Do Credit Card Points Stack with Loyalty Program Rewards?
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TPG reader Scott sent me a message on Facebook to ask about earning Marriott Rewards:
“I recently got the Marriott Premier credit card. I realize I earn 5 points per dollar spent at Marriott locations, but do I also still earn 10 points per dollar through Marriott Rewards? Essentially, can I earn 15 points per dollar when I use the card to stay at Marriott locations?”
If you're new to award travel, one important tip is that you can often earn points and miles from multiple sources for a single transaction. Your rewards from a given purchase could be impacted by factors like where you shop, which website you use, which credit card you pay with and more. Learning how to juggle all those variables can be confusing at first, but it creates great opportunities to boost your loyalty accounts with each dollar spent.
Scott brings up one common example: using a co-branded credit card. He wants to know whether he can stack points from actual Marriott stays with points earned by using his Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card, and fortunately, the answer is yes. The rewards you earn from airline and hotel loyalty programs are generally independent of your payment method. You could pay for a hotel stay with a co-branded card, another card that earns a bonus on hotel stays, or even actual cash — so long as your stay is eligible, you'll earn points for it.
Marriott Rewards members earn 10 base points per dollar spent on most eligible stays (5 points per dollar at Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites properties), plus bonuses based on elite status. The Premier card earns 5 points per dollar spent at Marriott, and since it also offers automatic Silver elite status, cardholders earn at least a 20% bonus on paid stays. That means you'll earn a total of 17 points per dollar (at most properties) if you use that co-branded card to pay your bill. If you use another card, you'll still earn 12 points per dollar from Marriott, plus whatever rewards your card offers.
Co-branded cards are a mixed bag when it comes to maximizing rewards. For example, the new JetBlue Plus Card earns an impressive 6 points per dollar on JetBlue purchases; even if you value those points at just 1 cent apiece (the low end in my most recent valuations), you're still getting a 6% return. On the other hand, many other airline cards earn just 2 miles per dollar spent within the brand. In that case, you're probably better off using a card like the Citi Premier® Card, which earns 3 points per dollar on travel.
Of course, you should also factor in other benefits you might get from using a co-branded card. For example, the United MileagePlus Explorer Card only earns 2 miles per dollar spent on tickets purchased from United, but you get the first checked bag free for you and a companion on the same reservation. Those savings could easily trump any extra points you might earn by using another card.
For more on the Marriott Rewards program and co-branded cards, check out these posts:
- The Award Traveler's Guide to Marriott Rewards
- 80,000-Point Sign-Up Bonus on the Marriott Rewards Premier Card
- Should I Get the Marriott or Ritz-Carlton Credit Card?