Yesterday, I published a post about the new Marriott MORE shopping toolbar/app. In that post, I concluded that I probably wouldn’t use it much. However, later on last night, I realized that I may have been too quick to judge it — this shopping rewards system might be worth another look.
Rewards are variable
In yesterday’s post, I noted that there were some inconsistencies across platforms. For example, I noted that Doctor of Credit reported 29 stores in the toolbar, while I only found 14 stores in the Android app. Also interesting is the fact that different people were reporting different payouts. For example, when I first loaded the app, Amazon showed a payout of just 1x.
However, some people were reporting payouts of 2x at Amazon. Later in the day, someone tweeted that he had seen 2x in the app, but logged in from an iMac later and it showed 3x. There was speculation that different rates could have been caused by differences in elite status or the device being used. Then Doctor of Credit tweeted that some people were reporting different payouts when logging in on the same device at different times throughout the day. When I saw that late last night, I pulled up the app…and sure enough, there was Amazon at 4x.
Now that was more interesting to me. You could definitely make the argument that 3x JetBlue points are more valuable than 4x Marriott points…but as someone who doesn’t fly JetBlue often, I find 4x at Amazon pretty good. Those points could convert to Starpoints — an effective Starpoints earning rate of 1.333 points per dollar at Amazon. That’s not bad. Sure, you could do better by purchasing Amazon gift cards at an office supply store at 5x with a Chase Ink card. But when you didn’t plan in advance and need to place an order, 4x Marriott isn’t bad.
Furthermore, Adam in our Frequent Miler Insiders Facebook Group scoured the terms and found that they not only don’t exclude gift card purchases — they actually expressly include gift card purchases.
‘Merchandise’ means any goods or services (including gift cards) purchased on your Account through MORE Shopping Mall from a Retailer.
But….the math didn’t quite add up
As promising as that sounds, the math didn’t quite add up in my experience. I went through the Marriott MORE app to buy a $25 Amazon gift card. I wanted to purchase a $25 gift card to trigger the 1,000 Marriott Rewards points bonus that comes with your first purchase of $25 or more. The app showed I would get 4 Marriott points per dollar. I put the $25 gift card in my card, and this is what I saw for earnings:
As you can see, it says that I would earn 1,076 Marriott Rewards points. That didn’t really make sense. The 1,000 points were the first purchase bonus — which meant that my $25 Amazon gift card purchase would earn 76 Marriott points. That’s an earning rate of 3.04 points per dollar…..hmmmm…..
On checkout, I got a congratulations saying that I had indeed earned 1076 points. I received an email afterwards with my earnings breakdown:
According to that email, I earned 50 “Base points” (that’s just 2x), combined with 13 “Gold bonus points“ and 13 “Marriott Rewards Credit Cardholder Bonus”. That doesn’t really make a lot of sense. The Marriott cardholder bonus is supposed to be 25%. A quarter of my “50 base points” would be 12.5 points — so it looks like they used 2x as my base earnings and then gave me a 25% bonus of being a cardholder and a 25% bonus for being a Gold member. They rounded the 12.5 points up to 13 in each case, for a total of 76 points. That’s obviously not the 4x that was advertised….though it’s a lot better than the 1x I saw in the morning.
I just logged into the app right now on my phone — it still shows 4x, but still shows 76 points earned on a $25 gift card.
Points post quickly
On the bright side, points post to your account quickly. I immediately saw the transaction in my history within the Marriott MORE app. I didn’t check my Marriott account until today, but there were the points from the purchase I made last night.
I made that purchase after midnight Eastern time — so I technically made my purchase today and the points posted same-day. That’s awesome, because if I ever find myself in a pinch a few points short of an award, I know I could buy a gift card to pick up some points.
The Marriott MORE shopping scheme still isn’t perfect — but with payouts potentially being variable, it might be worth a look now and then. Amazon wasn’t the only payout that increased when I pulled up the app again, several other stores also showed higher payouts. It’s not hard to earn 5x at Amazon by planning ahead and picking up gift cards from an office supply store, but this will still come in handy when my gift card balance is empty. I have not yet tried the double dip, but another member of our Facebook group reported that she did not receive points when using a gift card at Amazon. There will surely be plenty of experiments to be made — see our Laboratory in the coming weeks for results.