Holy moley. A dozen free nights. I think this is more than I’ve ever had at one time. What does one do with this many?? Maybe it’s time to drop a few of the hotel credit cards.
With enough of 2021 penciled in, I’m not sure if or how I’ll be able to use all of my free night certificates. It always hurts to use a free night for less than the value you’d like to get, but I have also used them for otherwise expensive airport free nights. If I get sufficient value, then I’m at least content. But I’ll need to do a better job analyzing my “keeper” cards this year, in case it makes more sense to drop some.
Let’s see what I can put together with all my free nights.
My Dozen Free Night Certificates
Typically, I earn a handful of free night certificates per year from a few different credit cards. The most common have been IHG and Hyatt free nights, where I get at least two of each per year. But this year I have quite a few more. Here’s what currently shows in my AwardWallet account:
- 2 Hyatt Category 1-4 free nights
- 1 Hyatt Category 1-7 free night
- 3 IHG 40k free nights
- 5 Marriott Bonvoy 50k free nights
- 1 Radisson U.S. free night
Maybe I shouldn’t have applied for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless last year after all? Now I’m sitting on five Marriott free nights that I have no immediate plans for. And my time to use them is half over. Some of the others should be easier to use.
Mapping The Nights to Upcoming Travel
My next trip includes staying at a Category 1 Hyatt that is otherwise going for $60 USD per night, so there is no way I’d want to use a free night certificate there. I’d only do this if they were literally going to expire without another use. Even then, planning a last-minute local(ish) weekend getaway to the Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country would be preferable to letting them go for $60 each.
The next potential trip is to Mexico City, which offers the opportunity to use the Marriott certificates at either the St. Regis or Las Alcobas hotel. Both properties require 50,000 Bonvoy points per night. However, without Marriott Platinum or higher status for breakfast or other benefits, and with plenty of other cheap points hotels in the city, I’m not super keen on this idea. But it wouldn’t be a bad use.
This summer I plan to attend a miles and points meetup in Denver. Right now, I have the Grand Hyatt booked on Hyatt points. It is a Category 3 property, going for 12,000 points per night. If I don’t have any other use for my Category 1-4 Hyatt nights, I could definitely save some points and book two of the three nights with the certificates.
Then there is the planned Oktoberfest trip with friends. The best use of the Marriott nights is likely for Roomers Munich, an Autograph Collection hotel. Nights are going for over €400, and I have locked in two nights here with two Marriott certificates. Given the COVID-19 situation, though, I’m not sure how likely this is going to be for me. My total time in Europe is only about a week, and if there are still testing or quarantine protocols in place at the time, this trip may be canned.
Potential trip ideas that are unplanned as of yet:
- Two or three midweek nights in Las Vegas at the Palazzo to use the IHG certificates, assuming I can find nights where offered for 40k points or fewer. This would be an easy trip to plan, and I’d be very down to enjoy the luxury hotel (and eating Sushi at the Cosmo), but I’m otherwise not thrilled with the idea of visiting Las Vegas.
- Long weekend in Seattle with one of my friends. This idea just came up last week. I’m not sure we’ll be able to make it happen, though. This would easily use both Hyatt Category 1-4 certificates. Or I could use the IHG certificates at a Kimpton, assuming rates fall under 40,000 points, which they do sometimes. Or we could pick another IHG property.
- Gifting the Hyatt Category 1-7 to my sister and her husband for a stay at the Alila Napa Valley. They live (roughly) in the area, and this is a new add to the Hyatt portfolio. I think it would make for an excellent night away from the kids. Need to still broach the idea.
- Summer and fall trips with one or more kids. Nothing is even close to locked in, and for one we may be visiting friends and not staying in a hotel! Unhelpful for burning my free nights.
That Radisson night I’m not sure how to use. I had hoped to nab two for a weekend in Chicago at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, but I didn’t spend enough to earn a second. I could always hotel hop. Not against that. I visited Chicago with one of my boys in 2019 and we had an excellent time.
The upside of COVID-19 is that a few of my free night certificates have had their usage dates extended. Even so, I need to figure out how to use the bulk of them by the end of 2021. I’ve traveled some over the past several months, but it has been less than previous years. Maybe what needs to change is my willingness to shoot for earning these certs or keeping credit cards that continue to offer them as a benefit. Points are so much easier.
Anyone else sitting on a bunch of free nights that need a use?