13 best uses of the Marriott 50,000-point certificates for family vacations


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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.

Within the Marriott Bonvoy program, you can book hotels (or even Marriott home rentals) using your points, but you can also use award night certificates that typically come in two different denominations: 35,000 points or 50,000 points. A 50,000 point certificate is typically awarded each year by the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card. Every time you renew, you get another certificate to use at hotels priced up to 50,000 Marriott points per night.

But right now, the 50k certificates are much more accessible than normal as the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card [[need links]] is offering an elevated welcome bonus that awards three of these certificates worth up to 50,000 points each with $3,000 in spending within the first 3 months of a new account opening. Plus, you will earn 10x total points on up to $2,500 in combined purchases at grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations within the first 6 months of account opening.

This means you can spend three nights in Marriott properties that cost up to 50,000 points per night from just one card bonus, which is generous for this card.

Elevated bonus: Earn three 50,000-point Marriott award certificates with $3,000 in spending after opening a new Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card

How you normally earn 50k certificates

Outside of this elevated welcome bonus on the Marriott Boundless card, the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program features multiple cobranded credit cards that offer a free award night worth up to either 35k or 50k Marriott points on each anniversary. These certificates help offset the cost of the annual fees of the cards — assuming you put them to good use. These cards offer a certificate worth up to 35,000 Marriott points each renewal year (some other legacy SPG/Marriott card products also issue a 35k certificate):

  • Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card
  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card

A 35,000-point Marriott certificate is nice, but what’s nicer is the up to 50,000-point certificate you get at each renewal with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card. (The Ritz-Carlton Rewards card also offers the same 50,000-point certificate, but that card is no longer available to new applicants).

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex has a $450 annual fee (See Rates & Fees) but the annual 50,000-point award night, combined with up to $300 in annual statement credits to use at participating Marriott properties, helps recoup that cost. If you value the $300 statement credit at roughly face value, and you can get more than $150 in value from your annual free night award, then the card quickly becomes a long-term keeper.

How to use the 50k Marriott certificates

You can use these 50,000-point Marriott certificates at any Category 1–6 Marriott hotel with standard award availability on standard and off-peak dates. With the introduction of peak and off-peak pricing, the certificates have gotten a little more complicated to use.

You cannot use a 50k certificate to book a peak Category 6 date, but the other side of that coin is that you can now use them to book an off-peak date at a Category 7 property. Essentially, you can use them anytime a property displays for 50k Marriott points per night or less, regardless of category. Additionally, you may decide that an off-peak Category 6 date is a better value when redeeming 40k Marriott points per night than burning a 50k certificate.

© The Points Guy

TPG has a story on great ways to redeem Marriott 50,000-point free night certificates, and they’re fabulous uses of these annual free nights. But they aren’t all practical for families. With spring breaks, winter breaks, summer and long weekends in mind, here are some of the best uses of the Marriott 50,000-point certificates for traveling families.

Related: Choosing the best Marriott credit card for you

Note: Be aware that many of these resorts do charge resort fees in addition to the annual award certificate.

JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort and Spa

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

If your family is looking for a getaway to sunny Arizona, the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort has five pools (several are heated to 82 degrees), a lazy river, a waterslide and a splash pad. There are pool suites and cabana cottages available for rent if you want to go all-out on a pool day.

Once you’re in the Phoenix area, you’re within easy driving distance to lots of natural beauty and hiking if you need a break from the resort life. But when it’s time to head back to the resort, there’s ample tennis, golf and spa awaiting to mix up your days by the pool.

JW Marriott Bonnet Creek Resort and Spa

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

One of the exciting new higher-end hotels for families that opened in 2020 is a stone’s throw away from Disney World. The JW Marriott Bonnet Creek has a shuttle to the nearby Disney theme parks, but it also offers a nice respite from the in-your-face version of Disney.

Here you’ll find not only a pool area with cabanas but also an impressive rock-climbing wall, putt-putt golf, and indoor kid’s activity center. There’s also a rooftop terrace where you can see fireworks from the nearby Disney theme parks (when those are happening).

JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort and Spa

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

In keeping with the JW resorts located in warm-weather destinations theme, the JW Marriott Miami Turnberry is a good resort to consider. Sure, there are golf and steak restaurants, but kids will love the Tidal Cove Water Park. In total, there are seven water slides, a splash area, lazy river and multiple pools with access included for resort guests. In fact, this spot gets top marks in our local’s guide to visiting the Miami area with kids.

The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas and Spa, Cancun

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas and Spa is located beachfront in Cancun and within walking distance to many bars, restaurants and shops. The rooms at the Westin Lagunamar are also ideal for a family as every single room offers either a kitchenette or a full kitchen, a washer and dryer, and a balcony. Note that the standard rooms bookable for a 50k certificate sleep four, but with one bed and one pull-out sofa.

The property offers many family-friendly activities, such as arts and crafts, sea turtle release programs, iguana feeding, board games, miniature putt-putt course and beach volleyball. You’ll also find a playground on the resort and a kids club. There are other Marriott properties in Cancun available for a 50k certificate, but note that the standard rooms at both the JW Marriott Cancun and The Ritz-Carlton typically only have one bed and may not work for a family.

Atlantis, Coral Towers, Autograph Collection

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

While Atlantis isn’t my all-time favorite destination, kids love it. There’s a 141-acre Aquaventure waterpark, 11 pools, five miles of beaches, a casino and lots of (expensive) dining options. The Coral Towers is a Category 6 property that costs 50,000 points a night on standard nights. On off-peak nights, you can even book the nicer Royal Towers with a 50k certificate as it is a Category 7 property.

Gallery: The Cost to Visit These 10 High-Demand U.S. Tourist Locations (GOBankingRates)

Cash rates can be $300+, so it can be a good use of the certificate, but just keep in mind that you are really paying for the amenities as the rooms themselves aren’t necessarily award winners. (If you want to get Atlantis wristbands without actually staying there, here’s my No. 1 tip.)

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

The Walt Disney World Swan (a Westin) and Dolphin (a Sheraton) have steadily increased in the number of points per night that are required. These on-Disney-property hotels now cost 50k Marriott points per night on standard nights and paid rates can be in the $300 to $500 range in busy seasons.

There are many less expensive award options in the Disney area, but if you want to be on Walt Disney World property while still using hotel points, these resorts may be your best bet. From the Disney Swan and Dolphin, you can walk (or take a boat) to Epcot or Disney’s Hollywood Studios (which is where you’ll find the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge). If these properties don’t work for your Disney vacation, here are some other nearby spots you can use your hotel points and still get some Disney perks.

SpringHill Suites Springdale Zion National Park

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

National Parks are always a great family travel destination, but they are having a moment in the pandemic era. SpringHill Suites Marriott Zion National Park is in a prime location if Zion is on your family travel wish list.

It’s very close to the entrance of Zion National Park, has rooms that sleep five, features free breakfast, gets rave reviews and paid rates during peak season can be more than $300+ per night for this very modern-looking SpringHill Suites. Here are some other points-friendly hotels near various National Parks.

Sheraton Lakeside Villas at Mountain Vista Avon

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

Many of the Marriott ski properties around the Vail and Beaver Creek area are outside the range of 50k certificates on all but off-peak dates, but one great exception for families are the 1,400-square-foot, two-bedroom villas that can be booked at the Sheraton Lakeside Villas in Avon, Colorado (near both Beaver Creek and Vail ski areas). These villas sleep up to eight people and have a fully stocked kitchen so you can keep food costs under control.

While you aren’t right on the slopes, this is a great compromise between having many conveniences of a ski home rental while still using hotel points or an annual award night certificate. Note that the resort isn’t always available in the middle of peak ski season, but if you have some date flexibility, you can find some available nights while the snow is falling.

Westin Snowmass

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

If you want a true ski-out hotel located on a family-friendly mountain, the Westin Snowmass should be on your list. The property sits toward the bottom of a green run at Aspen Snowmass and is just a short gondola ride away from the Snowmass ski school for the youngest skiers who haven’t yet learned how to navigate a green run.

The Westin Snowmass isn’t the fanciest hotel in the world, but it does have a heated pool, hot tubs, is within walking distance to some shops and restaurants and is more than adequate for a ski trip that is focused on getting on the slopes as much as possible. Of course, some ski dates will be considered peak season and ring in above the reach of a 50k certificate, but there are winter dates when you can snag a night using a 50k certificate.

AC New York Times Square

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

In normal times, New York City hotels can be very, very expensive — $300 to $400 per night is common for midrange hotels in Manhattan. The AC New York Times Square isn’t anything particularly special, but it’s new and can meet the needs of a family visiting the Big Apple. The hotel has Times Square in the name, but it’s several blocks further south so isn’t really in the true hustle and bustle of a normal Times Square.

Here are some other good NYC hotel options if you are staying on points.

Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

Aruba’s Palm Beach is picture-perfect for families with calm, clear water and white sand. The property is divided into two zones — one for adults and one for families. There’s also a 40-acre private island that is accessible by ferry and is great not only for a beach day but also for plane spotting and flamingo spotting.

Kananaskis Mountain Lodge, Autograph Collection

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

The great outdoors is calling (loudly) to many of us, and those who are able to get into Canada (which isn’t most of us quite yet) can enjoy hiking or horseback riding in the summer or skiing in the winter while basing out of this property in the Canadian Rockies. (Oh, and there’s also an on-site Nordic spa when you need a break from all that activity.)

For the kids, there’s also an onsite indoor water park with waterslides. If you’re looking to tack this stay onto a trip into Banff, know that’s about a 60-minute drive away.

AC Hotel Maui Wailea

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

This property opened earlier this year, and while we haven’t gotten the chance to experience it for ourselves yet, we couldn’t round out the list without including a new Hawaii hotel that is bookable at the Marriott Category 6 level. This hotel is not directly on the beach. However, I wouldn’t hesitate to try it out for a night with a Marriott 50k certificate. Rooms with two queen beds and a sofa are bookable at the 50k points level.

Booking Category 7 properties with a 50k certificate

Your 50k Marriott certificate gets even more interesting if you can use it for a Category 7 Marriott property on an off-peak date. The easiest way to spot off-peak dates is with the flexible date calendar search. Here are some Category 7 properties that are particularly interesting for families:

Courtyard Anaheim Theme Park Entrance — Book a two-queen guest room

Westin Maldives — Book a family beach villa

Westin Grand Cayman — Two double beds

Westin Princeville (Kauai) — Studio villa with queen bed and sofa bed

Bottom line

Remember, if you and/or your partner both have a Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card, you could string together a multi-night stay using one certificate for each night of your vacation with your renewal 50k certificates. Or, if you are getting in on the elevated Marriott Bonvoy Boundless bonus that includes three 50,000 Marriott night certificates, then an awesome family vacation is almost available at your fingertips!

For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex, please click here.

Featured photo of the Renaissance Aruba by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.

SPONSORED: With states reopening, enjoying a meal from a restaurant no longer just means curbside pickup.

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These are the best credit cards for dining out, taking out, and ordering in to maximize every meal purchase.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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