March 20, 2012
While planning upcoming trips, a couple of Marriott properties have caught my eye. They both received great reviews and are in perfect locations for where I want to be. The downside is that neither has award availability for the time I want to go. So, what are my options? Can I double or triple dip my way to savings? Can I get points for buying Marriott gift cards, and for using the gift cards to take some of the sting out of paying for a hotel?
In the past, Marriott has run promotions where they sold their gift cards at a discount or for extra points. For example, a reader who goes by Jeremy E reported to me that he received 10 Marriott points per dollar when purchasing gift cards several months ago. To my knowledge, there’s nothing like that available right now. However, there are some good options for earning extra points through a triple dip:
Dip 1: Buy Gift Cards up to 9X
- By using a Chase Ink card that earns 5 points per dollar for office supplies, its possible to earn 9 points per dollar by going through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards Mall to Staples to buy Marriott gift cards. 5 points per dollar come from the Ink bonus category and 4 points per dollar come from the Ultimate Rewards Mall.
- With the Sapphire Preferred, you can earn 5 points per dollar by going through the Ultimate Rewards Mall to Marriott.com to buy gift cards. Two points per dollar come from the card’s 2X travel bonus, and 3 points per dollar come from the Ultimate Rewards Mall. One reader, Jeremy E, who did this reported that the 2X for travel posted automatically, but he had to call Chase to request the 3X for the Ultimate Rewards Mall.
- With any credit card, you can earn 3.5% cash back by finding the Marriott Gift Card store on Big Crumbs. If you use the Marriott Premier Visa Card to make this purchase, you should receive 5 Marriott points per dollar as well. Lets call this combination 8.5X (5X + 3.5% cash back).
Dip 2: Reserve stay via points / cash back portal up to 3.5X
- If you have access to the Ultimate Rewards Mall, go through the mall to Marriott to make the room reservations to get 3 points per dollar.
- A good alternative to the Ultimate Rewards Mall is to go through Big Crumbs to Marriott for 3.5% back.
Dip 3: Earn Marriott Rewards for your stay up to 15X
- Most Marriott properties automatically give 10 points per dollar.
- Platinum members are awarded up to 15 points per dollar.
- Prior to travelling, it is possible to request a Platinum Elite Challenge in order to get all of the perks of top tier status for your stay, including 15 points per dollar!
Add it up
With the triple dip listed above, it’s possible to get the equivalent of 27.5 points per dollar where “points” are a mix of Ultimate Rewards, Marriott Rewards, and cash. If/when Marriott brings back the 10 points per dollar for gift cards promotion, you could do even better. Use your Marriott Premier Visa Card to buy the gift cards for 5X + 10X = 15X. By going through a portal for both purchasing gift cards and reserving rooms you get another 6X to 7X. Then you get your 15X for the stay as a Platinum Elite. That combination would give you a total of 36 to 37X!
20% off through Discover America?
Last April, ThePointsGuy reported a one day sale on Marriott gift certificates for 20% off. This was part of the American Express Discover America promotion which is coming back this April! I plan to watch this closely. If the Marriott promotion comes back, I’ll definitely try to nab some gift cards!
The triple dip approach described above is stackable with almost all Marriott special offers such as their Megabonus offers. One exception is that you cannot use gift cards for advance payment reservations.
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