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Best (and Worst!) Ways to Book Marriott Hotels With Points

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Best (and Worst!) Ways to Book Marriott Hotels With Points

Brian BirosBest (and Worst!) Ways to Book Marriott Hotels With PointsMillion Mile Secrets Team

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INSIDER SECRET: Using Marriott Bonvoy points for a Marriott stay is usually a good value, but transferring points to Marriott Bonvoy is a poor value.

After the merger of Marriott and Starwood created the world’s largest hotel company, Marriott rebranded their rewards program as Marriott Bonvoy. This one loyalty program now covers 30 hotel brands and over 6,900 hotels worldwide! Obviously, that gives us many options to earn and redeem Marriott Bonvoy points, but all these options can get complicated.

I’ll break down these options and show you the best ways to book Marriott hotels with points.

I used Marriott Bonvoy points to book a villa at the St. Regis Bora Bora with my own private pool, hammock and beach! (Photo by Brian Biros / Million Mile Secrets)

Earning Marriott Bonvoy Points

You can read our in-depth guide for how to earn Marriott points. And here is a list of the Marriott Bonvoy credit cards that can help you earn those valuable Marriott Bonvoy points:

Marriott Bonvoy Credit CardWelcome Bonus and Minimum Spend RequirementCredit Card Review
Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card30,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 monthsRead our review of the Marriott Bonvoy Bold
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.Read our review of the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Terms Apply.Read our review of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Terms Apply.Read our review of the Marriott Bonvoy Business card

Best Ways to Book Marriott Hotels with Points

I’ll compare different options for booking free nights at Marriott hotels with points from different programs to compare the value you get. Here are the methods I’ll be comparing, using a booking at the Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort & Spa at Grand Dunes for our example. (Note that I’ll be ignoring the resort fee, which usually isn’t payable with points.)

We’ll compare redemption options for the Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort & Spa at Grand Dunes. (Photo by Brian Biros / Million Mile Secrets)

Using Marriott Bonvoy Points

Let’s see what it would cost to book the Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort & Spa at Grand Dunes using Marriott Bonvoy Points for a two-night weekend in July:

As you can see, the stay costs 70,000 points, or 35,000 points per night.

The standard rate for this room is $757 (with taxes but excluding resort fee), so I’m getting 1.1 cents per point on this redemption. On average, we value Marriott Bonvoy Points at one cent per point, so this is a good redemption.

Using our value of one cent per point, this redemption would cost me $700 worth of Marriott Bonvoy points.

BONUS: Remember that if you redeem Marriott Bonvoy points for a 4-night stay, you get the 5th night for free! 

Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Marriott Bonvoy

You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to a whole bunch of airline partners and a handful of hotel partners. Marriott is one of these Chase transfer partners. These points can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio. So for the same stay above, I’d have to transfer 70,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to get the required 70,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.

This stay would cost 70,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points. This is a bad redemption.

Why? Because we estimate Chase points value to be ~2 cents each on average. Using that valuation, this redemption would cost $1,400 worth of Chase Ultimate Rewards Points.

You get much better value by transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to airline partners. If you want to use your Chase points for a hotel stay, transferring to Hyatt gives you better value that Marriott.

Note: You can only transfer points to Marriott if you have one of the following cards:

Using Chase Points Through the Chase Travel Portal

You can also redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for a hotel stay directly through the Chase Travel Portal. If you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred, you can redeem them for a value of 1.25 cents each toward travel. And if you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve, you get 1.5 cents per point for travel.

Because I have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, I get a value of 1.5 cents per point on travel redemptions through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. However, the rate available through the Chase portal is $369 per night, when the rate on Marriott’s site is $332 per night. This is unfortunately rather common in the Chase portal.

Therefore, 55,596 Chase Ultimate Rewards points would be required for the stay. As previously stated, we consider Chase points value to be 2 cents each, so this redemption would cost $1,112 worth of Chase Ultimate Rewards points. This is not a good redemption.

See our guide to the best ways to use Chase points here.

Transferring American Express Membership Rewards to Marriott Bonvoy

American Express Membership Rewards points are also transferable to Marriott Bonvoy at a 1:1 ratio. So to get the required 70,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for my redemption, I’d have to transfer 70,000 Membership Rewards points.

As with Chase Ultimate Rewards, transferring American Express Membership Rewards points to Marriott Bonvoy points is a bad idea. On average, we value Amex points value at 2 cents per point. Therefore, this redemption would cost $1,400 worth of American Express Membership Rewards points. 

See also:

Using American Express Membership Rewards Through Amex Travel

American Express lets you use Membership Rewards points directly on Marriott hotels booked through the Amex Travel website. However, you only get 0.7 cents per point when you do so. So my two-night stay at the Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort & Spa at Grand Dunes would cost me a whopping 119,134 Membership Rewards points.

This is a very bad redemption. At our valuation of 2 cents per Membership Rewards point, this redemption would cost me $2,383 worth of Membership Rewards points. Yikes.

Using Capital One Miles to Erase Travel Charges

Capital One Miles earned from the following cards can be used to cover hotel stays:

The process is even easier than those listed above. You simply pay for your stay with one of these Capital One cards and use the miles to erase the charge after it posts to your account. The miles are worth 1 cent each when redeemed this way.

Let’s look at what the hotel stay would cost if I booked it directly through the Marriott website.

Then if I erased the $756.82 charge (ignoring the $50 resort fee) with Capital One miles, I would use 75,682 miles.

This isn’t a bad option. That said I could potentially receive better value than the one cent per point if I used certain Capital One transfer partners for free flights, like Etihad and Singapore Airlines. Check out our post on the best way to use Capital One miles for more info on that!

Using Barclays Arrival Miles to Erase Travel Charges

Similar to Capital One miles, Barclays Arrival miles can be used to erase charges off your card statement. Therefore, if I pay for the stay listed above with a card that earns Barclays miles, I can erase the $756.82 charge with 75,682 Barclaycard Arrival miles.

Because Barclays Arrival miles can’t be transferred, one cent per point is the best value I will get for them. Therefore, this redemption costs $767 worth of Barclaycard Arrival miles. This is a good redemption option.

Using Citi ThankYou Points Through Citi Travel Portal

While the Citi ThankYou program does not have hotel transfer partners, you can still use ThankYou points directly on hotels booked through the Citi ThankYou travel portal. And ThankYou points from a Citi Premier Card are worth 1.25 cents per point.

Unfortunately, the rate available through the Citi ThankYou portal is much higher than the rate available directly through Marriott, which diminishes a lot of the value from the 1.25 cents above. Still, if I disregard the $50 resort fee that is included in the above total, this reservation gets lowered to 68,750 Citi ThankYou points. On average, we value Citi ThankYou points at 1.5 cents per point. This means my redemption cost $1,031 worth of Citi ThankYou points. This is not a good redemption option.

Summary

I’ve shown you a wide range of options for redeeming points on Marriott hotel stays. But to make it easy to compare, I ranked the options below. Here is what a points redemption would cost from each of the following programs for a two-night weekend stay at the Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort & Spa at Grand Dunes in July:

RankPoints ProgramPoints Required for RedemptionEstimated Value of Points for Redemption
1Marriott Bonvoy Points70,000 points$700
2Barclaycard Arrival Miles75,682 miles$767
3Capital One Miles75,682 miles$984
4Citi ThankYou Points68,750 points$1,031
5Chase Sapphire Reserve Points Through Chase Travel Portal55,596 points$1,112
6Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Transferred to Marriott Bonvoy70,000 points$1,400
7Amex Membership Rewards Points Transferred to Marriott Bonvoy70,000 points$1,400
8Amex Membership Rewards Points Through Amex Travel119,134 points$2,383
Sunrise from the beach of the Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort & Spa at Grand Dunes which I booked with Marriott points! (Photo by Brian Biros / Million Mile Secrets)

Variations in Value

It is important to note that this is just one example for a pretty average redemption. Sometimes, using Marriott Bonvoy points is a much better value than using points as cash to pay for a stay. Likewise, sometimes the cash rate gives you much better value than a Marriott Bonvoy points redemption.

A good trick to see which option is better is to search for a reservation on the Marriott website and compare the points rate for a stay to the cash rate. To do this, divide the points rate by 100. Then compare the direct cash rate to the value of the redemption using points. If you’re not getting at least a value of one cent, it’s probably a bad option.

For example, if the hotel costs 70,000 points per night, divide that rate by 100, and the result will be 700. If the hotel costs much less than $700, you’re likely better off using Barclaycard Arrival miles or Capital One miles instead of Marriott Bonvoy points. If it costs MORE than $700, Marriott Bonvoy points are a no-brainer.

However, even with the differences in value, it is almost never a good idea to transfer points to Marriott Bonvoy.

When I redeemed my Marriott points for the St. Regis Bora Bora, it only cost 60,000 points per night. Cash rate would have been nearly $1000 per night, so points were the clear winner! (Photo by Brian Biros / Million Mile Secrets)

Bottom Line

While the best ways to book Marriott hotels with points will vary depending on the reservation, there are clear winners (Marriott Bonvoy) and clear losers (American Express Membership Rewards).

As you can see, redemption values can vary greatly, so it’s worth comparing across the different programs in which you have points when shopping for a Marriott hotel stay. Here are the credit cards where you can earn Marriott Bonvoy points:

For more on Marriott hotel stays and the Marriott Bonvoy program, see also:

To stay up to date on the best ways to get the biggest bang for your miles, subscribe to the Million Mile Secrets daily email newsletter.

Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card

Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card

  • Introducing the New Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card from Chase® with no annual fee!
  • Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 3X Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
  • 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on other travel purchases (from airfare to taxis and trains)
  • 1X point for every $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Receive 15 Elite Night Credits annually, qualifying you for Silver Elite Status. Restrictions apply.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Earn Unlimited Marriot Bonvoy points and get Free Night Stays faster.

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Excellent information, but the summary ranking chart is very poorly formatted. Good idea to make the chart, but it’s hard to read

I really like how you laid this all out with no fluff. This is the type of guide beginners need.

I have found it incredibly difficult to redeem Amex MR for 2 cpp. I only fly Economy; will track prices over many months; am flexible with dates; use predictive tools like Hopper and Google Flights’ “typical price” chart; and search Secret Flying and The Flight Deal archives for prior sales. Even with award sales and transfer bonuses, except for certain award chart sweet spots, I struggle to get above 1.5 cpp in “real value.” I guess when you tend to book later or for peak dates, or you have very complex routings, you can squeeze out more value; but otherwise, 2 cpp seems unattainable to the frugal Economy flyer.

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Glad you found this useful George! I’m with you on the points value because I am a budget economy flyer too. The high cpp values are usually for premium flights or last minutes flights when the cash price is inflated. If you’re a savvy traveler anyways, you’ll won’t often find value greater than 1.5 cpp. Most of my Chase UR points are redeemed for 1.5 cpp on flights via my Sapphire Reserve card because that’s where I find maximum value.

I guess if I book flights that I “think” will be 1.4-1.5 cpp when the price does bottom out, the time savings (and lower anxiety) in not having to track prices is worth something, too. Maybe better seats as well, if they let me choose them early.

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