How I Got $320 Worth of Value from the Marriott Annual Free Night Certificate

The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card offers one free anniversary night each year after you the $85 annual fee. For many people, the free anniversary benefit alone makes it worth holding on to the card since you’re able to recoup the $85 spent on the annual fee.

You’ll receive the free night certificate electronically after you pay your annual fee. It might take a few weeks to process the free night so you might not receive it instantly. Once you have the free night, I recommend just calling in to Marriott Rewards to book your free night. Keep in mind that this free night certificate is only good for Marriott category 1-5 hotels. 

Update: Some offers are no longer available — click here for the latest deals!

My stay

Brad and I booked a “staycation” at the JW Marriott right next door to the Houston Galleria, which is the 7th largest mall in the US and the largest in Texas. The standard room rates for Marriott Rewards member rates go for $161. Since Brad has Marriott Gold Status, the hotel upgraded us up to the Larger Guest Room, which is almost comparable to a junior suite with all of the extra room.

JW Marriott Galleria Houston.
JW Marriott Galleria Houston.

The Larger Guest Room goes for $219 on a Friday night. And since you don’t have to pay taxes when using the free nights, I factor in the total cost with taxes since I would normally have to pay that amount out of pocket. So with taxes factored in the total value of the free night came out to $256.23 and with the $85 annual fee factored in, that’s a total of $171 in value received.

Free wifi

But the value keeps climbing. Because of Brad’s Gold Elite Status, we received complimentary premium wifi, which would have cost us $16 for the night. So that’s a total of $187 in value received. 

Free breakfast

Breakfast at the JW Marriott Houston Galleria.
Breakfast at the JW Marriott Houston Galleria.

And then there’s the free breakfast offered to Gold and Platinum Elites. Marriott’s breakfast policy is a little confusing at times but sometimes it really works out in your favor. It’s not uncommon for the lounges at Marriott hotels to be closed on weekends. When this happens, the hotel offers you a complimentary breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant (or will just give you points).

In this case, the hotel’s restaurant offered us a fantastic buffet breakfast complete with freshly made items upon request, such as omelets, waffles, and pancakes, and plenty of fresh fruit, pastries, and other staple breakfast items like cereal. The service was also exceptional in the restaurant (and throughout the entire hotel).

Together the two breakfasts came out to a little over $50.

So that’s a total of $321 in value received from the free night certificate and Marriott Gold Elite Status. If you factor in the $85 annual fee, that’s $236 of “true” free value received for out one night staycation in Houston.

Final word

The biggest drawback to the Marriott free night certificate is that it can be difficult to find properties within the 1-5 category that you’d like to stay at, especially in big cities. However, if you spend enough time looking you’ll probably eventually be able to find a quality property. In this case, we were very pleased with the JW Marriott and found it to be a great use of our free night certificate. And with the perks of elite status, it’s easy to tack on an additional $100 worth of value received from the free night certificate.

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