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Marriott points value explained and fun options for using them

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Marriott points value explained and fun options for using them

Alex CurtisMarriott points value explained and fun options for using themMillion Mile Secrets Team

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Marriott is the largest hotel chain in the world with a total of ~1.3 million rooms under 32 hotel brands. This is awesome for miles and points enthusiasts because it provides a great opportunity to collect points with the Marriott Bonvoy program for hotels ranging from ultra-luxury resorts to family-friendly hotels to economical roadside stops. Also, Marriott Bonvoy elite status can earn you valuable free perks and benefits across that huge range of hotels in nearly every corner of the world.

If you want to stock-up on Marriott points, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card currently has a limited-time increased 100,000-point bonus offer after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months. The Marriott Boundless card also comes with a free night award (valid at hotels costing up to 35,000 points) each year you keep and renew the card and 15 elite night credits annually.

With such a wide-reaching program, what is the true value of Marriott points? Today we will break it down.

You can book a wide range of hotels with Marriott points, like the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa. (Photo by Jeff Whyte/Shutterstock.)

Understanding the Marriott points value

To understand what Marriott points are worth, we should first consider the different redemption options available, then see how much money we can save by using points instead of cash. The best way to use Marriott points is for their primary purpose, booking free hotel stays at Marriott locations.

The Marriott award chart shows you how many points you need for an award night redemption. Each hotel is assigned to a category with a specific standard point cost along with peak and off-peak pricing.

For the sake of consistency, we’ll use the standard rates for evaluation.

CategoryPoint CostCash Price (Estimated by Me)Avg Point Value
17,500$70 - $1401.5 cents
212,500$100 - $2401.2 cents
317,500$100 - $2800.8 cents
425,000$100 - $3400.6 cents
535,000$180 - $5000.8 cents
650,000$400 - $7501.2 cents
760,000$600 - $1,0001.5 cents
885,000$1,000 - $2,000+1.5 cents

Most categories offer a range in value, but you can usually expect to get one cent per point toward a booking — or more if you are willing to search around. Some categories and dates really stand out as great savings opportunities.

Here are two sweet spots for Marriott award nights

There is always an area on every award chart where you get exceptional value compared to other tiers. For using Marriott points for hotels, category 1 and category 6 are usually the best options. You can also transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines, which could be a good option if you want to take advantage of an airline award chart sweet spot. And Marriott points convert into lots of airline miles you can’t earn with the best airline credit cards.

Category 1 hotels

At only 7,500 Marriott points per night at the standard rate (and even fewer points during off-peak times), it is easy to accrue the points for a free night at a category 1 hotel. Often these hotels still charge $100+ for a night’s stay. The hotels in this category are 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.

Finding hotels that fit into this category is going to be tough. There are only about 50 or 60 category 1 hotels in the U.S. For example, The Courtyard in Killeen, Texas is a nice hotel (I’ve stayed there), and it can go for over $160 some nights (it averages around $140). At a standard rate of 7,500 points per night, it may not be a memorable hotel, but it is a great value.

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 hotels

Category 6 is the best overall value, in my opinion, for using points. 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 that appear in this category are exceptional deals. There are also other premium hotel brands like Westin, Autograph Collection, Renaissance and St. Regis.

Unfortunately, Marriott shifted some of the best values within Category 7 into a Category 8. This newer 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 value of more than one cent 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.

For example, let’s take a look at the rates at the Courtyard Seattle Bellevue/Redmond hotel.

As you can see, on some days the points rate is aligned with the cash rate — as one goes up, so does the other. I would recommend paying cash and saving your points if you were staying on a night where the cash price was low. But on certain nights you’ll get a greater value when using your points. The same hotel can offer you drastically different value for your points.

Get even more value with Marriott’s “Stay 5, pay for 4” perk

Marriott has an incredible offer that allows you to get even more value from your points. This perk is called “Stay 5, pay for 4”  and is available for everyone, with no blackout dates. This allows you to redeem five awards nights for the cost of four nights (the lowest priced night will be free). 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 a 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.

But if you book five nights in a row at this hotel and use Marriott points, you can save 50,000 points.

This room would cost ~$3,000 total if you paid for five nights with cash. But it is only 200,000 Marriott points, thanks to the “Stay 5, pay for 4” perk, which increases the value of your points. Don’t forget, you can use this perk at any award 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?

It’s easy to earn Marriott points for award stays. Every stay at a Marriott hotel will earn you 10 Marriott points per dollar spent. So a $100 hotel stay earns 1,000 Marriott points. There are three exceptionsElement, Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites hotels, which instead earn just five Marriott points per dollar 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)

These points can rack up very quickly. But the easiest way to earn more Marriott points toward free hotel stays is still with cards like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card, Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit CardMarriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card  or the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card. You’ll earn bonus points 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 making them some of top hotel credit cards.

Marriott is also a transfer partner for Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards, so you can indirectly earn Marriott points with many of the best travel credit cards. If you are a member of either of these flexible reward programs, you can transfer those points to Marriott and use them for award stays. Marriott points expire after 24 months of inactivity, but you can reset the clock with qualify activities like earning or redeeming Marriott points.

Bottom Line

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.

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 value is possible if you are willing to look around. Don’t forget that Marriott’s “Stay 5, pay for 4” perk is available to everyone and helps make your points worth even more. To take advantage of these deals setup a Marriott account to starting earning points.

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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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Thanks for the info. We were Marriott and Starwood members and Marriott buying out Starwood ruined it all. We could get a room with Starwood at any hotel for a reasonable amount of points. But now Marriott has jacked the points required up 2 times just since Aug 2018 when they merged plus they started the peak and off peak requiring even more points to redeem. Key West points required is astronomical compared to what it should be. I don’t really know why.

1 cent per point in value? Please. I’m lucky if I can get .8 of a cent value. Often its .5

I wish your posting had a print option. There is so much to keep track of and learn that a paper copy is still a very nice, simple option. And print without all the ads. Just my opinion. Thanks for the great information regardless.

Ctrl P anyone?

Usually gets the travel package for more value. My family used to reserve only Marriott hotels for our stays abroad but has shifted to using other Brand’s from time to time out of necessity ( to save!)

I thought the best way to redeem was through travel packages. With the changes in redemption rates, is this no longer the case?

That’s no longer the case. Marriott saw what people were doing, and devalued the categories in two ways: fewer miles redeemed and more points required.

I would only use the package at a category 5 hotel, St Kitts Marriott. Is it still better to just redeem only for hotel stay ?