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How to use Marriott points (they’re useful for much more than just free hotel stays)

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How to use Marriott points (they’re useful for much more than just free hotel stays)

Joseph HostetlerHow to use Marriott points (they’re useful for much more than just free hotel stays)Million Mile Secrets Team

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The Marriott Bonvoy program has changed a number of times over the last couple of years, most recently by adding a new award chart. The new chart includes peak and off-peak pricing, which makes using your points a bit trickier. The good news is, it’s still fairly easy to earn Marriott points with Marriott credit card offers, such as:

Now, let’s take a look at everything you need to know about using Marriott points.

If you know how to redeem valuable Marriott points, you can transfer them to airline partners or use them for hotel stays. (Photo b

How to use Marriott points: More flexible than you might think

If you think Marriott points are only good for hotel stays, think again. You can also redeem them for car rentals, flights, travel packages, and even gift cards and merchandise.

Here are some of the best ways to use your Marriott points:

Hotel stays

One of the more straightforward ways of redeeming your points is for a hotel stay. Marriott’s award chart is relatively transparent, showing you the number of points needed to book each hotel on your intended travel dates. Once you’ve found the Marriott hotel you want, you’ll find a drop-down menu on the payment page. This will show payment options. For example, if you’re staying more than one night, you can customize your payment using cash and points, if you like.

Even if you stay only one night, you can still split your payment between cash and points with many hotels. You’ll have to do the math to see if using this option is a good idea.

For example, the AC Hotel in Cincinnati charges 35,000 points for a free night (70,000 for a two-night stay) in September 2020. But you can also pay 35,000 points and $240 (after taxes).

You can pay cash for one night and points for the other.

Also, don’t forget that outside of standard pricing, Marriott has peak and off-peak rates, meaning the award price will fluctuate (for better or worse) based on the date you’re staying.

If that’s not enough and you’d prefer to hang onto your cash, you can use Marriott Points Advance feature, which allows you to book an award stay even if you don’t have enough points but you will need to earn the Marriott points at least 14 days before your arrival date. Just note that this feature doesn’t lock in a price unless you actually have the points to reserve the room. Instead it just assures award availability.

In other words, when you reserve a room with Marriott Points Advance, the room may cost a standard points rate. But by the time you’ve earned the points to properly reserve the room, the price may have switched to peak pricing — meaning you’ll need more points to book the room.

Finally, all award stays of four nights or more get a fifth night free.

Transfer to airline partners

Marriott has the most airline transfer partners of any program — by a long shot. You can transfer Marriott points to 40+ airline partners, including American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Delta and Southwest.

Here’s the full list:

Aegean Airlines AeroflotAeroMexicoAir Canada
Air ChinaAir New Zealand (200:1)Alaska AirlinesAlitalia
ANAAmerican AirlinesAsiana AirlinesAvianca
British AirwaysCathay PacificChina Eastern AirlinesChina Southern Airlines
Copa AirlinesDeltaEmiratesEtihad
Flying Blue (Air France / KLM)Frontier AirlinesHainan AirlinesHawaiian Airlines
IberiaJapan AirlinesJet AirwaysJetBlue (6:1)
Korean AirLATAMLufthansaQantas
QatarSaudia AirlinesSingapore AirlinesSouth African Airways
SouthwestTAPThai AirwaysTurkish Airlines
United Airlines (3:1.1)Virgin AtlanticVirgin Australia

You’ll get 1 airline mile for every 3 Marriott points you transfer (though there are a few exceptions where you’ll get less). So if you transfer 3,000 Marriott points, you’ll receive 1,000 miles. You must transfer at least 3,000 Marriott points at a time and you can transfer no more than 240,000 Marriott points at a time.

Plus, when you transfer 60,000 Marriott points, you’ll get a bonus 5,000 miles. So instead of just receiving 20,000 miles for airlines with a 3:1 transfer ratio, you’ll receive 25,000 miles. For this reason, you’ll get the best value by transferring points in increments of 60,000.

For more details, check out our guide on how to transfer Marriott points to airlines.

Airfare

If you jump on the Marriott portal, you can redeem your points for flights or rental cars but please don’t use your points this way. From tinkering around with the site, it looks like Marriott allows you to cash your points in at a rate between 0.3 and 0.4 cents each. You can do much better than that if you use your points for hotel stays or transfer them directly to an airline partner.

Travel Packages

You also have the option of booking a Hotel + Air package with Marriott. With these travel packages, you can redeem your points for a seven-night stay at a hotel, as well as a whole bunch of miles. But you’ll need to call Marriott to book a Travel Package, as it can’t be done online.

To book a Travel Package, you can trade 330,000 Marriott points for seven nights at a Category 1-4 Marriott hotel and 100,000 miles. You can choose American Airlines, Delta, Alaska Airlines, Air Canada Aeroplan, ANA and tons more. And if you choose to earn United Airlines miles, you’ll earn 10% more miles.

United Airlines earns 10% more miles than other airlines.

Merchandise and gift cards

You can also redeem your Marriott points for gift cards and merchandise through their shopping portal for popular retailers like Amazon, Best Buy and Nordstrom, or purchase merchandise in various categories like entertainment, apparel and dining.

This may not be the best way to get the most value out of your points, though. Redeeming points for a $25 Amazon gift card, for instance, requires 10,000 points. That’s a horrendous 0.25 cents per point.

Bottom line

You can redeem Marriott points for way more than just hotel stays. You can even transfer them to a number of airline partners or redeem them for car rentals, gift cards, merchandise or travel packages.

For more helpful and easy-to-understand miles and points info like this, subscribe to our newsletter!

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  • Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
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  • Earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy Hotels. 3 points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines. 2 points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive 1 free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points) at a participating hotel. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy unlimited airport lounge visits when you enroll in Priority Pass™ Select membership.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $450 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
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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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It’s strange that every time I am booking a room, I never see an option to use Point and cash. I just went to the website and don’t see customize payment option.

I agree. I tried doing that today and its either points or cash. There is no half and half

A little airline transfer math, for anyone interested:

If you value your Bonvoy points at…
0.7 | 0.8 | 0.9 | 1.0 | 1.1 | 1.2
…cents each,

it makes sense to transfer to airline partners if you get this much value in cents/mile…
2.1 | 2.4 | 2.7 | 3.0 | 3.3 | 3.6

but if you transfer in increments of 60k, that becomes:

1.7 | 1.9 | 2.2 | 2.4 | 2.6 | 2.9

To United (not 60k increments), it’s:

1.9 | 2.2 | 2.5 | 2.7 | 3.0 | 3.3

…or in 60k increments:

1.5 | 1.7 | 2.0 | 2.2 | 2.4 | 2.6

Great Idea!! Also from your comment I learned about Marriot cents/mile as well.

Author
Joseph Hostetler

This is great, George. And surprisingly visually appealing for a website comment. Thanks for adding to the post!

Ditto!

Just wanted to warn everybody that if you try to book air travel on the Marriott booking portal, using your points, you will be screwed if you need to speak to someone re: the reservation.

Currently, when you call the toll-free customer service number, you get a recording about long wait times and then it just hangs up. You DO NOT have an option to wait to speak to an agent.

I have two international tickets I am trying to get refunded (points), due to this horrible COVID-19 virus. They just turned off their phones it appears and I am limbo.

When I called my Platinum Bonvoy customer service number, those poor fools a) had no clue the portal even existed and b) could only create a case which ended in the case mgr telling me he didn’t know how to help.

So aside from the bad exchange rate, it sucks in many other ways too.

I stayed at a Marriot for 3 months, 3 months of pay for hotel expenses and I HAVENT SEEN ANY OF MY POINTS. I have been on and off with customer service since JUNE to get my account fixed. I was redirected several times, told several times of different problems with my account. The latest asking me for photo ID which I had provided upon arrival for my stay, even so I sent them photo ID over 2 weeks ago and NO RESPONSE. I am completely disgusted. If you truly value your guests especially ones that give you 3+ months worth of money, this would have already been fixed.

I agree. They have really horrible customer service. I tried reaching out to them about Ultimate Reservation Guarantee when I decline the upgrade and they never even honor that program

Too much competition in the business world for travelers such as myself, but I endorse Marriott with their expertise programs in simplicity. Wish they got along better with the Insiders at the Ritz-Carlton, suing each other is bad for business I’m involved with both ends so I’m stuck-shocked right down the middle, hopefully near future you’ll see some fantastic Superior proven results for me on the oceanfront in Malibu, I’m also recruiting anyone in the industry with three + years of experience in management.

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