Unfortunate to lose the only Marriott points earning card in Canada with no FOREX – the last card available (Chase Canada cancelled the Sears card and probably the Amazon card (?) as well).

  22. Thank you so much for posting! I successfully redeemed today for a night at the CDG Paris Airport Courtyard. You just saved me 285 Euros! Very appreciative. 🙂

  23. Wow. This problem came up for me today, and I couldn’t be bothered to google the answer. Thank you for the conveniently-timed post!

  24. Thanks for step-by-step instruction. So helpful. I always have to call Marriott to book annual award.

  25. Really appreciate this post. this was exactly what i was looking for since my certificate is about to expire. Great help!

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