Up To ~78% Discount for Buying Marriott Gift Cards!

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Readers alerted me to an offer to get Southwest points for buying Marriott gift cards.  This is the same promotion which Marriott has run previously, but I was curious to see if the Southwest points would count towards the Southwest Companion Pass (which gets your companion free travel on both paid and award flights!)

However – just like the last time – the points don’t count towards the Companion Pass status.  I received the cards in about 3 days, but it took 12 days for the points to post to my Southwest account.

1.  Buy Marriott Gift Cards (~20% Discount)

Link:  12,000 Southwest Points For Buying Marriott Gift Cards

You can earn up to 12,000 Southwest points for buying Marriott hotel gift cards up to September 26, 2013.

Marriott gift card discount

Step 1 – Enter Your Rapid Rewards Number

You earn:

  • $100 Gift Card = 1,200 Southwest Points
  • $250 Gift Card = 3,000 Southwest Points
  • $500 Gift Card = 6,000 Southwest Points
Marriott gift card discount

Earn Up To 12,000 Southwest Points Buying Marriott Gift Cards

Each Southwest point is worth 1.7 cents towards Southwest Wanna Get Away fares.

  • 1,200 Southwest Points = ~$20
  • 3,000 Southwest Points = ~$51
  • 6,000 Southwest Points = ~$102

So this is like getting a 20% discount (in the form of Southwest points).  These gift cards don’t expire.  The Southwest points don’t count towards the Southwest Companion Pass status, but you can use them to redeem for flights on Southwest.

However, note that you CANNOT use the gift cards to pay for the pre-paid rate on the Marriott website or other websites, so you may not be saving that much because the pre-paid rates are usually the lowest rates.

You will also earn Marriott points when you use the gift card to pay for a Marriott hotel stay.

2.  Use A Credit Card To Buy Gift Cards (~3.4% Discount)

In addition to the 20% discount above, you can get extra points for using a credit card to buy the gift cards.

A.   Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Bold/Plus

The best card to use is one on which you have complete the minimum spending to get the sign-up bonus.  The next best cards to me are the Chase Sapphire Preferred because you earn 2X points per $1 for all travel expenses.

Or the the Chase Ink Bold or Chase Ink Plus which give you 2X points per $1 for hotel expenses.  I used my Chase Ink Plus and got 2X Ultimate Rewards Points per $1.

You can easily transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest points or to other airlines.

You will get 200 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for buying a $100 Marriott gift card which you can transfer to 200 Southwest points.

200 Southwest points are worth ~$3.40 (200 Southwest points X 1.7 cents per point).

B.  Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

You earn 2X miles on all purchases for using the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®.  And because you get 5% of your miles back after redeeming for travel, you’re effectively getting ~2.1% back towards any type of travel expense.

3.   Register for Marriott Promotion

Link:  Marriott’s Unexpected Bonus Promotion

Link:  Marriott’s MegaBonus Promotion

Marriott’s Unexpected Bonus promotion was a targeted offer for certain members.  Registration for the promotion closed on July 31, 2013.

Some members were offered a free night after two stays, while others were offered up to 55,000 Marriott points for staying a certain number of nights.

Marriott gift card discount

However, Marriott has a new Mega Bonus available from September 15 through January 14, 2014.

Marriott gift card discount

One Free Marriott Night for Every Two Paid Stays

You can earn 1 free night at a Marriott category 1 to 5 hotel, up to two free nights, for every two paid stays from September 15 to January 14, 2014.

However, not everyone will get this offer and some folks will get extra Marriott points after staying a certain number of nights at a Marriott hotel.

You could use your discounted gift cards to book Marriott stays and get a free night for every 2 paid stays! 

But make sure that you book your Marriott hotel stay on the Marriott website otherwise you won’t get credit towards the promotion.  Going through a shopping portal to the Marriott website is fine, but you won’t get credit for booking a Marriott hotel on Priceline, for example.

4.  Book Marriott Stay Via Ultimate Rewards Portal Or a Cash Back Site (3.50% Discount)

Link:  Ultimate Rewards Mall

Link:  Mr. Rebates

A.  Ultimate Rewards Mall

You can use the Ultimate Rewards Mall, to make your Marriott reservations and get 2 additional points per dollar spent when you use your Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold, or Chase Ink Plus.

Marriott gift card discount

2 Additional Points Per Dollar Via The Ultimate Rewards Mall

B.  Mr. Rebates

If you prefer cash back, you can book your Marriott reservations via a cash back site like Mr. Rebates.

I checked evrewards to see which site has the higher cash back and Mr. Rebates had the highest cash back, though folks with a Discover card can do better through the Discover portal.

Marriott gift card discount

Check Evrewards To Find Highest Cash Back

Bonus:  Register for Marriott Gold Or Platinum Challenge

Link:  Marriott Gold Status

Link:  Marriott Platinum Status

Marriott offers a challenge for Gold or Platinum Elite status.

With Gold and Platinum status you get:

  • Free internet access
  • Lounge access (complimentary breakfast, light snacks and beverages)
  • Upgrades
  • Arrival gift ( Only Platinum)
  • United Premier Silver status (Only Platinum)

The Gold status challenge requires 6 stays (usually need 50 nights) while Platinum status requires 9 stays (usually need 50 nights).

You have 4 months to complete the challenge once you enroll, so time your challenge carefully.  You must call the Marriott Rewards Customer Service at 801-468-4000 and ask for a challenge.

You could use the discounted gift cards to not only take advantage of the Marriott Mega Bonuses, but also to help complete your Marriott status challenge!

An Example

Let’s say that you were going to spend $200 for two 1-night stays at a Marriott hotel.  Here’s how you’d take advantage of this promotion.

1.  Marriott Gift Cards – $41

You’d get 2,400 Southwest Points for buying $200 in Marriott gift cards.  This is worth ~$41 (2,400 points X 1.7 cents per point) towards the lowest Wanna Getaway Fares on Southwest.

2.   Using the Right Credit Card – ~$7 

You’d get 2 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (which you can transfer to 2 Southwest points) per $1 for using the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Bold or Ink Plus.  So you’d get 400 Chase Ultimate Rewards points or 400 Southwest points for buying $200 in Marriott gift cards.

This is worth ~$7 (400 Southwest points X 1.7 cents per Southwest point).

3.   1 Free Night – ~$100

You get 1 free night after 2 stays with the Marriott Mega Bonus promotion.  Let’s assume that each free night is worth ~$100.

4.   Shopping Portal – ~$7

You’d get 2 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (which you can transfer to 2 Southwest points) per $1 for using your Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Bold or Ink Plus via the Ultimate Rewards portal.

So you’d get 400 Chase Ultimate Rewards points or 400 Southwest points for buying $200 in Marriott gift cards.  This is worth ~$7 (400 Southwest points X 1.7 cents per Southwest point).

Total – ~$155

In total you’re getting about $155 back in the form of Southwest points and 1 free night at a category 1 to 5 Marriott for spending $200 (assuming you were targeted for the Mega Bonus promotion).

That’s a 77.5% discount!

Bottom Line

You can stack several Marriott deals to earn lots of Southwest points and free stays in Marriott hotels and Marriott elite status!

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34 responses to “Up To ~78% Discount for Buying Marriott Gift Cards!

  1. Darius,
    A couple of things in your post don’t make sense to me, but maybe I am just misunderstanding what you are trying to say.
    First, when you talk about which card to use to buy the Marriott gift cards, you talk about using a Chase card to get double points, and that those points can then be transferred to Southwest. If your goal is to get more Southwest points, you can use a Southwest credit card to buy the Marriott gift cards, and you will get double points (or at least I did last year), because Marriott is a Southwest partner.
    Later, you talk about booking the Marriott stay through the Ultimate Rewards portal and using one of your UR cards to pay. Since you just bought gift cards, the point is to pay with the gift cards, not a credit card. So I would not include that UR booking as an option under this particular heading. However, certainly the MegaBonuses and Elite status challenges can be done using the gift cards.
    I have been using Marriott gift cards for two years because of these Southwest promotions. They are a great way to earn points with both SWA and, ultimately, with Marriott.

  2. Would it make any sense to use a Chase Marriott card instead of the Sapphire or Ink?

  3. I’m actually in the process of going through these various deals as well 🙂 I’ve not had much exposure to the Marriott family of hotels up until now, so it’s been interesting to try out the different brands to see the experience I get as a new Platinum status member.

    One thing that confused me a little bit: You buy the Marriott gift cards to get the SWA points (point 1), and that also happens to generate a small amount of spend on a credit card (point 2). But when it comes time to pay for the room, you actually want to use up the Marriott gift cards. So how does that work in conjunction with the Ultimate Rewards Mall (point 4)? I mean, I’ve gone through the mall to make my reservations, but since I’m not paying at that time of going through the mall (I pay at checkout with the Marriott gift card), does that even mean anything? You mention “when you use your Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold, or Chase Ink Plus”, but I’m not using those cards (I have them, I’m just not using them to pay for the room). Does somehow the amount I paid eventually get fed back into the UR Mall, even though I paid with a gift card?

  4. Great job with this one!! The hubby and I were just talking about a possible ski trip—looks like we will be penciling that one in, and planning another, in the near future! Thanks for all your hard work!

  5. I have a quick question about the Mega Bonus promotion. If your 2 night qualifying stay is at say a cat. 2 hotel would your free night then be at a cat. 2 property or would they be at any cat.1-cat.5 property? Thanks

    • @Sue @Keith C – That’s correct. You do get double points if you use your Southwest card. I used the Ultimate Rewards cards because you can transfer them to different airlines and hotels, and the flexibility helps. But you can also use the Southwest cards. If you make the booking through the UR portal, but pay with the gift card at the hotel, you *may” get the bonus UR points for going through the portal. It isn’t guaranteed, but is worth a try.

      @Steve – Sure, if you want to collect Marriott points.

      @Kayla– A ski trip sounds exciting!

      @Lenny Napier – You get the cat 1 to 5 certificates regardless of which category hotels you use to get your 2 stays.

  6. I have gone to two different shopping portals to make Marriott reservations, but each time I can only call up the Marriott store. I have even typed in “Marriott hotels.”

    Does anyone have any suggestions for me?

  7. I have the Barclays Arrival card. I have 40,000 miles after the signup bonus. If i buy a $100 Marriott hotel gift card. I can redeem (after 10% redemption bonus) 9,000 Barclays Arrivals miles to effectively get the $100 gift card for free????? any1???????????

  8. I was under the assumption a ‘Stay’ at Marriott meant two consecutive nights in the same hotel.

  9. Just out of curiosity, but can you also go through a shopping portal such as the UR Mall to buy the gift cards, thus earning even more points? I am new to this whole thing so I am not even sure this is possible.

  10. Hmmm, great post.

    I have a Marriott min spend and stay coming up. Is this an e gift card or do you have to wait for the physical card?

    I assume if I use my Marriott card, I will get the bonus of a Marriott purchase right?

  11. Dude, how do you pay with gift cards and also use the ultimate rewards portal to pay with your ink card? This is a bit confusing.

  12. Question: would these cards be coded as “travel” by Capital One? We’ve got around 140,000 points on an old Venture card that we’d like to use up, and this promotion looks like a great way to do it if we can maximize their use. Thanks!

  13. Answer to my own question – it’s a physical gift card. Shipping is $8.50 for 2-3 day express mail.

    • @Anne – Which portal have you visited?

      @Ricky – You have to redeem for the full purchase, so you redeem 10,000 points, but will get 1,000 back to make it 9,000 points!

      @Nathan – A “stay” is staying at Marriott for any number of nights. It can be 1 night or 10 nights, but counts as 1 stay.

      @Jim – I don’t have personal experience, but a purchase from Marriott hotels should be considered a travel expense.

      @Ben – Unfortunately, the UR mall doesn’t sell the gift cards which get you the bonus Southwest points.

      @Raj – You *may* get points for booking the room through the Ultimate Rewards points and then paying with the gift card at the hotel. But it isn’t guaranteed.


  14. This one had my head spinning (save up to 78%). Scratching head.

  15. One thing to keep in mind for MegaBonus – it is NOT ‘now through January 14th (or 15th, depending on how you read the terms); it starts SEPTEMBER 15. So, stays between now and September 15 do not count, as implied by the wording on this page.

  16. The savings are even more substantial if you have a companion pass! (double value on point 1, 2 & 4)

  17. another few ways you can reduce your cost:

    1) use AAA rate, normally is 10% off best rate

    2) use Marriott refer a friend promo, both you and your friend get 2000 points per stay, so for 2 stays in weekends me and my wife can get 8000 points in total, near to another lowest category redemption (10,000 points)

    3) you can still get some Marriott for these 2 stay, say you spend $200, if it’s 5 points/$1 that’s another 1000 points.

  18. Pingback: Reader Question: Can I Get A $100 Marriott Gift Card By Redeeming Barclays Arrival Points? | Million Mile Secrets

  19. Has anyone actually tested this through to completion? The Marriott gift cards are sold under a gifts subsidiary (where you can buy beds and linen etc) that may not be coded as hotel which is critical for this to work.

  20. A few items that you may be able to save more:

    1) Companion pass – as someone mentioned above all the southwest points would be worth double if you have the companion pass

    2) If you have the US Bank Cash + card you can get 5% on hotels so I assume you’d be able to use that card to purchase the gift cards as well as pay for the hotel itself (unless you are using the gift cards to pay for the hotel of course)

    3) Go through topcashback instead of Mr. Rebates or the Ultimate Rewards portal which currently offers an exclusive 5% on Marriott hotels for 4 more days

  21. You all misunderstand the companion pass. It does not make your points worth double. It makes your flights 2 for 1. These aren’t quite the same thing. For instance, if you have a companion pass and you pay cash for a flight, would you say the companion pass made your cash worth double? So, don’t buy this deal because you have a companion pass, you can always pay cash. Your points are always worth 1.67 c apiece, never double that.

  22. Its still a good deal, btw. I bought in.

  23. Darius
    If you and your spouse are already Marriott members, how can you get extra points for the refer a friend promotion per Steven? Isn’t the refer a friend promotion is only for referring new customer only? If your friend make a reservation, then you get the 2000 bonus point?

  24. Just to confirm. Marriott Gift Cards cannot be used to purchase Marriott Points correct? (I just clicked through the webpage, and the only payment options are Credit Card and Paypal.) I just wanted to be sure there isn’t any option that I’m unaware of, say over the phone?

  25. DARRIUS, You said that the best card to use is one you have completed your spend on. If I’m buying a $500 card on my Barclaycard to complete my spend can I then go back and use the bonus 40,000pts/$400 to pay for the gift card? That way I’m getting 1,000 points for using the card $500×2 then 10% back on the 40,000 pts because it’s travel and my 6000 SW pts. Do they not let you use the bonus pts towards something you bought during minimum spend? Thanks

  26. When do you find the marriott refer a friend promo? Is there a link or just contact marriott.

  27. I have signed up for this promotion. I also bought the gift card ($500) and already got 6k southwest points. I also received the physical gift card last week.
    I have a stay coming up in a week (i am breaking it to 1 night each in 2 diff hotels) where i’ll pay with gift card during checkout. However I have another stay coming in December which I have not booked yet. I was looking at the Marriott website to book it when I saw that for the hotel i am looking for in December they are giving me a really good rate for advanced purchase if I pre pay in full (Advance Purchase rate, prepay in full, non-refundable rate). If I use my gift card to pre-pay this while booking it, will it still be eligible for this promotion. I read the T&C and I did not see anything about not combining other discounts. I think it will work but I wanted to be certain. Does anyone here have an idea about it? Thank you for your input in advance.

  28. This Southwest promo is expired; however, I just wanted to mention that Cosmopolitan Las Vegas accepts Marriott Gift Card anywhere in their resort. I used them at Wicked Spoon Buffet.