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INSIDER SECRET: If you book five consecutive award nights with Marriott, you’ll get the fifth night free.
Marriott has more than 7,000 hotels worldwide, many of which are dazzling five-star resorts, and you can book just about any of them for free with Marriott points.
If you’ve been thirsting for a free stay at one of Marriott’s ultra-luxe hotels, you’ll need a healthy stash of points (the most expensive hotels cost 85,000 points per night). Marriott knows this and they’ve got plenty of credit cards that come with big welcome bonuses to help you take that vacation even faster. For example:
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card – Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening
- Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card – Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Terms apply.
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card – Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Terms apply.
If you wanted to, you could open every single one of these cards over a period of a few months and earn 225,000 Marriott points. Most of us at MMS have at least two of these cards.
Further reading: How to earn Marriott points
Another option is to pool your points with friends and family. This is the strategy my wife and I used to book our free stay at the St. Regis Maldives. We used four Marriott credit card bonuses to achieve it.
Here’s what you should know before you plan to transfer your points.
How to transfer points between members
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 each member
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. 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 per friend or family member per calendar year. So if you’ve got 200,000 points, you can send 100,000 points to two different people.
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.
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).
Example: 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.
Let me know if you’ve experienced any quirks when transferring Marriott points between members, or if you have any tips of your own. And subscribe to our newsletter for more miles and points tips and tricks.
You can also read Marriott credit card reviews here to easily decide the best cards for you: