How I Got 5 Nights of Vacation for Free at my Dream Hotel
I’m a college school student traveling on the dime, and I obviously don’t have the resources to pay outrageous prices for my trips, so over the past year, I have gotten more and more into the loyalty rewards process. Travel has always been an important part of my life whether it be spending a few weeks in Canada or reuniting with family in Lebanon. Having an amazing trip is all the more rewarding when paired with the perfect loyalty program to make the trip incredibly cheap. I found my dream vacation for 5 nights at Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa valued at about 225,000 points total (shown below).
But where could I possibly get enough points to cover the trip?
Imagine my surprise when I learned that I could qualify for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card which, after approval, can earn me (for a limited time) 5 free nights, each valued at up to 50,000 points, which is perfect, as it is just enough to cover my trip. This means I’m getting a room in a luxury resort with a cash value of $3,523 for free! Well, almost free, since the card comes with an annual fee of $95.
These benefits and much more come with the card, and I will provide you with all the information you need to maximize your stay.
There are three key benefits that make the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card worth every penny of its $95 annual fee, these being its staggeringly high rewards rate, the automatic elite status that comes with the sign-up of the card, and its anniversary perks. The signup bonus provided a great incentive to get me hooked on this card, but it was a one-time bonus. These benefits, however, all come together for not only an amazing deal that may make you want to keep the card forever but in turn, an amazing trip full of priceless memories.
Let’s take a look at the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless rewards rate.
This chart speaks for itself. The effectiveness and value of this card are best shown to frequent and savvy travelers who rack up nights and points. The abnormally high rewards rate makes this card a no-brainer when it comes to effective loyalty spending to create a perfect trip, even after the annual fee.
Silver Elite Status
Another handy perk that comes from this card is the elite status that you immediately gain. From this, you gain:
- 10% bonus on Marriott points.
- Compensation if Marriott can’t honor your reservation.
- Priority late checkout, based on availability.
This 10 percent is a great bonus allowing you to continue racking up more and more points and while a late check out is not guaranteed and often not offered, if you do get the opportunity it’s a really convenient feature especially if you have a late afternoon flight home.
While a college student like me might not be able to yet realistically, you can even upgrade to Gold Elite Status if you spend $35,000 each year. Once reached this status will be in full effect through the year that proceeds. Due to the increased point accumulation when spending at participating Marriotts, you can maximize points by charging all expenses to your hotel room and then proceeding to pay your entire hotel bill with your Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card.
While personally, I don’t know if I will keep the card past its first year, if you chose to, its annual fee is easily offset by the anniversary rewards the Marriott provides. Every year, the reward entails that you get a Free Night Award (FNA) worth up to 35,000 points.
Nights Vs Points
An important thing to note is that the Marriott Bonvoy program takes the idea of “loyalty” to a new level with its use of FNAs and points, FNAs being more restrictive and lacking in the redemption process. FNAs and points rewards through this card are exclusive to the Marriott Bonvoy, this means that in order to redeem the full rewards of the card, you must stick with Marriott hotels during your stays. FNAs are very similar to points, however, they pose several restrictions. Some downsides of the nights method include:
- FNAs are non-transferable
- No 5th-night free bonus
As of recently, members can utilize 15,000 points to expand the value of their FNA, allowing Marriott Bonvoy members to access even more luxury hotel options. While these FNAs still have limitations, like the 15,000 points only being able to be added to standard room types, they still provide more flexibility and perks that make the card worth its while.
For its relatively low entrance price, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card is a great option with numerous benefits that allowed me to essentially spend a week at Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa for next to nothing.