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.
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 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. Here’s 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 grants members a reduced rate on longer stays. When a member books a stay of five nights or longer with points, the member 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:
|Program||Who is eligible for a 5th night free?||Rules and restrictions||How much can you save?|
|Marriott Bonvoy||All program members||Standard room awards cost up to 85,000 points|
|Hilton Honors||Silver Elite status members and higher||Standard room awards cost up to 95,000 or more|
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 can be incredibly lucrative. Since standard room awards can cost as much as 85,000 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.
A bit more restrictive than Marriott Bonvoy’s award, the Hilton Honors fifth-night-free benefit is exclusive to elite status members – that is, anyone with Silver, Gold or Diamond Elite status. Luckily, earning Hilton Honors Silver status is easy – in 2021, you can earn Silver status after accumulating two hotel stays, five hotel nights or 12,500 Hilton Honors base points in a calendar year. After 2021, attaining Silver status will require four stays, 10 nights or 25,000 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 your 5th night free
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-point-cost night.
See related: Best travel credit cards
Tips for maximizing 5th-night-free awards
Use these tips to get the most out of this benefit:
- 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 stay with a fifth night free. 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, try earning extra points through Hilton Honors Dining and Marriot Bonvoy Eat Around Town. These dining portals give you bonus points when you use your linked credit or debit cards at partnering restaurants, and they are excellent ways to top off your points balance.
While Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy are the only two major hotel loyalty programs to offer a fifth night free, some credit cards come with a comparable perk. For example, the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card comes with fourth-night benefits. IHG Rewards Club Premier cardholders receive a fourth night free every time they use IHG Rewards points to book a stay of four or more nights. The IHG fourth night benefit is exclusive to IHG co-branded credit cardholders and is not offered as an elite status perk. Like Marriott’s and Hilton’s benefits, the IHG reward night for a four-or-more-night stay can be used multiple times per year.
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.