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I’m a big fan of using my points and miles for experiences beyond just airfare and hotels. For example, did you know that you can redeem your rewards to fly a professional airline simulator, attend the Emmy Awards or even get Super Bowl tickets? Now that the dust has (somewhat) settled on the Marriott/SPG/Ritz-Carlton integration, the combined program now has a single platform for using your Marriott points for these types of awards. Today I want to take you through the Marriott Bonvoy Moments program to highlight how it works and show you how it can create some exceptional value.
Overview of Marriott Bonvoy Moments
As noted above, Marriott Bonvoy Moments is the combination of the legacy Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Moments and the legacy Marriott Moments programs. Together, it boasts thousands of different experiences available at numerous destinations around the world. It’s one of several ways that you can redeem your Marriott Bonvoy points, though interestingly enough, it does place limits on these awards: You can only redeem points for a maximum of five experiences per calendar year, and you’re limited to no more than two redemptions per event. After reaching those limits, you’ll have to wait until January 1 of the following year.
There are five types of Marriott Bonvoy Moments that are available for point redemptions:
- Culinary moments include VIP packages for food and wine festivals along with hotel packages that include dinners or cooking lessons with celebrity chefs.
- Entertainment moments include regular concert tickets plus premium seats, luxury suites and hotel packages.
- Lifestyle moments overlap with entertainment moments but could also include parties and popular culture events like a VIP Experience at Kleinfeld, as featured in TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress.
- Sports moments include suites and VIP experiences at professional sporting events.
- Partner moments highlight leagues and venues with which Marriott Bonvoy has a special relationship, including the NCAA, the Oscars, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, and concerts at Madison Square Garden.
The list of available moments changes regularly as new experiences are added and existing ones sell out. You can click on any of the above links or visit the Marriott Bonvoy Moments homepage for a complete list of current awards available using your points.
Auctions vs. Packages
In addition to the five types of Marriott Bonvoy Moments, there are also two different ways to redeem your Marriott points for an experience. First, experiences can be offered as packages, which are pretty straightforward: You redeem a fixed number of points to immediately confirm a package. For example, at the time of writing, you can redeem 50,000 points for two Barstool seats in a Luxury Suite at Madison Square Garden for an NHL game between the New York Rangers and the Ottawa Senators. You’d simply select the number of packages you’d like and redeem your points.
However, many of the experience rewards are only available in an auction format. This means that you have to bid against other members and hope that you have the highest bid when the auction ends. These bids must be placed in increments of 2,500 points, though you can manually increase your bid at any time. Alternatively, you can set a maximum bid that will allow you to automatically outbid anyone else until you reach the amount specified. However, you will be automatically disqualified if your bid exceeds the number of points you have available.
For additional details on these redemption options, check out the complete list of Frequently Asked Questions.
How to Book
Fortunately, these packages are quite simple to book (or at least submit a bid):
1. Navigate to the Marriott Bonvoy Moments homepage and find the experience that interests you.
2. Click Sign in to Redeem or Sign in to Bid (depending on the type of redemption).
3. Enter your Marriott Bonvoy account credentials, then click Sign in.
4a. If it’s a flat-rate package, select the quantify (if necessary), then click Redeem Now.
4b. If it’s an auction, enter your one-time bid and (if desired) the maximum bid you’re willing to pay, then click Bid Now
5. Complete any additional steps for the given package to finalize your redemption or bid.
Just note that all package redemptions are final, and once you’ve submitted a bid for an auction, you can’t go back and withdraw it. In addition, unless otherwise noted, these packages are not transferable. As a result, be absolutely certain that you’re committed to the experience before confirming your redemption and/or bid.
Do These Awards Offer Good Value?
Of course, any time you’re talking about redeeming points, you want to make sure you’re getting a solid value. While you might be able to recreate some of these on your own, the main purpose of an experiential platform like Marriott Bonvoy Moments is to offer access to unique events that aren’t otherwise available. As a result, it can be exceedingly hard to truly value an experience. A non-soccer fan could care less about redeeming points for Manchester United packages, whereas a die-hard fan of the club may be willing to spend hundreds of thousands of Marriott points for a VIP experience.
That being said, you can at least estimate the value of these redemptions by looking at those experiences that are available to the public, like the April 5 Gwen Stefani concert as part of the Hong Kong Sevens Festival. For 15,000 Marriott points, you and a guest will enjoy general admission tickets to the show. At the time of writing, these tickets are available for HK$780 apiece (~US$100), so you’re getting a redemption value of roughly 1.33 cents per point. This is above TPG’s most recent valuations, which pegged Marriott points at 0.8 cents apiece.
Another one that is replicable on your own is the Austin Food and Wine Festival at the end of April. This experience is an auction, and there are three packages available, each of which offers a pair of “Weekender” tickets to the festival (normally $250 each plus a $15 service fee). At the time of writing, the top bids range from 82,500 points to 102,500 points, so that would create a value of 0.5 – 0.65 cents per point, notably lower than TPG’s valuations. And since these bids may climb higher as the end of the auction approaches, you’d probably be better off purchasing these tickets with cash.
Again, though, the big benefit of a platform like this is the access to experiences that are special (dare I say once-in-a-lifetime?). Sure, there are plenty of great ways to redeem your Marriott points for luxurious hotels around the world, but if you can enjoy a concert from your favorite artist or see your favorite team compete from the comfort of a luxury suite, that might just turn out to be your best redemption ever.
In addition to these unique experiences, Marriott also has a separate section of its site devoted to tours and activities. Through this page, the Marriott Bonvoy program allows you to earn rewards points when you purchase qualifying experiences. If you’ve seen claims that the new Marriott Bonvoy Moments program has over 120,000 experiences, the vast majority of those come from this portion of the site and are available for sale (as opposed to the small minority classified as “Member Exclusives” for which you can redeem points).
These activities include a wide variety of tours, transfers and events all over the world. There also seems to be a large overlap between these experiences and those available through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Center, which is now powered by Expedia.
Furthermore, you don’t even have to be a Marriott Bonvoy member to purchase these experiences, but those who are will earn 10 points per dollar spent on these purchases. The equates to a solid return of 8% according to TPG’s most recent valuations, and these earnings are in addition to any rewards you’ll receive from your credit card. It’s unclear if these purchases will earn bonus points with your Marriott Bonvoy credit card, nor do we know if they’d qualify as a Marriott or travel purchase with other cards. You’ll also want to comparison shop a bit to make sure that the same tour or activity isn’t available for a lower price elsewhere.
Earning Marriott Points
If you’re interested in boosting your Marriott Bonvoy account balance, there are many ways to earn Marriott points. However, now is a terrific time to open one of the program’s cobranded credit cards, as they’re offering elevated welcome bonuses.
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card: Now through April 24, 2019, earn 100,000 points after you use your new card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first three months.
- Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card: Now through April 24, 2019, earn 100,000 points after you use your new card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first three months.
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Now through May 2, 2019, earn 100,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in your first three months from account opening.
Just be sure you’re eligible for these welcome offers before applying. You can check out our handy guide to know where you stand. You can also check out our comparison guide to help you decide which is best for your wallet.
The legacy SPG Moments program was generally known as one of the best ways to redeem rewards for experiences, and the new Marriott Bonvoy Moments program seems to offer some packages and auctions of similar quality. And if you ever need to pay cash for a tour, activity or transfer, then you could earn a substantial number of Bonvoy points by booking it though Marriott Activities. By understanding how this combined program works, you might be able to find a experience reward that’s a better use of your points than any other option, though be sure to compare it with other awards to make sure you’re getting good value for the redemption.
Featured photo courtesy of Marriott Bonvoy.
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