There are a lot of different methods for getting a free hotel stay. These range from signing up for certain credit cards to catching the right promotions and even building up your own travel-related media platform.
This article will discuss 12 different ways to get a free night stay at a hotel.
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How to get free night stays at hotel
- Hotel credit cards
- Cash back credit cards
- 5th night free
- 4th night free
- 3rd night free
- 2 nights free
- Utilize OTAs (online travel agencies)
- Hotel promotions
- Travel portals
- Timeshare presentations
- Be an “influencer”
Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!
1. Hotel credit cards
The most sure-fire method for getting free hotel stays is to utilize credit card rewards.
You can get free nights via credit cards by earning points or by earning free night certificates. Many cards will give you free night certificates each year just for paying your annual fee like the new IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card.
Other credit cards that offer you annual free night certificates are the World of Hyatt credit card, the Marriott Rewards credit card, and the Hilton Aspire. These free nights might be capped to certain categories, like the Marriott free nights at 35,000 points but you can still get great value with these hotels.
The Hyatt and Marriott cards come with lower annual fees but the Aspire will get you a free weekend night that can be used at any Hilton property.
Many of these hotel cards offer referrals so you can earn additional hotel points when others are approved that used your links. You can read more about how these work here.
2. Cash back credit cards
If you don’t want to hassle with points or free night certificates then using cash back credit cards or travel statement credit cards is a great way to get a free hotel stay.
We used the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card which currently offers a $500 sign-up bonus.
You can use that travel credit to cover any hotel stay and it won’t be subject to black-out dates or award inventory. The Venture also now earns 10X on purchases made at Hotels.com so there’s additional opportunities for big savings.
3. 5th night free
Hotel loyalty programs like Hilton and Marriott provide you with the 5th night free when you book five consecutive award nights. This is a way to greatly increase the value of your points, and I’ve used the 5th night free for some high value redemptions like the Hilton Playa del Carmen.
Obviously you’ll need a decent amount of points to cover 4 nights but that’s when the credit cards come in handy with their sign-up bonuses.
Related: Is It Safe to Use a Hotel Safe?
4. 4th night free
Sometimes it’s not ideal to stay in one location for five nights so you can go for the fourth night free instead.
The Citi Prestige offers the 4th night free when you use your card to book hotels through its portal. This perk can be used on any hotel found through the portal but can only be used two times per year now. This is one of the most valuable hotel benefits out of any credit card since you can easily save hundreds of dollars on a four night hotel booking.
5. 3rd night free
Is it possible to get a third night free?
The answer is yes, but you need to know where to look.
The Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts program offers special promos for some amazing properties where you can get the third night for free. In addition to getting the third night free, you’ll also get a lot of special perks like free breakfast, upgrades, and credits to use at the resorts. You can read more about that valuable program here.
6. 2 nights free
It’s even possible to sometimes get two nights free when you make a booking.
The program that offers this is called the Relais & Châteaux and it’s a collection of over 500 luxury properties located all around the world. Most of the locations are found in Europe but you can find them in the US and in other places like Asia and South America.
If you find the right deal, you can get two free nights whenever you make a seven night booking. This is one of the only programs that I’ve seen offering this kind of double free night and it could be very lucrative given the price of some of these hotels. Find out more about the program here.
Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!
7. Utilize OTAs (online travel agencies)
OTAs (online travel agencies) are actually great ways to earn free hotel nights. You can go with a program like Expedia and earn rewards or programs like Hotels.com that give you the 10th night free based on the average cost of your prior 9 stays.
You can also go with sites like BonWi.com. You’ll be able to earn cash back in high amounts that will have you earning free nights in a hurry! For example, I stayed at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas and received 40% back on my stay. That’s unheard of.
If you’re serious about earning a free hotel stay via an OTA, I highly recommend to check out BonWi.com.
8. Hotel promotions
Catching the right hotel promotions can be a great way to get a free hotel stay.
Marriott started a promotion for the 2017 NFL football season allowing you to earn 1,000 free Marriott points every week just by following them on social media and tweeting out answers to football related questions.
And Wyndham offers promotions like this one where you can earn one free night (good even for all-inclusive properties) by completing two stays (even if they were at super-cheap motels).
You just need to stay tuned in to blogs like this one and all of the others to see when these promos are happening.
9. Travel portals
Many of the major credit card issuers have travel portals where you can use your points to book hotel stays without having to pay cash.
One of the best travel portals is the Chase Travel Portal which allows you to redeem points at a rate of 1.5 cents per point if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
That rate is better than just about any travel portal out there. You won’t always get your elite benefits honored when booking through these portals but I have had them honored in the past.
10. Timeshare presentations
This is something I’ve never personally done, so I won’t pretend to be an expert.
But you can often find special promotions going on that allow you to receive free travel perks by sitting through a time share presentation. You need to be very careful that you know what you’re getting yourself into when attending these, but they can lead to free hotel nights.
- Read more about timeshare presentations and how to get free hotel stays here.
11. Be an “influencer”
This is probably the hardest to accomplish. You can start to build an online presence as a travel blogger, vlogger, etc. Once you can demonstrate that you have a certain reach online (and quality content to go along with that), you can reach out to hotels about receiving comped stays.
Typically, you’ll need to be somewhat established in the field to be considered an “influencer” (yes, I don’t care for the term either). You’ll need to have followers, features, awards, or some type of notable element to your brand so the hotel knows they’re not wasting their time. Also, this method works best on newer hotel properties that can use the additional exposure upon opening.
Just pray that this doesn’t backfire like it did recently for one unfortunate blogger.
When something goes wrong with your booking or your stay, don’t be afraid to voice your displeasure and to request compensation. I just wrote about a guy who received 2 additional free nights, 100,000 additional points, and elite status for two years with IHG all because IHG canceled his mistake fare booking.
Obviously, you never know what you might get with this method and you need to remain reasonable. However, you never know what type of perks you might get offered just by asking when something goes awry with your hotel stay.
Knowing how to get a free night stay at a hotel comes down to just a few key things. Generally, signing up for the right credit card is the best and most surefire method for getting free night stays. But signing up for promotions, utilizing OTAs, and knowing how to leverage your situation are also ways to get a free night.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.