Hotel loyalty programs can be useful if you stay at hotels often. Points can be put towards free hotel nights, and there are two hotel loyalty programs that even offer every fifth night free when booking with points.
The Marriott Bonvoy program offers the “fifth night free” benefit to all program members when redeeming points for hotel stays. You don’t need to have status, and the free night will be automatically applied when redeeming your points online.
Hilton Honors also offers this perk, but you would need to have at least Silver status with Hilton. If you do have elite status, you too can get every fifth night for free when redeeming Hilton Honors points.
With both loyalty programs, this benefit is only available when booking at least five consecutive award nights using points. But it can be used for every five nights that you’re staying. For example, if you stay for 15 nights, you can get 3 of those nights at no cost. The benefit is not available when booking premium rooms.
With both the Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy programs, the price of an award hotel night stay is based on the hotel’s category. However, Hilton also adjusts pricing depending on whether it’s a peak or off-peak period, and Marriott will soon start to do the same.
You can earn Marriott Bonvoy or Hilton Honors points when staying at any of the many hotels that participate in these loyalty programs. Points can also be transferred over from some credit card rewards programs, including Amex Membership Rewards – although the value of doing so can be questionable.
How to earn Hilton Honors status
Hilton Honors status comes with a range of benefits that vary by tier. With Silver status you’ll receive two complimentary bottles of water during each stay and – most importantly – access to the “fifth night free” perk on award stays. Many more benefits kick in at the Gold and Diamond levels – such as room upgrades, free breakfast and, for Diamond members, executive lounge access. But Silver status is sufficient for the award night benefit.
You can earn Silver status with Hilton Honors by staying just four times (or a total of 10 nights across fewer than 4 separate stays) at Hilton hotels during a calendar year.
If you already have status with another hotel loyalty program, you could also be eligible for a Hilton Honors status match. Velocity Frequent Flyer members with Gold or Platinum status can also get a free tier match to Hilton Gold or Diamond, respectively.
You can discuss anything to do with hotel loyalty programs on the dedicated Australian Frequent Flyer forum: ‘Hotels and their loyalty programs’ forum