Best ways to redeem 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points

Sep 12, 2019

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The Marriott/SPG/Ritz-Carlton integration has had its fair share of challenges, though it has also offered some great opportunities, like the chance to book Marriott’s incredible Category 8 hotels for just 60,000 points a night (sadly no longer available). However, as we shift gears from adjusting to the integration to living with the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program, there is one more great deal to put on your radar.

When Marriott first switched all of its Chase and Amex issued cobranded credit cards over to the new Bonvoy branding, it decided to drum up excitement for the new program by offering limited-time 100,000-point welcome bonuses on most of the cards. Those offers have since expired, and we didn’t know when or if they would return. However, the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card has launched a limited-time elevated welcome bonus, offering new applicants 100,000 Marriott points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months. This offer ends on Oct. 23, 2019.

TPG values Marriott points at 0.8 cents each, making this offer worth a solid $800. Of course, you need to be sure you’re even eligible for the welcome offer before applying, so we’ve compiled a helpful graphic to verify your eligibility. We’ve also put together a handy guide for choosing which Marriott Bonvoy card is right for you. Whether you earn 100,000 points from the limited-time offer on the Bonvoy Business Amex or rack them up from multiple hotel stays, this haul of points can go a long way towards helping with your next vacation.

Here are a few of our favorite ways to redeem your 100,000-point welcome bonus. Note that while Marriott will begin implementing peak and off-peak pricing on Sept. 14, all award rates referenced in this post are standard pricing.

Three Nights at a Category 5 hotel

I loved my stay at Mira Moon in Hong Kong, a terrific Category 5 property in the Marriott program. (Photo by Ethan Steinberg/The Points Guy)

Marriott’s Category 5 holds some of my favorite properties around the world, including the Mira Moon Hong Kong, Sheraton Hyde Park Sydney, W Chicago Lakeshore and the St. Regis Beijing. These hotels cost 35,000 points a night for a standard award, meaning if you count the points you’ll earn spending your way to your welcome bonus, you’ll have enough Marriott points for three nights.

If you’re a Bonvoy credit card holder you should really spend some time researching Category 5 hotels. All the Bonvoy credit cards except for the no-annual-fee Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card come with an anniversary free night certificate when you renew your card. While this can get you a free night up to 50,000 points for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, it’s worth up to 35,000 points for the the Bonvoy Business card and the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card. You can mix those certificates with your actual points to stretch your stay even further.

There are plenty of great Category 5 hotels you can pick, and many are situated in major cities around the world. In Atlanta, for example, you can pick from three different Category 5 W Hotels in different parts of the city (downtown, midtown and Buckhead). If, on the other hand, you’re looking for more high-end stays, you can choose from about a dozen Ritz-Carlton hotels, spanning locations from Cleveland to Doha.

Up to 16 nights at a Category 1 hotel

Many Fairfield locations require just 7,500 points for a free night. (Photo courtesy of Marriott)

If you’re really trying to stretch your points into the maximum number of hotel nights, you’ll obviously want to look at Category 1 hotels. These cost 7,500 points a night for a standard award, and you can stack this with Marriott’s fifth-night-free perk on award stays. Booking five nights will thus only set you back 30,000 points, so your 100,000-point Bonvoy welcome bonus could get you three separate five-night awards plus an additional free night added on to any of them (or redeemed separately).

Marriott has a few hundred Category 1 hotels from which you can choose. These certainly aren’t the most luxurious properties out there, but you will find many Courtyard, Aloft and AC Hotels in cities all around the world, like the AC Hotel Valencia or the Aloft Bogota. You’ll also come across many Fairfield locations as well, like the Fairfield Inn & Suites Memphis. Just take note that many Category 1 hotels (especially outside the U.S.) are priced incredibly low, so be sure to crunch the numbers before you book. Even with a fifth night free, you might still be better off paying cash.

Two nights at a Category 6 hotel

It may be worth splurging on a Category 6 property like the Ritz-Carlton Bali.

Category 6 hotels require 50,000 points for a free night, the same value as the anniversary free night you’ll get with the Bonvoy Brilliant. This is a nearly 43% premium over the Category 5 option noted above, but it can offer a taste of luxury without breaking the (rewards) bank. The W Shanghai and St. Regis Abu Dhabi Saadiyat Island are great options, as is the Ritz-Carlton Bali, which can easily sell for more than $500 a night during peak season. In many cases, a hotel’s category has as much to do with local economic factors and demand as it does with the quality of the property itself, and if you can get the full St. Regis experience (butler service and a signature bloody mary) for fewer points, why wouldn’t you?

You could also consider booking one of the properties that fell down to Category 6 with the annual category changes that were announced back in March. Of the 37 hotels that dropped in price, seven fit into Category 6 and now require just 50,000 points for a free night, including the W Hollywood and The Naka Island in Phuket, Thailand. However, we’d avoid the now-cheaper Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa if you can.

One-night splurge at a Category 8 hotel

Of course, if you truly have your eyes set on the best of the best, you could instead redeem these points for a stay at a top-tier, Category 8 hotel like the St. Regis Maldives or Al Maha Resort in Dubai. These hotels now cost 85,000 points a night with the full implementation of Category 8 pricing, though they will climb as high as 100,000 points per night when the program adds peak and off-peak pricing on Sept. 14, 2019. It might seem silly to blow your entire welcome bonus on a single hotel night, but travel rewards is all about enjoying memorable experiences you wouldn’t have otherwise been able to book. That might mean a night at the St. Regis New York, where rooms often retail for $1,000 or more and the Platinum breakfast is a treat. It could also lead to a quick all-inclusive getaway to Al Maha (though good luck squeezing three meals and two desert activities into a one-night stay!).

Don’t wait, book now

Here’s the best thing about the above redemption options. Even if you just opened these cards (or received a targeted upgrade offer), you don’t need to wait to receive your points. Marriott has a redemption option known as Points Advance that allows you to lock in award stays when you’re short on points. This is a terrific way to make sure you have an award room at a property with limited standard accommodations, and you can also lock-in current pricing before peak and off-peak rates take effect. As part of the rollout of peak and off-peak pricing, Marriott has requested that members limit themselves to three Points Advance reservations at a time. Additionally, as of Sept. 14, Points Advance will no longer lock in your rate at a hotel, only the award space. This means that if the property goes up to peak pricing you’ll have to pay more points, regardless of what the award rate was at the time of booking.

For complete details, check out our complete guide to Marriott Points Advance.

Airline transfers

A Korean Air 747-400 at Seoul Incheon airport in December 2017 (Photo by Alberto Riva/TPG)
Marriott Bonvoy is now the only transferable points program to partner with Korean Air SKYPASS. (Photo by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy)

Instead of using your welcome bonus for hotel stays, you may want to look at the program’s airline transfer option. Marriott has over 40 airline partners, including many unique ones that aren’t shared by other transferable currencies. If you want to transfer points to Korean Air, Alaska, Asiana or even American Airlines, Marriott is your only option. Points transfer at a 3:1 ratio to nearly every partner, and you’ll earn a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points you transfer. It can be easy to think of this as a 3:1.25 ratio, but you do need to break it down a little more to make sure you transfer enough points.

Let’s think of your 100,000-point welcome bonus as one block of 60,000 points and another block of 40,000 points. Your 60,000 points transfer at a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000-mile bonus, earning you 25,000 miles, while your 40,000 points simply transfer at a 3:1 ratio, earning another 13,000 miles. This brings your grand total to 38,000 airline miles for whichever partner you pick. That’s not enough to plan a free vacation for your entire family, but it’s a great starting point.

Those 38,000 miles will easily get you a one-way economy ticket to Europe through almost every loyalty program, letting you pick whether you want to fly Star Alliance, Oneworld or SkyTeam. You can even get a one-way economy ticket to Asia on most carriers, though double-check the pricing before you transfer, and remember that South Asia often costs more.

If you’re looking to stay in the U.S., you could transfer those points to Avianca and book five one-way, short-haul flights on United at 7,500 miles each. You could get the same number of short-haul American flights by transferring to British Airways and utilizing its distance-based award chart. If your eyes are set on other American-operated itineraries, check out the carrier’s current list of reduced mileage awards. However, be sure to read our guide on Marriott transfer times so you know roughly how long you’ll need to wait for your miles to arrive.

Bottom line

We know that not every 100,000-point welcome bonus is created equal, but the limited-time elevated offer on the Bonvoy Business Amex has the potential to deliver an incredible value. Whether you’re looking to maximize your total number of free hotel nights, indulge in a luxury getaway, or even book some airfare, Bonvoy points are among the most versatile rewards currency out there and certainly deserve a spot in your wallet.

Apply here for the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card with a 100,000 point bonus.

For more information on these cards and the benefits beyond the welcome bonus, check out the following articles:

How would you redeem 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points?

Featured photo courtesy of W Shanghai

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