Marriott’s rewards program, named “Marriott Bonvoy,” in my opinion offers better than average rewards for paid stays, a fair elite program, 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.
Bonvoy shares traits that are common to most hotel rewards programs:
- Earn points from paid stays (but not when stays are booked through online travel agencies such as Expedia).
- Use points to book free night awards.
- Those who spend many nights at Marriott hotels booked either as free nights or paid stays (but not those booked through online travel agencies) earn elite status.
- Elite status levels range from Silver to top-tier Ambassador. The higher your status, the more perks you get.
- Branded credit cards can be used to earn points and to help earn elite status.
Bonvoy also has a few traits that are unique:
- Ability to transfer points to airline miles at a reasonable rate (not a great rate, but reasonable).
- Marriott’s partnership with United Airlines means that high tier Marriott elites can get free United elite status, and vice-versa
- Marriott allows many of their hotels to be exempt from offering certain elite benefits. This can be extremely frustrating for those expecting free breakfast or other perks.
- Marriott allows members to book awards even if they don’t yet have enough points in their account. This feature is called “Points Advance.” When booking in this way, you secure the award availability, but not the award price. The award price can change at any time until you pay the required points.
Dynamic Award Pricing
Marriott used to have an award chart that determined the point price of each hotel, but in March 2022 they jettisoned their charts and now price awards dynamically. Award prices now are influenced by cash rates. Higher priced stays are likely to cost more in points.
Award pricing things to know:
- The primary award price is for standard rooms (each hotel defines “standard” differently). Higher level rooms may show up in award searches, but either at a higher award price (the details will state that it is a points upgrade) or with a required cash co-pay for the upgrade.
- You can customize a mix of paid nights with award nights and free night certificates in a single reservation. See this post or this video for more information.
- For every 5 nights booked with points (but not free night certificates), you’ll get the cheapest night free. People often refer to this as “Fifth Night Free,” (because it used to work that way) but it is officially known as “Stay for 5, Pay for 4.”
- Homes & Villas by Marriott: Vacation rental properties can be booked with points at a fixed rate of 0.6 cents per point. Stay for 5, Pay for 4 awards do not apply to Homes & Villas.
Awards booked with points for 5 nights or longer are automatically priced with the cheapest night free. For example, suppose you are looking to use points to book a five night stay that costs 40K for the first night, 32K for the second night and 45K for each of the remaining nights. In that case, you wouldn’t pay for the 32K night (since that’s the cheapest) and would only pay 40K + 45K x 3 = 175,000 points for the stay.
This works with longer bookings too. For example, with a 10 night stay, you wouldn’t have to pay for the two cheapest nights. In some cases with 10+ night stays, you can save points by booking multiple reservations. See this post for details.
It is possible to mix cash nights or free night certificate nights with a Stay for 5, Pay for 4 award, but only if you have at least 5 points nights in your stay. For example, you can book a 7 night stay where you pay with cash for one night (ideally the cheapest night of the stay) and pay with a free night certificate for another night. That would leave 5 points-nights (which do not have to be contiguous) and so the cheapest point-night would be removed from the price.
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. Points Advance includes the following limitations:
- You can have a maximum of 3 Points Advance reservations at once.
- Points Advance award pricing is based on the award rate at the time you apply your points rather than the rate at the time you booked the award. Marriott describes this as locking in the room not the rate.
- You must book 30 days or more before your arrival date in order to use Points Advance.
- Points Advance reservations are held for 60 days from the time of booking, or no later than 14 days prior to your arrival date, whichever is sooner.
When you find an award stay online, here’s how to invoke Points Advance:
Automatic Points Advance
When you select a room to book and 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. They’ll also offer you the option to buy the required points (usually at a rate of 1.25 cents per point) so that you can lock in the award price right away. Buying points usually only makes sense if the award price is particularly low compared to the cash rate.
Here’s what you’ll see on the check-out screen when you don’t have enough points in your account:
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 60 days from booking or 14 days of your stay, you may lose the reservation.
Free Night Award Certificates
Marriott issues Free Night Award Certificates (hereafter referred to as “free night certs”) as credit card perks, as a 75 night Choice Benefit selection, and as promotional awards (e.g. they’ll sometimes have a targeted promotion that offers a free night cert after 1 or 2 paid nights).
Free Night Award Certificate Point Value
Each free night cert has a maximum point value. For example, a 35K free night cert can be used to pay for a hotel night that costs 35,000 points or less. If you use the certificate for a cheaper stay, there is no residual value to the certificate.
To date, I’m aware of free night certs with max values of 25K, 35K, 40K, 50K, and 85K:
- 25K: These are issued annually upon account renewal to Chase Bonvoy Premier cardholders. This card is no longer available to new cardholders.
- 35K: These are the most common type of certificate issued as promotion awards. They are also issued annually upon account renewal for cardholders of the following cards: Bonvoy Amex, Chase Bonvoy Boundless, Amex Bonvoy Business, and Chase Bonvoy Premier Plus Business.
- 40K: These are only available as a 75 night Choice Benefit
- 50K: They are issued annually upon account renewal for cardholders of the following cards: Amex Bonvoy Brilliant, and Chase Ritz-Carlton.
- 85K: These have been available now and then as part of signup offers for new Bonvoy cards.
Point Top-Offs (Up to 15K)
If a hotel costs more points than the max value of your free night certificate, it is possible to add up to 15,000 points to book your stay. For example, suppose you want to book a hotel that costs 57,000 points but your certificate is worth only up to 50,000 points. In that case, when you click on a room to book, the Marriott website will automatically see that you have a certificate that is within 15,000 points and give you the choice to book the room with the cert/point combo or with points alone.
No Prepaid Upgrades
Free night certs (with or without Top-Ups) do not work on rooms that include a cash or points upgrade. In the image above, I show an overwater villa at Le Meridien Maldives which is available as a Redemption with Cash Upgrade ($50 + 50,000 points) or as a Redemption with Points Upgrade (10,000 + 50,000 points). In either case, you cannot use a certificate to pay any part of the points component of the stay.
|Elite Status Level||Requirements Per Year||Key Benefits|
|Silver Elite||10 Nights||Late checkout, 10% point bonus|
|Gold Elite||25 Nights||2PM late checkout; 25% point bonus; welcome gift (points only); room upgrade; enhanced internet|
|Platinum Elite||50 Nights||4PM late checkout; 50% point bonus; welcome gift w/ breakfast option; room upgrade includes suites; lounge access; Choice benefit (such as 5 suite night awards) when you achieve 50 nights.|
|Titanium Elite||75 Nights||All of the above, plus: 75% point bonus; United Silver Premier status via RewardsPlus; Ritz-Carlton suite upgrades; Additional Choice Benefit (such as 40K free night certificate) when you achieve 75 nights.|
|Ambassador Elite||100 Nights + $23K Spend (starting 2023)||All 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).|
Marriott Bonvoy Member Status Benefits
- Requires 0-9 nights per year
- Complimentary in-room internet access
- Member rates
- Mobile check-in/services
Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite Status Benefits
- Requires 10-24 nights per year
- Same benefits as Member status, plus:
- Ultimate Reservation Guarantee
- 10% points bonus
- Late checkout
Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status Benefits
- Requires 25-49 nights per year
- Same benefits as Silver elite status, plus:
- Complimentary enhanced internet
- 25% points bonus
- 2pm late checkout
- In hotel welcome gift
- Bonus points
- Enhanced room upgrade based on availability
Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite Status Benefits
- Requires 50-74 nights per year
- Same benefits as Gold elite status, plus:
- 50% points bonus
- 4pm late checkout
- Dedicated elite support
- In hotel welcome gift; choice of:
- Bonus points
- Breakfast offering
- Other amenity
- Enhanced room upgrade including select suites
- Lounge access
- Guaranteed room type
- Annual Choice Benefit (see Choice Benefits here)
Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite Status Benefits
- Requires 75-99 nights per year
- Same benefits as Platinum elite status, plus:
- 75% points bonus
- Second Annual Choice Benefit (different selection of benefits to those offered with Platinum status – see Choice Benefits here)
- 48 hour guarantee
Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador Elite Status Benefits
- Requires 100+ nights per year plus $20,000 in annual qualifying spend
- Same benefits as Titanium elite status, plus:
- Ambassador service
- Your24 (permits an eligible Member to request a specific check-in time for any upcoming stay at any Participating Property. If the requested check-in time is confirmed, the check-out time will be set for the same time on the day of departure)
Marriott Bonvoy Lifetime Elite Status
Lifetime Silver Elite
- Requires 250 lifetime nights + 5 years of elite status
Lifetime Gold Elite
- Requires 400 lifetime nights + 7 years of Gold elite status or higher
Lifetime Platinum Elite
- Requires 600 lifetime nights + 10 years of Platinum elite status or higher
Elite status things to know:
- 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, timeshares, and more (jump to shortcuts to elite status for more info)
- 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
- If you book multiple rooms for the same dates, you’ll earn elite night credits for only one room. That said, you will earn points from up to three rooms.
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. I don’t know of any good way to find this out.
The following chart shows my current understanding of the specific breakfast benefit to expect at each brand:
|Hotel Chain||Daily Breakfast Benefit||How to Qualify|
|Design Hotels, EDITION, Gaylord, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott Executive Apartments, Marriott Vacation Club||None||N/A|
|AC Hotels, Moxy Hotels outside of U.S., Canada, or Europe||$10 Food & Beverage Credit Per Night||Platinum Elite Welcome Gift choice|
|AC Hotels, Moxy Hotels within U.S., Canada, or Europe||$10 Food & Beverage Credit Per Night for member + 1 guest (e.g. $20 total per night)||Platinum Elite Welcome Gift choice|
|Courtyard||$10 Food & Beverage Credit Per Night for member + 1 guest (e.g. $20 total per night)||Platinum Elite Welcome Gift choice|
|Courtyard w/ lounge
Lounge Access (or daily breakfast for 2 if lounge is closed)
|Platinum Elite benefit|
|JW Marriott, Marriott Hotels, Delta Hotels, Autograph Collection, and Renaissance Hotels||Hotels (Not Resorts):
Lounge Access (or daily breakfast* for 2 if lounge is closed)
|Lounge Access is a Platinum Elite benefit|
Breakfast in restaurant per night of Stay for Member +1
|Restaurant breakfast is a Platinum Elite Welcome Gift choice|
|St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W Hotels, Tribute Portfolio, Four Points, Aloft, Protea Hotels||Breakfast in restaurant per night of Stay for Member +1||Platinum Elite Welcome Gift choice|
|Sheraton, Le Méridien, Westin||Lounge Access + Breakfast in restaurant per night of Stay for Member +1||Lounge Access is a Platinum Elite benefit. Restaurant breakfast is a Platinum Elite Welcome Gift choice|
|Element, Fairfield, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites, TownePlace Suites||Breakfast Buffet||Free for all guests|
* In the U.S. and Canada, when the lounge is closed, you are entitled to continental breakfast for you plus one guest. In Europe, there is no “continental” restriction. It’s unclear what happens outside of the U.S., Canada, and Europe when the lounge is closed.
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/Titanium Elite Welcome Gift: “Check out this when you check in: As a Platinum or Titanium Elite member, you’ll receive a special gift upon arrival at participating hotels, with 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 your Member number and room/bed preferences. We’ll always honor your bed type request at our locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. Everywhere else, smoking/non-smoking preferences are honored based on availability; exact bed sizes may vary, and only Titanium 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 guest room that the Platinum Elite/Titanium Elite member is staying in.”
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 Titanium Elite and Ambassador Elite Member’s personal guest room. 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.
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. Plus, the elite night shortcuts will qualify you for Choice Benefits when you reach 50 nights and again at 75 nights. The all-at-once shortcuts are not stackable and do not help you earn Choice Benefits.
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 reach the level of status you are shooting for (e.g. 50 nights for Platinum status, 75 nights for Titanium).
- Credit Card 15 elite nights x 2. This is by far the simplest option. Almost all Marriott and credit cards (as well as the Ritz card) offer 15 elite nights per year simply by being a card member. You can find a complete list of cards here. Having more than 1 consumer Marriott card or more than one business card won’t give you more than 15 elite nights. That said, you can get up to 30 elite nights by holding both a personal Marriott card and a business Marriott card.
- 1 Elite Night Per $3K Spend. Three legacy Marriott cards offer 1 elite night per $3K 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 upgrade offers 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.
- Book award nights. Award stays count towards elite status.
- Book Stay for 5, Pay for 4 Awards (even if staying 4 nights). For example, if you can find a Marriott that is priced at 5,000 points per night, you can book 5 nights for a total of 20,000 points. After your stay, you’ll receive 5 elite nights. Note that you do have to check into the hotel to get credit. If you don’t plan to stay all 5 nights, I recommend that you discuss your plan with the hotel manager since they may check you out early if they see that you’re not there.
- Book Marriott Homes & Villas paid stays. Homes & Villas are rental properties that are bookable through Marriott. While they sometimes charge much more through Marriott than through other channels, that’s not always the case. For details, see: Marriott Homes & Villas. A great path to elite status?
- 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 uses for this option are to help you get to Titanium Elite or Ambassador Elite status, or to increase your lifetime elite night count. Learn more about Choice Benefits here.
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 (as opposed to “other shortcuts” below):
- 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.
The following shortcuts will get you to a specific elite level, but you can’t stack them with elite nights to get higher status and you will not earn Choice Benefits:
- Credit card Gold status. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant 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).
- Spend $75K for Platinum. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card and the Ritz-Carlton Card (no longer available to new applicants) offer Platinum Elite status with $75K spend within a calendar year.
- 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 ask if this or a similar challenge is available. If so, enroll via phone. You cannot enroll in the Platinum challenge if you already have Platinum status or higher.
- Timeshare Ownership: Marriott Vacation Club and Vistana are timeshare ownership programs affiliated with Marriott, and each offers elite status under certain conditions.
- United MileagePlus Premier Gold or higher status: Via RewardsPlus, United elite’s with Gold status or higher get Marriott Gold.
Disadvantages to all-at-once 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).
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.
You can earn points on up to three rooms at once. If you book two or three rooms under the same Marriott account number, you’ll earn points on all of the rooms but you’ll earn elite night credits for only one room.
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.
- Vacation rentals can be booked with points. Point prices are pegged at 0.6 cents per point value. For example, a $1000 stay would cost 16,667 Marriott Bonvoy points. That’s not a good value for your points, in my opinion. Also note that Stay for 5 Pay for 4 Awards do not apply.
- You can earn points on paid rentals. The base earning rate is 5 points per dollar plus bonuses for elite status.
- It is important to compare prices. Often the same rental property can be found on other sites like Vacasa, VRBO, Airbnb, etc. Sometimes Marriott Homes & Villas charges significantly more for the same property and dates, but that’s not always the case. See this post for details.
Marriott Bonvoy is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards on a 1,000:1,000 basis. Amex sometimes offers a bonus when transferring points to Marriott; usually from 30%-40%, but a targeted offer has gone as high as 50%.
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).
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 points can sometimes be very valuable when used directly towards hotel nights.
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 is a hotel program it usually qualifies.
Current transfer bonuses
If there are any current transfer bonuses from hotel programs, details will appear here:
|Transfer Bonus Details||End Date|
Best Marriott airline transfer partners
The following airline transfer partners represent the best potential value in my opinion:
|Rewards Program||Marriott Transfer Ratio||Best Uses|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||60K to 25K||Redeem for Star Alliance flights and/or flights with Air Canada partners (such as Etihad). No fuel surcharges; $39 CAD award booking fee; 5,000 points to add stopover on one-way award. See: Air Canada Aeroplan: Everything you need to know.|
|Air France KLM Flying Blue||60K to 25K||Monthly Air France Promo Awards often represent very good value. Air France miles can be used to book Sky Team awards, including Delta awards. Air France often offers very good business class award pricing between the US and Europe & Israel.|
|Alaska MileagePlan||60K to 25K||Alaska 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.|
|American AAdvantage||60K to 25K||Best for AA's web special awards or for partner awards such as Cathay Pacific business class, Qatar business class, Etihad first class, etc. AA no longer charges change or cancellation fees on awards.|
|ANA Mileage Club||60K to 25K||Redeem for Star Alliance flights. Multiple stopovers allowed. ANA offers many great sweet-spot awards, including flying around the world in business class for as few as 115K miles! See also: ANA - a terrific Membership Rewards gem.|
|Asiana||60K to 25K||Redeem 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 LifeMiles||60K to 25K||Avianca 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.|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||60K to 25K||Cathay Pacific has a decent distance based award chart, but they no longer allow stopovers longer than 24 hours. 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. For long distance flights, it is possible to reduce the cost of first class by adding on a business class flight. See this post for details.|
|JAL (Japan Airlines) Mileage Bank||60K to 25K||JAL 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 Airlines||60K to 25K||Korean Air is known for having top notch business and first class on their international flights. Historically (pre-pandemic), first class awards were 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 MileagePlus||60K to 27.5K||United offers free award changes, and free cancelations 30+ days before departure. Like Avianca and Aeroplan, United never charges fuel surcharges for awards. Unfortunately, United charges many more miles for international first class awards. Good uses of miles include United's Excursionist Perk awards and (sometimes) dynamically priced United economy awards.|
Useful Marriott airline transfer partners
The following airline transfer partners can offer great value under certain circumstances:
|Rewards Program||Marriott Transfer Ratio||Best Uses|
|British Airways Avios||60K to 25K||While flights on British Airways itself often incur outrageously high fuel surcharges, many BA partners charge low or no fuel surcharges. Excellent value can be had in redeeming BA points for short distance flights. It's possible to move points (Avios) between Iberia, British Airways, Aer Lingus, and Qatar. See also: Avios Sweet Spots for Award Tickets.|
|Delta SkyMiles||60K to 25K||Delta no longer charges change or cancellation fees on awards originating in North America. Flash award sales can offer great value. See: Best uses for Delta miles.|
|Emirates Skywards||60K to 25K||The best use of Emirates miles has been to fly Emirates itself. Unfortunately fuel surcharges can be steep. See: Emirates Sweet Spot Awards - First class from 30K miles round trip.|
|Etihad Guest||60K to 25K||Etihad has a very competitive award 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.|
|Iberia Avios||60K to 25K||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 when booking with Iberia rather than British Airways. It's possible to move points (Avios) between Iberia, British Airways, Aer Lingus, and Qatar. See also: Avios Sweet Spots for Award Tickets.|
|JetBlue||60K to 12.5K||JetBlue 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 of these cards.|
|LATAM Pass||60K to 25K||LATAM Pass points can be useful for flying LATAM member airlines: prices aren't bad for short or nonstop routes. Unfortunately, partner awards are often priced unreasonably high.|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||60K to 25K||Best use is probably for flights on El Al with no fuel surcharges. Also useful for short AA flights. 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 KrisFlyer||60K to 25K||Use to book Singapore Airlines First Class awards (generally reserved for their own members), Alaska Airlines economy awards, or for Star Alliance awards (including United Airlines).|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards||60K to 25K||Award 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 & Smiles||60K to 25K||Miles & Smiles offers a number of awesome sweet-spot awards including 7.5K one-way anywhere within the US, even to Hawaii. Many awards cannot be booked online but can be booked via phone or email. See: Turkish Miles & Smiles Complete Guide and Turkish business class sweet spots from the US.|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||60K to 25K||Virgin Atlantic offers a few great sweet spot awards including ANA first class between the US and Japan for as low as 55K points one-way; and US to Europe on Delta One business class for 50K points one-way. See: Best uses for Virgin Atlantic points (Sweet Spot Spotlight).|
Additional Marriott airline transfer partners
|Rewards Program||Marriott Transfer Ratio||Best Uses|
|Aegean Miles + Bonus||60K to 25K|
|Aer Lingus Avios||60K to 25K||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 when booking with Iberia rather than British Airways. It's possible to move points (Avios) between Iberia, British Airways, Aer Lingus, and Qatar. See also: Avios Sweet Spots for Award Tickets.|
|Aeroflot Bonus||60K to 25K|
|AeroMexico ClubPremier||60K 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. Unfortunately many have reported that awards are extremely difficult to book through AeroMexico so we do not recommend transferring points to this program. If you want to fly AeroMexico, look to transfer points to another SkyTeam partner (such as Air France) and then book AeroMexico with that program.|
|Air China Phoenix Miles||60K to 25K|
|Air New Zealand Air Points||60K to 307|
|China Eastern Airlines||60K to 25K|
|China Southern Airlines’ Sky Pearl Club||60K to 25K|
|Copa Airlines ConnectMiles||60K to 25K|
|Frontier Miles||60K to 25K|
|Hainan Airlines||60K to 25K||I’m not aware of any great uses for Hainan miles|
|Hawaiian Miles||60K to 25K||Hawaiian 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 Inter Miles||60K to 25K||JetAirways 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.|
|Multiplus||60K to 25K|
|Saudia Airlines||60K to 25K|
|South African Airways Voyager||60K to 25K|
|TAP Air Portugal||60K to 25K|
|Thai Airways International Royal Orchid Plus||60K to 25K||I'm not aware of any good uses for these miles|
|Vueling Club||60K to 25K|
|Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer||60K to 25K|
Indirect transfer partners
In some cases it is possible to transfer to an airline or hotel program in order to then transfer from that program to another program. In most cases this is a bad deal, but it’s cool to think about the possibilities.
|Rewards Program||Marriott Indirect Transfer|
|Hilton||120K to 75K via Virgin Atlantic|
|IHG||120K to 50K via Virgin Atlantic|
|Wyndham||60K to 12.5K via Hawaiian (60K to 25K) then Caesar's Total Rewards (2 to 1)|
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 up to 500,000 points per year if multiple people share points with you)
- Cost: Free
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
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.
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: Mid January
If you don’t make a choice by mid-January, you’ll get the “5 Suite Night Awards” choice automatically.
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, the only good reason to select this choice is to get to the next level of status (75 night or 100 night, but 100 night status also requires $20K Marriott spend). For example, if you earn 70 elite nights in 2022, this selection would bring you to 75 nights and you’d get Titanium status plus another Choice Benefit. Unless you are trying to earn lifetime status, there’s no other reason that I can think of to make this choice.
- 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. Note that many Marriott hotels do not accept Suite Night Awards so these can be frustratingly difficult to use.
- 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): Certificate is valid through December 31st of the year after the elite nights were earned. For example, by picking this Choice Benefit based on having earned 75 elite nights in 2022, the certificate will be valid through the end of 2023.
- 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
Credit Card Eligibility
Below is a chart to help determine if you are eligible for particular Bonvoy credit cards. For more precise information, please see this post: Are you eligible for a new Marriott card?
Credit Card Details
Below you’ll find information about each currently available Marriott card:
|Card Offer and Details|
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.
Pros (where Marriott Bonvoy is better than average):
- Stay for 5, Pay for 4 Awards (Note that Hilton and IHG offer even better options)
- Points Advance: Ability to book awards even if you don’t yet have enough points in your account
- Marriott offers very 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 (I don’t think any other major brand does the same)
- 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 and even from hotel to hotel within a brand.
- Marriott phone representatives are 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 can be worth keeping for their annual free nights.
Q: I originally booked a stay with points but now I want to apply a free night certificate and the point price has increased. Is there a way to apply the certificate based on the original point price?
No. When you edit your stay to use a free night certificate, the stay will re-price based on current award prices.
Q: Can I get the Stay for 5, Pay for 4 benefit if I pay for some of the 5 nights with cash or free night certificates?
A: No. To get this benefit, you must book at least 5 nights with points. If you have a longer stay, though, you can include cash or certificate nights (or both) as long as you still have at least 5 nights paid with points.
Q: If I book a stay with Points Advance, can I lock in current award prices?
A: No. When you apply your points, you will pay the rate that is in effect at that time.
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
Q: If I book multiple rooms for the same stay will I earn rewards on all of them?
A: You will earn points for up to three rooms, but you’ll earn elite night credit for only one room.