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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)
You can earn up to 12,000 Southwest points for buying Marriott hotel gift cards up to September 26, 2013.
- $100 Gift Card = 1,200 Southwest Points
- $250 Gift Card = 3,000 Southwest Points
- $500 Gift Card = 6,000 Southwest Points
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
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.
However, Marriott has a new Mega Bonus available from September 15 through January 14, 2014.
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.
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.
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.
Bonus: Register for Marriott Gold Or Platinum Challenge
Link: Marriott Gold Status
Link: Marriott Platinum Status
With Gold and Platinum status you get:
- Free internet access
- Lounge access (complimentary breakfast, light snacks and beverages)
- 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!
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!
You can stack several Marriott deals to earn lots of Southwest points and free stays in Marriott hotels and Marriott elite status!