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In a season of lackluster hotel promos, Marriott’s Megabonus is pretty decent with offers of up to 50,000 hotel points, free nights after just 2 stays and more. Offers are specifically tailored to individuals, so in order to see what you’re being offered, you have to log into your Marriott Rewards account.


The current Megabonus runs February 1-April 30, and you must register by March 31. While I haven’t been wowed by a lot of the offers readers have written in about, I actually received a different offer for new Marriott Rewards members who sign up and stay that I think is actually pretty lucrative in conjunction with one of Marriott’s airline partners, Virgin America (though it looks like you can select any of their airline partners once you join). The offer stated:

“New Marriott Rewards members who enroll and register for this promotion by March 31, 2014, will earn 5,000 bonus points with every second paid stay, starting with their second stay—up to a total of 50,000 bonus miles, between February 1, 2014 and April 30, 2014, at participating Marriott properties.”Stays must be paid, and it looks like all the brands are participating.

So thinking about it, I could really max out this promo by staying at some cheap properties at around the $100/night mark for one night each and then earn 5,000 bonus Virgin America points every second stay. Those Virgin points are usually redeemable at about 1.5-2.3 cents apiece, so for $200 in spend, I could get approximately $100 back in value to use on Virgin tickets.

For instance, if I were to stay at the Courtyard Austin – University Area, I could get rooms for as low as $88 this winter on various dates.

Screen shot 2014-01-16 at 10.56.55 AMWith taxes, that comes to $102. So for two one-night stays, I’m looking at $204 to earn those 5,000 Elevate points. So then let’s say I turned around and wanted to go spend Valentine’s Day in Las Vegas – must be a fun place to be single! Roundtrip flights to Las Vegas over those days are going for as low as $98.

Screen shot 2014-01-16 at 11.00.06 AMI could score those same flights for 4,233 Elevate points:

Screen shot 2014-01-16 at 11.01.32 AMSo I’d actually be getting a value of about 2.2 cents per point here and over 50% return on my Marriott spending.

If I maxed out this promo at the 20 stays, let’s say I spent a grand total of $2,500 on hotel rooms and credited my spend to Virgin America, which is a Marriott airline partner – I’d get an additional 1 Elevate point per $1, ending up with 52,500 Elevate points, just shy of the 54,500 points I’d need for a roundtrip first class ticket from LAX to Cancun this spring.

Screen shot 2014-01-16 at 11.18.46 AMWhich would cost me $1,200 otherwise – just under a 50% return on my Marriott spending again:

Screen shot 2014-01-16 at 11.19.48 AMBecause Virgin America is an Amex Membership Rewards transfer partner, I could transfer the remainder of the points I need (though Elevate points are a 1:2 transfer partner, so I’d need 4,000 Amex points to get the remaining 2,000 Elevate points I’d need) and enjoy a week of sun and sand.

While I won’t be changing my hotel habits much because of this promo, it does have me thinking about getting some Marriott stays on the books to rack up Virgin points since I want to try out the airline (I still haven’t flown them!), and this could be an easy, cheap way to rack up the points to do so. Only if I can find some cheap Marriott properties to max out the night/bonus requirements though.

Anyone else get this offer – or any other interesting airline partner ones?

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

With some great bonus categories and an annual fee that’s waived for the first year, the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card has a lot going for it. If you don’t have PRG, now’s as good a time as any to add it to your wallet, as Amex added some great new benefits several months back.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Receive 25,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • 3X points for flights booked directly with airlines. 2X points at US restaurants, US gas stations, and US supermarkets. 1X points on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • No matter where you're traveling, when you use your Premier Rewards Gold Card there are no foreign transaction fees from American Express.
  • $100 Airline Fee Credit. Up to $100 a year in baggage fees and more at one airline.
  • Get a $75 hotel credit on qualifying charges, plus a room upgrade upon arrival, if available with The Hotel Collection at Terms apply.
  • There is a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $195.
  • Terms and limitations apply. See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $195.
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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