One of the perks of the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card is the annual free night certificate for any category 5 hotel. Unfortunately, the luxury beach resorts and fancy 5 star hotels in cities like New York don’t exactly fall in this category. However, that doesn’t mean all hope is lost as there are still some decent options out there for redeeming your free night certificate.
For this analysis, and to get the most out of the certificate, we only considered hotels falling under the following brands; Marriott, JW Marriott, Gaylord, The Autograph Collection, and The Renaissance. Additionally, we wanted to ensure a paid night came in over $85 since this is the yearly fee associated with the card.
Note that these aren’t the only options for redeeming a certificate but simply some great options to consider when looking for your next redemption.
1. Kansas City Marriott Downtown ~ rates from $199
Image courtesy of Kansas City Marriott Downtown website
Located on the Missouri side of Kansas city, this particular Marriott has a lot to offer. The result of searches over several weekend dates returned rates consistently from $199 a night. This makes for an excellent return on the $85 annual credit card fee. Pair this with the great location in downtown Kansas City near the Power & Light District and it’s a tough value to beat. Consider using 25,000 Marriott points, or combining a second night with a friend who also has the card to turn it into a fun, budget friendly weekend getaway. Visit the Kansas City Marriott website for more photos and details.
2. Marriott St. Louis Grand ~ rates from $148
Image courtesy of Marriott St. Louis Grand website
Located in downtown St. Louis, this hotel is a great option for anyone from out of town looking to catch a Cardinals game. The Marriott St. Louis Grand is located 0.6 miles from Busch Stadium, making for an extremely easy walk and allowing for plenty of time to enjoy Ballpark Village before or after the game. Recently redesigned with a large lobby bar, and rates continually over $150 a night, the St. Louis Grand offers a great certificate redemption value when compared to the $85 annual credit card fee. I’m a big fan of using the category 5 certificate for this type of stay since it doesn’t necessarily require paying for an additional night. Visit the Marriott St. Louis Grand website for more photos and details.
3. Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, Washington, D.C. ~ rates from $179
Image courtesy of Gaylord National Resort website
This resort makes it on the list for being the only category 5 Gaylord Resort in the US. Located under 10 miles from Washington D.C., it can be a quick getaway for local residents or an easy addition to a D.C. trip. The resort features a multitude of amenities, including a sports bar, indoor pool, night club, large atrium lobby, and Potomac river views. They are also known for their great decorations around the holiday season. With rates starting at $179 it offers an excellent value when compared to the $85 annual credit card fee. Please note, however, they do have a resort fee. It’s another great choice with the ease of access, collection of on site activities, and the fact that it doesn’t necessarily require staying multiple nights if you are near by. There is also shuttle service available to the nearby MGM National Harbor Casino. Combine an early arrival with a late check out to maximize your stay. Visit the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center website for more photos and additional details.
4. Renaissance Austin Hotel ~ rates from $189
Image courtesy of Renaissance Austin Hotel website
Another compelling option is the Renaissance Austin hotel, located just under 20 minutes from Lake Travis and equally close to Darrell K Royal Stadium, it makes for some great middle ground. For any big golf fans out there, the hotel is also extremely close to Topgolf Austin, the latest craze hitting the golfing industry. The hotel itself also offers a great bar area with outdoor seating, perfect after a day on the lake or before a night on the town. With rates starting at $189 it is yet another option that provides a great value for the $85 annual credit card fee. Consider booking the weekend with a friend who also has the card and combining your nights for a fun weekend getaway. Visit the Renaissance Austin Hotel website for more photos and additional details.
5. Indianapolis Marriott Downtown ~ rates from $218
Image courtesy of Indianapolis Marriott Downtown website
UPDATE: Unfortunately Marriott has now changed this hotel to a category 6, making it ineligible for the free night. Disappointed to see this as it was an excellent option.
This is another great value for a downtown Marriott in a larger city. It sports an excellent location for Pacers games, Indianapolis Colts games, or when the Big 10 Championship game is being played at Lucas Oil Stadium. Both sporting venues are walking distance from the hotel and even if a game isn’t taking place offers a great place to explore the city. The Indy 500 is also nearby. No matter the weekend you are there, if you are a fan of craft beers try out the Indy Brew Bus to easily visit multiple craft breweries in the area. With rates coming in around $218 per night it can a provide a return well over 2x the cost of the annual $85 credit card fee. Visit the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown website for more photos and additional details.
6. Most Category 5 Airport Hotels
This final option has way to many possible hotels to list, but if you don’t necessarily live right next door to an airport it may be beneficial to spend the night at an airport hotel before an early morning flight out. This is exactly what I will be using my category 5 certificate on this year as I have a 6:50 am flight on my way to Lisbon, Portugal. I decided to stay at the DFW Airport Marriott North the evening before my flight. At the time of booking with my certificate the Marriott Rewards Advance purchase rate was $207. This will provide me with an excellent return on my annual $85 credit card fee while allowing me to sleep a little more and get to the airport without having to battle any traffic. There are plenty of other Marriott branded hotels that fall into this category as well, I took the liberty of filtering down the locations on the Marriott website by following the link here. The key is to make sure the hotel offers complimentary shuttle service when performing the search and a nightly rate over $85.
While it would be nice if they upped the perk to a category 6, or allowed it for use as points credit, the Marriott Premier Credit Card certificate can still offer plenty of value if used properly. I wouldn’t say it’s the greatest credit card out there, but if you travel and like to frequent Marriott branded hotels then having this card in your wallet can more than pay for itself every year with this single perk. Also consider combining your free night with a friend or significant other who has the card to maximize the perk over an entire weekend once a year. More to come later on the additional perks of this card and great options for using the category 5 certificate outside the US. What is your favorite category 5 Marriott branded hotel to redeem your certificate on?