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I’m going to let you in on the best ways to use Marriott points. In other words, if you don’t use your Marriott points in these 2 ways, you’re likely better off collecting a different kind of points.
This is NOT a post detailing all the different ways you can use Marriott points (if you want to know every option, check out our post on how to use Marriott points).
You can subscribe to our newsletter if you want more miles & points guidance like this.
Best Ways to Use Marriott Points
Yes, you can buy gift cards, reserve rental cars, and purchase merchandise with Marriott points. But DON’T do it. You’ll get the absolute best value for your points by using them in the following ways.
Crazy Beautiful 5-Star Hotel Stays
This is the reason most of us begin collecting hotel points. We want to stay at expensive, beautiful, exotic hotels that we can’t afford with cash. And we want it for free.
Earning Marriott points with cards like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card are the quick answer to free 5-star hotels. For example, I used 35,000 Marriott points to stay at the JW Marriott El Convento in Cusco after my hike to Machu Picchu. UTTERLY STUNNING.
Just remember, the golden rule at MMS is to do the math. Many 5-star hotels have rates that vary dramatically from season to season. For example, the St. Regis Deer Valley (a popular ski resort) charges as little as $350 in the fall. But once the ski season begins, you’ll have a hard time finding a rate under $1,600.
Award nights at this hotel cost a LOT at 85,000 points per night. So when it’s not ski season, you won’t get a very good value for your points ($350 per night / 85,000 points = 0.41 cents per point). But during ski season, you’ll get an excellent value ($1,600 per night / 85,000 points = 1.88 cents per point)! Now that Marriott has introduced peak and off-peak pricing this could vary a bit, but you get the idea.
Always check the cash price of a 5-star hotel before you choose to burn a ton of points. And read this post to better understand how much Marriott points are worth.
Very Normal Un-Fancy Practical Hotel Stays
This is my favorite way to use hotel points.
You can stretch your Marriott points by using them for “low category” hotels. That means hotels that are thoroughly unremarkable.
For example, I stayed at a TownePlace Suites just west of Chicago, which cost just 7,500 points per night. The room easily sells for $90+, so I received a value of 1.2 cents per point ($90 / 7,500 points). That’s a solid value for Marriott points!
Again, if you were to open the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless, you’d receive a welcome bonus of 100,000 Marriott points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account (you’d have a total of 110,000 points after you meet the spending requirement). You could stay at a cheap hotel like this for at least 14 nights, which could easily save you $1,200+!
5th Hotel Night Free
Marriott gives you an incentive to burn your points at their hotels. When you book 5 consecutive nights with points, you’ll get the 5th night for free.
Here’s how much it costs to book the AC Hotel Cincinnati at the Banks for 4 nights in February 2020:
And here’s how much it costs to book the same hotel for 5 nights:
The hotel costs 25,000 points per night. Whether you’re booking 4 or 5 nights, you’ll pay 100,000 Marriott points. That’s because you get the 5th night free!
This feature is especially handy if you’re staying at a high-rent hotel, like a Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis which can cost 85,000 points per night. I used this 5th night free perk to save 60,000 points on my upcoming trip to the St. Regis Maldives!
The Marriott 5th night free angle is an excellent way to stretch your points even further.
Transfer Points to Airlines in Increments of 60,000
You can transfer Marriott points to airlines with 40+ different kinds of airline miles at a favorable transfer ratio of 3:1 (unless otherwise specified below).
|Aegean Airlines||Aeroflot||AeroMexico||Air Canada|
|Air China||Air New Zealand (200:1)||Alaska Airlines||Alitalia|
|ANA||American Airlines||Asiana Airlines||Avianca|
|British Airways||Cathay Pacific||China Eastern Airlines||China Southern Airlines|
|Flying Blue (Air France / KLM)||Frontier Airlines||Hainan Airlines||Hawaiian Airlines|
|Iberia||Japan Airlines||Jet Airways||JetBlue (6:1)|
|Qatar||Saudia Airlines||Singapore Airlines||South African Airways|
|Southwest||TAP||Thai Airways||Turkish Airlines|
|United Airlines (3:1.1)||Virgin Atlantic||Virgin Australia|
That means if you transfer 3,000 Marriott points to popular airlines like American Airlines, Southwest, or Alaska Airlines, you’ll receive 1,000 miles. This is a great deal, as Marriott points are generally WAY easier to earn than airline miles.
However, there’s a secret bonus you can earn to make the transfer ratio even better. When you convert your Marriott points in increments of 60,000, you’ll end up with 25,000 miles instead of 20,000 miles. That’s because Marriott will automatically send a bonus 15,000 points to the airline, giving you 5,000 extra miles!
These bonus miles make the ratio 2.4:1 instead of 3:1. That’s a significant improvement.
If you’re going to transfer Marriott points to airlines, it’s BEST to transfer in increments of 60,000.
Read this post if you want to learn how to transfer Marriott points to airlines. And comment with any questions!
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