Marriott Bonvoy is the all-in-one rewards program which replaced Marriott Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, and Ritz-Carlton Rewards. Compared to other programs, in my opinion, Marriott Bonvoy offers better than average rewards for paid stays, a strong elite program (but not best overall), best-in-class options for point transfers to airline miles, a huge selection of hotels that run from very low end to ultra-luxury, and credit cards that offer good value for their annual free nights but relatively poor value for credit card spend. This post is designed to include everything you need to know.
Bonvoy shares traits that are common to most hotel rewards programs:
- Earn points from paid stays (but not when stays are booked through online travel agencies such as Expedia).
- Use points to book free night awards.
- The cost, in points, for free nights depends upon each hotel’s category assignment. Category 1 hotels cost far less than top-tier category 8 hotels.
- Those who spend many nights at Marriott hotels booked either as free nights or paid stays (but not those booked through online travel agencies) earn elite status.
- Elite status levels range from Silver to top-tier Ambassador. The higher your status, the more perks you get.
- Branded credit cards can be used to earn points and to help earn elite status.
Bonvoy also has a few traits that are unique:
- Ability to transfer points to airline miles at a reasonable rate (not a great rate, but reasonable).
- Marriott’s partnership with United Airlines means that high tier Marriott elites can get free United elite status, and vice-versa
- Marriott allows many of their hotels to be exempt from offering certain elite benefits. This can be extremely frustrating for those expecting free breakfast or other perks.
- Marriott allows members to book awards even if they don’t yet have enough points in their account. This feature is called “Points Advance”
Marriott charges different point prices depending upon which category the hotel is assigned to. In most cases, you should look at the column titled “Points” to find the right price.
Award chart things to know:
- All prices shown above are for standard rooms (each hotel defines “standard” differently). Higher level rooms may show up in award searches, but either at a higher award price or with a required cash co-pay for the upgrade.
- Peak and Off-Peak pricing begins September 14th 2019. Until then, only standard pricing applies.
- Cash + Points rates are not always available — you need to search for free night awards and check online award prices to see if cash + points rates are available.
- Cash + Points prices are not great, but if you need extra points for an award, it often makes sense to use this option. Never use this option with Category 1 hotels. With category 1 hotels, it’s actually cheaper to buy the points you need at 1.25 cents each and to book a standard award (see this post for more details).
- PointSavers rates are available only with select hotels during set dates. To find which hotels are participating, go to the Marriott PointSavers page, scroll down to “Participating Hotels with Available Dates” and click USA or Worldwide.
- Homes & Villas by Marriott: Vacation rental properties do not follow this award chart. Instead, Marriott pegs the award price at 0.7 cents per point. Additionally, 5th Night Free awards do not apply to Homes & Villas.
Awards booked for 5 nights or longer are automatically priced with the cheapest night free. For example, standard pricing for a category 4 hotel is 25,000 points per night and off-peak pricing is 20,000 points per night. Suppose you book a 5 night award where four of the nights are priced standard (25K) and one night is priced at off-peak (20K). In that case, you would save 20K points. Your total award price would be 4 X 25K = 100K.
This works with longer bookings too. For example, a 10 night stay with the same award rates would price at 200,000 points.
Note: 5th Night Free Awards do not apply to Cash + Points bookings.
If you don’t have enough points in your account to book an award, you can still book the award via Marriott’s Points Advance feature. As of 9/14/2019, Points Advance includes the following limitations:
- You can have a maximum of 3 Points Advance reservations at once.
- Points Advance award pricing will be based on the award rate at the time you apply your points rather than the rate at the time you booked the award. They describe this as locking in the room not the rate.
When you find an award stay online, there are two ways to invoke Points Advance:
Automatic Points Advance
If you don’t have enough points in your account and/or you don’t have enough free night certificates, Marriott will default to Points Advance as long as the stay is 30 days away, or longer:
Optional Points Advance
Marriott used to allow you to choose Points Advance even if you have enough points in your account. Unfortunately, that’s no longer allowed. One work-around is to make another award booking first in order to drain your points and then cancel that separate booking once you’ve secured the Points Advance booking. Just make sure that the separate booking allows for free cancellations!
Securing your Points Advance reservation
Once you have enough points for your stay, you can log into your account and “View/Modify” your stay details and “Deduct your points now”.
If you don’t apply your points within 14 days of your stay, you may lose the reservation.
Note: Points Advance reservations must be made at least 30 days in advance of your stay. If you attempt to book fewer than 30 days in advance, you may have the option to purchase the necessary points. As of 3/14/19, Autograph Collection properties will not allow you to purchase points or make a Points Advance reservation within 30 days of arrival.
Elite status things to know:
- Prior to Feb 13 2019, Titanium Elite and Ambassador Elite were named Platinum Premier Elite and Platinum Premier Elite with Ambassador. There is no difference in benefits.
- Lifetime Platinum status does not include Choice Benefits. You must earn 50 elite nights within a calendar year to receive Choice Benefits.
- Elite nights are earned with either cash or award stays. When booking a four night award, it makes sense to book 5 nights instead (thanks to 5th Night Free pricing) just so that you can get an extra elite night. Make sure not to check out after the fourth night.
- Elite nights are not earned with online travel agency bookings. For example, if you book through Expedia, you will not earn elite night credit (or points) for your stay. You also might not receive elite benefits during your stay, but some hotels have been known to offer them anyway as long as you add your Bonvoy membership number to the reservation.
- Via Marriott’s partnership with United Airlines, RewardsPlus, high level Marriott elites can get United elite status, and high level United elite members can get free Marriott elite status.
- In addition to actual stays, elite nights can also be earned from credit cards, hosting meetings, and more (jump to shortcuts to elite status for more info)
- Other shortcuts to elite status include: credit card spend, status challenge, timeshare ownership, etc.
- Inconsistent benefits. Marriott does a spectacularly poor job of enforcing consistent benefits across their hotels.
- Guaranteed benefits. Elite members may collect points or cash compensation when certain elite benefits are not met. See this post for details.
- Missing stay: If a stay was not properly credited to your account, you can fill out a missing stay request online: www.marriott.com/loyalty/myAccount/missingStayRequest.mi
There is a great deal of inconsistency in the delivery of perks across Marriott hotels:
- Hotel brands are often exempt from offering certain elite perks. For example, the following brands are not required to provide free breakfast to Platinum members: Design Hotels, EDITION, Gaylord, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott Executive Apartments, Marriott Vacation Club.
- Hotels are often exempt from offering certain elite perks. The best way to find out is to browse to Marriott Bonvoy Terms & Conditions and use your browser’s “find in page” feature to search for the hotel you plan to visit.
- Hotels sometimes opt out of providing perks even if the terms & conditions indicate that they are supposed to provide those perks. I don’t know of any good way to find this out.
The rules governing what you should get and where are so complicated that we created a lookup table to help. Please visit this page before you travel in order to find out what perks you are entitled to:
The following chart shows our current understanding of who gets free breakfast and at which properties:
|Free Breakfast?||Participating Hotels|
|No free breakfast||Design Hotels, EDITION, Gaylord, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott Executive Apartments, Marriott Vacation Club|
|Free breakfast for all*||Element, Fairfield, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites, TownePlace Suites|
|Platinum Elite Welcome Gift Option: Daily $10 Food & Beverage Credit for Member plus 1 Guest (e.g. $20 per day)||AC, Courtyard without a lounge, Moxy|
Platinum Elite Benefit:
Hotels: Free daily breakfast for 2 in lounge. Free daily breakfast for 2 in restaurant when lounge is closed or doesn’t exist.
Legacy Starwood Resorts: Free daily breakfast for 2 in lounge. Free daily breakfast for 2 in restaurant when lounge is closed or doesn’t exist.
Legacy Marriott Resorts: Free daily breakfast for 2 in restaurant. No lounge access.
|Aloft, Autograph Collection, Courtyard with lounge, Delta, Four Points, JW Marriott, Le Méridien, Marriott, Protea, Renaissance, Sheraton, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Tribute Portfolio, W, Westin|
* A few of these properties don’t offer free breakfast despite the fact that their brand advertises free breakfast for all.
Some elite benefits are backed up with guarantees. If these benefits are not fulfilled, you may be entitled to compensation in the form of points, cash back, or both:
Silver Elite (and higher):
- Ultimate Reservation Guarantee: “If for some reason we’re unable to honor your reservation, we’ll pay for your accommodations that night at a nearby hotel and compensate you for the inconvenience. To be eligible, you must provide your member number when making a reservation. Compensation varies by hotel brand.”
Platinum Elite (and higher):
- Guaranteed Platinum Elite/Platinum Premier Elite Welcome Gift: “Get more when you check in. As a Platinum or Platinum Premier Elite member, you’ll receive a special gift upon arrival at all participating hotels, offering you a choice of an amenity gift or points. If guarantee is not met, guest compensation applies.”
- Guaranteed Room Type: “When making a reservation, be sure to note both your Member number and room/bed preferences. At locations throughout the U.S. and Canada, we’ll always honor your bed type request. Outside U.S. and Canada, smoking/non-smoking preferences are honored based on availability; exact bed sizes may vary, and only Platinum Premier Elite members will have guaranteed priority for their requested type of bed and room. If guarantee is not met, guest compensation applies.”
- Guaranteed Lounge Access: “Access to lounge for member plus one guest. This benefit only applies to the one guest room in which the Platinum Elite/Platinum Premier Elite member is staying.”
Note: the quoted text above was copied from Marriott’s website before they changed the name of Platinum Premier 75 to Titanium and Platinum Premier 100 to Ambassador.
Titanium Elite and Ambassador Elite:
- 48-Hour Guaranteed Availability: “Traveling on short notice? We guarantee you’ll always have a room for any paid stay. Just make your reservation 48 hours before arrival at any of our participating hotels, excluding Resorts, Marriott Vacation Club, participating Vistana properties, and Design Hotels. 48-Hour Guaranteed Availability: Limited to Platinum Premier Elite Member’s personal guestroom. Guaranteed room availability for reservations booked at least 48 hours prior to arrival. 48-Hour Guaranteed Availability may not be available on certain limited dates (e.g., special events). Benefit cannot be used in conjunction with award usage or any type of promotional or discounted rates. For Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites, 48-Hour Guaranteed Availability applies to studio rooms only.”Greg’s explanation: If you want to stay at a particular Marriott hotel, but it is sold out for your desired stay, they’ll let you book the stay anyway, but at standard rack rates. This benefit doesn’t include compensation if it is not met.
Note: the quoted text above was copied from Marriott’s website before they changed the name of Platinum Premier 75 to Titanium and Platinum Premier 100 to Ambassador.
There are two types of shortcuts to elite status. One type of shortcut offers a way to get elite nights more quickly or easily. Elite night shortcuts are stackable. That is, you can mix and match these shortcuts in order to earn whatever level of status you want. The other shortcuts are not stackable. Each offers a way to get to a specific level of status, but if you want to go for a higher level of status, these generally won’t help.
Elite Night Shortcuts
The following shortcuts are stackable. You can earn elite nights from one or more of these options in order to add them up to the 50 nights you need.
- Credit Card 15 elite nights. This is by far the simplest option. Almost all Marriott, SPG, and Ritz credit cards offer 15 elite nights per year simply by being a card member. You can find a complete list of cards here. Please note that holding multiple credit cards will not give you more than 15 elite nights.
- 1 Elite Night Per $3K Spend. Three legacy Marriott cards offer 1 elite night per $3K spend (you can find a complete list of cards here, along with a chart showing which cards offer elite nights for spend). Of the three legacy cards that have this feature, readers are most likely to have the Chase Bonvoy Premier Credit Card, but only if they turned down the offer to get bonus points by upgrading to the Plus version of this card. Unfortunately each of the cards that offer this feature only give cardholders 1 point per dollar spent (except in certain categories of spend), whereas all other Marriott cards offer a minimum of 2 points per dollar. This means that this spend is costly in that you lose the ability to earn more points for your spend. It’s especially costly if you consider that you can earn far more than the value of 2X Marriott points for that same spend. See: Best Rewards for Everyday Spend.
- Host a Meeting: If you host a meeting at a Marriott property, you can get 10 elite nights per calendar year, plus 1 elite night for every 20 rooms booked and actualized. Important: Make sure the elite night benefit is listed in your meeting contract.
- Book award nights. Marriott hotels are available for as little as 7,500 points per night (6,000 points per night when point saver awards are available).
- Book 5th night free awards (even if staying 4 nights). Best deal for mattress running: Book a category 1 hotel for 5 nights. For 30,000 points, you’ll get 5 elite nights. Note that you do have to check into the hotel to get credit.
- Choice Benefit: 5 Elite Night Credits. This is a weird one. You won’t have access to this Choice Benefit until you’ve earned 50 elite nights, and the 5 elite nights can only be applied to the same calendar year in which you earned the Choice Benefit selection. Therefore, the only good use of this option is to help you get to Titanium Elite or Ambassador Elite status. Also note that these 5 elite nights do not count towards lifetime status. Learn more about Choice Benefits here.
- Birthday Elite Night Credit: Make sure your birthday is on your Marriott account and that you are opted in to promotional mailings. If you don’t get an email on your birthday offering you a free elite night, contact Marriott to request it. Hat Tip: TPG reader Soheil.
Once you earn elite status this year, your status will be good for the rest of this year, all of the next, and through February of the year after that.
Advantages to elite night shortcuts:
- You’ll earn Choice Benefits when you reach 50 elite nights in a calendar year, and again at 75 nights.
- Elite nights earned with these shortcuts count towards lifetime status elite nights as well (One exception: choosing 5 elite nights as a Choice Benefit does not add 5 nights to your lifetime total).
The following shortcuts will get you to a specific elite level, but you can’t stack them with elite nights to get higher status.
- Credit card Gold status. The SPG Luxury Card and the Ritz-Carlton Card (no longer available to new applicants) both offer automatic Marriott Gold status. Similarly Amex Platinum and Business Platinum cards offer free Gold status (you must enroll).
- Spend $75K for Platinum. The SPG Luxury Card and the Ritz-Carlton Card (no longer available to new applicants) offer Platinum Elite status with $75K spend. With the SPG card, the spend must be within a calendar year whereas the Ritz card spend must be within your membership year.
- Marriott Platinum Elite Challenge. Earn Platinum status by completing 16 paid nights at Marriott properties within 90 days of enrolling in the challenge. Please note that award nights do not count. Call Marriott Bonvoy to enroll. You cannot enroll in the Platinum challenge if you already have Platinum status or higher.
- Timeshare Ownership: Marriott Vacation Club and Vistana are timeshare ownership programs affiliated with Marriott, and each offers elite status under certain conditions.
- United MileagePlus Premier Gold or higher status: Via RewardsPlus, United elite’s with Gold status or higher get Marriott Gold.
Disadvantages to “other” shortcuts:
- Earning one level of status doesn’t help you get to the next. For example, if your Amex Platinum credit card gives you Gold status, you’re just as far from earning Platinum status as someone with no status at all.
- You won’t earn Choice Benefits.
- You won’t make progress towards lifetime status elite nights (but you will add lifetime elite years).
The chart above shows point earnings for stays. The middle column shows the number of points earned per dollar at most brands. The next column shows the points earned per dollar at long-stay brands that don’t follow the same formula: Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, Homes & Villas by Marriott, and Element.
Points are not earned with online travel agency bookings. For example, if you book through Expedia, you will not earn points for your room charge. You also might not receive elite benefits during your stay, but some hotels have been known to offer them anyway as long as you add your Bonvoy membership number to the reservation.
Marriott has partnered with select vacation home property management companies to provide access to premium & luxury vacation homes around the world. You can search and book homes on their Homes & Villas website: www.homesandvillasbymarriott.com.
- Vacation rentals can be booked with points. Point prices are pegged at 0.7 cents per point value. For example, a $1611 stay would cost 230,143 Marriott Bonvoy points. That’s not bad, but it doesn’t offer outsized value for your points Also note that 5th Night Free Awards do not apply.
- You can earn points on paid rentals. The base earning rate will be 5 points per dollar plus bonuses for elite status.
- Elite members will be eligible for an “Elite Welcome Gift of special amenities or points.” We will update this once details are known.
- Location: “Over 100 destinations throughout the United States, Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America.”
- Scope: “2,000 curated premium and luxury homes.”
Marriott Bonvoy points are transferable to a huge selection of airline partners. In most cases the transfer ratio is 3 Marriott points to 1 airline mile. However, if you transfer 60,000 points, you’ll get 25,000 miles instead of 20,000. That makes the transfer ratio 3 to 1.25. Additionally, when you transfer to United Airlines miles, you get a 10% bonus. 60,000 rewards points converts into 27,500 United miles (a 3 to 1.375 transfer ratio).
Below you’ll find a complete list of Marriott transfer partners as well as quick tips for best uses.
Tips for transferring Marriott Bonvoy points to airline miles
Transfer in 60K increments, up to 240K per day: When transferring points to airline programs, you’ll get the most value by transferring multiples of 60,000 points. When you transfer 60,000 points, Marriott automatically adds 15,000 bonus points to the transfer, and those 15,000 bonus points typically convert to 5,000 miles. For example, 60,000 points transferred to Alaska Airlines becomes 25,000 Alaska miles. By transferring in this way, you get a 3 to 1.25 transfer ratio to airline programs. You are limited to 240K points in transfers per day (which typically equals 100K miles), so if you want to transfer more you should spread out your transfers over multiple days.
Don’t transfer yet: Don’t transfer points until high value awards are available and you are ready to book them. Transfers are one-way only. Marriott Bonvoy points are valuable for their flexibility and for hotel stays. Once you transfer, you are locked into a single program that may or may not have awards available.
Don’t forget that rewards points can be valuable when used directly: Marriott offers many ways to use rewards points: Free night awards, 5th night free awards, experiences, etc.
Use rewards points to exactly top off an account: Most other transferable points programs require transfers in 1,000 point chunks. This can make it difficult to exactly top off an account when you need an odd number of miles. Marriott lets you transfer exact mile amounts over 1,000. For example, if you need 1,001 airline miles, you can get exactly that by transferring 3,003 points.
Watch for hotel to airline transfer bonuses: Airlines occasionally offer bonuses when you transfer points from hotel programs. Since Marriott/SPG is a hotel program it usually qualifies.
Current transfer bonuses
If there are any current transfer bonuses from hotel programs, details will appear here:
|Transfer Bonus Details||End Date Sortable|
Best Marriott airline transfer partners
The following airline transfer partners represent the best potential value in my opinion:
|Rewards Program||Marriott Transfer Ratio||Best Uses|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||60K to 25K||Redeem for Star Alliance flights. Multiple stopovers allowed on international flights. Reasonable award prices to Europe for business and first class.|
|Alaska MileagePlan||60K to 25K||Alaska Airlines has a number of great partners and offers reasonable award prices for most of them. Unlike most other programs, Alaska allows stop-overs one one-way awards. This makes it possible to stretch award value much further. Travel Codex offers an excellent overview to booking Alaska Airlines awards here.|
|ANA Mileage Club||60K to 25K||Redeem for Star Alliance flights. Multiple stopovers allowed. Very good award prices for round-the-world travel. See also: How To Find Business Class Awards To Europe For 88,000 Miles Or Points.|
|Asiana||60K to 25K||Redeem only 50K miles for one-way first class Star Alliance awards between US and Europe! Beware very high fuel surcharges when flying airlines such as Lufthansa.|
|Avianca LifeMiles||60K to 25K||Avianca LifeMiles can be great for Star Alliance awards. They offer reasonable award prices and no fuel surcharges on awards. They also offer shorthaul awards within the US (for flying United, for example) for as few as 7,500 miles one-way. Best of all, their mixed-cabin pricing can lead to fantastic first-class award prices. See this post for details.|
|Etihad Guest||60K to 25K||Etihad has a very competitive award chart for American Airlines flights, among others. For example, they charge only 50,000 miles one-way for business class flights from North America to Europe. Partner awards must be booked over the phone.|
|JAL (Japan Airlines) Mileage Bank||60K to 25K||JAL has a distance based partner award chart. Depending upon the length of the flights, this can lead to great award prices on partners such as Emirates and Korean Air.|
|Korean Airlines||60K to 25K||Korean Air is known for having top notch business and first class on their international flights. Plus, first class tends to be wide open for awards. Korean is also a fantastic program for booking certain partner awards. For example, it is possible to book Delta flights from the US mainland to Hawaii for only 25,000 points round trip in coach or 45,000 points in first class.|
|United MileagePlus||60K to 27.5K||Even though Singapore Airlines miles have a number of advantages over United miles for booking Star Alliance flights, United has advantages too. For one, it is possible to book most Star Alliance awards online at United.com. Additionally, United awards sometimes cost fewer miles with United than with Singapore (especially premium awards on United’s own flights). And, most importantly, United never charges fuel surcharges for awards. In some cases, United is far cheaper than Singapore Airlines for this reason alone.|
Useful Marriott airline transfer partners
The following airline transfer partners can offer great value under certain circumstances:
|Rewards Program||Marriott Transfer Ratio||Best Uses|
|Air France KLM Flying Blue||60K to 25K||Monthly Air France Promo Awards often represent very good value. Air France miles can be used to book Sky Team awards, including Delta awards.|
|American AAdvantage||60K to 25K||Best for partner awards such as Cathay Pacific business class|
|Avios||60K to 25K||While flights on British Airways itself often incur outrageously high fuel surcharges, many BA partners charge low or no fuel surcharges. Great value can be had in redeeming BA points for short distance flights. Iberia offers very low award prices on their own flights. Round trip partner awards can offer good value under some circumstances as well. Fuel surcharges are often lower than when booking through British Airways. Aer Lingus shares the "Avios" currency with British Airways and Iberia. In most cases it is best to move points to one of those programs in order to book awards for less.|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||60K to 25K||Cathay Pacific has a fairly generous distance based award chart and allows multiple stopovers. Fuel surcharges can be very high on certain routes. Cathay Pacific Asia Miles can be a good option for booking American Airlines flights with a distance based award chart, especially if other OneWorld Alliance miles aren't available.|
|Delta SkyMiles||60K to 25K||Award flights to Canada are often a great deal. Partner awards often have terrific availability, but you may pay more miles than with other programs.|
|Emirates Skywards||60K to 25K||Emirates has different award charts for each airline partner. Sometimes they allow one-way awards, sometimes they do not. In general, award prices are fairly high, but there are a few sweet spots such as New York to Milan for 90K round trip in business class.|
|Miles & More||Suspended||Great for booking United business class awards|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||60K to 25K||Best use is probably for flights on El Al with no fuel surcharges. Also useful for short AA flights. Qantas offers distance based award charts similar to Cathay Pacific. Both are OneWorld Alliance members. I recommend comparing award prices across both programs before transferring to either. Qantas offers round the world business class awards for only 280,000 points (but with many restrictions)|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||60K to 25K||Use to book Singapore Airlines First Class awards (generally reserved for their own members) or for Star Alliance awards. Low change fees and no close-in booking fees make this a very good program for booking United Airlines flights.|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards||60K to 25K||Award flights are fully refundable. Point values vary due to certain taxes not being charged on awards, but tend to average around 1.5 cents per point.|
|Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles||60K to 25K||Miles & Smiles offers an incredible sweet spot award: 7.5K one-way to Hawaii. Many awards cannot be booked online, but can be booked over the phone or via email.|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||60K to 25K||Virgin Atlantic miles can be usefully thought of as a way to get a discount off Virgin Atlantic flights (high fuel surcharges make the flights far from free), but there are some better uses. Use miles to upgrade paid flights or to fly partner airlines. A fantastic use is to fly ANA in business or first class thanks to Virgin’s generous ANA partner award chart. Or, if you can find saver level Delta awards for nonstop international travel, you can often book through Virgin Atlantic far cheaper than with Delta directly.|
Additional Marriott airline transfer partners
|Rewards Program||Marriott Transfer Ratio||Best Uses|
|Aegean Miles + Bonus||60K to 25K|
|Aeroflot Bonus||60K to 25K|
|Air China Phoenix Miles||60K to 25K|
|Air New Zealand Air Points||60K to 307|
|AeroMexico ClubPremier||60K to 25K||AeroMexico is a SkyTeam partner. Club Premier points can be used to book flights on AeroMexico, SkyTeam alliance members (such as Delta or Korean Air), or on select partner airlines. Unfortunately many have reported that awards are extremely difficult to book through AeroMexico so we do not recommend transferring points to this program. If you want to fly AeroMexico, look to transfer points to another SkyTeam partner such as Air France or Delta and then book AeroMexico with one of those programs.|
|Alitalia MilleMiglia||60K to 25K||Alitalia is a member of the SkyTeam alliance. Unfortunately, fuel surcharges can be quite high, and partner awards cannot be booked online. Worse, after numerous devaluations, few sweetspots exist in this program.|
|China Eastern Airlines||60K to 25K|
|China Southern Airlines’ Sky Pearl Club||60K to 25K|
|Copa Airlines ConnectMiles||60K to 25K|
|Frontier Miles||60K to 25K|
|Hainan Airlines||60K to 25K||I’m not aware of any great uses for Hainan miles|
|Hawaiian Miles||60K to 25K||Hawaiian Airlines’ award prices tend to be quite high, but there are some not-terrible uses: fly to neighboring islands for 7.5K miles, fly first class round-trip from Hawaii to South Pacific islands for as few as 95K miles, fly first class round-trip from Hawaii to Australia for as few as 130K miles.|
|Jet Airways JetPrivilege||60K to 25K||JetAirways JetPrivilege miles are useful only for a few very specific cases such as certain flights to Hawaii for as low as 15K (30K business) one-way, or to the Caribbean or Central America for as low as 10K (20K business) one-way. Details can be found here.|
|JetBlue||60K to 12.5K||JetBlue points offer the most value when cheap ticket prices are available and when award taxes are high relative to the overall cost of the ticket (more details can be found here). The JetBlue Plus Card and the JetBlue Business Card offer a 10% rebate on awards, so you can get more value by holding one or both cards.|
|LATAM Pass||60K to 25K|
|Multiplus||60K to 25K|
|Qatar Privilege Club||60K to 25K||Given Qatar's award chart devaluation plus the addition of award booking fees in May 2018, I'm not aware of any particularly good uses for these miles.|
|Saudia Airlines||60K to 25K|
|South African Airways Voyager||60K to 25K|
|TAP Air Portugal||60K to 25K|
|Thai Airways International Royal Orchid Plus||60K to 25K||I'm not aware of any good uses for these miles|
|Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer||60K to 25K|
Indirect transfer partners
In some cases it is possible to transfer to an airline or hotel program in order to then transfer from that program to another program. In most cases this is a bad deal, but it’s cool to think about the possibilities.
|Rewards Program||Marriott Transfer Ratio||Indirect Transfer Notes|
|Hilton||60K to 37.5K*||* Transfer first to Virgin Atlantic, then convert Virgin Atlantic miles 1 to 1.5 to Hilton. Since Hilton points are usually worth only around .45 cents each towards free nights, this isn’t usually a good idea.|
|IHG||60K to 25K*||* Transfer first to Virgin Atlantic, then convert Virgin Atlantic miles 1 to 1 to IHG. Note: I do not recommend this. See: Virgin Atlantic transfers to IHG no longer count towards status|
|Wyndham||60K to 12.5K*||* Transfer to Hawaiian Airlines miles, then to Caesar's Total Rewards 2 to 1, then to Wyndham 1 to 1. Details here.|
Marriott allows program members to move their points to another person’s account. Here are the basic details:
- You must call to share your points
- Limit: you can share at most 100,000 points per calendar year (but you can receive more than that if multiple people share points with you)
- Cost: Flat $10 fee for basic members and Silver Elite members. Free for Gold Elite and higher.
Points expire after 24 months of inactivity. Fortunately, almost all points activity will reset the clock. Points remain alive and available as long as you earn or use points at least once every 24 months.
Note the following activities which do not reset the 24 month clock:
- Gifting or transferring Points; however, converting Points to Miles or Miles to Points does count toward maintaining an active status;
- Receiving Points as a gift or transfer; or
- Earning Points through social media programs
Marriott offers an option to redeem points for travel packages, also known as hotel + air packages. The idea is that you can spend a fixed number of Marriott points to get two things: a bunch of airline miles and a 7 night stay certificate. The stay certificate is only valid for one year and cannot be upgraded or downgraded by category. Also, if you cancel a stay certificate, Marriott will give you only a very small token number of points.
In most cases travel packages are a bad deal.
The only time it makes sense to purchase a travel package, in my opinion, is when you have plans to do both of these things:
- Transfer enough Marriott points to get 50,000 or 100,000 airline miles; and
- Book a 7 night (or longer) award stay at a Marriott property that is category 4 or higher during peak pricing
If both of the above are true, then you can save points to get both of those things.
Here’s an example showing that it’s not worth doing this with travel packages if you book a standard award:
- Suppose you want to do the following:
- Convert 120,000 Marriott points into 50,000 Alaska Airlines miles; and
- Spend 300,000 Marriott points to book a 7 night award stay at a category 6 hotel during standard pricing (after 5th night free: 50K points per night x 6 nights = 300,000 points)
- When done separately, the miles and hotel stay would cost you a combined 420,000 points, but booked as a travel package the same result would cost 435,000 points.
- With this example, the travel package would cost you 15,000 points more plus likely extra aggravation if your plans change or if award stays are not available when you need them.
Here’s an example showing that it may be worth bothering with travel packages if you use the travel certificate to book a peak award:
- Suppose you want to do the following:
- Convert 120,000 Marriott points into 50,000 Alaska Airlines miles; and
- Spend 360,000 Marriott points to book a 7 night award stay at a category 6 hotel during standard pricing (after 5th night free: 60K points per night x 6 nights = 360,000 points)
- When done separately, the miles and hotel stay would cost you a combined 480,000 points, but booked as a travel package the same result would cost 435,000 points.
- With this example, the travel package would save 45,000 points but at the expense of likely aggravation if your plans change or if award stays are not available when you need them.
Is it worth it to save 45K points? Personally, I wouldn’t bother. Travel package stay certificates have serious restrictions that are not true of points:
- Stay certificates expire after one year (but you may be able to get the certificate extended if you call)
- You cannot split the certificate across multiple separate stays or across multiple hotels. For example, if you wanted to spend 4 nights in one hotel and 3 nights in another, you can’t do so with one certificate.
- Nights booked with a stay certificate must be consecutive. For example, you can’t stay Sunday and Monday, skip Tuesday, then stay Wednesday through Monday.
- Free night awards must be available for every night of your stay in order to apply a stay certificate.
- You can stay less than 7 nights with a 7 night certificate, but then the certificate will be considered fully used. You can’t use the remaining days.
5 Night Travel Packages
Marriott offers 5 Night Travel Packages only to Marriott Vacation Club owners. I haven’t seen the award chart for these so I can’t say if they’re a good deal or not, but I suspect that the answer is no.
Marriott’s partnership with United Airlines is named RewardsPlus. RewardsPlus offers benefits to United and Marriott Bonvoy members who sign up here: mrrewardsplus.com. RewardsPlus offers the following benefits:
- 10% more miles (convert points to miles): When you convert Marriott points to United miles. For example, instead of converting 60K points to 25K miles as you can do with other airlines, you can convert 60K points to 27.5K United miles.
- One to one miles to points: RewardsPlus members may convert United MileagePlus miles to Marriott points at a 1 to 1 ratio. This is rarely a good idea in my opinion.
- United MileagePlus Premier Silver status (Marriott Titanium Elite and Ambassador Elite members only): United Silver status offers free economy plus seats at check-in, free domestic first class upgrade on day of departure when available, one free checked bag, etc.
- Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status (for those with MileagePlus Premier Gold or higher status): Marriott Gold status offers 2pm late checkout, 25% point bonus, welcome gift (points only), room upgrade when available, enhanced internet.
If you have completed 50 nights at Marriott hotels through the calendar year, then you are eligible to pick a “Choice Benefit”. A second Choice Benefit is available for those who complete 75 nights. Here’s the website for selecting your benefit: choice-benefit.marriott.com/en-us/marriott-rewards/benefits.
Note that if you acquired Platinum status or higher through a status challenge, credit card spend, lifetime status, etc., you won’t get to pick a Choice Benefit unless you also complete 50 nights within a calendar year.
Selection Deadline: January 14th
If you don’t make a choice by January 14th, you’ll get the “5 Suite Night Awards” choice automatically. Note: For those with 50 or more nights in 2018, the Choice Benefit selection deadline has been extended until February 7th 2019.
50 Night Choices
- 5 Elite Night Credits: These add to your prior year total if you wait until January to make your selection. In other words, you can use this choice to help you get to the next level of status (75 night or 100 night, but 100 night status also requires $20K Marriott spend). Note: These 5 nights do not count towards lifetime status.
- 5 Suite Night Awards: Each Suite Night Award is a one-night confirmable upgrade to a standard suite or select premium room, depending on the hotel’s availability of those rooms. The number of Suite Night Awards used must match the entire length of stay; it cannot be used for part of a stay (e.g., the first two nights of a five-night stay). Once Suite Night Awards are requested to be applied to a stay, Marriott will begin checking upgrade availability 5 days in advance of your stay, up until 2pm on the day of your arrival. If your Suite Night Award request doesn’t clear, you’ll get the awards back to be used later.
- Gift Silver Elite Status
- $100 Charity Donation: Make a $100 (USD) donation to UNICEF.
- 40% off a Marriott bed: Get 40% off retail prices for Westin Heavenly Beds, St. Regis beds, etc.
75 Night Choices
- 1 Free Night Award (Up to 40K Points): “Must be redeemed for a stay that occurs no later than December 31 of the year following the year in which the additional benefit is selected (e.g. if the benefit is selected in 2019, the deadline for redemption is December 31, 2020).
- Gift Gold Elite Status
- The rest of the 75 night choices are the same as the 50 night choices:
- 5 Elite Night Credits
- 5 Suite Night Awards
- $100 Charity Donation
- 40% off a Marriott bed
Below you’ll find information about each currently available Marriott card:
In addition to redeeming points for award nights or for airline miles, it is also possible to redeem points for experiences. These include things like backstage concert tickets, impossible to get sports event tickets, dining with famous chefs, etc. Some experiences have fixed award prices, but most are setup as auctions. In either case, you may or may not get good value depending upon circumstances.
Marriott Bonvoy Moments (click here to visit website)
- Search by: location, category, date range, keyword, points range
- Fixed Price & Auction
- When to start looking: Events start to appear ~3 months in advance. 2 months seems to be the sweet spot.
Pros (where Marriott Bonvoy is better than average):
- 5th night free awards (Hilton offers this too)
- Points Advance: Ability to book awards even if you don’t yet have enough points in your account
- Marriott offers good point earnings on paid stays for elites
- Points to miles transfer ratio offers reasonably good value (most competing hotel programs offer poor value when converting points to miles)
- Marriott offers elite benefit guarantees (I don’t think any other major brand does the same)
- Marriott has a huge number of hotels that run from bottom-tier to ultra-luxury
Cons (where Marriott Bonvoy is worse than average):
- Marriott charges resort fees on award stays (Hilton and Hyatt do not)
- Elite benefits are extremely inconsistent from brand to brand
- Marriott phone representatives are very poorly trained in the complexities of the rewards program. As a result, they often give incorrect information over the phone.
- Marriott credit cards don’t offer great value for spend, but may be worth keeping for their annual free nights.
Q: Can I get the 5th Night Free if I pay for some of the nights with cash, free night certificates, or cash + points?
A: No. To get the 5th Night Free, you must book entirely with points. Important: Marriott’s website may try to apply your free night certificates automatically to your booking and this may remove your 5th Night Free if it brings the total number of nights booked with points under 5.
Q: If I book a stay with Points Advance, can I lock in current award prices?
A: Yes, but it may require a phone call or two. If the award price for your stay goes up after you booked the stay but before you paid for the stay with points or certificates, you will have to call in to ask Marriott to honor the booked rate. Don’t be surprised if it takes a few calls to get someone who knows how to do this.
Q: I completed a stay but it hasn’t credited to my account. What can I do?
A: First, wait a bit. Marriott properties vary tremendously with how quickly stays are credited to accounts. It’s not unusual for a stay to appear on your account about a week after checkout. Next, if the stay still hasn’t appeared, you can fill out a missing stay request online: www.marriott.com/loyalty/myAccount/missingStayRequest.mi