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On February 13, Marriott rebranded its Marriott Rewards program to Marriott Bonvoy — but the program has seen more than just a name change in the past year. After announcing a merger with Starwood Preferred Guest in 2016, Marriott officially integrated the two programs in August 2018, changing the award chart, travel packages and many other things (including some that SPG loyalists weren’t thrilled).
In spite of the issues that appear to remain since the integration, Marriott Bonvoy points are still very valuable, but how do you actually put them to use? 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.
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. Marriott prices its awards by category, meaning that upscale hotels in more desirable locations are generally assigned higher categories (and naturally cost more points). The easiest way to find how many points you need per night is by searching for your hotel of choice on Marriott’s website or sifting through this list of hotels and their respective categories.
Here’s how many points you’ll need for a free night at each one of Marriott’s categories:
You’ll also note from the chart that Marriott hasn’t yet rolled out off-peak and peak award pricing, but it’s coming soon. While we don’t have a solid date for this pricing yet, we expect off-peak pricing to be assigned to low demand times and peak times to be applied to higher demand seasons. This means that you’ll save points during low season and have to spend more when hotel rooms are in more demand.
Additionally, Marriott has two other types of hotel redemptions: PointSavers and Cash + Points. PointsSaver 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 and is a key reason why TPG Editor Nick Ewen is sticking with Marriott in 2019.
All Award Stays Get a Fifth 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 start using 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 in order to get the fifth night free. If you book a seven-nights 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 that there will be no rooms left when you finally do have enough points. It also allows you to lock-in current award rates for properties that are increasing in price.
For complete details on this option, check out Ethan Steinberg’s guide to Points Advance.
Transferring Marriott Points to Airline Partners
One of members’ favorite features of the Starwood Preferred Guest program was its airline partner program. In short, this program let SPG members transfer their hotel points to a huge list of airline partners at a favorable rate. Thankfully, Marriott has preserved many aspects of this program and now 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 rate of 3:1, meaning that 3 Marriott Bonvoy points yields 1 airline mile. There are a few exceptions to this rule though:
- AeroMexico ClubPremier 3:1.6
- Air New Zealand Airpoints™ 200:1
- JetBlue TrueBlue™ 6:1
- United MileagePlus® 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. As an 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 of 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.
Using Marriott Bonvoy Points for Hotel + Air Packages
Can’t decide between a hotel stay or transferring points to your favorite airline? Marriott’s famous Hotel + Air packages may be just what you need. These packages let you redeem your points for a seven-night hotel stay plus a large number of airline miles. Pricing varies based on the number of miles you want and the category of your hotel stay—here’s a look at pricing:
Nearly all of Marriott’s airline partners are eligible for a Hotel + Air package, and you can even get a 10% bonus when you choose to transfer your miles from a Hotel + Air package to United MileagePlus thanks to the RewardsPlus partnership.
That being said, this reward option was decimated under the combined program, so be sure to very carefully crunch the numbers and make sure that the redemption makes sense before you pull the trigger.
Use Points for Marriott Bonvoy Moments
With the official launch of Bonvoy, the program now has a new experience platform called Marriott Bonvoy Moments. This offers destination-specific activities — think bus tours, sporting events, and culinary experiences — in many of the 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 it 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 at the top. Just note that certain experiences are bookable for a flat number of Marriott points, while others are an auction against other bidders, so be sure to read the terms and conditions of a moment 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, we found that a pair of Bose QuietComfort 35 Series II Wireless Headphones costs 97,500 Marriott Bonvoy points. Best Buy sells the same pair for $349, so you’ll get a redemption value of just 0.36 cents per point with this purchase.
February 13, 2019 marked the end of an era, as Marriott officially retired its legacy programs (Marriott Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guests and Ritz-Carlton Rewards). Even though the integration has caused some headaches and made many question their loyalty to the combined program, there are still a ton of ways for you to get excellent value out of your Marriott Bonvoy points. To do so, we generally recommend sticking with hotel stays or transferring to air partners — these give you the best bang for your hard-earned points and let you see the world on the cheap.
What are your favorite ways to redeem Marriott Bonvoy points? Let us know in the comments.
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