Marriott Bonvoy offers ‘5th night free’ on redemptions. You aren’t literally getting the 5th night free, though, now that different nights may have different prices (first with the introduction of peak and off-peak rates and now with dynamic pricing). Instead you get the least expensive night for no additional points.
Still, this can be a nice savings of up to 20% of points on a five night stay, which leads a lot of members staying on reward nights to stretch their stays to 5 nights.
- Both IHG and Hilton have similar programs. Hilton offers 5th night free to elites. IHG offers 4th night free to their co-brand cardmembers. Hyatt does not have a similar perk.
Back when 5th night free was a feature of the Starwood Preferred Guest program you really could get the 5th night free regardless of room type. Making only the cheapest night of a stay free (zero points for the redemption) isn’t the only way this benefit has been devalued.
Marriott also only gives you the points for a standard room free, regardless of what room you’re booking on points. Somehow I never realized this. If you book a premium view, a larger room, or a suite you only get the base standard points price free and still pay the difference in points for the premium room even on the free night.
Here’s an example where you’ll see that the ‘free night’ on a 5-night premium room redemption actually costs 32,000 points:
Hilton does this too – their 5th night free only gets you the cost of a standard room when booking five nights as an elite member, though their 5th night free is more generous because instead of deducting the cost of the cheapest room night they deduct the cost of an average room night. Meanwhile IHG doesn’t generally offer premium room redemptions.
I’ve seen this language before but somehow failed to internalize that the benefit has been devalued in two ways – that you get the cheapest night ‘free’ and that it’s only for the standard room. I’d booked numerous Starwood Preferred Guest stays where 5th night free covered the full premium room. As in so many things, Marriott doesn’t do this. That’s good to know when budgeting your points stays. And when you see a free night that isn’t free, now you’ll know why.