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Family travel is a huge part of the miles & points world. Lots of folks get into this hobby because they want to visit family, or they want to vacation with their family.
David, author of Wise Flys, is a family travel expert. So I asked him to begin a weekly series where he shares with you his top tips for traveling with a family!
David: Did you know that a 2-week vacation is just around the corner with a single credit card sign-up bonus if you know how to make the most of Marriott’s award chart?
The current offer for the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card is 80,000 Marriott points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. Plus an additional 7,500 Marriott points when you add an authorized user and make a purchase in the same timeframe.
I’ll show you how it’s done!
The Chase Marriott Card Can Slash the Price of Your Next Family Vacation
Folks who open the Chase Marriott card will earn a total of at least 90,500 Marriott points after meeting minimum spending requirements and adding an authorized user to their card (80,000 point sign-up bonus + at least 3,000 points for meeting minimum spending + 7,500 points for adding an authorized user).
Because Marriott Category 1 hotels cost just 7,500 Marriott points per night, you’ll have enough for 12 nights after opening the Chase Marriott, meeting minimum spending, and adding an authorized user (90,500 points / 12 nights). But when you stay 5 consecutive nights at a Marriott hotel, you’ll get the 5th night free. So whenever you stay in increments of 5 nights, you’ll save 7,500 points.
So for example, if you reserved 2 stays, one lasting 10 nights and one lasting 5 nights, you’d pay 90,000 points instead of 112,500 points. Because you’d get 3 of those nights free !
The card also comes with a free night at a Category 1 to 5 Marriott hotel every year after your account anniversary date. So you won’t receive this perk until a year after you’ve opened your card. But it’s a great reason to keep the card year after year!
How to Book Marriott Category 1 Award Rooms and Get the 5th Night Free
I have a few strategies for getting Big Travel with Small Money from Marriott points. Depending on your travel goals, these may not work for you. But it saves my family tons!
I recently helped a family take a vacation in the great city of Houston, Texas. Fortunately, there are multiple Category 1 hotels in the Houston area, costing just 7,500 Marriott points per night.
Just know that not all locations have Category 1 Marriott hotels. There are several in many states, but not necessarily the city you’re visiting.
Note: Something my family and I like to do to save big during family vacations is to cook our own meals. So I like to filter my results by which hotels have kitchens. Rooms with a refrigerator and stove allow you to save on eating at restaurants (though there are cheap ways to do that, too!). All that money saved on eating out can be used for fun family activities on vacation!
Step 1. Search Your Destination City
Go to the Marriott website and enter the city and dates you plan to visit. Click the “Use Points” checkbox.
Step 2. Use the Filter to View Category 1 Hotels
Filter your search to find the cheapest hotels. Under “Rewards Category“, click “Category 1”.
Step 3. Search for a Room With a Kitchen (Optional)
Under “Amenities“, click the option “Kitchen/kitchenette”.
Step 4. Choose Your Hotel and Follow the Booking Process
Make sure your dates are correct and enter your personal information to make the booking final.
The Residence Inn Houston Pasadena costs ~$170 per night after taxes. But you can book 5 consecutive nights for just 30,000 Marriott points. Remember, you’ll get the 5th night free. So you’ll only pay for 4 nights at a price of 30,000 Marriott Points, instead of 5 nights for 37,500 Marriott points (5 nights X 7,500 points per night = 37,500 points – 7,500 points for 5th night free).
With the cash price of $170 per night, you are saving ~$850 by using Marriott points. That’s Big Travel with Small Money.
Pro Tip: Ask for an Upgrade
It never hurts to ask for what you want. When you check in, you can kindly inform them that it would be great if you could get an upgrade. The Chase Marriott card comes with Silver Elite status, though that doesn’t at all guarantee you’ll get an upgrade. Be as nice as possible, and don’t come across as entitled or rude.
Don’t be discouraged if an upgrade is only available for part of your stay. If you are staying in the hotel for 5+ nights, and there is an upgrade available to the last 3 nights, an upgrade may become available later during your stay. You can say something like, “I wouldn’t mind switching rooms mid-stay if a suite became available. Would it be possible for you to contact me if a better room opens up?”
While it may be annoying to pack and then unpack again to move rooms, going from a standard room to a larger suite could make it worthwhile for your family!
If you know how to use Marriott points, you can get up to 15 free nights with the Chase Marriott card!
The Chase Marriott Card currently comes with 80,000 Marriott points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. Plus an additional 7,500 bonus points when you add an authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months in the same timeframe.
My family and I try to stay in hotels with a kitchen. Cooking for yourself is a great way to conserve funds, and save even more during an award stay.
How do you use Marriott points to save money?