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Use a 5th night free award to get more out of your rewards

Both Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy offer the perk – here’s how to use it

Summary

Fifth night free awards can be a great way to stretch your points if you redeem them strategically, but you’ll have to save up a significant balance to get the most out of the perk.

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For frequent travelers who stockpile hotel loyalty program points, redeeming your rewards for a long, expensive trip can be cathartic – or you might have trouble parting with the points you so carefully saved. One way to get a little extra satisfaction out of these redemptions is by taking advantage of a fifth night free perk – a benefit that awards you a complimentary night on a stay of four nights or longer. Not only will you enjoy a lengthy vacation on points alone (except applicable taxes and fees), but you can find comfort in the fact that you saved thousands of points on your fifth night.

Two of the biggest hotel loyalty programs – Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy – offer this benefit, making it easy to score a great deal on vacations around the globe. Read on to learn how to take advantage of this savings.

What is a 5th night free award?

A fifth night free award is a promotion offered by several hotel loyalty programs that allows members a reduced rate on longer stays. When a member books a stay of five nights or longer with their points, they can receive the fifth night free. Though only applicable to longer trips, these awards can be a great way to stretch your rewards points further.

Which hotel programs offer 5th night free awards?

Among major hotel loyalty programs, two of the largest hotel networks in the world offer fifth night free awards – Marriott and Hilton. Here’s a quick look at each program’s fifth night free rules and restrictions:

ProgramWho is eligible for a 5th night free? Rules and restrictionsHow much can you save?
Marriott BonvoyAll program members
  • No blackout dates
  • Can be used multiple times per year
  • Can be used multiple times per reservation (10-night stays will earn two free nights)
  • Standard rooms only
  • Must pay for other four nights in points (can’t combine cash and points)
  • If you redeem four nights of points, you can use cash to cover additional nights
Standard room awards cost up to 100,000 points
Hilton HonorsSilver elite status members and higher
  • No blackout dates
  • Can be used multiple times per year
  • Can be used up to four times per reservation (20-night stays will earn four free nights)
  • Standard rooms only
  • Must pay for first four nights in points (can’t combine cash and points)
  • Cannot be combined with free weekend night certificates
Standard room awards cost up to 95,000 or more

Marriott Bonvoy

The Marriott Bonvoy fifth night free perk – called “Stay for 5, Pay for 4” – is available to all members of the hotel loyalty program, and there are no blackout dates or use limitations. Because the benefit is so easy to redeem, the biggest limitation on Marriott’s award is room availability. You’ll need to find a standard room available at your preferred property for the entire length of your stay, and Marriott is notorious for having limited standard room availability at popular locations during peak times.

As long as you can find a room, however, the Marriott fifth night free benefit can be incredibly lucrative. Since standard room awards can cost as much as 100,000 points, you can save hundreds of dollars on longer hotel stays. Additionally, while you’ll have to pay the first four nights with points to earn a fifth night free, you can cover any additional nights with cash. So if you have a seven-night stay planned, you can cover four with points, one with a fifth night free and two in cash. That means you won’t have to stockpile quite as much in rewards before maximizing this benefit.

Hilton Honors

A bit more restrictive than Marriott Bonvoy’s award, the Hilton Honors fifth night free benefit is exclusive to elite status members. Luckily, earning Hilton Honors silver status is easy – requiring four hotel stays, 10 hotel nights or 25,000 Hilton Honors base points in a calendar year. You can also earn elite status automatically with any one of Hilton’s co-branded credit cards, including the no-annual-fee Hilton Honors American Express Card.

Unfortunately, you can’t stack other Hilton Honors promotions with a fifth night free award, so you’ll always have to pay for at least four nights with points to earn the benefit.

How to redeem a 5th night free award

For both Marriott and Hilton fifth night free awards, the discount is automatically applied to relevant reservations. That means you just need to book a five-night or longer stay as you normally would on the hotel’s website.

For Hilton Honors, you’ll receive your fifth night free discount that is equal to the average nightly rate in points. For Marriott, you’ll receive the discount on the lowest-priced night.

Tips for maximizing 5th night free awards

  • Save up points for a more expensive stay, as you’ll get the best fifth night free discount.
  • Freely use fifth night free benefits multiple times per year, as they are not capped.
  • Make sure there is a standard room available at your preferred property before trying to book a fifth night free stay. The benefit doesn’t apply to stays in upgraded rooms.
  • If you don’t have enough points to cover four nights and earn a fifth night free, take advantage of tools like shopping portals and dining programs to top off your balance.

4th night free benefits

While Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy are the only two major hotel loyalty programs to offer a fifth night free benefit, there are a few credit cards that come with a comparable perk. The Citi Prestige card and both the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card and IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card come with fourth night free benefits, detailed below.

Citi Prestige card

With the Citi Prestige, cardholders get the fourth night free on any hotel stay (offer capped at two uses per year starting Sept. 1, 2019). Since you can use the perk with any property, you can save it for a more expensive stay to maximize savings.

See Related: Guide to the Citi Prestige 4th night free benefit

IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card or IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card

The IHG fourth night free benefit is exclusive to IHG co-branded credit cardholders and is not offered as an elite status perk. Like Marriott and Hilton’s benefits, the IHG fourth night free can be used multiple times per year. Also similar to other programs, the benefit is only applicable on stays of four nights or longer booked with points.

Bottom line

If you are a loyalist of Marriott or Hilton hotels, taking advantage of a fifth night free award can be a great way to stretch your points. If redeemed strategically, you can save hundreds of dollars on a longer hotel stay.

What’s up next?

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Published: September 16, 2019

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