How to use Marriott points: They’re for way more than just free hotel stays

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 increased offers on cards like:

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 by Rastislav Sedlak SK/Shutterstock.)

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.

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

 

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 25,000 points for a free night (50,000 for the two-night stay) in November 2020. But you can also pay 25,000 points and $247 (after taxes).

The cash price for the room is $562 after taxes. Using 50,000 points for two free nights, you’ll receive a value of 1.12 cents per point ($562/50,000 points). Using the cash + points option, you’ll receive a value of 1.26 cents per point ($562 – $247 = $315/25,000 points).

Also, don’t forget that outside of standard pricing, Marriott recently enacted 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 points at least 14 days before your arrival date.

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 Aeroflot AeroMexico Air Canada
Air China Air New Zealand (200:1) Alaska Airlines Alitalia
ANA American Airlines Asiana Airlines Avianca
British Airways Cathay Pacific China Eastern Airlines China Southern Airlines
Copa Airlines Delta Emirates Etihad
Flying Blue (Air France / KLM) Frontier Airlines Hainan Airlines Hawaiian Airlines
Iberia Japan Airlines Jet Airways JetBlue (6:1)
Korean Air LATAM Lufthansa Qantas
Qatar Saudia Airlines Singapore Airlines South African Airways
Southwest TAP Thai Airways Turkish Airlines
United Airlines (3:1.1) Virgin Atlantic Virgin 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.

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