How to transfer Marriott points to airlines: Your guide to becoming an instant expert
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Marriott Bonvoy has undergone a bunch of changes since Marriott acquired Starwood, it kept the best part of Starwood’s old program: points transfers to a long list of airline partners and it added more partners to the list. Marriott even retained the 5,000-mile transfer bonus everyone knows and loves.
You can earn Marriott points with hotel credit cards like the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card and Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card. Those points can now be transferred to airlines for award flights on 40+ partners – or redeemed for Marriott stays. This makes Marriott cards some of the best travel credit cards and a solid alternative to the best airline credit cards.
I’ll show you how to use the Marriott transfer partners.
Marriott transfer partners
You can now transfer your Marriott points to 40+ airline partners, including perennial favorites like American Airlines, Alaska Airlines and ANA. Transferring to airlines can be one of the best ways to use Marriott points.
Here’s the full list of partners:
|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|
Transfer ratios are 3:1 (with three exceptions)
The good news is transfer ratios are mostly 3:1. That means that for every 3,000 Marriott points you transfer, you’ll get 1,000 miles or points with nearly every airline.
The exceptions are:
- Air New Zealand — 200:1
- JetBlue — 6:1
- United Airlines — 10% bonus on every transfer, for a 3:1.1 transfer rate
Other than these, the ratios are wonderfully simple for other partners.
Transfer rules to airlines
You must transfer at least 3,000 Marriott points at a time. That will get you 1,000 miles with nearly every airline program on the list. The most you can transfer per day is 240,000 Marriott points (which transfers to 100,000 miles or points with most airlines).
When you transfer 60,000 Marriott points, you’ll get a bonus 15,000 Marriott points added to your transfer. So you’ll get 20,000 miles for airlines with a 3:1 transfer ratio, plus an additional 5,000 bonus airline miles (from the 15,000-point bonus of Marriott points).
So for every airline on the list except Air New Zealand and JetBlue, you’ll get 5,000 more miles on top of the 20,000 miles you’d ordinarily earn. For this reason, I recommend transferring your points in 60,000-point increments.
You can transfer a specific number of points
As long as you transfer at least 3,000 Marriott points, you can pick any specific number over that for your transfer amount. That means if you need exactly 1,112 miles for an award flight, for example, you could transfer 3,336 Marriott points. This is great — no orphaned miles hanging around.
How to transfer Marriott points to airline partners
Speaking of examples, let’s look at how to transfer your Marriott points to airlines.
Log into your Marriott account
Find the correct section
You’ll see a section on “How to Use Points/Certificates.” Hover over it and you’ll see “Travel,” click there. After you click you’ll need to scroll down to see a box that says, “Transfer Points to Miles.” That’s the one you want, so click through.
Click the button, baby
You’re almost there. Click “Transfer Points” to start the short process (or click here).
Enter all the details
On this page you’ll add everything relevant to your transfer: What type of miles you want and how many.
You’ll see a drop-down menu with the list of airline partners. Select the one you want. Then enter how many points you want to transfer. The number of miles you’ll receive updates automatically as you put in the number of points. Notice how I’m able to receive exactly 1,112 Alaska Airlines miles in the image above.
Make the transfer
One more button to click, “Convert.” After that, you’re finished.
But keep in mind, there’s no going back after you click that button. Transfers are irreversible. So double-check every detail to make sure it goes through smoothly.
How long does it take points to transfer to miles?
“Please allow approximately 6 weeks for miles to be posted to your account or contact your local Member Support to inquire about express service (may be subject to a fee).”
In our experience, transfers usually happen much faster than six weeks. I’ve heard most partner transfers are done in six days or less. But Marriott is covering their bases and adding a lot of extra time. For example, on a recent transfer I made to Alaska Airlines the miles posted in about two days.
We called to ask about their “express service” fees and wow, they are all over the place. We asked how much it would cost to transfer 60,000 Marriott points to Alaska Airlines and got a quote for “one to two weeks” for $15. The agent asked if we wanted it sooner and what our Marriott status was (Gold elite) because those are factors too. I asked how much it would cost for the fastest transfer with the highest elite status, but did not get a clear answer. I would not rely on this “express service” in any way.
The agent did tell me, however, that you must transfer at least 10,000 Marriott points with express service and most fees are stable once you transfer at least 30,000 Marriott points. But the fee varies by airline, how soon you want to transfer and what elite status you hold.
If you’re interested, you can call Marriott at 801-468-4000 to ask about an express transfer. But be warned: It’s messy. We were on hold for 45 minutes to ask one simple question.
All this is to say, if you want to transfer your points to miles, allow plenty of time.
How to transfer Marriott points between accounts
Unfortunately, you can’t seamlessly transfer points back and forth between members via the Marriott website. You’ll have to contact Marriott member support at 801-468-4000, and request the transfer. The call only takes a minute or two — it’s not a time suck like many other requests that may have spurred you to contact Marriott. However, there are a few quirks to the points program that can undermine the call.
The member transferring the points has to call Marriott
If you’re the one receiving the points, you can’t call Marriott and initiate the transfer. The member giving the points must be on the call. In other words, if you’re asking a friend or family member for points, you can’t handle it yourself.
That said, last time I called to initiate a transfer Marriott asked for no credentials other than my membership number and the number of the recipient. They asked if I was the account holder, I said yes, and they straightaway initiated the transfer. A little unsettling.
Accounts must be open 60 days before transfer (allegedly)
This one is a little tricky. According to Marriott:
You can share your Points with any Marriott Bonvoy Member as long as both accounts are in good standing and each has been open for at least 60 days.
I have found this to be an empty rule. My wife successfully transferred points to me within three weeks of creating her account. However, because this 60-day rule is in the terms, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you call Marriott to transfer points and the agent won’t transfer for this reason, hang up and call again. It’s clearly not a hard rule.
Transfer times fluctuate
In my experience, points transfers have taken as little as a few minutes and as much as three hours to transfer. The points should shift the same day.
Each member can only share and receive 100,000 points per calendar year from a single account
I know that’s a confusing headline, so listen up.
If you’re receiving points: You can only receive 100,000 points per calendar year from each friend and family member’s account. So if your travel buddy has 150,000 points, they can only transfer 100,000 points to you this year.
If you’re sending points: You can share a maximum of 100,000 points to a single Marriott account per calendar year. So if you’ve got 200,000 points, you can send 100,000 points to two different accounts.
This may not seem like a big deal because you and your travel buddy can simply make two separate reservations with your points instead of transferring all points to one account. But remember, Marriott has a policy that gives you the fifth night free on award stays of five or more nights. If you’re staying at a swanky five-star resort, you may want all the points for a four-night stay in one account to save 85,000 points if you’re looking at a property that falls in the Marriott award chart’s category eight.
There’s a slightly inconvenient way around this policy. I haven’t tried this myself, but I see zero reason why it wouldn’t work (comment if you’ve tried).
Let’s say you and a friend are trying to earn enough points for a five-night stay. You want to transfer 200,000 points, but you’re capped at 100,000 points. Go ahead and transfer 100,000 points to your buddy, and transfer another 100,000 points to another friend’s account. Your third-party friend can then transfer those points into your travel buddy’s account, and you’re good to go.
You can receive up to 500,000 points per year
Each member can receive up to 500,000 points per year, full stop. If you’ve got six generous friends who want to send you 100,000 points each, one of them is out of luck. You can send the sixth friend my way.
Unique Marriott transfer partners
Because Marriott has so many airline partners there are some unique ways to use Marriott points. For example, it is the only major transferrable points program that partners with American Airlines. So you can use Marriott points to top off your American Airlines account, but you can earn American Airlines miles easily. So you’re better off using one of these unique transfer partners that have valuable, but difficult to earn miles.
You can earn Alaska Airlines miles with the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card or Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card and those are your only travel credit card options. Alaska Airlines isn’t part of one of the major airline alliances, but it still has enough great partners to give you plenty of options for redeeming Alaska Airlines miles.
For starters, Alaska Airlines allows free stopovers on one-way award flights, this is a great way to get to visit an extra city for no extra miles. And these miles are exceptionally valuable for booking business-class awards to Asia. Here are business-class award prices with a few partners, since Alaska has a different award chart for each partner:
- Cathay Pacific – 50,000 miles one-way
- Japan Airlines – 60,000 miles one-way
- American Airlines – 60,000 miles one-way
You can take advantage of these low prices and even include a stopover in Hong Kong or Tokyo on your way to/from another city in Asia.
Asiana is a Korean Star Alliance partner airline with a generous award chart and is a good option for business and first-class partner flights from the U.S. to Europe.
You can fly one-way to Europe in business class for only 40,000 miles or in first-class for only 50,000 miles. Those are incredibly low prices, but there is a catch. Depending on which partner you’re booking with the taxes and fees can be high. Even so, paying 50,000 miles and $500+ for a first-class Lufthansa flight is still a good deal.
How to earn Marriott points
There are four cards (you can currently apply for) that directly earn Marriott points.
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card has a bonus of 100,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. The card also earns 6x points at participating Marriott hotels and 2x points on all other purchases.
Every year you keep this card you’ll get a free night award (valid at hotels that cost up to 35,000 points). The card comes with Silver Marriott status and you can earn Gold status if you spend $35,000+ in a cardmember year. You’ll also get 15 elite night credits each year.
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card’s annual fee is $95.
Apply here: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card
When you open the Marriott Bonvoy business card, you’ll earn a welcome bonus of 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new card to make $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $150 back in statement credits on eligible purchases made on your new card within the first three months of card membership. You’ll also earn 6x points at participating Marriott hotels, 4x points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, U.S. shipping purchases, and wireless phone service from U.S. carriers and 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
Every year you renew the card you’ll get a free night award (valid at hotels costing up to 35,000 points) and you can earn another free night after spending $60,000+ on your card in a calendar year. Additionally, the card comes with silver Marriott status and 15 elite night credits every year and these elite night credits will stack with the 15 elite night credits you can earn from one of the consumer Marriott credit cards. In addition, because this is an American Express business card it won’t add to your Chase 5/24 limit.
Apply here: Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex card comes with 75,000 Marriott points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Plus, earn up to $200 in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. Restaurants within the first six months of card membership. This card earns 6x Marriott points at participating Marriott hotels, 3x Marriott points at U.S. restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines and 2x Marriott points on everything else.
Every year you’ll get up to $300 in statement credits at participating Marriott hotels (including room charges), Gold elite status (25% bonus points on paid stays, guaranteed late check-out, room upgrades when available) and Platinum elite status (Welcome gift of either points, breakfast, or an amenity depending on the hotel, lounge access where available, room upgrade, including suites when available) after spending $75,000 on purchases in a calendar year.
One of the best benefits of the Bonvoy Brilliant card is the annual free night you’ll get after renewing your card, which is valid at hotels costing up 50,000 points per night. This card also comes with Priority Pass airport lounge access and a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit (worth up to $100). Enrollment required for select benefits.
The Chase Marriott Bonvoy Bold card has an intro offer of 50,000 Marriott points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. This is the only no-annual-fee Marriott credit card, but it has a handful of benefits.
Each year you keep the card you’ll get 15 elite night credits and Silver Marriott status. With this card you’ll earn 3x points at participating Marriott hotels, 2x points on travel purchases and one point on everything else.
Apply here: Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card
You can transfer your Marriott points to 40+ airline partners. The process is fairly straightforward and, since the merger with Starwood, you’ll find new transfer partners and old faves, like American Airlines and Alaska Airlines.
Marriott kept favorable transfer ratios and the much-loved bonus when you transfer in increments of 60,000 Marriott points to partners with 3:1 ratio, which is nearly all of them. Only Air New Zealand and JetBlue have worse ratios (200:1 and 6:1, respectively). And United Airlines transfers earn a 10% bonus on every transfer.
You must transfer at least 3,000 Marriott points at time and there’s a cap of 240,000 Marriott points per day (which generally transfers to 100,000 airline miles). All transfers are final once complete.
Keep in mind, Marriott says points transfers can take up to six weeks, although most folks report receiving their miles in under a week. Overall, I’m pleased that Marriott kept — and in some cases improved — this valuable way to redeem points.
What do you think of Marriott points transfers to airline miles?
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For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex Card, click here.
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