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How to ‘top up’ a Marriott Bonvoy hotel free night certificate

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A long-awaited improvement to Marriott Bonvoy last year was the ability to top up ‘fixed value’ free night vouchers.

In the US, multiple Marriott credit cards come with automatic free night certificates and many people have them. In the UK, there are only two ways to earn one:

  • spend 75 nights per year in Marriott hotels and take a free night voucher worth 40,000 points (roughly £200 of value) as your ‘Annual Choice Benefit’
Marriott Bonvoy top up free night voucher with points

The problem with these vouchers is that the value you get has been whittled away by points inflation. Each year the quality of hotel you could get for your 25,000 or 40,000 points voucher got lower and lower.

With the UK Marriott Bonvoy American Express benefit, it was simply the wrong product. Not many people who can afford to spend £25,000 per year on the UK Bonvoy Amex are likely to spend much time in £125 hotels – which is what you’d get with a 25,000 points voucher – yet alone want to specifically redeem for a night in one.

To address this, Marriott now lets you top up your certificate with up to 15,000 points from your Bonvoy account. I used one on Sunday night, as it happens, at the Le Meridien hotel at Dubai Airport for a very brief stopover.

How does the Marriott Bonvoy free night voucher ‘top up’ work?

You can learn more about how to spend your free night voucher via this page of the Marriott website. Note that the T&C say that ‘non-iOS apps’ do not allow voucher redemption.

Here is an example of how it works using a free night voucher from the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card. As it happens I have no problem spending £25,000 per year on this card, because that is roughly the cost of the food and drink bill for our summer party at the Renaissance St Pancras hotel!

Here are some screenshots from last year which show what happens when you try to use a 25,000 point voucher to book a 34,000 point night at the Heathrow Marriott:

Marriott Bonvoy top-up of a free night voucher

When I select a redemption, I get this:

Marriott Bonvoy points top up free night voucher

If I choose to redeem my free night voucher, it deducts 25,000 points from the cost of the reward. I am then given the choice of buying 9,000 points for $112.50 to make up the difference, or redeeming them from my account.

Conclusion

This was a welcome move by Marriott. It’s still not perfect, of course.

The ability to top-up by 15,000 points seems to have been plucked out of the air. Why not let me book any room, and save 25,000 points on the cost? I can’t think of a single good reason not to do that, and one very obvious bad reason – it hurts people who only redeem for high-end hotels.

Marriott Bonvoy does now allow you to top up a free night voucher by up to 15,000 points, however, and this makes the Marriott Bonvoy American Express slightly more attractive to high spenders who couldn’t see any realistic way of using a 25,000 points voucher.

You can apply here for the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card.

You can find out more about topping up a free night voucher on marriott.com here.


How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (May 2024)

There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year.

You can apply here.

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

HUGE 60,000 POINTS BONUS UNTIL 3rd JULY and 15 elite night credits each year Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points by converting American Express Membership Rewards points at the rate of 2:3.

Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold status for as long as they hold the card?  It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Premium and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points indirectly:

and for small business owners:

The conversion rate from American Express to Marriott Bonvoy points is 2:3.

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which can be used to earn Marriott Bonvoy points

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Comments (6)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • tw33ty says:

    Even adding 15k points to the 25k voucher, it still puts an awful lot of hotels out of the picture, even more at peak times.

    Rather than calling it a free night voucher, I think it would be better to simply drop 25k points into your account for the credit card spend, or 40k into your account for hitting titanium.

    • Matt says:

      The Marriott accountants won’t like that idea. A voucher has a lot shorter expiration than points, so it is not a liability for as long and has a higher breakage rate. Also, if you redeem for a night that is lower than the headline points number, they keep the difference.

  • Rob says:

    There’s an offer in Vodafone Rewards to win a million Marriott Bonvoy points. I know it’s a long shot but someone has to win it.

  • Sush says:

    Surely the other offer you have, 62£+17k miles is way better, no? It’s allowing you to buy the 17k miles for 62£…

  • WaynedP says:

    Pedant alert:
    Not for the first time, Rob, your auto-correct appears to be confusing “let alone” with “yet alone”

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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