Last Updated on September 15, 2023 by Lori Pace
As someone who has explored the world extensively using travel hacks, I can attest to the fantastic opportunities for free hotel stays. While unconventional options like truck camping offer adventure, let’s delve into a comprehensive strategy for maximizing your travel rewards. In this guide, I’ll share specific methods to earn and utilize credit card rewards for luxurious stays in both international and domestic destinations.
Airbnb is the best place to stay, especially if you’ll be needing a fully furnished apartment where you can cook, relax, and hang out with friends. New members receive a $40 credit towards their first stay. Travel hacking and points are the way to go. This will enable you to travel completely free for the next year.
The Marriott Bonvoy Rewards Credit Cards for Free Hotel Rooms
As a seasoned traveler who has successfully unlocked free hotel stays through credit card rewards, let’s delve into the incredible benefits of the Marriott Bonvoy Rewards Credit Cards. With these cards, you can earn a generous 75,000 points by spending $3,000 within the initial three months. Now, you might wonder if $3,000 is manageable, and I can assure you that it is, especially when you employ savvy strategies. These 75,000 bonus points open doors to three entirely complimentary nights at their luxurious Category 4 waterfront properties, which can typically cost between $200 and $300 per night.
This will result in savings of up to $600+ on lodging at some truly amazing places. This offer was combined with regular spending on my credit cards and paid stays at other Marriott properties. I was able to accumulate 100,000 points, which I converted into five completely free nights in Downtown Manhattan.
At the current rate of $2,460, the hotel would have been about $1,460. Instead, it was free. The hotel even offered a hot breakfast each morning and a small kitchen, which is quite rare in Manhattan hotels.
What You Can Do
You can stay in luxury hotels around the globe for free and with no blackout dates. A credit card issuer can help you get free hotels. You can book with Marriott Bonvoy points and get the fifth night free if you book for four nights. This is how I was able to book five nights at 100,000 points, which is more than double what it cost me.
With extensive experience in the realm of travel rewards, I’ve come to appreciate the vast network of Marriott hotels. Marriott boasts not just one hotel chain but a remarkable portfolio of 19 brands with over 5,000 hotels worldwide. This diversity is truly impressive and opens up opportunities for savings, even if your travel plans are domestic. Whether you’re exploring exotic destinations or opting for a local getaway, Marriott properties can be your ticket to a cost-effective and enjoyable hotel stay.
Marriott Bonvoy Rewards Categories for Free Hotel Rooms
Marriott categorizes its hotels into nine categories. Fairfield Inns & Suites is a Category 1 hotel that offers the most basic and affordable options. Their most luxurious and luxurious category 8 offerings are also available. The 75,000 points can then be used to redeem any of the many categories.
Category 1 properties are 7,500 points per night. This means you would have enough to redeem 10 hotel nights at the standard redemption rate (at the standard redemption rates) once you meet the credit card minimum spend. Each category has a different cost. For example, Category 4 properties are 25,000 per night which is undoubtedly the most expensive. Category 8 properties are 70,000 per night.
Note: These rates may vary depending on when you travel off-peak or peak season.
Meeting the Minimum Spend for Free Hotel Rooms
The only problem is that you must meet the minimum spending requirement. This is similar to airline credit cards. It is usually $3,000 within three months. Although $3,000 may seem like a large sum, the trick to meeting this requirement is not spending more than you would normally. This means that these credit cards offer a truly incredible benefit: free nights in luxury hotels. There is no catch as long as you spend the minimum amount.
What You Should Do:
- Channel your daily expenses through your credit card. Consider using it for everything from bills and gas to groceries. This approach can take most individuals a long way toward meeting the minimum spending requirements for rewarding credit cards.
- Apply for a credit card when you have large expenses such as concert tickets, plane tickets, new tires, or car repairs.
- Manufacture spending by spending money on the card but not spending any money. You can think of things like buying gift certificates that you can use over the next few months or buying expensive items that you could sell on Amazon or eBay. Even though you may lose a little, it can still result in big savings considering the hotel stays you can make with a minimal spend.
- Ask your friends and family to pay large expenses on your card. They will reimburse you by writing a check or cash.
I understand the concerns about potential costs associated with credit card usage. It’s essential to acknowledge that some credit card transactions may incur minor fees, such as an extra 3% for using the card (similar to taxes). However, it’s crucial to weigh these fees against the substantial redemption value of the earned points. In the case of the $3,000 spending requirement, the associated processing fee amounts to just $90, a nominal expense compared to the substantial benefits you’ll reap through free hotel stays and other rewards.
The Marriott Rewards Visa Card
To provide you with a trusted path to free hotel stays, consider the Marriott Rewards Visa Card offered by Chase. This Visa card comes with an enticing offer: earn 75,000 points by spending $3,000 within the initial three months. These points can be redeemed for a delightful three-night stay in a Category 4 hotel. What’s more, during the first year, you won’t be burdened with an annual fee. I’ve personally benefited from this card, and I’m excited to guide you through its advantages.
Even without the bonus point offer, the credit card is solid. You get 6x points for every dollar you spend on Marriott lodging. 2x points on any flight purchased directly through the airline website. You will also earn 1x points for every dollar you spend on the card.
You also get other perks like automatic qualification for Silver Elite status, which grants you priority late checkout and a 20% bonus on Marriott Points. This card does not have foreign transaction fees which makes it great for travel. Check out the article on Travel Banking Fundamentals to learn more about how to manage my travel debit and credit cards for a lifestyle that is travel-oriented.
I recognize the importance of scrutinizing annual fees as someone deeply immersed in the world of credit card rewards. The Marriott Rewards Visa Card does come with a $95 annual fee, but here’s the catch – it’s entirely waived during the first year. What sets this card apart is its incredible value proposition: every year on your anniversary, you receive a complimentary night stay at a Category 1-5 hotel. Let me share my firsthand experience in making the most of this annual benefit and why it makes this card a worthy investment for savvy travelers like us.
For those concerned about the $95 annual fee, let’s break down the math: you’re essentially trading this fee for a valuable night at a Category 5 hotel and receiving it for free. It’s a straightforward approach to significant savings while indulging in the joy of travel. Allow me to share a personal anecdote from my visit to the Medellin Marriott Hotel, where I used my Marriott free night certificate. Not only did I enjoy the comforts of a Category 5 establishment, but I also gained access to their exclusive elite lounge and savored complimentary wine, showcasing the real-world benefits of this card.
Other Choices for Free Hotel Rooms
While Marriott offers fantastic opportunities, it’s important to know that there are other viable options for securing free hotel rooms. Beyond Marriott, you can explore the world of Chase Ultimate Rewards points through programs like IHG Rewards Club, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Chase Sapphire Preferred. These options stand out as some of the most powerful points in my arsenal due to their impressive transferability and versatility. Let’s dive into these alternatives to ensure you’re well-informed and can make the best choices for your travel needs.
For those who prioritize free flights, here’s an important note: you can seamlessly transfer your points to Marriott or United Airlines, providing you with even more flexibility. By judiciously managing your spending, particularly in bonus categories such as travel and dining, you can amass enough points to enjoy both free hotel stays and flights. Regardless of your preference, I highly recommend enrolling in the Marriott Bonvoy program to uncover the secrets of securing your first stay free.