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Marriott Bonvoy is the all-in-one rewards program which replaced Marriott Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, and Ritz-Carlton Rewards. Compared to other programs, in my opinion, Marriott Bonvoy offers better than average rewards for paid stays, a strong elite program (but not best overall), best-in-class options for point transfers to airline miles, a huge selection of hotels that run from very low end to ultra-luxury, and credit cards that offer good value for their annual free nights but relatively poor value for credit card spend. This post is designed to include everything you need to know.

Also check out our other guides for other major rewards programs here: Chase Ultimate RewardsCiti ThankYou PointsCapital One Miles Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards.

Marriot Bonvoy award chart

Marriott charges different point prices depending upon which category the hotel is assigned to. In most cases, you should look at the column titled “Points” to find the right price.

CategoryPointsPointSaversCash + Points
Standard
Off-Peak
Peak
7.500
5,000
10,000
6,000
4,000
8,500
$55
$50
$60
3,500
2,500
4,500
Standard
Off-Peak
Peak
12,500
10,000
15,000
11,000
8,000
13,000
$65
$60
$70
6,000
5,000
6,500
Standard
Off-Peak
Peak
17,500
15,000
20,000
16,000
12,000
18,000
$80
$70
$90
8,500
7,500
9,000
Standard
Off-Peak
Peak
25,000
20,000
30,000
22,500
17,500
27,500
$105
$90
$120
12,000
10,000
13,500
Standard
Off-Peak
Peak
35,000
30,000
40,000
32,500
27,500
37,500
$140
$120
$165
17,000
16,000
19,000
Standard
Off-Peak
Peak
50,000
40,000
60,000
45,000
35,000
55,000
$190
$160
$225
25,000
22,000
27,500
Standard
Off-Peak
Peak
60,000
50,000
70,000
55,000
45,000
65,000
$250
$225
$325
30,000
27,500
35,000
Standard
Off-Peak
Peak
85,000
70,000
100,000
80,000
65,000
90,000
$440
$325
$635
42,500
35,000
50,000

Award chart things to know:

  • All prices shown above are for standard rooms (each hotel defines “standard” differently). Higher level rooms may show up in award searches, but either at a higher award price or with a required cash co-pay for the upgrade.
  • Category 8 pricing begins sometime in March 2019. Until then, top tier hotels are priced as category 7 hotels.
  • Peak and Off-Peak pricing begins sometime in “early 2019“. Until then, only standard pricing applies.
  • Cash + Points rates are not always available — you need to search for free night awards and check online award prices to see if cash + points rates are available.
  • Cash + Points prices are not great, but if you need extra points for an award, it often makes sense to use this option. Never use this option with Category 1 hotels. With category 1 hotels, it’s actually cheaper to buy the points you need at 1.25 cents each and to book a standard award (see this post for more details).
  • PointSavers rates are available only with select hotels during set dates. To find which hotels are participating, go to the Marriott PointSavers page, scroll down to “Participating Hotels with Available Dates” and click USA or Worldwide.
  • Homes & Villas by Marriott: Vacation rental properties do not follow this award chart. Instead, Marriott pegs the award price at 0.7 cents per point. Additionally, 5th Night Free awards do not apply to Homes & Villas.

 

5th Night Free Awards

Awards booked for 5 nights or longer are automatically priced with the 5th night(s) free. For example, standard pricing for a category 4 hotel is 25,000 points per night. Four nights, therefore, cost 100,000 points. And, thanks to 5th Nigh Free pricing, five nights also costs 100,000 points. This works with longer bookings too. For example, a 10 night stay at a 25K per night property would price at 200,000 points.

Note: 5th Night Free Awards do not apply to Cash + Points bookings.

 

 

Points Advance

If you don’t have enough points in your account to book an award, you can still book the award via Marriott’s Points Advance feature.  When you find an award stay online, there are two ways to invoke Points Advance:

 

 

Automatic Points Advance

If you don’t have enough points in your account and/or you don’t have enough free night certificates, Marriott will default to Points Advance as long as the stay is 30 days away, or longer:

 

Optional Points Advance

Marriott used to allow you to choose Points Advance even if you have enough points in your account.  Unfortunately, that’s no longer allowed.  One work-around is to make another award booking first in order to drain your points and then cancel that separate booking once you’ve secured the Points Advance booking.  Just make sure that the separate booking allows for free cancellations!

 

Securing your Points Advance reservation

Once you have enough points for your stay, you can log into your account and “View/Modify” your stay details and “Deduct your points now”.

If you don’t apply your points within 14 days of your stay, you may lose the reservation.

Note: Points Advance reservations must be made at least 30 days in advance of your stay. If you attempt to book fewer than 30 days in advance, you may have the option to purchase the necessary points. As of 3/14/19, Autograph Collection properties will not allow you to purchase points or make a Points Advance reservation within 30 days of arrival.

 

Elite status 

 

Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel Junior Suite.  If you have Platinum status, you can be upgraded at check-in to this suite from a base level room booked with a free night certificate.
StatusRequirements per yearRequirements for Lifetime StatusKey Benefits
Silver Elite10 nights250 Lifetime Nights + 5 Years Elite StatusLate checkout, 10% bonus points
Gold Elite25 nights400 Lifetime Nights + 7 Years Gold Elite Status or Higher2pm late checkout, 25% bonus points, welcome gift (points only), room upgrade, enhanced internet
Platinum Elite50 nights600 Lifetime Nights + 10 Years Platinum Elite Status or Higher4pm late checkout, 50% point bonus, welcome gift w/ breakfast option, room upgrade includes select suites, lounge access, Choice Benefit (such as 5 suite night awards) when you achieve 50 nights
Titanium Elite75 nightsNot AvailableAll of the above plus: 75% point bonus, United Silver Premier status via Rewards Plus. Eligible for Ritz-Carlton suite upgrades. Additional Choice Benefit (including 40K free night option) when you achieve 75 nights)
Ambassador Elite100 nights + $20k SpendNot AvailableAll of the above plus: Ambassador Service (dedicated Marriott agent) Your24 (choose the 24 hours of your stay. For example, choose to check in at 9am after an overnight flight)

Elite status things to know:

  • Prior to Feb 13 2019, Titanium Elite and Ambassador Elite were named Platinum Premier Eliteand Platinum Premier Elite with Ambassador.  There is no difference in benefits.
  • Lifetime Platinum status does not include Choice Benefits.  You must earn 50 elite nights within a calendar year to receive Choice Benefits.
  • Elite nights are earned with either cash or award stays.  When booking a four night award, it makes sense to book 5 nights instead (thanks to 5th Night Free pricing) just so that you can get an extra elite night. Make sure not to check out after the fourth night.
  • Elite nights are not earned with online travel agency bookings.  For example, if you book through Expedia, you will not earn elite night credit (or points) for your stay.  You also might not receive elite benefits during your stay, but some hotels have been known to offer them anyway as long as you add your Bonvoy membership number to the reservation.
  • Via Marriott’s partnership with United Airlines, RewardsPlus, high level Marriott elites can get United elite status, and high level United elite members can get free Marriott elite status.
  • In addition to actual stays, elite nights can also be earned from credit cards, hosting meetings, and more (jump to shortcuts to elite status for more info)
  • Other shortcuts to elite status include: credit card spend, status challenge, timeshare ownership, etc.
  • Inconsistent benefits.  Marriott does a spectacularly poor job of enforcing consistent benefits across their hotels.
  • Guaranteed benefits. Elite members may collect points or cash compensation when certain elite benefits are not met.  See this post for details.
  • Missing stay: If a stay was not properly credited to your account, you can fill out a missing stay request online: www.marriott.com/loyalty/myAccount/missingStayRequest.mi

 

Elite perks: What and where?

There is a great deal of inconsistency in the delivery of perks across Marriott hotels:

  • Hotel brands are often exempt from offering certain elite perks.  For example, the following brands are not required to provide free breakfast to Platinum members: Design Hotels, EDITION, Gaylord, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott Executive Apartments, Marriott Vacation Club.
  • Hotels are often exempt from offering certain elite perks.  The best way to find out is to browse to Marriott Bonvoy Terms & Conditions and use your browser’s “find in page” feature to search for the hotel you plan to visit.
  • Hotels sometimes opt out of providing perks even if the terms & conditions indicate that they are supposed to provide those perks.

The rules governing what you should get and where are so complicated that we created a lookup table to help.  Please visit this page before you travel in order to find out what perks you are entitled to:

–> Which Marriott elite benefits apply? <–

Free Breakfast / Lounge Access

The following chart shows our current understanding of who gets free breakfast and at which properties:

Free Breakfast?Participating Hotels
No free breakfastDesign Hotels, EDITION, Gaylord, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott Executive Apartments, Marriott Vacation Club
Free breakfast for all*Element, Fairfield, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites, TownePlace Suites
Platinum Elite Welcome Gift Option: Daily $10 Food & Beverage Credit for Member plus 1 Guest (e.g. $20 per day)AC, Courtyard without a lounge, Moxy
Platinum Elite Benefit:

Hotels: Free daily breakfast for 2 in lounge. Free daily breakfast for 2 in restaurant when lounge is closed or doesn’t exist.

Legacy Starwood Resorts: Free daily breakfast for 2 in lounge. Free daily breakfast for 2 in restaurant when lounge is closed or doesn’t exist.

Legacy Marriott Resorts: Free daily breakfast for 2 in restaurant. No lounge access.
Aloft, Autograph Collection, Courtyard with lounge, Delta, Four Points, JW Marriott, Le Méridien, Marriott, Protea, Renaissance, Sheraton, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Tribute Portfolio, W, Westin

* A few of these properties don’t offer free breakfast despite the fact that their brand advertises free breakfast for all.

 

Elite benefits guarantee

Some elite benefits are backed up with guarantees.  If these benefits are not fulfilled, you may be entitled to compensation in the form of points, cash back, or both:

Silver Elite (and higher):

 

  • Ultimate Reservation Guarantee: “If for some reason we’re unable to honor your reservation, we’ll pay for your accommodations that night at a nearby hotel and compensate you for the inconvenience. To be eligible, you must provide your member number when making a reservation. Compensation varies by hotel brand.”

 

 

Platinum Elite (and higher):
  • Guaranteed Platinum Elite/Platinum Premier Elite Welcome Gift: “Get more when you check in. As a Platinum or Platinum Premier Elite member, you’ll receive a special gift upon arrival at all participating hotels, offering you a choice of an amenity gift or points. If guarantee is not met, guest compensation applies.”
  • Guaranteed Room Type: “When making a reservation, be sure to note both your Member number and room/bed preferences. At locations throughout the U.S. and Canada, we’ll always honor your bed type request. Outside U.S. and Canada, smoking/non-smoking preferences are honored based on availability; exact bed sizes may vary, and only Platinum Premier Elite members will have guaranteed priority for their requested type of bed and room. If guarantee is not met, guest compensation applies.”
  • Guaranteed Lounge Access: “Access to lounge for member plus one guest. This benefit only applies to the one guest room in which the Platinum Elite/Platinum Premier Elite member is staying.”

Note: the quoted text above was copied from Marriott’s website before they changed the name of Platinum Premier 75 to Titanium and Platinum Premier 100 to Ambassador.

 

Titanium Elite and Ambassador Elite:
  • 48-Hour Guaranteed Availability: “Traveling on short notice? We guarantee you’ll always have a room for any paid stay. Just make your reservation 48 hours before arrival at any of our participating hotels, excluding Resorts, Marriott Vacation Club, participating Vistana properties, and Design Hotels.  48-Hour Guaranteed Availability: Limited to Platinum Premier Elite Member’s personal guestroom. Guaranteed room availability for reservations booked at least 48 hours prior to arrival. 48-Hour Guaranteed Availability may not be available on certain limited dates (e.g., special events). Benefit cannot be used in conjunction with award usage or any type of promotional or discounted rates. For Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites, 48-Hour Guaranteed Availability applies to studio rooms only.”Greg’s explanation: If you want to stay at a particular Marriott hotel, but it is sold out for your desired stay, they’ll let you book the stay anyway, but at standard rack rates.  This benefit doesn’t include compensation if it is not met.

Note: the quoted text above was copied from Marriott’s website before they changed the name of Platinum Premier 75 to Titanium and Platinum Premier 100 to Ambassador.

Shortcuts to elite status

There are two types of shortcuts to elite status.  One type of shortcut offers a way to get elite nights more quickly or easily.  Elite night shortcuts are stackable.  That is, you can mix and match these shortcuts in order to earn whatever level of status you want. The other shortcuts are not stackable. Each offers a way to get to a specific level of status, but if you want to go for a higher level of status, these generally won’t help.

Elite Night Shortcuts

The following shortcuts are stackable.  You can earn elite nights from one or more of these options in order to add them up to the 50 nights you need.

  1. Credit Card 15 elite nights.  This is by far the simplest option. Almost all Marriott, SPG, and Ritz credit cards offer 15 elite nights per year simply by being a card member.  You can find a complete list of cards here. Please note that holding multiple credit cards will not give you more than 15 elite nights.
  2. 1 Elite Night Per $3K Spend.  Three legacy Marriott cards offer 1 elite night per $3K spend (you can find a complete list of cards here, along with a chart showing which cards offer elite nights for spend).  Of the three legacy cards that have this feature, readers are most likely to have the Chase Bonvoy Premier Credit Card, but only if they turned down the offer to get bonus points by upgrading to the Plus version of this card.  Unfortunately each of the cards that offer this feature only give cardholders 1 point per dollar spent (except in certain categories of spend), whereas all other Marriott cards offer a minimum of 2 points per dollar.  This means that this spend is costly in that you lose the ability to earn more points for your spend.  It’s especially costly if you consider that you can earn far more than the value of 2X Marriott points for that same spend.  See: Best Rewards for Everyday Spend.
  3. Host a Meeting: If you host a meeting at a Marriott property, you can get 10 elite nights per calendar year, plus 1 elite night for every 20 rooms booked and actualized.  Important: Make sure the elite night benefit is listed in your meeting contract.
  4. Book award nights.  Marriott hotels are available for as little as 7,500 points per night (6,000 points per night when point saver awards are available).
  5. Book 5th night free awards (even if staying 4 nights).  Best deal for mattress running: Book a category 1 hotel for 5 nights.  For 30,000 points, you’ll get 5 elite nights.  Note that you do have to check into the hotel to get credit.
  6. Choice Benefit: 5 Elite Night Credits.  This is a weird one.  You won’t have access to this Choice Benefit until you’ve earned 50 elite nights, and the 5 elite nights can only be applied to the same calendar year in which you earned the Choice Benefit selection.  Therefore, the only good use of this option is to help you get to Titanium Elite or Ambassador Elite status.  Also note that these 5 elite nights do not count towards lifetime status.  Learn more about Choice Benefits here.
  7. Birthday Elite Night Credit: Make sure your birthday is on your Marriott account and that you are opted in to promotional mailings.  If you don’t get an email on your birthday offering you a free elite night, contact Marriott to request it.  Hat Tip: TPG reader Soheil.

Once you earn elite status this year, your status will be good for the rest of this year, all of the next, and through February of the year after that.

 

Advantages to elite night shortcuts:

  • You’ll earn Choice Benefits when you reach 50 elite nights in a calendar year, and again at 75 nights.
  • Elite nights earned with these shortcuts count towards lifetime status elite nights as well (One exception: choosing 5 elite nights as a Choice Benefit does not add 5 nights to your lifetime total).

 

Other Shortcuts

The following shortcuts will get you to a specific elite level, but you can’t stack them with elite nights to get higher status.

 

  1. Credit card Gold status.  The SPG Luxury Card and the Ritz-Carlton Card (no longer available to new applicants) both offer automatic Marriott Gold status.  Similarly Amex Platinum and Business Platinum cards offer free Gold status (you must enroll).
  2. Spend $75K for Platinum. The SPG Luxury Card and the Ritz-Carlton Card (no longer available to new applicants) offer Platinum Elite status with $75K spend.  With the SPG card, the spend must be within a calendar year whereas the Ritz card spend must be within your membership year.
  3. Marriott Platinum Elite Challenge. Earn Platinum status by completing 16 paid nights at Marriott properties within 90 days of enrolling in the challenge.  Please note that award nights do not count.  Call Marriott Bonvoy to enroll.  You cannot enroll in the Platinum challenge if you already have Platinum status or higher.
  4. Timeshare Ownership: Marriott Vacation Club and Vistana are timeshare ownership programs affiliated with Marriott, and each offers elite status under certain conditions.

 

Disadvantages to “other” shortcuts:

  • Earning one level of status doesn’t help you get to the next. For example, if your Amex Platinum credit card gives you Gold status, you’re just as far from earning Platinum status as someone with no status at all.
  • You won’t earn Choice Benefits.
  • You won’t make progress towards lifetime status elite nights (but you will add lifetime elite years).

Point earnings from stays

StatusPoints Earned per $Points Earner per $ at Long Stay Brands*
Member105
Silver Elite
(10% Bonus)
115.5
Gold Elite
(25% Bonus)
12.56.25
Platinum Elite
(50% Bonus)
157.5
Titanium Elite
(75% Bonus)
17.58.75
Ambassador Elite
(75% Bonus)
17.58.75

Long stay brands – Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites,  Homes & Villas, Elements

The chart above shows point earnings for stays.  The middle column shows the number of points earned per dollar at most brands.  The next column shows the points earned per dollar at long-stay brands that don’t follow the same formula: Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, Homes & Villas by Marriott, and Element. Points are not earned with online travel agency bookings.  For example, if you book through Expedia, you will not earn points for your room charge.  You also might not receive elite benefits during your stay, but some hotels have been known to offer them anyway as long as you add your Bonvoy membership number to the reservation.

Homes & Villas by Marriott

 

 

Marriott has partnered with select vacation home property management companies to provide access to premium & luxury vacation homes around the world.  You can search and book homes on their Homes & Villas website: www.homesandvillasbymarriott.com.

Basic Info:

  • Vacation rentals can be booked with points.  Point prices are pegged at 0.7 cents per point value.  For example, a $1611 stay would cost 230,143 Marriott Bonvoy points.  That’s not bad, but it doesn’t offer outsized value for your points  Also note that 5th Night Free Awards do notapply.
  • You can earn points on paid rentals.  The base earning rate will be 5 points per dollar plus bonuses for elite status.
  • Elite members will be eligible for an “Elite Welcome Gift of special amenities or points.”  We will update this once details are known.
  • Location: “Over 100 destinations throughout the United States, Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America.”
  • Scope: “2,000 curated premium and luxury homes.”

Point transfers to airline miles

Marriott Bonvoy points are transferable to a huge selection of airline partners. In most cases the transfer ratio is 3 Marriott points to 1 airline mile. However, if you transfer 60,000 points, you’ll get 25,000 miles instead of 20,000. That makes the transfer ratio 3 to 1.25. Additionally, when you transfer to United Airlines miles, you get a 10% bonus. 60,000 rewards points converts into 27,500 United miles (a 3 to 1.375 transfer ratio).

–> Link to Marriott’s point transfer page <–

Below you’ll find a complete list of Marriott transfer partners as well as quick tips for best uses.

 

Tips for transferring Marriott Bonvoy points to airline miles

 

Transfer in 60K increments, up to 240K per day: When transferring points to airline programs, you’ll get the most value by transferring multiples of 60,000 points. When you transfer 60,000 points, Marriott automatically adds 15,000 bonus points to the transfer, and those 15,000 bonus points typically convert to 5,000 miles. For example, 60,000 points transferred to Alaska Airlines becomes 25,000 Alaska miles. By transferring in this way, you get a 3 to 1.25 transfer ratio to airline programs. You are limited to 240K points in transfers per day (which typically equals 100K miles), so if you want to transfer more you should spread out your transfers over multiple days.

Don’t transfer yet: Don’t transfer points until high value awards are available and you are ready to book them. Transfers are one-way only. Marriott Bonvoy points are valuable for their flexibility and for hotel stays. Once you transfer, you are locked into a single program that may or may not have awards available.

Don’t forget that rewards points can be valuable when used directly: Marriott offers many ways to use rewards points: Free night awards, 5th night free awards, experiences, etc.

Use rewards points to exactly top off an account: Most other transferable points programs require transfers in 1,000 point chunks. This can make it difficult to exactly top off an account when you need an odd number of miles. Marriott lets you transfer exact mile amounts over 1,000. For example, if you need 1,001 airline miles, you can get exactly that by transferring 3,003 points.

Watch for hotel to airline transfer bonuses: Airlines occasionally offer bonuses when you transfer points from hotel programs. Since Marriott/SPG is a hotel program it usually qualifies.

Best Marriott airline transfer partners

Best Marriott airline transfer partners

The following airline transfer partners represent the best potential value in my opinion:

Rewards ProgramMarriott Transfer RatioBest Uses
Air Canada Aeroplan60K to 25KRedeem for Star Alliance flights. Multiple stopovers allowed on international flights. Reasonable award prices to Europe for business and first class.
Alaska MileagePlan60K to 25KAlaska Airlines has a number of great partners and offers reasonable award prices for most of them. Unlike most other programs, Alaska allows stop-overs one one-way awards. This makes it possible to stretch award value much further. Travel Codex offers an excellent overview to booking Alaska Airlines awards here.
ANA Mileage Club60K to 25KRedeem for Star Alliance flights. Multiple stopovers allowed. Very good award prices for round-the-world travel. See also: How To Find Business Class Awards To Europe For 88,000 Miles Or Points.
Asiana60K to 25KRedeem only 50K miles for one-way first class Star Alliance awards between US and Europe! Beware very high fuel surcharges when flying airlines such as Lufthansa
Avianca LifeMiles60K to 25KAvianca LifeMiles can be great for Star Alliance awards. They offer reasonable award prices and no fuel surcharges on awards. They also offer shorthaul awards within the US (for flying United, for example) for as few as 7,500 miles one-way. Best of all, their mixed-cabin pricing can lead to fantastic first-class award prices. See this post for details.
Etihad Guest60K to 25KEtihad has a very competitiveaward chart for American Airlines flights, among others. For example, they charge only 50,000 miles one-way for business class flights from North America to Europe. Partner awards must be booked over the phone.
JAL (Japan Airlines) Mileage Bank60K to 25KJAL has a distance based partner award chart. Depending upon the length of the flights, this can lead to great award prices on partners such as Emirates and Korean Air.
Korean Airlines60K to 25KKorean Air is known for having top notch business and first class on their international flights. Plus, first class tends to be wide open for awards. Korean is also a fantastic program for booking certain partner awards. For example, it is possible to book Delta flights from the US mainland to Hawaii for only 25,000 points round trip in coach or 45,000 points in first class.
United MileagePlus60K to 27.5KEven though Singapore Airlines miles have a number of advantages over United miles for booking Star Alliance flights, United has advantages too. For one, it is possible to book most Star Alliance awards online at United.com. Additionally, United awards sometimes cost fewer miles with United than with Singapore (especially premium awards on United’s own flights). And, most importantly, United never charges fuel surcharges for awards. In some cases, United is far cheaper than Singapore Airlines for this reason alone.
Useful Marriott airline transfer partners

Useful Marriott airline transfer partners

The following airline transfer partners can offer great value under certain circumstances:

Rewards ProgramMarriott Transfer RatioBest Uses
Air France KLM Flying Blue60K to 25KMonthly Air France Promo Awards often represent very good value. Air France miles can be used to book Sky Team awards, including Delta awards.
American AAdvantage60K to 25KBest for partner awards such as Cathay Pacific business class
Avios60K to 25KWhile flights on British Airways itself often incur outrageously high fuel surcharges, many BA partners charge low or no fuel surcharges. Great value can be had in redeeming BA points for short distance flights. Iberia offers very low award prices on their own flights. Round trip partner awards can offer good value under some circumstances as well. Fuel surcharges are often lower than when booking through British Airways. Aer Lingus shares the "Avios" currency with British Airways and Iberia. In most cases it is best to move points to one of those programs in order to book awards for less.
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles60K to 25KCathay Pacific has a fairly generous distance based award chart and allows multiple stopovers. Fuel surcharges can be very high on certain routes. Cathay Pacific Asia Miles can be a good option for booking American Airlines flights with a distance based award chart, especially if other OneWorld Alliance miles aren't available.
Delta SkyMiles60K to 25KAward flights to Canada are often a great deal. Partner awards often have terrific availability, but you may pay more miles than with other programs.
Miles & More60K to 25KGreat for booking United business class awards
Qantas Frequent Flyer60K to 25KBest use is probably for flights on El Al with no fuel surcharges. Qantas offers distance based award charts similar to Cathay Pacific. Both are OneWorld Alliance members. I recommend comparing award prices across both programs before transferring to either. Qantas offers round the world business class awards for only 280,000 points (but with many restrictions)
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer60K to 25KUse to book Singapore Airlines First Class awards (generally reserved for their own members) or for Star Alliance awards. Low change fees and no close-in booking fees make this a very good program for booking United Airlines flights.
Southwest Rapid Rewards60K to 25KAward flights are fully refundable. Point values vary due to certain taxes not being charged on awards, but tend to average around 1.5 cents per point.
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles60K to 25KMiles & Smiles offers a number of fantastic sweet spot awards. The main catch: if you want to fly any airline other than Turkish itself, you have to go in-person to a Turkish Airlines sales office to ticket the award.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club60K to 25KVirgin Atlantic miles can be usefully thought of as a way to get a discount off Virgin Atlantic flights (high fuel surcharges make the flights far from free), but there are some better uses. Use miles to upgrade paid flights or to fly partner airlines. A fantastic use is to fly ANA in business or first class thanks to Virgin’s generous ANA partner award chart. Or, if you can find saver level Delta awards for nonstop international travel, you can often book through Virgin Atlantic far cheaper than with Delta directly.
Additional Marriott airline transfer partners

Additional Marriott airline transfer partners

Rewards ProgramMarriott Transfer RatioBest Uses
Aegean Miles + Bonus60K to 25K
Aeroflot Bonus60K to 25K
Air China Phoenix Miles60K to 25K
Air New Zealand Air Points60K to 307
AeroMexico ClubPremier60K to 25K AeroMexico is a SkyTeam partner. Club Premier points can be used to book flights on AeroMexico, SkyTeam alliance members (such as Delta or Korean Air), or on select partner airlines. Award prices tend to be quite high, but if you transfer points to AeroMexico with a great multiple (such as from Membership Rewards 1 to 1.6), prices can be reasonable.
Alitalia MilleMiglia60K to 25KAlitalia is a member of the SkyTeam alliance. Unfortunately, fuel surcharges can be quite high, and partner awards cannot be booked online. Worse, after numerous devaluations, few sweetspots exist in this program.
China Eastern Airlines60K to 25K
China Southern Airlines’ Sky Pearl Club60K to 25K
Copa Airlines ConnectMiles60K to 25K
Emirates Skywards60K to 25KEmirates has different award charts for each airline partner. Sometimes they allow one-way awards, sometimes they do not. In general, award prices are fairly high
Frontier Miles60K to 25KVirgin Atlantic miles can be usefully thought of as a way to get a discount off Virgin Atlantic flights (high fuel surcharges make the flights far from free), but there are some better uses. Use miles to upgrade paid flights or to fly partner airlines. A fantastic use is to fly ANA in business or first class thanks to Virgin’s generous ANA partner award chart. Or, if you can find saver level Delta awards for nonstop international travel, you can often book through Virgin Atlantic far cheaper than with Delta directly.
Hainan Airlines60K to 25KI’m not aware of any great uses for Hainan miles
Hawaiian Miles60K to 25KHawaiian Airlines’ award prices tend to be quite high, but there are some not-terrible uses: fly to neighboring islands for 7.5K miles, fly first class round-trip from Hawaii to South Pacific islands for as few as 95K miles, fly first class round-trip from Hawaii to Australia for as few as 130K miles.
Jet Airways JetPrivilege60K to 25KJetAirways JetPrivilege miles are useful only for a few very specific cases such as certain flights to Hawaii for as low as 15K (30K business) one-way, or to the Caribbean or Central America for as low as 10K (20K business) one-way. Details can be found here.
JetBlue60K to 12.5KJetBlue points offer the most value when cheap ticket prices are available and when award taxes are high relative to the overall cost of the ticket (more details can be found here). The JetBlue Plus Card and the JetBlue Business Card offer a 10% rebate on awards, so you can get more value by holding one or both cards.
LATAM Pass60K to 25K
Multiplus60K to 25K
Qatar Privilege Club60K to 25KGiven Qatar's award chart devaluation plus the addition of award booking fees in May 2018, I'm not aware of any particularly good uses for these miles.
Saudia Airlines60K to 25K
South African Airways Voyager60K to 25K
TAP Air Portugal60K to 25K
Thai Airways International Royal Orchid Plus60K to 25KI'm not aware of any good uses for these miles
Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer60K to 25K

Indirect transfer partners

Indirect transfer partners

Rewards ProgramMarriott Transfer RatioIndirect Transfer Notes
Hilton60K to 37.5K** Transfer first to Virgin Atlantic, then convert Virgin Atlantic miles 1 to 1.5 to Hilton. Since Hilton points are usually worth only around .45 cents each towards free nights, this isn’t usually a good idea.
IHG60K to 25K** Transfer first to Virgin Atlantic, then convert Virgin Atlantic miles 1 to 1 to IHG. Note: I do not recommend this. See: Virgin Atlantic transfers to IHG no longer count towards status
Wyndham60K to 12.5K** Transfer to Hawaiian Airlines miles, then to Caesar's Total Rewards 2 to 1, then to Wyndham 1 to 1. Details here.

Manage points

Share points with others

Marriott allows program members to move their points to another person’s account.  Here are the basic details:

  • You must call to share your points
  • Limit: you can share at most 100,000 points per calendar year (but you can receive more than that if multiple people share points with you)
  • Cost: Flat $10 fee for basic members and Silver Elite members.  Free for Gold Elite and higher.

 

How to keep points alive

Points expire after 24 months of inactivity.  Fortunately, almost all points activity will reset the clock.  Points remain alive and available as long as you earn or use points at least once every 24 months. Note the following activities which do not reset the 24 month clock:

  • Gifting or transferring Points; however, converting Points to Miles or Miles to Points does count toward maintaining an active status;
  • Receiving Points as a gift or transfer; or
  • Earning Points through social media programs

United partnership (RewardsPlus)

 

 

Marriott’s partnership with United Airlines is named RewardsPlus.  RewardsPlus offers benefits to United and Marriott Bonvoy members who sign up here: mrrewardsplus.com.  RewardsPlus offers the following benefits:

  • 10% more miles (convert points to miles): When you convert Marriott points to United miles.  For example, instead of converting 60K points to 25K miles as you can do with other airlines, you can convert 60K points to 27.5K United miles.
  • One to one miles to points: RewardsPlus members may convert United MileagePlus miles to Marriott points at a 1 to 1 ratio.  This is rarely a good idea in my opinion.
  • United MileagePlus Premier Silver status (Marriott Titanium Elite and Ambassador Elite members only): United Silver status offers free economy plus seats at check-in, free domestic first class upgrade on day of departure when available, one free checked bag, etc.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status (for those with MileagePlus Premier Gold or higher status): Marriott Gold status offers 2pm late checkout, 25% point bonus, welcome gift (points only), room upgrade when available, enhanced internet.

Choice benefits (including Suite Night Awards)

 

If you have completed 50 nights at Marriott hotels through the calendar year, then you are eligible to pick a “Choice Benefit”.  A second Choice Benefit is available for those who complete 75 nights.  Here’s the website for selecting your benefit: choice-benefit.marriott.com/en-us/marriott-rewards/benefits.

Note that if you acquired Platinum status or higher through a status challenge, credit card spend, lifetime status, etc., you won’t get to pick a Choice Benefit unless you also complete 50 nights within a calendar year.

 

Selection Deadline: January 14th

If you don’t make a choice by January 14th, you’ll get the “5 Suite Night Awards” choice automatically.  Note: For those with 50 or more nights in 2018, the Choice Benefit selection deadline has been extended until February 7th 2019.

 

50 Night Choices

  • 5 Elite Night Credits: These add to your prior year total if you wait until January to make your selection.  In other words, you can use this choice to help you get to the next level of status (75 night or 100 night, but 100 night status also requires $20K Marriott spend).  Note: These 5 nightsdo not count towards lifetime status.
  • 5 Suite Night Awards: Each Suite Night Award is a one-night confirmable upgrade to a standard suite or select premium room, depending on the hotel’s availability of those rooms. The number of Suite Night Awards used must match the entire length of stay; it cannot be used for part of a stay (e.g., the first two nights of a five-night stay). Once Suite Night Awards are requested to be applied to a stay, Marriott will begin checking upgrade availability 5 days in advance of your stay, up until 2pm on the day of your arrival. If your Suite Night Award request doesn’t clear, you’ll get the awards back to be used later.
  • Gift Silver Elite Status
  • $100 Charity Donation: Make a $100 (USD) donation to UNICEF.
  • 40% off a Marriott bed: Get 40% off retail prices for Westin Heavenly Beds, St. Regis beds, etc.

 

75 Night Choices

  • 1 Free Night Award (Up to 40K Points): “Must be redeemed for a stay that occurs no later than December 31 of the year following the year in which the additional benefit is selected (e.g. if the benefit is selected in 2019, the deadline for redemption is December 31, 2020).
  • Gift Gold Elite Status
  • The rest of the 75 night choices are the same as the 50 night choices:
    • 5 Elite Night Credits
    • 5 Suite Night Awards
    • $100 Charity Donation
    • 40% off a Marriott bed

See also: Marriott Choice Benefit Valuations. Which to pick?

Marriott Bonvoy Moments

In addition to redeeming points for award nights or for airline miles, it is also possible to redeem points for experiences. These include things like backstage concert tickets, impossible to get sports event tickets, dining with famous chefs, etc.  Some experiences have fixed award prices, but most are setup as auctions.  In either case, you may or may not get good value depending upon circumstances.

Marriott Bonvoy Moments (click here to visit website)

  • Search by: location, category, date range, keyword, points range
  • Fixed Price & Auction
  • When to start looking: Events start to appear ~3 months in advance. 2 months seems to be the sweet spot.

 

 

Bonvoy pros & cons

Pros (where Marriott Bonvoy is better than average):

  • 5th night free awards (Hilton offers this too)
  • Points Advance: Ability to book awards even if you don’t yet have enough points in your account
  • Marriott offers good point earnings on paid stays for elites
  • Points to miles transfer ratio offers reasonably good value (most competing hotel programs offer poor value when converting points to miles)
  • Marriott offers elite benefit guarantees
  • Marriott has a huge number of hotels that run from bottom-tier to ultra-luxury

Cons (where Marriott Bonvoy is worse than average):

  • Marriott charges resort fees on award stays (Hilton and Hyatt do not)
  • Elite benefits are extremely inconsistent from brand to brand
  • Marriott phone representatives are very poorly trained in the complexities of the rewards program. As a result, they often give incorrect information over the phone.
  • Marriott credit cards don’t offer great value for spend, but may be worth keeping for their annual free nights.

Q & A (Questions and Answers)

Q: Can I get the 5th Night Free if I pay for some of the nights with cash, free night certificates, or cash + points?

A: No.  To get the 5th Night Free, you must book entirely with points.  Important: Marriott’s website may try to apply your free night certificates automatically to your booking and this may remove your 5th Night Free if it brings the total number of nights booked with points under 5.

Q: If I book a stay with Points Advance, can I lock in current award prices?

A: Yes, but it may require a phone call or two.  If the award price for your stay goes up after you booked the stay but before you paid for the stay with points or certificates, you will have to call in to ask Marriott to honor the booked rate.  Don’t be surprised if it takes a few calls to get someone who knows how to do this.

Q: I completed a stay but it hasn’t credited to my account. What can I do?

A: First, wait a bit.  Marriott properties vary tremendously with how quickly stays are credited to accounts.  It’s not unusual for a stay to appear on your account about a week after checkout.  Next, if the stay still hasn’t appeared, you can fill out a missing stay request online: www.marriott.com/loyalty/myAccount/missingStayRequest.mi

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