Marriott selling points with highest-ever bonus (plus discounted gift cards)

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The travel space is desperate to secure your business in the coming months as effects of the novel coronavirus are expected to taper off. To that end, we’ve seen scads of miles and points sale promotions, travel discounts and other unique incentives.

Marriott keeps the trend alive with a couple (nearly) tempting offers by discounting gift cards and offering a large bonus for purchased points. They could be excellent options for those planning to spend money with Marriott anyway, though if you’re flush with Marriott points from bonuses and regular spending on Marriott Bonvoy credit cards, you’re probably not in the market for either of these.

I’ll outline the deals and help you decide if it’s a good idea for your situation.

My wife and I receive a value of more than 2 cents per Marriott point when staying at the St. Regis Maldives. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/Million Mile Secrets)

Buy Marriott points and receive a 60% bonus

From May 18 to June 30, 2020, you can purchase Marriott points for as little as 0.78 cents each. That’s the largest Marriott points discount to date. Marriott normally sells points for 1.25 cents each.

Hotel reward stays

Purchasing points for hotel stays is generally only a good idea under two circumstances:

  • You’ve got nearly the entire amount of points needed for an upcoming stay and you don’t want (or have time) to earn the remaining points organically
  • You’ve got a specific stay in mind, and you’ve already crunched the numbers to ensure that your stay is in fact discounted by purchasing points

This second bullet is worth examining. We estimate that Marriott points are worth 0.8 cents on average. Purchasing points for 0.78 cents each is a fair deal. Just understand that if you know the best ways to use Marriott points, you can get a much, much higher value per point. For example, the St. Regis New York can cost $1,100+ per night — but the standard points rate is 85,000 points per night. Using your points in this way will net you a value of 1.29 cents per point.

Purchasing points at a rate of 0.78 cents each translates to a price of $663 per night at the St. Regis New York. That’s $437 less than the cash rate. If you’ve got a stay lined up similar to this example, buying points is a fabulous idea.

Conversely, if the St. Regis New York is selling rooms for $500 per night during your desired travel dates, buying points would be a horrendous idea.

Transfer points to airlines

Another aspect of this promotion is that you can effectively purchase airline miles at a discount. You can transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines, most of which offer a transfer ratio of 3:1 (3 Marriott points = 1 airline mile). Plus, when you transfer Marriott points in increments of 60,000, you’ll receive a bonus 5,000 airline miles deposited into your account. In other words:

  • Transfer 59,000 Marriott points, receive 19,666 airline miles
  • Transfer 60,000 Marriott points, receive 25,000 airline miles

If you buy 60,000 Marriott points, you’ll spend $468. You can then transfer those to airlines like American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Avianca and many more to receive 25,000 miles. That means you’re paying ~1.87 cents per mile — which is about the price airlines sell their miles for during their most generous discounts.

Buy Marriott gift cards at 20% discount

Until May 17, 2020, you can purchase Marriott gift cards at a 20% discount:

  • $40 = $50 Marriott gift card
  • $80 = $100 Marriott gift card
  • $200 = 250 Marriott gift card
  • $400 = $500 Marriott gift card
  • $800 = $1,000 Marriott gift card

This is largely a no-brainer if you intend to pay for a stay at Marriott hotels in the future. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Each day you can purchase up to $5,000 worth of gift cards per person per credit card
  • Receive your electronic gift card within seven business days
  • Discount only valid for gift card purchases online
  • Not valid at Bulgari, Design Hotels, Ritz-Carlton Residences, and Homes and Villas by Marriott
  • Gift cards can’t be used to pay for a pre-purchased rate (this is an important detail)

Per One Mile at a Time, purchasing Marriott gift cards count as a Marriott purchase. That means you’ll earn bonus points when using Marriott credit cards or a card that earns bonus points on travel purchases, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

As Marriott gift cards don’t expire, this is a safe purchase for future stays. Do note that if you intend to use them abroad, your gift cards may be worth less than advertised, as they are issued in U.S. dollars, and you may be taken advantage of by way of the hotel’s exchange rate calculation.

2,000 bonus points per Marriott stay

Also remember the ongoing Marriott promotion of 2,000 bonus points on each stay*, starting with your second stay. There is no limit to the amount of points you can earn, but you must register by May 31, 2020. Worst of all, it’s only valid for stays by June 14, 2020.

Again, we value Marriott points at 0.8 cents each, so 2,000 bonus points per stay only equates to $16 in value per stay. That’s not earth-shattering, but every point counts.

Earn Marriott points

You can earn Marriott points with these Marriott credit cards:

Marriott cards are issued by Amex and Chase and there are some convoluted application rules, so take a look at our Marriott credit card comparison guide to help you make sense of which card is right for you. You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points and Amex Membership Rewards points to Marriott.

Let us know if you intend to take advantage of either of these deals! And subscribe to our newsletter for more miles and points promos and guidance.

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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