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Once again Southwest has teamed up with Marriott to offer Rapid Rewards members up to 12,000 bonus points for purchasing Marriott GiftCards through Southwest through September 26, 2013.
Here’s how it breaks down (max purchase of $1,000):
$100 = 1,200 Rapid Rewards Points
$250 = 3,000 Rapid Rewards Points
$500 = 6,000 Rapid Rewards Points
You must purchase Marriott GiftCards through the promotion link, not on-property, via 3rd parties or 1 800 813 GIFT. The name on your Rapid Rewards account must also match the name on the credit card you use.
This offer has been around for a few weeks, and I’ve been getting questions about it and whether it’s a good deal or not. First, per this FlyerTalk thread, it appears that the Rapid Rewards points you earn do not count towards the Companion Pass, so that’s something to take into account. If they did, they would equate to 12% of the points you needed to earn it, but as it is, they’re just good for awards. That’s a definite negative in my book.
As is the fact that you have to redeem the gift cards at the property, so you can’t purchase an advanced or prepaid rate with these, which tend to be the cheapest, so you might end up paying more for your room.
On the positive side, since 60 Rapid Rewards points = $1 in Southwest Wanna Get Away fares, the way the value breaks down is, when you purchase $1,000 worth of Marriott Gift cards, you earn about $200 worth of Rapid Rewards points – a 20% rebate.
Which Credit Card to Use
Because these GiftCards are sold directly by Marriott and count as a hotel purchase, some ways to pull even more value from this would be to use a credit card that earns a category spending bonus on hotels such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which earns 2.14 points per $1 on travel purchases including hotels, either the Ink Plus or Ink Bold which earn 2 points per $1 on hotels. I value Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents apiece, so you’re earning about another 4% in value there. You could also use your Barclaycard Arrival, which earns 2 miles per $1 that then have a redemption value of 1.1 cent each (thanks to the 10% travel redemption point refund). You could also earn 5 points per dollar when using the Chase Marriott Premier card, or 3x on the regular Marriott Rewards card.
But you’re not done maximizing your points yet. Once you want to book a stay at Marriott using your gift cards, you can go through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, which is currently offering an additional 2 points per dollar at Marriott.
So if you then click through to Marriott and make your booking, even if you use a Marriott GiftCard to pay, you still earn those extra 2X points per $1, and you’re actually potentially earning 4-4.28 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar depending on which Chase card you use. That brings your total potential rebate to around 28%, which is a pretty darn good value.
If you are looking for a way to top up your Rapid Rewards account, and know you’ll be staying at some Marriotts in the future where the rates eligible to be paid with these GiftCards isn’t higher than prepaid rates, and you can really maximize the credit card and shopping portal you use to purchase these gift cards, this promo could be pretty lucrative for you. That said, I wouldn’t go out and spend $1,000 on Marriott GiftCards speculatively unless you have some pretty clear plans for how to put them and the bonus Rapid Rewards points, to use.
Remember, you can also always buy either Southwest or Marriott gift cards at an office supply store like Staples or Office Max and earn 5X points per $1 on them using Ink Plus or Bold, so if you don’t get in on this promo, that’s still a decent option to have.