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If you’ve applied for the Marriott Rewards Premier Card to get its current elevated sign-up bonus, you’ll want to come up with a plan for using all those valuable points. TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Nick Ewen shares five ways to use 80,000 points, from low-end redemptions to a night at a top-tier Ritz-Carlton hotel.
As we announced earlier this month, the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card and the Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card recently increased their sign-up bonuses to 80,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first three months. This is a significant bump over the standard bonus and is worth $560 based on TPG’s most recent valuations, but if you plan carefully, you can easily get even more value out of the bonus. Today I want to go through five great ways to maximize this sign-up bonus. Keep in mind that while the redemptions I mention are based on 80,000 points, you can earn an additional 7,500 points when you add an authorized user and make a purchase in the first three months from account opening.
This will be a bit different than my past posts that identified awesome Marriott award redemptions at both the low end and high end of the category spectrum. Those two articles gave specific hotel awards that offered great value for your Marriott Rewards points, but in this post I wanted to keep it a bit more generic. I’ll still identify some great examples for each redemption, but hopefully this approach will give you some inspiration for planning a trip to a destination that makes sense for you.
Unfortunately, Marriott did just announce some pretty significant category changes that will take effect March 24, 2016, so keep that in mind if your desired property is among the 500+ hotels that will require more points after that date. I will include a few examples of these below. Remember that Marriott allows you to make award reservations when you’re short on points, so you can lock in the current redemption rates now. You’d then just need to hit the spending requirement to earn the 80,000 points at least one week prior to your stay.
Finally, all of these suggestions represent standard award rates (though some do include the fifth night free benefit provided to all Marriott Rewards members). However, if you are able to find PointSavers availability, you can extend the value of your points even further (e.g., the first item on the list would be two nights at a Category 9 property using PointSavers). I’ve personally found these to be quite rare, especially at higher category properties, but you may get lucky!
So with all of that out of the way, what are some great redemption options? In no particular order:
1. Two Nights at a Category 8 Property
Category 8 properties will set you back 40,000 Marriott Rewards points, so the sign-up bonus is good for exactly two free nights in these locations. There are some great properties at this level, and many have pretty high revenue rates. Here are a couple examples:
- JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa: This luxurious property just opened last year and is situated on a private island just 20 minutes by boat from St. Marks Square. TPG Contributor Joel Ward visited the resort shortly after it opened and had a great stay, as the property combines luxurious relaxation with proximity to the major tourist sites of Venice. Rates in March start at €389 (~$433) per night, so a two-night award stay would give you a value of 1.08 cents per point.
- Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa: Located on the island of Maui, this resort boasts standard guest rooms of 437 square feet and provides all of the amenities you’d expect from a full-service Hawaiian resort, including pristine beaches, an on-site spa and nightly luau dinner show. Rates in March start at about $396 per night, so a two-night award stay would give you a value of 0.99 cents per point.
- Dubai Marriott Harbour Hotel & Suites: This all-suite hotel is situated right at Dubai Marina but offers easy access to all that the city has to offer. Every room includes a full kitchen, though you’ll get even more value from your points, as the standard room for awards is actually a two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom suite that spans over 1,700 square feet. Rates in March start at 1,380 AED (~$375) per night, so a two-night award stay would give you a value of 0.94 cents per point.
2. Five Nights in a Category 4 Property
A “sweet spot” redemption with 80,000 points is at a Category 4 property, which usually require 20,000 points per night. However, since Marriott allows the fifth night free on all award redemptions, you can actually get a five-night stay with the card’s sign-up bonus. Here are a couple of examples:
- Renaissance Phoenix Downtown: If your travels take you to Phoenix, the Renaissance in the heart of downtown is a great option. The hotel has a boutique feel and includes a rooftop pool and easy access to the city’s light rail system, putting just about all major tourist attractions within easy reach. Rates in March start at $268 per night, so a five-night award stay would give you a value of 1.68 cents per point. Note that this hotel will jump to Category 5 as of March 24, so be sure to lock in your award stay before then to take advantage of the lower redemption rate.
- African Pride 15 on Orange Hotel: Situated in the heart of Cape Town at the foot of Table Mountain, this boutique hotel consists of just 129 rooms spread across 5 floors. On-site amenities include a pool, fitness center, restaurant & bar and Suntra Spa. Rates in March start at 3,181.50 ZAR (~$206) per night, so a five-night award stay would give you a value of 1.29 cents per point.
3. One Night in a Tier 5 Ritz-Carlton Property
Marriott Rewards points can be used at all Ritz-Carlton properties (and your Marriott elite status will transfer as well), but there’s a separate award chart for these hotels. The highest level is Tier 5, and these resorts charge 70,000 points for a standard free night. Here are a couple of great spots for the sign-up bonus.
- Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong: This hotel occupies the top 16 floors of the International Commerce Center in West Kowloon and boasts incredible views of Victoria Harbour and neighboring Hong Kong Island. Standard rooms start at a whopping 540 square feet, though you’ll want to spend time checking out the other on-site amenities like the 118th-floor swimming pool and OZONE, billed as the highest bar in the world. Rates in March start at HK$4,180 (~$538) per night, so a one-night award stay would give you a value of 0.77 cents per point.
- Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman: The Ritz in Grand Cayman is a perfect spot to enjoy the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, and TPG had a blast there at the Cayman Cookout earlier this year. Rates in March start at about $983 per night, so a one-night award stay would give you a value of 1.4 cents per point.
4. Ten Nights in a Category 2 Property
At the other end of the luxury spectrum are Category 2 properties, which typically consist of Marriott’s lower-end brands like Courtyard and Fairfield. However, at just 10,000 points for a free night, these can represent a terrific value using points, and when you factor in the fifth night free perk, you could actually score a ten-night award stay with just one sign-up bonus! Here’s an example:
- JW Marriott Hotel Shanghai Changfeng Park: As one of the few low-category JW Marriott properties in the program, this hotel is located in the fast-growing western part of the city. The 501 guest rooms start at 350 square feet, and you have your choice of six on-site restaurants plus the award winning Quan Spa. Rates in March start at 1242 CNY (~$190) per night, so a 10-night award stay would give you an incredible value of 2.38 cents per point.
5. Six Nights in a Category 3 Property
A final way to make the most of this sign-up bonus is by booking a six-night stay in a Category 3 property, which requires 15,000 points for a free night (again utilizing the fifth night free benefit). You’ll again be restricted mainly to lower-end brands, but depending on where you’re wanting to travel, it can represent some great value! Here’s an example:
- Residence Inn Orlando Downtown: This property is relatively new and offers some terrific value if you want to stay in downtown Orlando (and away from the craziness of Disney World). Located on the site of the former historic Orange Court Hotel, the all-suite hotel provides full kitchens in all rooms along with free breakfast and grocery shopping service. Rates in March start at about $246 per night, so a six-night stay would give you a value of 1.97 cents per point.
Of course, the 80,000-point bonus isn’t the only perk of the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card. Here are the full details of the current offer:
- Earn 80,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening
- Plus, earn 7,500 bonus points when you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first three months from account opening
- Enjoy 1 Free Night Stay at a Category 1-5 location every year after your account anniversary date!
- Earn unlimited Marriott Rewards points and get free stays faster
- Earn 5 points for every $1 spent at 4,000 Marriott locations, 2 points for every $1 spent on airline tickets purchased directly with the airlines, at car rental agencies & restaurants and 1 point everywhere else
- The fastest way to earn Marriott Rewards points toward free nights
- The fastest way to earn Marriott Rewards Elite Status. Receive 15 Elite Credits guaranteeing Silver Elite Status or better. Plus, Earn 1 Elite Credit for every $3,000 spent on purchases
- All for an $85 Annual Fee
The increased sign-up bonus on the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card is a great opportunity to boost your Marriott Rewards account balance and unlock valuable redemptions across a wide swath of the chain’s portfolio. Hopefully this list has given you some inspiration for planning your next trip! For more information on the card and the Marriott Rewards program in general, be sure to check out the following posts:
- The Award Traveler’s Guide to Marriott Rewards
- Marriott’s CEO on the Future of Marriott Rewards and SPG
- Marriott Details Its New Cash + Points Awards
How would you use the 80,000 points from the Marriott Premier Card?
Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card
|Intro APR||Regular APR||Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee||Credit Rating|
|N/A||16.24% - 23.24% Variable||$85||0%||Excellent Credit|