Marriott Free Night Certificates
From time to time, the Marriott Bonvoy cards include free night certificates as part of their welcome offer. These free night certificates sound very exciting and seem to drive some fanfare. It feels like each time the Marriott Boundless card offers 5x 50K Certificates everyone and their mother wants to hop aboard. Are these offers with certificates really all that Bold, or are we just being Bonvoyed? In this article, we will walk you through all of the reasons those Marriott Bonvoy free night certificates may not be as valuable as they appear.
Credit Cards that Include Bonvoy Certificates
Bonvoy has quite the fleet of cards in its loyalty line up. With all of the B names, it can be dizzying trying to keep up. The most notorious of the cards that includes the certificates is the Boundless card. This mid-tier Chase cobranded card offers 5x 50K certs every so often. Additionally, the American Express Bonvoy Business card often includes 3x 50K certs as part of the welcome offer. Further, many of the Bonvoy cards include anniversary certificates as a benefit of card membership. However, these free night certificates can be quite restrictive. Their short expiry time, Bonvoy's ridiculous dynamic pricing, and the value of these points make them challenging to redeem.
Marriott Free Night Certificates Have Expiration Dates
The certificates that come with the Bevy of Bonvoy cards expire within one year of issuance. This poses quite a significant strain on Bonvoy Certificates and makes them less flexible than other rewards. In my mind, less flexibility means less value. So, in that way I consider these certificates as less valuable than points. Because these certificates expire in a meager 12 months you have to have a very good use for them and a plan in place before earning them. Otherwise, they will go to waste.
You may have to shift your travels around just to use these certs in a less than ideal way. Plus, the best way to use these certificates is at premium Bonvoy properties, which not every location has. Even worse than that, many of Marriott's premium properties are out of reach for these free night certificates. You may find yourself unable to redeem them for maximum value before the expiry, and offering less value than you had thought. Instead, focusing on transferable currencies offers better flexibility, as most offer no expiry for your points.
Bonvoyed: Dynamic Pricing is Bad for Consumers
In 2022, Marriott Bonvoy moved to dynamic pricing for its award program. What does that mean? In short, it means Marriott can charge whatever price they want for an award. With the change, those award prices more closely align with cash prices. As cash prices go up, so do the points required for a free night. This means there is less room for outsized value on Bonvoy awards, and getting optimal value for these certificates is the same. In most cases, this means less value for you, the consumer. Because of this dynamic pricing, many of Bonvoy's ToP properties soar to the hundreds of thousands of points per night. These properties become out of reach for using a Marriott free night certificates in those instances. Heck, even a busy night at a Sheraton can exceed the maximum value of that certificate if cash prices are high.
Of importance to note is that you may ToP up these certificates with points from your acount. However, the maximum you may ToP up a certificate is 15,000 points. This means the maximum you could ToP up a 50,000 certificate would be to 65,000 points. Because of these short comings, the certificates are truly capped in how much value they can bring you.
Not All Points are Created Equal
Not all points are created equal, and the value of 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points is less than you may think. When talking about the value of points, we have to be sure we are comparing apples to apples. For example, comparing Marriott Bonvoy points to say Chase Ultimate Rewards just isn't a fair comparison. We already know Ultimate Rewards are worth much more, as are all transferrable currencies.
Fact in point, Marriott Bonvoy points are often considered to be worth less than 1 cent per point, around .8 cents per point. However, the commonly accepted minimum value of transferable currencies such as Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards is 2 cents per point for many. Because of this, redemption value of transferable currencies is much higher.
When evaluating getting one of these Marriott free night certificate offers, its important to understand the different values of points. Let's take the case of the infamous Boundless 5x 50K offer as an example. It can be misleading to think you are getting up to 250K points in value and comparing that with another cards sign up bonus. The reality is, that those points are not all equal and we have to consider all things on level terms. Further, as we have discussed the expiry and dynamic pricing severely hampers that value.
What Card Should You get Instead?
So, you've read this whole article and now you're thinking to yourself, that's great and all, but what SHOULD I get? Check out the ToP Credit Card Offers page, where we rank all current welcome offers on cards monthly to give you a picture of where to head next. If you're looking for a more personalized approach, head on over to the ToP Facebook Group where we provide personalized advice for your next credit card.
Marriott Free Night Certificates: ToP Thoughts
The Bonvoy cards may have a place in your wallet when it is all said and done, but it's important to understand these considerations when making your decision. Plus, if you're just starting out there is likely many other cards you should start with first before heading to Bonvoy. Because of the many limits on these Marriott free night certificates, it's not all sunshine and waterfalls when the increased offers appear. The expiry, outpricing of many awards, and low value of Bonvoy points knocks these free night certs down a few rungs.