The best ways to use a Marriott Bonvoy 85,000-point free night certificate – from luxury tropical resorts to iconic hotels in Paris, New York, and Hong Kong

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You can use a Marriott Bonvoy 85,000-point free night certificate at resorts like the St. Regis Maldives.

The new offer on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card includes a free night certificate.
You can redeem the certificate at Marriott hotels that cost up to 85,000 points per night.
These include St. Regis, Ritz-Carlton, Luxury Collection, and W hotels around the world.
Read Insider’s guide to the best hotel credit cards.

Hotels serve a very functional purpose, offering a place to rest up and recharge after a long day on the road or sitting through important meetings. But if you look at the tippy-top of the award chart, you’ll find properties that are a destination in and of themselves. These hotels are expensive whether you’re paying with cash or points, and as such, are often a rare splurge for most travelers.

Marriott recently launched elevated and improved welcome offers across its co-branded credit card portfolio, and in the process made its top-tier Category 8 properties a little bit more accessible to customers who decide to apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card.

Read more: The best Marriott credit cards

Now, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is offering new applicants an unprecedented bonus: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card.

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is Marriott’s most premium credit card, carrying a Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card annual fee Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card – Rates & Fees, but it offers a number of great benefits that can easily pay for themselves.

For starters, cardholders earn a $300 annual Marriott statement credit, good for room rates, food and beverage, spa treatments, and more, that effectively drops your out-of-pocket cost to just $150 a year. In exchange for that you’ll enjoy Marriott Bonvoy Gold elite status, and receive a free night certificate worth up to 50,000 points each year on your account anniversary.

Read more: American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card review

This card is geared for more frequent Marriott guests looking for a bit of luxury on their next stay. Marriott’s award chart has 8 categories to it, and the 85,000-point free night certificate now available with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card can be used for any Category 1-7 hotel with available award nights, and even Category 8 hotels that have standard or off-peak availability (peak pricing at a Category 8 hotel is 100,000 points a night, so wouldn’t be covered here).

Whether you’re looking for a remote island getaway or a skyscraper towering over the world’s busiest cities, you’ll find every flavor of luxury in Marriott’s Category 8. I already have the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, meaning I’m not eligible to apply for this amazing offer. There are over 115 Category 8 hotels in the Marriott Bonvoy program, but here are a few of my favorite options to redeem an 85,000-point free night certificate.

We’re focused here on the rewards and perks that come with each card. These cards won’t be worth it if you’re paying interest or late fees. When using a credit card, it’s important to pay your balance in full each month, make payments on time, and only spend what you can afford to pay.

Best hotels for redeeming a Marriott Bonvoy 85,000-point free night certificate

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

St. Regis Maldives

Standard award rooms at the St. Regis Maldives are garden villas, but you can use points or cash to upgrade to an overwater villa.

Arguably the most aspirational points redemption in the world, the St. Regis Maldives combines the clear water and signature overwater villas of the Maldives with the storied luxury of the St. Regis brand. Guests are assigned a personal butler to coordinate every detail of their stay on Vommuli island, and staff truly go the extra mile to make the experience memorable.

Read more: How to use credit card points and miles for a socially distant vacation in the Maldives

When we stayed there in early 2019, they even changed dive sites at the last minute to help my girlfriend try and spot her first manta ray! Note that the „base rooms” eligible for award redemptions at the St. Regis are actually garden villas that don’t feature direct water access, so you may want to think about paying cash or points to upgrade, or considering one of Marriott’s other luxury options in the Maldives, including the W, Westin, JW Marriott, and newly opened Ritz-Carlton.

Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai

Award stays at the Al Maha resort are all-inclusive (except alcohol and spa treatments).

There are beach resorts in every corner of the globe, but I can honestly say I’ve never experienced anything quite like the desert oasis that is Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Resort located about an hour east of Dubai. The 40 villas are private and spacious, with ample room indoors and on your deck to soak in the stunning natural landscapes, and perhaps even meet a precocious gazelle.

Read more: I used Marriott points to book 5 nights in an all-inclusive desert villa worth nearly $10,000 – and it might be the world’s best hotel for social distancing

One of the things that makes Al Maha so appealing to budget-conscious award travelers is that it’s all-inclusive. Your award rate includes three meals a day, served in the hotel’s main restaurant or in the privacy of your villa at no extra cost. You can also enjoy two free „desert activities” each day, including a sunset camel ride, archery, a falcon show, and more. Alcohol and spa treatments aren’t included, and you’ll have to pay a bit extra for the thrill of going dune bashing but I highly recommend trying it at least once.

W South Beach, Miami

Standard rooms at the W Miami can cost in excess of $800 per night during popular times.

The W brand has a reputation for being dark and clubby, a vibe that you would expect to mesh perfectly with Miami’s South Beach scene. However, the high-end W South Beach is one of the first Ws to receive a makeover indicative of the future direction of the brand: more natural light, soft colors, and a health focus to help you recharge before the party starts again.

Read more: How to earn, redeem, and maximize Marriott Bonvoy points

Or, to put it in W terms: detox, retox, repeat. The property is located on 22nd and Collins, making it walking distance to the shops on Lincoln Road and the incredible food scene present in the area.

Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong

The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong is one of the tallest hotels in the world.

I find Hong Kong’s skyline to be reflective of the city’s character, with an unmistakable sense of order to the chaos and crowding. Towering high above the endless skyscrapers is the International Commerce Centre, with the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong occupying the top floors (102-118). While it lost the title of the tallest hotel in the world in 2019 to a property in Guangzhou, it still features the highest elevation bar (Ozone) and swimming pool in the world, clocking in at an impressive 1,588 feet above the ground.

Read more: I haven’t paid for a hotel room in 10 years – here’s how I stay for free

While Ritz-Carltons are notoriously skimpy when it comes to Marriott elite benefits and the hotel was booked nearly full for Art Basel when we stayed there, we were still upgraded to a harbor view room where we could watch the city disappear beneath us as the clouds rolled in. If you’re staying over a weekend make sure to check out the bottomless Dom Perignon brunch on Sunday, which was reasonably priced for such an extravagant meal.

Mystique, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Santorini

The Mystique in Santorini is known for its incredible views.

With over 7,000 properties in its global portfolio, it can be challenging at times for Marriott hotels to adhere to corporate brand standards while still providing an authentic, local experience for guests. That’s not a problem for Mystique, a stunning Luxury Collection resort with 41 suites and villas built into the iconic cliffs of Oia, on the northern tip of Santorini.

Read more: How I used two Marriott Bonvoy benefits to save over $3,000 on a European vacation

I appreciated that the hotel was in the southern part of Oia, meaning we could enjoy our sunset views without being overwhelmed by the throngs of tourists. The hotel’s common areas are centered around an infinity pool that feels like it’s jutting out over the edge of the cliff, a perfect backdrop against which to enjoy an impressive breakfast spread. There’s a magic about this place that’s hard to capture in words, but suffice it to say that this is somewhere I’ll be returning as soon as I can.

St. Regis New York

The St. Regis New York is a great home base for shopping and sightseeing.

Located off 5th Avenue just a few blocks south of Central Park, the St. Regis New York is full of history. This luxury hotel was the first St. Regis to exist, and as the story goes, the Bloody Mary was invented at the hotel’s King Cole Bar. As an homage to this great gift that St. Regis gave to the world, each St. Regis location now has its own signature Bloody Mary, crafted with local ingredients and influences.

Read more: I stayed at New York City’s top-rated hotel, which charges up to $35,000 per night and has an iconic cocktail bar that was featured in ‘Gossip Girl.’ Here’s what it was like.

I unfortunately only spent one night here, but I remember being impressed by the way the hotel maintained its historic design without sacrificing modern luxury finishes.

St. Regis Bora Bora

A standard award night at the St. Regis Bora Bora is in a reefside garden villa, but you can upgrade to an overwater bungalow with cash.

French Polynesia is one of the few places outside of the Maldives where you’ll find an abundance of overwater villas. While you don’t have quite the same feeling of isolation as you do on a tiny Maldivian island, many guests at the St. Regis Bora Bora will enjoy the experience of watching the sunset over Mt. Otemanu on the horizon.

Read more: 5 real-life trips taken by credit card reward travel experts to inspire your vacation planning – especially if you have lots of points and miles to burn

With all the water sports you can imagine, excursions to nearby islands, and plenty of dining options on-site, the St. Regis Bora Bora has everything you’re looking for and then some.

St. Regis Bahia Beach, Puerto Rico

The St. Regis Bahia Beach is ideal if you want a luxurious tropical vacation closer to home.

In a conversation about the most luxurious Marriott properties at which to redeem your free night certificate, it should come as no surprise that nearly half the list is made up of St. Regis hotels. The St. Regis Bahia Beach, located on the northeast corner of Puerto Rico, is a simply beautiful escape.

Read more: The best travel rewards credit cards

The hotel was badly damaged during Hurricane Maria, but reopened in early 2019 after undergoing a $60 million renovation and restoration project. Easy access from much of the mainland US makes this property worthy of consideration from anyone with Marriott Bonvoy 85,000-point certificates (or points) to burn.

Prince de Galles, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Paris

The Prince des Galles in Paris is in an excellent location if you’re new to the city.

There aren’t any bad locations to stay in Paris’ 8th arrondissement, but the Prince de Galles hotel commands an impressive spot just off the Champs-Élysées, roughly equidistant between the Arc de Triomphe and the Grand Palais. The rooms are spacious by European standards, with many offering balconies or terraces overlooking the streets below.

Read more: The best ways to fly to Europe using points and miles

The hotel is also soon to feature the first European location of one of my favorite restaurants, Akira Back, named eponymously for the pro-snowboarder turned Michelin-starred chef whose Asian fusion is playful, refreshing, and all-around delicious.

Bottom line

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card has long been a great way for award travelers to experience some of the more luxurious sides of the Marriott portfolio, thanks to the elite status and 50,000-point anniversary free night certificate the card offers.

Now that it’s also including an 85,000-point certificate in the welcome bonus, if you apply now you’ll be guaranteed to earn one free night in some of the nicest hotels in the world, wherever your travels take you next.

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