Should I Earn Points or Miles with Marriott Rewards?

Mar 29, 2015

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TPG reader Andrew tweeted me to ask:

@thepointsguy – “I am signing up for Marriott Rewards; should I set my earning preference for points or airline miles?”

It's probably best to earn Marriott points with the Marriott Rewards program, as opposed to airline miles
It’s probably best to earn Marriott points with the Marriott Rewards program, as opposed to airline miles.

If you set your account to earn Marriott Rewards points, you’ll earn about 10 points per dollar spent at most Marriott brands. I value Marriott points at about 0.7 cents apiece (though you can get much more value out of them if you take advantage of the Flight and Hotel packages). So you’re looking at a return of about 7% when you stay with Marriott.

In contrast, you only earn two airline miles per dollar spent at Marriott, so even at 2 cents per mile, you’re only earning 4% back. I would recommend airline miles only if you need to top up a certain account or if you get a specific promotion, as Marriott does sometimes partner with airlines to offer lucrative bonuses.

In general, if you want the most value, I would take the Marriott Rewards points. The same goes for most other rewards programs as well. Starwood and Hilton often have promotions with airlines where you can double dip, but typically it’s best to earn points with the hotel. You can usually maximize your earnings this way, because transferring to partners often waters down your earnings.

That being said, make sure to earn in programs that work for you and make you happy. If you have to stay at Hilton hotels, but you love to stay at Starwood, you could use a Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express and bank your Hilton stays to an airline where you’d be more likely to use the miles.

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook, or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the 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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