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INSIDER SECRET: Marriott points are some of the most flexible in the points-and-miles hobby. That’s because you can transfer them to airlines at a solid rate. You can use them for a free flight AND hotel!
Marriott is now the largest hotel chain in the world with a total of ~1.3 million rooms in 29 hotel brands.
This is awesome for free-travel enthusiasts because it provides a great opportunity to collect points for many types of hotels ranging from the ultra-luxury resort to family-friendly hotel to economical roadside stops under one reward program. One push toward elite status can earn you valuable free perks and benefits across a huge range of hotels on nearly every corner of the world. You can earn them crazy easily by opening cards like:
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card
With such a wide-reaching program, what is the true value of Marriott points? Today we will break it down.
Understanding Marriott Points Value
To understand what Marriott points are worth, we should first consider the different redemption options available for Marriott points, then see how much money we can save by using points instead of cash.
The best way to use Marriott points is toward their primary purpose, booking free hotel stays at Marriott brands.
Marriott uses a reward chart for point redemption. Each hotel is assigned to a category with a specific point cost.
|Category||Point Cost||Cash Price (Estimated by Me)||Point||Avg Point Value|
|1||7,500||$70 - $140||0.9 to 1.8 cents||1.5 cents|
|2||12,500||$100 - $240||0.9 to 1.9 cents||1.2 cents|
|3||17,500||$100 - $280||0.6 to 1.6 cents||0.8 cents|
|4||25,000||$100 - $340||0.4 to 1.3 cents||0.6 cents|
|5||35,000||$180 - $500||0.5 to 1.4 cents||0.8 cents|
|6||50,000||$400 - $750||0.8 to 1.5 cents||1.2 cents|
|7||60,000||$600 - $1,000||1 to 1.6 cents||1.5 cents|
|8||85,000||$1,000 - $2,000+||1.2 to 2.3 cents||1.5 cents|
As you can see, most categories offer a sizeable range in point value, but you can usually expect to get one cent per point or more if you are willing to search around. Some categories really stand out as great savings opportunities.
Here Are the Two Sweet Spots for Marriott Reward Nights
There is always an area on every award chart called the sweet spot. This is where you get exceptional value compared to other tiers. For Marriott hotels, Category 1 and Category 6 are the sweet spots of this reward program.
At only 7,500 Marriott points per night, it is easy to accrue the points for a free night at a Category 1 hotel. Often these hotels still run over $100, and even creak up toward $150. The hotels in this category are often comparable (in price and amenities) to many of those in Categories 2 and 3, but for far fewer points. This presents a great opportunity to get a lot of value from a small number of points (over two cents per point in many cases).
Categories 3 and 4 are fairly uninspiring. This is the lowest point value on average across any of the categories. I wouldn’t recommend redeeming nights within these categories unless you have a good reason or find an exceptional deal. You are better off paying cash and earning points for your stay within this category, instead of redeeming points.
Category 6 is the best overall value, in my opinion, for point value. In general, each point will be worth more in this category than in any other category on Marriott’s list. Many of the Ritz-Carlton hotels emerge in this category as exceptional deals. There are also many premium hotel brands like Westin, Autograph Collection, Renaissance and St. Regis.
Unfortunately, Marriott is shifting some of the best values within Category 7 into a new Category 8. This new category costs 15,000 more points per night, which has a significant impact on the value of your points. But even at the new reward rate, it contains Marriott’s finest hotels and virtually all of them will still offer more than one cent per point or more.
Here are some examples of the best deals I found in the Marriott reward system.
Almost All Category 1 Hotels Offer Great Value (Up to 2+ Cents per Point)
These hotels will be the most basic hotels in Marriott’s lineup. But many of these hotels would normally cost you $80 to $150 a night, and at a reward cost of just 7,500 points, this brings a value per point as high as two cents per point!
Finding hotels that fit into this category is going to be tough. There are only about 50 or 60 Category 1 hotels in the US, but if you can find one where you want to stay, they usually represent an incredible value.
For example The Courtyard in Killeen, Texas is actually a pretty nice hotel (I’ve stayed there), and it can go for over $160 some nights (it averages around $140). This means the point value is 2.13 cents per Marriott point ($160/7,500 points). It may not be a memorable hotel, but it is a GREAT VALUE.
Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Florida (2.5 Cents per Point)
Category 6 on the Marriott award chart is a great category for deals because this is the first tier that includes luxury brands like Ritz-Carlton. They are still very accessible, at only 50,000 Marriott points per night. Many hotels in this category can get you value above two cents per point.
The Ritz-Carlton Golf and Luxury Beach Resort in Naples, Florida has rooms that cost up to $1,244 per night. At only 50,000 Marriott points you can get up to 2.5 cents per point in value! That is amazing.
The quality of this hotel rivals those in the higher categories, but at an incredibly low reward cost. These are the deals to keep an eye on. This deal wasn’t alone — there are a total of 30 Ritz-Carlton hotel locations in this category that offer similar value.
The St. Regis Deer Valley (2.5 Cents per Point)
When you use points long enough, you will find that some of the best redemptions come from the most premium hotels. The St. Regis Deer Valley is one of the top premium hotels for skiing enthusiasts.
Nestled in the mountains in Park City, Utah, this resort is the best combination of nature and luxury. Celebrities often stay here during peak ski season, which can drive the price up significantly. This hotel usually runs between $1,250 – $2,150 a night during ski season, making it out of reach for many of us — but not if you have Marriott points.
Right now you can stay here for 85,000 Marriott points. At $2,137 per night, that makes your points worth an outstanding 2.5+ cents per point!
Always Check the Cash Price Before Booking
The value of your points can change significantly across multiple days of the week, so I always recommend checking cash prices before booking to see what value you’re getting.
Here is an example of the Courtyard Seattle Bellevue/Redmond hotel. Fridays and Saturdays are consistently as cheap as $80, while Tuesdays and Wednesdays consistently run ~$225. The award cost is the same 17,500 Marriott points no matter which day you stay. So you could be receiving 1.45 cents of value for the days that would normally cost $254, or as little as 0.46 cents per point on the days that are only $80.
So even the same hotel can offer you drastically different value for your points. I would recommend paying cash and saving your points if you were staying on a Saturday that only costs $80. But a Tuesday night might present a good opportunity to use points towards a free night, instead of shelling out $254!
Get Even More Value With Marriott’s 5th-Night-Free Perk
Marriott has an incredible offer that allows you to get even more value from your points. This perk is called the 5th Night Free and is available for everyone with no blackout dates.
This allows you to redeem five free nights with points for the cost of four nights. You must use points to cover the entire stay and the five nights must be consecutive at the same hotel. This is a great way to get an effective point “discount” on a 5+ night stay.
For example, consider this reservation at the JW Marriott Washington DC hotel. This room averages $598 per night or 50,000 points per night because it is a Category 6. This means on a normal night we would get a value of 1.2 cents per point. Not bad!
But if we book five nights in a row at this hotel and use Marriott points, we actually get the fifth night free, saving us 50,000 points.
This room would cost ~$3,000 total if we paid for five nights with cash. But it is only 200,000 Marriott points, thanks to the 5th-night-free perk. This takes our value per point up from 1.2 cents to 1.5 cents. That’s a huge jump by using this perk.
Don’t forget, you can use this perk at any reward level and you don’t need any special status to use it. Everyone is eligible.
What Is the Best Way to Earn Tons of Marriott Points?
Earning points towards free award stays at Marriott is easy. Every stay at a Marriott hotel will earn you 10 Marriott points per $1 spent. So a $100 hotel stay earns 1,000 Marriott points.
There are 3 exceptions: Element, Residence Inn, and TownePlace Suites hotels, which instead earn five Marriott points per $1 spent.
You can earn even more points by maintaining Marriott Bonvoy elite status. Different levels of elite status earn more bonus points.
- Silver Elite: Earn 10% bonus points (11 points per $1)
- Gold Elite: Earn 25% bonus points (12.5 points per $1)
- Platinum Elite: Earn 50% bonus points (15 points per $1)
- Platinum Premier Elite: Earn 75% bonus points (17.5 points per $1)
So these points can rack up very quickly. But the easiest way to earn more Marriott point toward free hotel stays is still with cards like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card, Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card or the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card. You’ll earn bonus points (worth potentially THOUSANDS) for opening the cards and meeting their minimum spending requirements. Plus, you’ll get bonus points when you use them for your paid stays with Marriott.
Marriott is also a transfer partner for Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards. So if you are part of either of these flexible reward programs, you can transfer those points to Marriott points and use them toward free award stays. (Note that’s usually not a good idea. There are better ways to spend those Chase and Amex points, but this is handy if you just need a few points to top off your account.)
Marriott Bonvoy is one of the best hotel reward programs. You can earn and redeem Marriott points across 29 different hotel brands with over 1,300,000+ rooms worldwide.
Marriott uses an award chart for determining point costs across their hotels, which makes it predictable for booking award stays. Here’s my estimate:
- Category 1: 7,500 points per night (average value of ~1.5 cents per point)
- Category 2: 12,500 points per night (average value of ~1.2 cents per point)
- Category 3: 17,500 points per night (average value of ~0.8 cents per point)
- Category 4: 25,000 points per night (average value of ~0.6 cents per point)
- Category 5: 35,000 points per night (average value of ~0.8 cents per point)
- Category 6: 50,000 points per night (average value of ~1.2 cents per point)
- Category 7: 60,000 points per night (average value of ~1.5 cents per point)
- Category 8: 85,000 points per night (average value of ~1.5 cents per point)
As an overall average, you will usually get about one cent of value per point across all hotel brands in the Marriott family. But earning even higher (over three cents per point) is very possible if you are willing to look around. Don’t forget that Marriott’s 5th-night-free perk is available to everyone and helps significantly in making your points worth even more.
You can read check out these posts to learn more about the Marriott Bonvoy program:
- Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status
- Best Way to Use Marriott Points
- How to Transfer Marriott Points to Airlines
- How to Earn Marriott Points
- How to Setup a Marriott Account
- How to Use Marriott Points
- Marriott Award Chart
- Do Marriott Points Expire?
Let me know how you value Marriott points! And subscribe to our newsletter for more easy-to-understand guides like this one.