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 £25,000 per year on the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card and receive a voucher for a free night worth 25,000 points (roughly £125 of value)
- 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’
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:
When I select a redemption, I get this:
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.
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.
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (December 2023)
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.
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.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive a huge 100,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 100,000 Avios) with The Platinum Card. You receive 75,000 points if you spend £10,000 in six months and a further 25,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.
You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points indirectly:
- American Express Gold (20,000 bonus Amex points)
- American Express Rewards Credit Card (10,000 bonus Amex points)
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive 30,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 30,000 Avios) with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold. You receive 25,000 points if you spend £3,000 in three months and a further 5,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.
and for small business owners:
- American Express Business Gold (20,000 bonus Amex points)
- American Express Business Platinum (40,000 bonus Amex points)
The conversion rate from American Express to Marriott Bonvoy points is 2:3.
(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.)