Marriott Savings and Status

As I described in the post “Pursuing Platinum @ Marriott” I started my Marriott Platinum Challenge earlier this month.  By signing up, I was automatically given Platinum status for the rest of this month plus three more months afterwards (i.e. until the end of November).  If, during that time, I complete 9 separate paid stays (or 18 paid nights), I will be able to keep Platinum status through Feb 2014.  During my recent vacation, I completed one night of the challenge at the Renaissance Vancouver Harbourside.  Before that, I also stayed at the Marriott in Anchorage, but it did not count toward the challenge.  I called to start the challenge on August 2nd which happened to be the same night as the Anchorage stay, but the challenge didn’t actually begin until August 4th.  I knew going in that the stay probably wouldn’t count, but I needed to wait until August 2 to start the challenge or else the challenge would end in October instead of November.  Since I know I’ll be traveling quite a bit in November, I felt it was crucial to get that extra month.

Gift Card Mania

If you’re interested in pursuing Platinum with me, check out New Girl in the Air’s post “Bonus Offers When You Buy Marriott Gift Cards”.  The offer for 12 Southwest Points per dollar when buying Marriott gift cards is a really good one.  When used for “Wanna Getaway?” fares, Southwest points are worth 1.67 cents each so this is like a 20% rebate if you fly Southwest often.  What if you don’t fly Southwest?  Here’s the interesting twist: you can use Southwest points to buy Marriott gift cards.  10,000 Southwest points will get you a $100 Marriott gift card.  So, suppose you buy $900 worth of Marriott gift cards with this promotion.  That will result in 10,800 Southwest points.  If you exchange 10,000 of those points for a $100 Marriott gift card then you will have bought a total of $1000 worth of gift cards for $900.  That’s a nice 10% discount.

Is it worth it?  Probably not.  New Girl also lists a way to get a 10% bonus on purchased gift cards by using the Amtrak code AMT.  If you spend $900, you’ll get a total of $990 worth of credit.  This amounts to a 9% discount rather than 10%, but it’s certainly easier and faster than the method I proposed.  Also, as New Girl points out, it is much easier to double-dip with this second option.  My advice is to go with the 12 point option if you value Southwest points.  Otherwise, go with the AMT code option and double dip:

Double, Triple, Quadruple Dip Step by Step:

1. Start in a shopping portal
I’d recommend starting in the Ultimate Rewards Mall for 3X or MrRebates for 5% cash back.  From whatever portal you choose, find Marriott and click through to shop there.

2.  Find Gift Cards
Once you’ve browsed to Marriott.com, scroll to the bottom of the page and select ShopMarriott… Gift Cards:

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3. Buy the card with promo code AMT
Once you have added a card to your cart and go to check-out, you will be given the option to apply a promo code.  Below is a screenshot taken after I applied the AMT code:

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4. Earn more points with the right credit card
If you have (and use) the Marriott Rewards Premier card, you’ll earn 5 Marriott points per dollar for this purchase.  If you have the Ink Bold card, you can do the “One card to rule them all” trick to earn 5 Ultimate Rewards points instead.

5. Book through a portal
When you are ready to stay at a Marriott, don’t forget to go through a shopping portal to earn even more points.  As mentioned above, the Ultimate Rewards Mall currently gives 3 points per dollar and MrRebates gives 5% back.

6. Don’t forget to use your gift cards to pay for your stay!
When you check-in to your hotel, you need to secure the room with an actual credit card.  As a result, it can be easy to forget to apply your gift card at check-out.  I remembered only at the very last minute when checking out in Anchorage!

Add it up

Depending on which portal, gift card discount, and credit card you use, your savings will vary.  If we assume, though, that you use the Ultimate Rewards Mall, a Marriott Visa card, and the AMT discount, we can estimate savings based on spending $901 towards gift cards:

  1. Portal points for buying gift cards: 3 x $901 = 2703
  2. Portal points for using $990 worth of gift cards: 3 x $990 = 2970
  3. Credit card points for buying gift cards: 5 x 901 = 4505
  4. Marriott points earned for stays (Platinum elites earn 15 points per dollar): 15 x $990 = 14850

Total points earned on $901 spend = 25,028.  This is a blend of less valuable Marriott points and more valuable Ultimate Rewards Points, but even if the average value of these points is 1 cent each, this amounts to a very healthy $250 rebate.  Of course, don’t forget to signup for the latest Marriott promotions so that you can also earn free night stays!

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Comments

  1. I know normally you can still collect points via the UR Mall if you use a different CC. However, before I was redirected to Marriott, I saw some verbiage that I hadn’t seen before. It made me pause and wonder if I’d get the points if I used a CC at the hotel other than my Ink.

    Does anyone have experience of booking with Marriott via UR mall and paying with a different CC?

    FYI here’s the verbiage on the site….

    Check out with your Chase card and your extra points will automatically appear on your statement.

  2. Hopefully gift cards can be applied to rates booked with corporate codes. I have a good one for where I work that can probably increase the savings on gift card usage even more.

  3. Bill: yes, gift cards should work. “vacation cards” (which are otherwise very similar to gift cards) technically should t be used with special rates, but I haven’t had any problem

  4. Has anyone successfully used the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall for this? Once on marriott.com, I’m suspicious that clicking through to gifts.marriott.com won’t track the purchase.

  5. JD Leonard: I remember someone telling me they succeeded with this, but honestly I can’t remember whether their points posted automatically or if they had to request the points from Chase after the fact.

  6. Could you sell the Marriott Gift cards on plastic jungle? Looks like you can sell Marriott Travel Cards (which I assume is what this is) for 87.15%. Top cash Back is 4% I believe? So that’s 90.6% back. So if you bought $1k worth of gift cards, that should mean 12k points for $94. Even less if you use the UR portal. And if you use a southwest RR card, that’s 13K points for less than $94, bringing it down to about 0.7 cents a point. Does that seem worthwhile at all?

    • Alan: When they say they pay “up to 87.15%” I suspect that is if you are willing to accept an Amazon gift card as payment. Otherwise you’ll probably get 82.15% or something like that. If true, you would get a total of 85.44% back (with TopCashBack added in). Total cost: $145.60. Cost per point = $145.60 / 13K = 1.12. Not bad if you use the points for Wanna Get Away fares. To me it’s not a big enough win to warrant the effort and risk.

  7. Just a quick note about applying your gift card at your stay.

    I sat on $200 worth of gift cards for about 2 years because I always forgot to go apply my gift cards (I am a fan of checking out from my room, or from my car on the way to the office/airport)

    I just discovered that you can apply the gift card before your stay. I checked in and handed over my $1,100 gift card. They applied enough for the entire room+taxes, and I have a CC on file for incidentals (I never have any).

    Summary:
    Give them your gift card when you check in. They will apply the entire sum for room+taxes, or the entire sum of the gift card, whichever is less. If you want to put incidentals on there, you’ll have to check out with the gift card as well.

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