Guide to Marriott points and maximizing rewards

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After a merger with the now-defunct Starwood Preferred Guest program, Marriott Bonvoy now boasts an array of global brands, including 7,000 hotels in 130 countries and territories around the world. This includes fairly basic properties like Courtyard by Marriott and Four Points by Sheraton all the way up to The Ritz-Carlton luxury properties. No matter how you like to travel, you’ll find a way to redeem your points for a superior value, and you may even qualify for elite hotel perks along the way.

To get the most out of the Marriott Bonvoy program, you’ll want to make sure you’re focusing your efforts on both earning and redemption. This means both maximizing spending in a way that leaves you with more hotel points to burn and using your points in an intelligent way so you’re getting a lot of value in return.

Whether you want to focus on racking up more points or making the most of the rewards you have, this guide can help.

How much are Marriott points worth?

According to June 2020 valuations from The Points Guy, Marriott Bonvoy points are currently worth around .8 cents each. This means you should receive approximately $800 in value for every 100,000 points you’re able to redeem (although your travel choices can play a big role in the final value of your rewards).

Generally speaking, you have the potential to get more value out of your points if you make a redemption at a luxury property. Take the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli, for example, which currently goes for $1,078 per night or 85,000 points for an October 2020 stay. With some basic math, it’s easy to see that this redemption would net you more than 1.2 cents per point in value.

Lower end properties can also yield a significant return. Imagine you want to use your points for an overnight stay during a road trip, and you don’t have a hotel preference. You can often find decent hotels for a reasonable amount of points, such as a Courtyard property near Chicago that costs $234 per night or 12,500 points. With this redemption, you would be getting more than 1.8 cents per point in value.

How to get the most value from Marriott points

When you’re ready to redeem your Marriott points, you should focus first and foremost on how you want to use them.

Don’t worry too much about whether you’re getting .8 cents or 1.2 cents out of each point for a specific hotel. Instead, focus on finding your ideal resort since that’s where you’ll get the most bang for your buck.

With that being said, there are some strategies you can use to stretch your points further at properties that may be on your list.

Leverage the 5th night free benefit

One way to stretch your points involves utilizing Marriott Bonvoy’s 5th night free benefit. This benefit states that, if you book four nights with points, the fifth night is free — it’s as simple as that.

To maximize this benefit, all you really have to do is use your points for longer stays of at least five nights, versus shorter weekend trips.

Do more off-season travel

Like some other hotel loyalty programs, Marriott Bonvoy lets you book off-peak dates for fewer points. They also have peak rates, so you’ll want to avoid traveling during peak times such as the holiday season if you hope to stretch your points as far as they can go.

Here’s how much of a difference this can make: With a Category 4 hotel, for example, the standard rate is 25,000 points per night, whereas the off-peak rate is 20,000 points per night and the peak rate is 30,000 points per night.

Also note that you can double up the 5th night free benefit with off-peak rates, making your points go even further.

Utilize the PointSavers program

The Marriott Bonvoy PointSavers program lets you book specific hotels on specific dates for up to 20 percent fewer points. This benefit can lead to huge savings if the property you way to stay in happens to qualify.

For example, a Category 4 hotel that would normally cost 25,000 points per night could be booked for 22,500 points during standard travel dates, 17,500 during off-peak dates or 27,500 points during peak dates

How flexible are Marriott points?

Marriott points may be more flexible than you think, and you can even redeem them for some non-travel options. You can also share your points with another member, although some limits may apply.

Pros of Marriott points:

  • You can redeem Marriott points at more than 7,000 properties around the world, ranging from basic roadside hotels and motels to luxury resorts.
  • Marriott Bonvoy points don’t expire unless you don’t post any activity for 24 months. This gives you plenty of time to earn or redeem points at your leisure without worrying about your points disappearing.
  • All Marriott Bonvoy members get a handful of benefits regardless of their elite status. These include free in-room Internet access, member rates and mobile check-in.
  • Marriott lets you pool your points with any other member, up to 100,000 per year. You do have to transfer points in increments of 1,000.
  • You have the option to redeem your Marriott points for gift cards, travel packages, unique experiences or other types of travel. You can even transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to more than 40 airlines, although the transfer ratio is 3:1 with most programs.
  • Marriott Bonvoy offers a fixed award chart, so you’ll never have to wonder how many points you’ll need to book the room you want. Having access to a fixed award chart also makes it easier to work toward the redemption you want as you earn points through hotel stays or credit card spending.

Cons of Marriott points:

  • Higher-end properties can cost quite a large number of points per night.
  • Marriott often blocks out award availability for exclusive properties for at least part of the year.
  • You’ll need more points to travel over peak travel dates, which is often the only option for families who have to travel when kids are out of school.
  • Don’t forget that your points will expire if you don’t earn or redeem any points every 24 months.

What is the best way to earn Marriott points?

As a Marriott Bonvoy member, you’ll earn 10 Marriott points for each dollar you spend on eligible hotel purchases including your stay, dining, golf, spa purchases and more.

You can earn even more points on hotel spending if you earn elite status with the Marriott Bonvoy program. Each tier of elite status offers a 10 percent to 75 percent points bonus that can help you earn points at a much faster rate. You can also earn points by booking travel with partners or joining the Marriott dining program, now called Eat Around Town by Marriott Bonvoy.

Still, the easiest way to earn Marriott Bonvoy points is with one of their co-branded credit cards. A hotel credit card can help you earn points for each dollar you spend on travel or on regular bills, and you may even be able to climb the ranks of elite hotel status more quickly.

Credit cards that earn Marriott Bonvoy points

There are quite a few credit cards that let you earn Marriott Bonvoy points on all your purchases, although some come with more perks than others. Compare the following co-branded card options to see which one might help you earn more points over time, or help you qualify for their elite hotel perks you want the most.

Card name Rewards rate New cardmember offer Card benefits Annual fee
Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card

 

Earn 3X points at participating Marriott properties, 2X points on other travel and 1X points on other purchases Earn 50,000 points when you spend $1,000 on your card within three months of account opening Automatic Silver Elite status

No foreign transaction fees

$0
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card Earn 6X points at participating Bonoy locations and 2X points on other purchases Earn 100,000 points when you spend $3,000 on your card within three months of account opening Automatic Silver Elite status

Path to Gold Elite status when you spend $35,000 on your credit card each year

15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year

Free in-room premium Wi-Fi

No foreign transaction fees

$95
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card*

 

Earn 6X points on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy locations, 3X points on spending at U.S. restaurants and flights booked with airlines and 2X points on other purchases Earn 75,000 points when you spend $3,000 on your card within three months of account opening Up to $300 Marriott Bonvoy statement credit each year of card membership

Free Night Award (up to 50,000 point-value) on your cardmember anniversary

Automatic Gold Elite status

Annual $100 property credit for eligible two-night minimum stays at St. Regis or Ritz-Carlton properties

15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year

Priority Pass™ Select airport lounge membership

Up to a $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®

No foreign transaction fees

$450
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card

 

 

Earn 6X points on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy locations, 4X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping purchases and 2X points on everything else Earn 75,000 points when you spend $3,000 on your card within three months of account opening Free Night Award (up to 35,000 points) on your cardmember anniversary

Automatic Silver Elite status

Path to Gold Elite status when you spend $35,000 on your card within a calendar year

15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year

Premium Wi-Fi

No foreign transaction fees

$125

*The information about the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

In addition to co-branded Marriott credit cards, don’t forget to consider signing up for credit cards that earn points in the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. Cards in this category, such as  the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® let you transfer points to the Marriott Bonvoy program at a 1:1 ratio.

Marriott Bonvoy elite status

Marriott Bonvoy elite status is also worth pursuing whether you want to earn more points or tap into elite benefits that make travel more comfortable. We already mentioned how elite members get a points bonus of 10 to 75 percent on paid stays with the brand, but there are plenty of other reasons to pursue this status.

For example, members who are Marriott Platinum Elite and higher can qualify for lounge access at participating hotels, as well as a guaranteed room type. Gold Elite members and higher can also qualify for an enhanced room upgrade based on availability.

Reaching each level of elite status requires the following number of stays each year:

  • Silver Elite: 10-24 nights per year
  • Gold Elite: 25-49 nights per year
  • Platinum Elite: 50-74 nights per year
  • Titanium Elite: 75-99 nights per year
  • Ambassador Elite: 100+ nights per year

With that being said, you probably noticed that all Marriott credit cards start you off with at least Silver Elite status, and some higher than that. This means that, with a hotel credit card, you can climb the elite status ladder faster and start earning better benefits and more points on paid stays.