How to use Marriott points (they’re useful for much more than just free hotel stays)
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The Marriott Bonvoy program has changed a number of times over the last couple of years, most recently by adding a new award chart. The new chart includes peak and off-peak pricing, which makes using your points a bit trickier. The good news is, it’s still fairly easy to earn Marriott points with Marriott credit card offers, such as:
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card – Earn three free nights (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first three months from account opening.
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card – Earn 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points and 1 free night award after you use your new card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first three months.
- Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card – Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after you use your new card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening. Offer ends 5/18/22.
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card – Earn 30,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
Now, let’s take a look at everything you need to know about using Marriott points.
How to use Marriott points: More flexible than you might think
If you think Marriott points are only good for hotel stays, think again. You can also redeem them for car rentals, flights, travel packages, and even gift cards and merchandise.
Here are some of the best ways to use your Marriott points:
One of the more straightforward ways of redeeming your points is for a hotel stay. Marriott’s award chart is relatively transparent, showing you the number of points needed to book each hotel on your intended travel dates. Once you’ve found the Marriott hotel you want, you’ll find a drop-down menu on the payment page. This will show payment options. For example, if you’re staying more than one night, you can customize your payment using cash and points, if you like.
Even if you stay only one night, you can still split your payment between cash and points with many hotels. You’ll have to do the math to see if using this option is a good idea.
For example, the AC Hotel in Cincinnati charges 35,000 points for a free night (70,000 for a two-night stay) in September 2020. But you can also pay 35,000 points and $240 (after taxes).
Also, don’t forget that outside of standard pricing, Marriott has peak and off-peak rates, meaning the award price will fluctuate (for better or worse) based on the date you’re staying.
If that’s not enough and you’d prefer to hang onto your cash, you can use Marriott Points Advance feature, which allows you to book an award stay even if you don’t have enough points but you will need to earn the Marriott points at least 14 days before your arrival date. Just note that this feature doesn’t lock in a price unless you actually have the points to reserve the room. Instead it just assures award availability.
In other words, when you reserve a room with Marriott Points Advance, the room may cost a standard points rate. But by the time you’ve earned the points to properly reserve the room, the price may have switched to peak pricing — meaning you’ll need more points to book the room.
Finally, all award stays of four nights or more get a fifth night free.
Transfer to airline partners
Marriott has the most airline transfer partners of any program — by a long shot. You can transfer Marriott points to 40+ airline partners, including American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Delta and Southwest.
Here’s the full list:
|Air New Zealand (200:1)
|China Eastern Airlines
|China Southern Airlines
|Flying Blue (Air France / KLM)
|South African Airways
|United Airlines (3:1.1)
You’ll get 1 airline mile for every 3 Marriott points you transfer (though there are a few exceptions where you’ll get less). So if you transfer 3,000 Marriott points, you’ll receive 1,000 miles. You must transfer at least 3,000 Marriott points at a time and you can transfer no more than 240,000 Marriott points at a time.
Plus, when you transfer 60,000 Marriott points, you’ll get a bonus 5,000 miles. So instead of just receiving 20,000 miles for airlines with a 3:1 transfer ratio, you’ll receive 25,000 miles. For this reason, you’ll get the best value by transferring points in increments of 60,000.
For more details, check out our guide on how to transfer Marriott points to airlines.
If you jump on the Marriott portal, you can redeem your points for flights or rental cars but please don’t use your points this way. From tinkering around with the site, it looks like Marriott allows you to cash your points in at a rate between 0.3 and 0.4 cents each. You can do much better than that if you use your points for hotel stays or transfer them directly to an airline partner.
You also have the option of booking a Hotel + Air package with Marriott. With these travel packages, you can redeem your points for a seven-night stay at a hotel, as well as a whole bunch of miles. But you’ll need to call Marriott to book a Travel Package, as it can’t be done online.
To book a Travel Package, you can trade 330,000 Marriott points for seven nights at a Category 1-4 Marriott hotel and 100,000 miles. You can choose American Airlines, Delta, Alaska Airlines, Air Canada Aeroplan, ANA and tons more. And if you choose to earn United Airlines miles, you’ll earn 10% more miles.
Merchandise and gift cards
You can also redeem your Marriott points for gift cards and merchandise through their shopping portal for popular retailers like Amazon, Best Buy and Nordstrom, or purchase merchandise in various categories like entertainment, apparel and dining.
This may not be the best way to get the most value out of your points, though. Redeeming points for a $25 Amazon gift card, for instance, requires 10,000 points. That’s a horrendous 0.25 cents per point.
You can redeem Marriott points for way more than just hotel stays. You can even transfer them to a number of airline partners or redeem them for car rentals, gift cards, merchandise or travel packages.
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