marriott category 5

Marriott Category 5 Resorts: The Best Way to Use Your Free Night Awards

Editorial Disclaimer: This post may include references to offers from our partners. We may receive compensation when you click on links to specific products. The opinions expressed here are ours alone and at no time has the editorial content been provided, reviewed, or approved by any issuer. Thank you for supporting us.  We appreciate you.

The Marriott rewards program has seen a lot of changes recently. The addition of Starwood and the SPG rewards program is the largest change of all. Along with these changes come alterations to their co-branded credit cards. Now there are multiple credit card options to earn free Marriott stays which can be used to stay at Marriott category 5 hotels.

One of the options, the newly reconfigured Marriott Rewards Premier Plus credit card (personal or business card) offers an introductory offer of 2 free nights at Marriott properties that cost 35,000 points or less. It also comes with a free night award every calendar year that you keep the card. The 35,000 points are equivalent to a Marriott category 5 hotel. The other option, the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card from American Express (which also comes as a personal or business card), offers points as an introductory offer and also gives a free night award at a Marriott category 5 hotel annually.

 

Get The Most Value with Marriott Category 5 Resorts

Since you can use your free night awards at any Marriott category 1-5 hotels, you’ll usually get the most value if you stay at a Marriott category 5 resort. There are 8 Marriott Rewards categories in all but don’t worry, Marriott category 5 is the most plentiful when it comes to resorts. With the addition of Starwood hotels, there are now 1138 Marriott category 5 hotels worldwide and 695 in the United States alone. We’ll focus on just the Marriott category 5 resort properties. There are 162 Marriott category 5 resorts worldwide and 56 in the United States.

If you’re wondering how much a free night award at a category 1-5 Marriott is worth, it depends on where you stay. Some Marriott category 5 resorts can cost upwards of $700 for a single night. But, by having one or both of the Marriott credit cards you’ll earn at least one free night award automatically on every cardmember anniversary.

 

Is The Free Night Award Worth The Annual Fee?

Earning the free night award does come with a fee. The $95 annual fee for either the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus credit cards or the SPG Amex cards. Every year, if you use your free night award for a hotel stay that would normally cost more than $95, it’s worth keeping the credit card and paying the annual fee. If you keep this card in your wallet and pay the annual fee, you can easily find a redemption that is worth a few hundred dollars. If you stay at a resort that is $400 using your free night award, it’s like paying $95 for a $400 room. Plus, you’ll get the other benefits of the credit card all year.

A great way to earn a lot of Marriott points as well as a free night award every anniversary is by getting one of the Marriott/SPG credit cards. Here is a little more information on what each of the credit cards offers…

 

Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card

marriott category 5 rewards premier plus card art
  • Introductory Offer: You’ll earn 2 free award nights at a category 1-5 Marriott property (up to 35,000 points) after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.
  • Anniversary Free Night: Earn 1 free award night at a category 1-5 Marriott property after your cardmember anniversary.
  • Bonus Earning Categories: You’ll earn 6X per $1 spent at Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels. Earn 2X points on all other qualifying purchases.
  • Elite Status: Complimentary Silver Status with your Card. Earn Gold Elite status after spending $35,000 or more each calendar year.
  • Annual Fee: $95 (waived in year 1)
  • Terms Apply

Learn more about this card and find out how to apply HERE.

 

Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Business Credit Card

marriott category 5 rewards premier plus card art

  • Introductory Offer: You’ll earn 2 free award nights at a category 1-5 Marriott property (up to 35,000 points) after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.
  • Anniversary Free Night: Earn 1 free award night at a category 1-5 Marriott property after your cardmember anniversary.
  • Bonus Earning Categories: You’ll earn 6X per $1 spent at Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels. Earn 4X points at restaurants, gas stations, shipping, and internet, cable and cell phone services. 2X points on all other qualifying purchases.
  • Elite Status: Complimentary Silver Status with your Card. Earn Gold Elite status after spending $35,000 or more each calendar year.
  • Annual Fee: $95 (waived in year 1)

 

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

spg card art marriott category 5

Learn More >>

  • Introductory Offer: You’ll earn 75,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.
  • Anniversary Free Night: Earn 1 free award night at a category 1-5 Marriott property after your cardmember anniversary.
  • Boingo Wi-Fi: Enjoy complimentary, unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi on up to four devices after enrolling.
  • Bonus Earning Categories: You’ll earn 6X per $1 spent at Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels. Earn 2X points on all other qualifying purchases.
  • Annual Fee: $95 (waived in year 1)
  • Terms Apply

Learn more about this card and find out how to apply HERE.

 

Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express

spg business card art marriott category 5

Learn More >>

  • Introductory Offer: You’ll earn 75,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.
  • Anniversary Free Night: Earn 1 free award night at a category 1-5 Marriott property after your cardmember anniversary.
  • Boingo Wi-Fi: Enjoy complimentary, unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi on up to four devices after enrolling.
  • Bonus Earning Categories: You’ll earn 6X per $1 spent at Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels. Earn 4X points at US restaurants, US gas stations, cell phone services from US service providers, and on US shipping purchases. 2X points on all other qualifying purchases.
  • Elite Status: Complimentary Silver Status with your Card. Earn Gold Elite status after spending $30,000 or more in eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Note: starting January 1, 2019, the spend threshold will increase to $35,000.
  • Annual Fee: $95 (waived in year 1)
  • Terms Apply

Learn more about this card and find out how to apply HERE.

 

You can also earn Marriott Rewards points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards credit cards. Ultimate Rewards transfer to Marriott at a 1:1 ratio.

Compare Chase Credit Cards

 

Best Marriott Category 5 Resorts in the United States (56 Total)

Listed below are the top-rated Marriott category 5 resorts in the United States. There are a total of 56 resorts in the US and we’ve hand-selected the best properties for you to use your free night awards at. Our selections were made by looking at value, location, guest ratings, and our opinion. After looking at Marriott resorts all over the world, it was apparent that the best value to be saved is in the United States. Other countries and regions have some very nice category 5 hotels, but they tend to cost much less per night if paying for cash. Here is what we came up with during our search to find the best of the best.

 

Waterline Marina Resort & Beach Club, Autograph Collection

waterline marina resort marriott category 5

  • Location: Holmes Beach, Florida
  • Average Guest Rating: 4.8/5 stars
  • Average Price (March 23-29): $466 per night
  • Redemption Value Grade: A-

 

The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort

westin hapuna bay resort marriott category 5

  • Location: Big Island, Hawaii
  • Average Guest Rating: 4.2/5 stars
  • Average Price (March 23-29): $765 per night
  • Redemption Value Grade: A+

 

The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain

ritz-carlton dove mountain marriott category 5

  • Location: Marana, Arizona
  • Average Guest Rating: 4.7/5 stars
  • Average Price (March 23-29): $587 per night
  • Redemption Value Grade: A

 

The Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection

the grand hotel alabama marriott category 5

  • Location: Point Clear, Alabama
  • Average Guest Rating: 4.7/5 stars
  • Average Price (March 23-29): $278 per night
  • Redemption Value Grade: B-

 

JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa

JW marriott category 5 Tucson

  • Location: Tucson, Arizona
  • Average Guest Rating: 4.5/5 stars
  • Average Price (March 23-29): $271 per night
  • Redemption Value Grade: B-

 

The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club

the vinoy st petersburg marriott category 5

  • Location: St. Petersburg, Florida
  • Average Guest Rating: 4.5/5 stars
  • Average Price (March 23-29): $424 per night
  • Redemption Value Grade: B+

 

JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa

jw marriott category 5 las vegas

  • Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Average Guest Rating: 4.4/5 stars
  • Average Price (March 23-29): $554 per night
  • Redemption Value Grade: A

 

Fort Lauderdale Marriott Pompano Beach Resort & Spa

marriott category 5 pompano

  • Location: Pompano Beach, Florida
  • Average Guest Rating: 4.2/5 stars
  • Average Price (March 23-29): $300 per night
  • Redemption Value Grade: B

 

The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa

kierland resort marriott category 5

  • Location: Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Average Guest Rating: 4.1/5 stars
  • Average Price (March 23-29): $519 per night
  • Redemption Value Grade: A

 

How to Book Your Marriott Free Night Award

When booking a free night using your award, you have over 6,000 available options of Marriott category 1-5 properties to choose from. With so many options, we chose to cut it down to only resorts because they typically cost more to stay at. By booking a Marriott category 5 resort with your award you will get more value out of it.

A big part of the decision on where to stay depends on where you will be needing a hotel room. It’s pretty hard to take advantage of the newly remodeled Westin Hapuna Beach Resort if you won’t be on the Big Island of Hawaii this year. I look forward to staying at this hotel next summer when we (hopefully) use our Southwest Companion Pass on a Hawaii trip for the first time. When booking a Marriott category 5 award night, you’ll want to find a hotel or resort that gives you a great value in an area that you plan on traveling to.

 

Find Your Free Night Award in your Marriott Account

When you meet your minimum spend with the Marriot Rewards Premier Plus card or after your cardmember anniversary of any of the cards, a free night award will appear in your Marriott Rewards account on the activity page. To use your free night award, log in to your account and search for your desired hotel and date. To book your free night using the free night award, you will select “Use reward points”. On the reservation details page, you will see the option to use your free night award. Continue your booking as you normally would. Your award will be applied to the reservation giving you a free night.

Be aware that only hotels with standard or off-peak category 5 award rooms available will be bookable. Category 5 peak pricing is unfortunately above the 35,000 point limit to use your free night award. Remember, that you don’t have to book a category 5. You can book anything up to a Marriott category 5 hotel.

You can use both points and cash on stays if you don’t have enough points. But, when you’re looking to add your free night to either end of a longer paid stay, be sure to book the more expensive night (between the first and last) with your award if the nightly prices differ. Then book the remaining nights separately using cash. You may need to call to have the reservations linked afterward so that you don’t have to check out and back in. If you have any more questions about booking or Marriott Rewards you can check out their official FAQ page.

 

Using Points to Book Free Nights at Marriott Hotels

If you’re looking to book a Marriott category 5 hotel using points, it will cost you 35,000 points for a standard room. Marriott Rewards has eight redemption categories, ranging from 7,500 to 85,000 points per night for a standard room (not including peak and off-peak dates).

Marriott Rewards points can be earned in a few different ways. The easiest way is by applying for any of the credit cards that earn Marriott Rewards. You’ll either earn free night awards or Marriott Rewards points through the introductory offers and you’ll also earn points by making purchases on the cards. Here is a chart that includes all Marriott Rewards categories and how many points it will take to book a free night in each.

CategoryOff-PeakStandardPeak
15,0007,50010,000
210,00012,50015,000
315,00017,50020,000
420,00025,00030,000
530,00035,00040,000
640,00050,00060,000
750,00060,00070,000
870,00085,000100,000

*Category 8 will not be used until Feb 1st, 2019

**Only Standard Rates will be used through 2018.

 

All photos courtesy of Marriott International