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Did you know that some hotel chains give you extra free nights on award stays of four nights or more?
If you plan to stay in a single hotel for at least four nights, it makes sense to be strategic about how to book your stay. With Marriott, Hilton, and IHG offering additional free nights on award stays, the value of your points increases. You can effortlessly achieve most of these perks simply by holding one of the best hotel credit cards.
In this post, I’ll give you a brief overview of which hotel chains give you free nights — and how to book them.
What is a 5th night free?
With select hotel chains, you can reserve five nights for the amount of points it would cost to reserve four. This is not a rebate (in other words, you don’t need five nights’ worth of points to book five award nights) — the savings is instantly reflected, even before you reach checkout.
This is a discount on five consecutive award nights at the same hotel. This will not provide you every fifth award night free, similar to a Subway punch card. If you’re staying five nights in a row, you’ll pay for only four.
Here’s an example:
The Moxy Paris Bastille regularly charges 35,000 Marriott points per night. If you were to stay four nights, you’d pay 140,000 points (35,000 points x 4 nights).
However, if you add another night to your bill, the price remains 140,000 points. Clicking on “CUSTOMIZE PAYMENTS” reveals that the fifth night you book is actually free.
I’ll go over the details of this fantastic benefit for each program. And I’ll also show you some of the main differences and areas where each program is better. Receiving a free night is a great perk that can add up to big savings!
Which hotel programs offer a 5th night free?
A 5th night free on hotel award stays are limited to just Hilton and Marriott (though IHG has arguably an even better deal, which we’ll talk about later).
Best Western, Choice Hotels, Hyatt, and Radisson do not offer free nights on award stays. If you’re trying to book a four or five night stay, it makes sense to search for Hilton and Marriott (and IHG) hotels first!
Hilton offers a generous 5th night free on award stays for any Hilton members who have any form of Hilton elite status:
- Silver – Earn it automatically by holding the Hilton Honors American Express Card
- Gold – Earn it automatically by holding the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card or the The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
- Diamond – Earn it automatically by holding the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express
You can use the benefit an unlimited number of times, but you can’t get more than four free nights at once (so 20 nights is the maximum for each stay). If you happen to be staying longer than 20 nights, book at least one paid night between your 40 award nights to get the maximum number of free night awards.
Remember, this only applies to stays with five or more consecutive nights within the same standard room reward stay at the same hotel.
The 5th night free benefit can only be used on “standard” level room award nights. When searching for award nights, look for “Standard Room Reward” to know that your booking will be eligible for the fifth night free.
For example, if you want to book five nights that generally costs 89,000 Hilton points each, like at the luxurious (and dreamy, gorgeous, irreplaceable) Conrad Bora Bora, you’ll pay 356,000 Hilton points – the price for just four nights. The discount will be automatically applied when booking as long as you are logged into your Hilton Honors account (with elite status). The 5th night free benefit is calculated as an average across all the award nights you want to book.
For example, if your upcoming hotel night prices the first three nights at 20,000 points each and the last two nights at 30,000 points each, that’s a total of 120,000 points for your five night stay. The price per night will be averaged out to 24,000 points, so your five-night reservation will cost 96,000 points (as a result of getting one free night worth 24,000 points). In general, the standard number of points will be consistent, so this might not be too much of an issue.
Anyone can use Marriott’s 5th night free perk — you don’t need to hold any elite status. Marriott points are easier than ever to acquire, with big welcome bonuses and ongoing card benefits like:
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card – 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
- Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card – 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card – 100,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card – 50,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
The 5th night free benefit works on any standard room. The room you want to book must be available with points for all five nights, and they must all be the same amount of points.
The Marriott website doesn’t mention any restrictions on fifth night free awards, so there should be no limit to how many times you can utilize this benefit. So on a 10-Night award stay at a Marriott hotel, both the 5th and 10th nights are free. For folks with a stash of Marriott points, that can be big time savings, and certainly increase the value of your Marriott Bonvoy points.
IHG (fourth night free)
In some ways, IHG’s free night policy is better than Hilton and Marriott — you’ll get every 4th consecutive award night free instead of every 5th. That means it’s easier to receive a free night!
However, IHG’s 4th night free is card-specific. You must have the
Those who have the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card will receive a 4th night free on award stays. So when you book an award stay of four or more nights, you’ll get the 4th award night free. Again, you don’t need to pay upfront for the 4th night — any award stay lasting four days will only cost you the points for three nights.
Because IHG award nights start at just 10,000 IHG points per night, you can stay four nights for as little as 30,000 points at some hotels.
Tips for maximizing 5th night free awards
The higher-quality hotel you reserve, the more points you’ll save. My wife and I used this 5th night free benefit to stay at the St. Regis Maldives, and effectively saved 85,000 points.
These free night benefits are unlimited. You can receive the fifth night free as often as you’re able. Even if you only intend to stay four nights, you should still book a fifth night free. Award nights give you elite night credits which will help you achieve hotel elite status. It’s not costing you anything extra, so you might as well reserve five nights, even if your room will be vacant the fifth night.
Unique to Marriott is the ability to mix and match paid nights and award nights to still get your fifth night booking for free. For example, if you’re staying six nights, you can choose to pay for only the cheapest night with cash. That’s a fantastic deal, because nightly rates can fluctuate significantly.
For example, check out this six-night booking at the W Verbier. The prices are lower the first couple days. I’ll opt to pay for one of those days, and use points for the more expensive days.
You can get an extra award night with the following brands:
- Hilton 5th night free (if you have elite status)
- Marriott 5th night free
- IHG 4th night free (if you have the Chase IHG Premier)
Do you typically stay in hotels long enough to get value from a 4th or 5th night free perk? Let us know in the comments — and for more scheme-y travel tips and tricks, sign up for our once daily newsletter!