Analysis of Marriott Travel Packages: 5 Night vs. 7 Night

Last week I wrote “Marriott 5 Night Travel Packages exist, but they’re secret.”  5 night Marriott Travel Packages aren’t advertised.  They’re meant only for Marriott Vacation Club owners.  But, in some cases, Marriott Rewards representatives will let people book these packages anyway.  Based on the comments in the aforementioned post, it looks like Marriott representatives are more likely not to allow it unless you are a vacation owner.  Still, some people have been persistent and have succeeded.

Marriott Travel Packages

In todays post, I’ve splattered carefully laid out the results of Excel analyses that I’ve been playing around with.

I examined Marriott’s Travel packages from two distinct points of view:

  1. You want to book a 5 or 7 night stay with points. Is it worth paying more points to get miles too?
  2. You want to convert points to miles in the most efficient way possible.  Are the Travel Packages a good option?  If so, which one?

The most interesting result, to me, is the finding in the second analyses that shows that one can convert Marriott points to airline miles at favorable rates.  That finding isn’t particularly new, but the tables below show exactly which packages offer the best conversion rates.  I expect that many people will find those useful.

What the heck are Marriott Travel Packages?

Marriott Travel Packages are options for redeeming points not just for a hotel stay, but for airline miles too.  For example, you can redeem 250,000 Marriott points for a 7 night category 6 hotel certificate plus 70,000 airline miles. The certificate is valid for a year, but you can call towards the end of the year and ask for an extension.  The miles go to your loyalty account and can be used at any time for any purpose.  It is the airline miles, that make Marriott Travel Packages valuable.  If you weren’t interested in the miles, you could spend fewer Marriott points for the same stay.

Starting with a 5 or 7 night stay

Assuming you plan to use points to book a long stay, anyway, let’s look at the value of travel packages…

5 Night Travel Package:

This chart shows the number of Marriott Rewards points needed for each package.  On the right side of the chart, I’ve displayed the number of points needed for regular award stays.  The column labeled “Non Package Per Night” shows the number of points normally needed for a one night stay.  The column labeled “Non Package 5 Nights” shows the number of points normally needed for a 5 night stay (Marriott gives the 5th night free).

United 5 Nights + 55K miles 5 Nights + 77K miles 5 Nights + 110K miles 5 Nights + 132K miles
AA, Delta, Alaska, Southwest … 5 Nights + 50K miles 5 Nights + 70K miles 5 Nights + 100K miles 5 Nights + 120K miles Non Package Per Night Non Package  5 Nights
Category 1-5 165K 185K 215K 235K 25K 100K
Category 6 180K 200K 230K 250K 30K 120K
Category 7 200K 220K 250K 270K 35K 140K
Category 8 230K 250K 280K 300K 40K 160K
Category 9 275K 295K 325K 345K 45K 180K

Next, I calculated the incremental points needed to book a travel package vs. non package 5 night stay.  For example, the Category 6 5 Nights + 50K miles package costs 180K points whereas five Category 6 nights bought separately would cost 120K points, so the incremental difference is 60K points.

Incremental points needed for package vs. non package 5 night stay:

United 5 Nights + 55K miles 5 Nights + 77K miles 5 Nights + 110K miles 5 Nights + 132K miles
AA, Delta, Alaska, Southwest… 5 Nights + 50K miles 5 Nights + 70K miles 5 Nights + 100K miles 5 Nights + 120K miles
Category 1-5 65K 85K 115K 135K
Category 6 60K 80K 110K 130K
Category 7 60K 80K 110K 130K
Category 8 70K 90K 120K 140K
Category 9 95K 115K 145K 165K

As you can see above, the extra points needed to book a 5 night travel package instead of a regular 5 night award stay varies by hotel category.  Categories 6 and 7 packages charge the fewest extra points.  In those cases, the number of extra points required is slightly higher than the number of miles received (with the exception of the 5 Nights + 132K United mile category 6 and 7 packages).  Still, exchanging Marriott points at close to 1 to 1 to airline miles is a good deal.  Category 9 premiums, though, are much higher.  For example, to get 50,000 miles, the incremental cost is 95,000 points.  In that case, the incremental cost is almost double the number of miles received. That’s far worse than the near 1 to 1 exchange that is available for category 6 and 7 packages.

Let’s see how 7 night packages compare:

7 Night Travel Package:

This chart shows the number of Marriott Rewards points needed for each package.  On the right side of the chart, I’ve displayed the number of points needed for regular award stays.  The column labeled “Non Package Per Night” shows the number of points normally needed for a one night stay.  The column labeled “Non Package 7 Nights” shows the number of points normally needed for a 7 night stay (Marriott gives the 5th night free).

United 7 Nights + 55K miles 7 Nights + 77K miles 7 Nights + 110K miles 7 Nights + 132K miles
AA, Delta, Alaska, Southwest… 7 Nights + 50K miles 7 Nights + 70K miles 7 Nights + 100K miles 7 Nights + 120K miles Non Package Per Night Non Package  7 Nights
Category 1-5 200K 220K 250K 270K 25K 150K
Category 6 230K 250K 280K 300K 30K 180K
Category 7 260K 280K 310K 330K 35K 210K
Category 8 290K 310K 340K 360K 40K 240K
Category 9 320K 340K 370K 390K 45K 270K

Incremental points needed for package vs. non package 7 night stay:

United 7 Nights + 55K miles 7 Nights + 77K miles 7 Nights + 110K miles 7 Nights + 132K miles
AA, Delta, Alaska, Southwest… 7 Nights + 50K miles 7 Nights + 70K miles 7 Nights + 100K miles 7 Nights + 120K miles
Category 1-5 50K 70K 100K 120K
Category 6 50K 70K 100K 120K
Category 7 50K 70K 100K 120K
Category 8 50K 70K 100K 120K
Category 9 50K 70K 100K 120K

As you can see above, with 7 night packages, the incremental points needed to get airline miles is consistent across hotel categories and it exactly matches the number of miles received with most mileage programs.  If you spend 100,000 extra points for 7 nights, you get 100,000 miles.  With United miles, the ratio is better.  You get 10% more United miles than the incremental number of Marriott points spent.

Interim Summary

As long as you value airline miles higher than Marriott points (and you should), those who plan to book a 7 night award stay would do well to book a 7 night travel package instead.  If you were planning a 5 night stay, though, whether or not the travel package makes sense depends upon the number of miles you want and which category hotel you book.  With category 6 and 7 stays, the incremental cost of the package is close to 1 to 1 to the number of miles received, so those packages are a good value.  Category 5 and 8 stays are also worthwhile, but not as much so.  Category 9 stays are trickier to evaluate.  In those cases, you’ll have to value airline miles almost twice as much as hotel points to justify the extra cost of the travel package.

Exchange Points for Miles

Another way to look at Marriott Travel Packages is that they provide a way to convert Marriott points to airline miles at a favorable rate.  If you exchange points to miles directly (found here), you’ll pay 140,000 Marriott Rewards points for 50,000 miles (or 112,000 points for 50,000 United miles).  That’s comes to 2.8 Marriott points per mile (or 2.25 points per United mile).

Let’s look at the points to miles conversion rates with Travel Packages.  If we ignore the value of the 5 or 7 night stay itself, then we can calculate the points to miles ratios:

5 Night Travel Package, points per mile (smaller is better):

AA, Delta, Alaska, Southwest… 5 Nights + 50K miles 5 Nights + 70K miles 5 Nights + 100K miles 5 Nights + 120K miles 5 Nights + 132K United Miles
Category 1-5 3.30 2.64 2.15 1.96 1.78
Category 6 3.60 2.86 2.30 2.08 1.89
Category 7 4.00 3.14 2.50 2.25 2.05
Category 8 4.60 3.57 2.80 2.50 2.27
Category 9 5.50 4.21 3.25 2.88 2.61

7 Night Travel Package, points per mile (smaller is better):

AA, Delta, Alaska, Southwest… 7 Nights + 50K miles 7 Nights + 70K miles 7 Nights + 100K miles 7 Nights + 120K miles 7 Nights + 132K United Miles
Category 1-5 4.00 3.14 2.50 2.25 2.05
Category 6 4.60 3.57 2.80 2.50 2.27
Category 7 5.20 4.00 3.10 2.75 2.50
Category 8 5.80 4.43 3.40 3.00 2.73
Category 9 6.40 4.86 3.70 3.25 2.95

Cells in green are the packages in which the conversion ratio of points to miles is better with a travel package than without a travel package even when we assign zero value to the 5 or 7 night stay.  As you can see above, conversion ratios for 5 night packages go as low as 1.96 Marriott points per mile (and 1.78 Marriott points per United mile).  These ratios beat out the 7 night stay ratios which go as low as 2.25 points per mile (and 2.05 points per United mile).

Interim Summary

With both 5 and 7 night packages, it’s possible to exchange Marriott points for airline miles at a better rate than if you exchanged the points directly.  If you don’t care about the stay itself, then go for the cheapest category: category 1-5.  The category 1-5 packages have the best points to miles ratios.  However, all of the cells shown in green, above, are packages in which you’ll get more miles from your Marriott points through the package than through a direct conversion of points to miles.

Wrap Up

The analyses above are the results of thought experiments in which I looked at the value of different travel packages from two opposite points of view.  One point of view assumes that a person is planning a Marriott reward stay.  In that case, I looked at the incremental number of points needed to book a travel package instead of an award stay.  With that analysis, I found that both 5 and 7 night travel packages could be worthwhile, but that 7 night packages represent a better incremental value than 5 night packages.  The main takeaways from this analysis are:

  1. If you’re planning a 5 night award stay, and you value miles more than hotel points, and you have extra points available, then consider a travel package, especially if you plan to book a category 6 or 7 hotel
  2. If you’re planning a 7 night award stay, and you value miles more than hotel points, and you have extra points available, then go for it.

In the second analysis, I assumed that a person’s primary goal is to convert Marriott points to airline miles.  If they get a 5 or 7 night stay out of the deal, it’s a bonus.  From that point of view, some travel packages offer better value than directly converting points to miles.  And, of course, 5 night packages offer better conversion rates than 7 night packages, and category 1-5 packages offer better rates than higher level packages.

In real life, I expect that most people will find themselves somewhere in between the above two viewpoints.  Maybe, for example, you like the idea of converting Marriott points to Southwest points to secure a Companion Pass, but you also like the idea of getting a free hotel stay out of the deal.  In that case, I would look at it like this: start with a category 1-5 package offering as many miles as you can afford.  The price, in points, for that package can be thought of as the price you pay for the miles.  Then, upgrade to the category you really want.  The incremental cost of the higher category package can be thought of as the price you pay for the hotel stay.  Whether you pick a 5 night package or a 7 night package will depend on how many nights you actually want.  If you don’t have a preference, and if you can find a willing Marriott Rewards agent, then go for the 5 night package – it will be cheaper.

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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Pingbacks

  1. […] Note that, in general, Marriott points are far less valuable than Ultimate Rewards points.  So, it’s not all that meaningful to add up the expected points into a single big number as I did here (395,000!).  However, I do see exciting potential for using Marriott points for Travel Packages, so I am eager to pick them up while the bonus offers are so high (see: Analysis of Marriott Travel Packages: 5 Night vs. 7 Night). […]

  2. […] 5 night packages exist, but they’re intended only for Marriott Vacation Club (timeshare) owners.  Some people have been able to book 5 night packages despite this restriction, but most who ask are turned away.  In other words, don’t count on being able to book these.  If you can somehow book one, they do offer tremendous value.  See: Analysis of Marriott Travel Packages: 5 Night vs. 7 Night. […]

Comments

  1. Cab you please tell me what did you say to the agent so that he or she allow you to book the 5 nights package ? I believe how you said it will affect the outcome. I’m so frustrated since I’ve been calling 3 times with different agent and even spoke with supervisors and being persistent and they always gave me same answer that it’s only available for timeshare holders.

    • I said something like: I know that there were 5 night packages available for Vacation Club owners, but I don’t own one. Is there any way I could book a 5 night package anyway?

      If you read through the comments of my prior post, you’ll see that some people had the same experience as you (even before I wrote my post) whereas others have had success (even after my post). It’s possible/likely that success is higher for those with Gold or Platinum status (I have Platinum).

  2. @David — IMNSHO, the 5 night deal is dead. Too much publicity and Marriott has instructed their agents to honor the intent of the 5 night redemption: time share owners ONLY!

  3. Sadly, I think GringoLoco is right. I called today about booking a 5-night travel package. And, the first response from the agent was: How did you hear about our Vacation Club Travel Packages? PS – I’m MR Plat.

  4. I’d be curious to know how people are racking up this many Marriott points? The marriott credit card certainly isn’t terribly generous. My best guess is lots of reimbursable nights.

    • The Ritz card offered 140k for $3k in spend a few times last year and you can combine points to make a redemption. A few of those, a few Marriott cards, the possibility of transferring from UR, you could easily have 500k points.

  5. I just did this two weeks ago, converting 330k miles to a seven night category 7 stay and 120k Southwest points. Companion pass is already processed and now valid for two years. When doing this, the agent told me that the certificate can be extended for a year OR the points can simply be plugged back into my account. I don’t want the stay, so my plan is to allow the 210,000 points to roll back into my account next year and use them for ANOTHER package purchase in early 2018 for ANOTHER two years of companion pass perks with Southwest. Who knows whether this will work, but worst case I still have points and the flexibility to use them for their originally intended purpose. Doing this also allows me to churn the Marriott Rewards cards for additional bonuses!!!

    • No Kurt, cant really do that in the way your describing. You can roll the points back in to your marriott account but the travel packages are all only worth 75k once converted. So thats the most you can hope to get back FYI.

  6. UGH….. called both the Marriott # and Ritz Carlton and unable to book 5 night vacation packages. I was very friendly put persistent, asking if exceptions etc. were ever made…………… Response was NO- only a benefit for vacation club members. Nor sure if I should try back tomorrow or just book the 7 day. I really want the companion pass!

  7. Datapoint:

    Just called a number given in the other thread and was transferred to (800) 450-4442. The guy who answered started booking with the assumption I wanted a 7-day package (even though I only had just over 235,000 points in my account), and when I said a “friend” told me about a 5-day option, he said “we do for timeshare owners, are you one?”

    I said I wasn’t, but my friend was and told me about the 5-day package. He asked if I saw the amount needed for a 5-day, 120,000 1-5 cat certificate online or through a friend. I said my friend told me the amount needed. He said, “Let me see what I can do.”

    After about 5-7 minutes on hold, he came back and said they could do it, and asked for my frequent flyer number. I asked him how long it would take the miles to transfer, and he said a few days. The confirmation e-mail that came almost immediately after said it could be upwards of 6 weeks! I hope that’s just a maximum. Can anyone relay experience in a transfer to Southwest?

  8. I just called in (800-321-7396) and it was surprisingly easy. The rep just said “The 5-night packages are typically reserved for Vacation Club owners, but I can make an exception.” I didn’t even have to request an exception or to talk to a supervisor or anything. Thanks for the heads up about this!

    I am a Gold Elite member and I have both a Chase Marriott card & Chase Ritz Carlton card.

  9. All,

    Any idea how fast the airline miles posted in your frequent flyer account from the date you redeem the 5 nights hotel and flight package? It’s been 3 days…I saw the 5 night certificates in my marriott online account but no airline miles added into my Alaska account.

  10. Based on reported data points, it sounds like having Gold status or higher increases your chances of being able to book a 5 night package, but it’s not at all guaranteed that you’ll find a rep who allows it.

  11. I’ve spoken to about 10 different agents and tried various other country departments and was denied by all of them as a Marriott Platinum member, that I must be a Vacation Club Owner.

  12. does it really take up to six weeks to get the miles!?!?! I want to book asap…. how long does it realistically take?

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