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How to spend a million Marriott points for an epic post-pandemic trip

May 24, 2021
7 min read
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We came across a social media post recently from someone who had a million Marriott points saved up and wondered how far they would take him. Marriott Bonvoy has over 8,000 hotels worldwide and is a popular loyalty program for business and leisure travelers alike. This isn't the first time we've come across someone with a balance this large and it probably won't be the last.

TPG's Points and Miles team got to discussing this conundrum and decided to offer their own take on how to unload a Marriott Bonvoy balance of this size. From desert adventures to extravagant private island retreats, here's how TPG's Points and Miles team would redeem a million Marriott points:

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Benji Stawski: North Island resort Seychelles

North Island, Seychelles (Photo courtesy of the hotel)

There are several private-island resorts you can book with Marriott Bonvoy points. Among them: the North Island Resort in Seychelles. Stays here come at a cost, however. Awards cost 388,000 Marriott points per night so your million points will get you just two nights here. You'll also need to fork over 814 Euros each way for mandatory helicopter transfers.

In exchange for those points, you’ll enjoy a nearly 5,000-square-foot two-bedroom villa with a private pool. Your stay will also include complimentary breakfast, use of an island buggy, morning yoga and kids activities. Cash rates are often around $7,000 per night so you could be getting some serious value from your points. Just beware of potentially steep extra guest fees.

Katie Genter: Al Maha and A luxury jaunt around Japan

The Al Maha Dubai. (Photo by Ethan Steinberg/The Points Guy)

I've seriously considered booking the aspirational Category 8 Al Maha using points. But, if I was gifted one million Marriott points and told to spend them, a five-night stay on points at Al Maha would be at the top of my list. After all, the unique experience that includes all your food and two activities each day is appealing.

A five-night stay at Al Maha will cost between 280,000 and 400,000 points after Marriott's Stay for 5, Pay for 4 perk. So, I'd have between 600,000 and 720,000 points to spend on a second trip. I loved using two expiring Marriott Bonvoy free night certificates to stay at the St. Regis Osaka and the Ritz-Carlton Osaka back-to-back in early 2020. So, I might use the remaining points to try several of Marriott's other luxury hotels in Japan, including:

Of course, if you have Platinum Elite status or higher with Marriott Bonvoy, it's worth considering which brands will provide you breakfast as a Marriott Bonvoy elite. When planning your trip, check out our posts on using points and miles in Dubai and how to fly to Japan using points and miles.

Related: 5 ways to maximize Marriott Bonvoy award night redemptions

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Andrew Kunesh: A tour of Central Europe

I'm a huge fan of European travel, and Marriott has a huge presence in the region. I would use 1 million Marriott points to revisit my favorite cities in Central Europe. I'd start with five nights at the Ritz-Carlton Berlin, which costs 230,000 points total after factoring in the fifth-night free benefit. This hotel is Ritz's flagship in Berlin and is right in the center of the action in Berlin's Potsdamer Platz district.

Then, I'd take the train to Prague and stay five nights at the Augustine, a Luxury Collection property. This stay costs 280,000 points for five nights with the fifth-night free benefit or is over $350 per night this summer. This hotel is near Prague Castle and the Charles Bridge and is surrounded by incredible architecture. The property feels like a fairytale with lush gardens, classic Czech design and marble bathrooms.

Old Town Square in Prague Czech Republic (Photo by kps1664/Shutterstock)

After this, I'd hop on the train again and head to Vienna, where I'd spend five nights at the Hotel Imperial, a Luxury Collection Hotel. This iconic hotel has ultra-luxurious rooms decorated in Victorian style. It's located in Vienna's historic city center and puts you close to the city's best parks, museums and restaurants. Five nights cost 280,000 points after factoring in the fifth-night free benefit.

My final stop would be a quick flight away in Budapest, where I'd spent five nights at the Ritz-Carlton Budapest. This property is located in the center of downtown Budapest and — like the Ritz in Berlin — is the premier Ritz property in Hungary. This stay costs 240,000 points including the fifth-night free benefit.

Related: How to fly round-trip to Europe in business class for 88,000 miles

How to earn Marriott points

While earning a million Marriott points takes a lot of time and effort, you can get close faster with credit card welcome bonuses. We don't recommend earning points without a plan or immediate use. Marriott could devalue points at any time without notice and the last thing you want is to sit on hundreds of thousands of unredeemed points that are now worth less.

That being said, if you want to give your Marriott account a boost for one of these awards, here are some currently welcome offers to be aware of.

Related: 17 ways to earn lots of Marriott Bonvoy points

Bottom line

Whether you have a million Marriott points or none, hopefully this gives you some inspiration and an idea for what's possible. With Marriott's vast portfolio of 8,000+ hotels spanning the globe, there are lots of incredible places to get value for your Marriott points. And with international travel set to make a comeback this summer, we should all be dreaming big and excited about getting back out there.

Featured image by A Sahara Desert camel ride in Merzouga, Morocco. (Photo by Benét J. Wilson/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG featured card

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 5X points
5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.

Intro offer

Earn 150,000 points120,000 points
The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$695

Recommended Credit

670-850
Good, Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Apply for The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
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TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 150,000 points
    120,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.