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Should I Charge My Marriott Stay On My Marriott Visa Or Citi AAdvantage Card?

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Update: The current offer for the Marriott Rewards Premier Visa is 50,000 points with $1,000 spend in the first 3 months.

TPG Twitter follower Adam has a question about American Airlines’ new partnership with Marriott where you can now earn AAdvantage miles on Marriott stays:

“@thepointsguy so is it better to charge a Marriott stay with the Marriott Premier Rewards Visa or the Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage card, now that the partnership is formed?”

Earlier this week American Airlines announced that you can now earn AA miles staying at Marriott. This wasn’t a huge piece of news because you could already earn miles with Marriott’s other airline partners, which also include Air Canada, Air France/KLM, Alaska, British Airways, Delta, Emirates, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Lufthansa, Singapore, Southwest, United, US Airways and Virgin America among many others.

However, it is good news for people who want to stay at Marriott and boost their AAdvantage accounts since you can now choose to earn up to 2 AAdvantage miles per $1 you spend at Marriott instead of Marriott points.

The short answer to Adam’s question is: any of Citi’s AAdvantage cards will only earn you one mile per dollar spent, bringing your total per-dollar earning on Marriott spend to 3 miles if you have elected to earn American miles instead of Marriott points. On the other hand, the Marriott Premier Visa will give you 5 Marriott points per dollar you spend at Marriott on top of the 10 points per $1 you already earn (at most of their brands) as a general Marriott Rewards member, bringing your total earning to 15 points per dollar.

Marriott Airlines

Where this starts to come into play is that Marriott also allows you to convert points to airline miles at the following ratios (although transfers can take 6-8 weeks to go through):

10,000 points =  2,000 miles
20,000 points =  5,000 miles
30,000 points =  10,000 miles
70,000 points =   25,000 miles
140,000 points = 50,000 miles

So by comparison, at the low  levels when you transfer 10,000 Marriott points to American Airlines you are getting 2,000 AAdvantage miles for every 10,000 points transferred. That’s 5 points to 1 mile – the same as the difference in earning rates when you use the co-branded credit cards to pay for your Marriott stays, as I mentioned above. So basically, whether you’re using your

However, as you transfer more points, the ratios get more lucrative – ranging up to 2.8 Marriott points to 1 airline mile. So if this is a long-term strategy of yours I recommend using the Marriott Rewards Premier Card for your Marriott stays because you’ll get more than one AA mile per 5 Marriott points transferred.

So to take a quick example, if we’re just talking about using these credit cards on Marriott stays, in order to end up with 50,000 American miles, you’d need to spend $16,667 on your Citi American AAdvantage credit card or $9,334 on your Marriott Premier Visa to end up with the 140,000 points you’d need to convert to 50,000 miles.

However, if you really want to rake in the AA miles, none of this may  make a whole lot of sense. Instead, if you have the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express and use it to pay for Marriott stays will actually get on average 1.25 AA miles per dollar because Starwood Preferred guest points transfer to American Airlines and every 20,000 points you transfer ends up as 25,000 American Airlines miles. Essentially you are getting a 1.25 ratio on AA miles for all purchases.

I would probably go with the Marriott Rewards Premier Visa in this situation, but if you want to get the SPG Amex, hopefully later this summer they will increase the bonus to 30,000 Starpoints like they have been doing for about a month every summer for the past couple of years and get in on it then if it comes around.  If not, I’d suggest using your Marriott Rewards Premier Visa.

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