How to redeem points with the Marriott Bonvoy program
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with current information.
The Marriott Bonvoy program has gone through some fundamental changes as of late, but Bonvoy points still have value when redeemed for hotel stays and even airline tickets. But how do you actually put them to use while maximizing their potential value?
In this article, we’ll dive deep and show you all the different ways you can redeem your Marriott points. We’ll start by walking you through hotel redemptions and then move into airline transfers and other interesting redemptions.
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Using Marriott Bonvoy points for hotel stays
As you’d expect, you can use your Marriott Bonvoy points to book a room at any one of Marriott’s worldwide properties. But, how many points you need is a bit more variable than it has been in the past.
One of the biggest changes to the Marriott Bonvoy program involves the elimination of a published award chart. You used to be able to get an estimate of how many points you needed to book at a specific hotel with bands for standard, peak and off-peak pricing.
Those bands still exist for most properties through the end of 2022, though the ranges are no longer published on the Marriott website. We’ve included a copy of the chart for reference. It should serve as a guide for your vacation planning.
Marriott’s new dynamic pricing isn’t all bad. In fact, you’ll actually get more value at some properties. That said, many properties have drifted into the upper range of the category they used to reside in. And the 3% of properties that are no longer in a category have, in many cases, seen significant increases in the number of points required to redeem a free night.
Additionally, Marriott has two other types of hotel redemptions: PointSavers and Cash + Points. PointsSavers awards offer a discount on standard redemption rates at selected hotels. On the other hand, Cash + Points redemptions let you combine cash and points for discounted hotel stays starting at just $55 and 3,500 points per night.
You can also use Cash + Points to customize a stay, redeeming points for one night and paying cash for the next. This is a great option when the paid rates vary significantly during your stay.
All award stays get a 5th night free
One great perk of the Marriott Bonvoy program is that all award stays of four nights or more get a fifth night free no matter if you’re booking at standard or PointSavers rates. This free night will automatically be reflected when you book online and applies to stays across all 29 of Marriott’s participating brands.
However, this gets a bit tricky if you use the Cash + Points option to redeem points for some nights and pay cash for others. You must have a total of five or more award nights to get the fifth night free. If you book a seven-night stay and pay cash for three of them, you’ll need to redeem points for all four of the other nights.
Book ahead with Points Advance
One final aspect of the Marriott Bonvoy program that can help with your hotel stays is the Points Advance feature.
This allows you to book an award stay without having enough points in your account. You then have until 14 days before arrival to do so. This is a terrific strategy to snag a room at a high-demand property like The St. Regis Maldives, especially if you’re afraid there will be no rooms left when you finally have enough points.
That said, one of the biggest benefits of Points Advance is no longer available. Marriott used to allow members to lock in the redemption rate with Points Advance bookings. Now, you can only lock in the award availability. The award pricing will be determined when you finally confirm your booking.
Transferring Marriott points to airline partners
One of the most popular features of the Starwood Preferred Guest program was its airline partner program. SPG members could transfer their hotel points to a huge list of airline partners at a favorable rate.
Thankfully, Marriott preserved many aspects of this program after acquiring SPG, and allows Marriott Bonvoy members to transfer their points to over 40 different airline programs — many of which do not partner with other loyalty programs.
You can transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to most airline partners at a ratio of 3:1, meaning that 3 Marriott Bonvoy points yield 1 airline mile. There are a few exceptions to this rule, though:
- Aeromexico Club Premier: A ratio of 3:1.
- Air New Zealand Airpoints: A ratio of 200:1.
- United MileagePlus: A ratio of 3:1.1.
One of the best parts about transferring your Marriott Bonvoy points to airline partners is that you get a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 points you transfer. For example, if you were to move 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to American Airlines AAdvantage, you’d receive 25,000 AAdvantage miles. This gives you an effective transfer ratio of 2.4:1.
While airline transfers may not give you as good a deal as hotel stays, they can come in handy if you need to top up your points balance or leverage a more obscure mileage program that may be hard to earn. Just note that you can only transfer 240,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to airlines per day, and the minimum transfer is 3,000 points.
Use points for Marriott Bonvoy Moments
Marriott Bonvoy Moments offers destination-specific activities — think bus tours, sporting events and culinary experiences — in many cities where Marriott has a hotel presence. You can book these experiences using your Marriott Bonvoy points, giving you a “free” way to experience new cities. In many cases, these aren’t awards you could purchase using cash, so they can provide some unique activities on your next trip.
To see what’s currently available, head to the Marriott Bonvoy Moments site and click on the category you’d like to explore. Just note that certain experiences are bookable for a flat number of Marriott points while others are an auction against other bidders. Be sure to read the terms and conditions before you commit to purchasing one, as most are nonrefundable.
Buy merchandise with Marriott Shopping
Finally, you can use your Marriott Bonvoy points for merchandise and gift cards.
Marriott offers a wide range of products on its web store, from Uber gift cards to Bose headphones and Bluetooth speakers. However, these redemptions are not usually the best use of your miles.
For example, a $25 Apple gift card costs 10,000 points. This gives you just 0.25 cents per point in value, which is well below our Marriott Bonvoy valuation.
Even though recent changes have diminished or eliminated some of the best parts of the Bonvoy program, there are still a number of ways for you to get reasonable value out of your Marriott Bonvoy points. To do so, we generally recommend sticking with hotel stays or transferring to airline partners — these give you the best bang for your hard-earned points and let you see the world on the cheap.
Featured photo courtesy of JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort.
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