Why are Marriott Travel Packages a good deal?


We recently posted a quick deal because availability for the JW Marriott Phu Quoc is wide open for 2018, and we noted that it is a great option for a 7-night Marriott Travel Package. A reader later wrote to ask a question that comes up every now and then: Why are Marriott Travel Packages a good deal? More specifically, they asked:

Why do you say the Marriott Travel Package is a really good deal? Seven nights would be 150,000 points at a Category 5 Marriott and the difference would be 120,000 points. 120K + 150K = 270K. The points/miles add up to the right amount. Why is it a good deal?

a group of people sitting at a table with drinks and a city view
Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park (a Cat 5 Marriott) Club Lounge Terrace

This question comes around now and then, and for those new to the points & miles world, this can surely be confusing. First, let’s review Marriott Travel Packages and then we’ll get to the heart of why they are known to be such a good deal.

Marriott Travel Packages

We’ve written about Marriott Travel Packages many times before and we have a quick guide about some of the key aspects (See: 12 Things you need to know about Marriott Travel Packages). The nuts and bolts of a package is this: you can trade a number of Marriott points, starting at 200,000 points, for a package that includes a 7-night certificate for a stay at a Marriott hotel and a number of airline miles. The number of airline miles awarded varies a bit depending on the partner you choose, but the sweet spot is the far right column in the chart below. The question above references the top right corner of the chart — where 270,000 Marriott Rewards points will get you a 7-night stay at a Category 1-5 Marriott hotel and 120,000 airline miles in a number of different airline programs.

a table with numbers and a number of flights

Note that a similar package with United yields a few more miles (132,000) while those with other airlines can award as few as 85,000 miles. See the various Hotel + Air packages on this page for details. Sometimes, airlines offer a transfer bonus (See: Current point transfer bonuses) where they offer even more miles on points converted from hotel programs, and that sometimes (but not always) includes transfers from these packages.

Key idea #1: Your airline miles and hotel do not need to be redeemed on the same trip

two chairs on a map

Of key importance: while these look like “package” deals, you by no means need to use your airline miles and hotel stay on the same trip. In fact, you don’t even need to choose the resort when you redeem this package; rather, you get a certificate for a 7-night stay that can be applied to a reservation within a year of the day that you redeem the package. You do have to choose an airline and the miles will be transferred right away (it may take a few days for the transfer to complete), but you can then redeem the miles at your leisure and as you wish.

So if you’ve got a sweet redemption in mind for a flight but there is no Category 5 Marriott at your destination, fear not; just use your certificate separately when you want. This is important in understanding the value of these packages: the airline miles can be used separately (and to a much greater value).

Key idea #2: Not all points & miles are created equal

a 3d characters on a podium

In a world where all points and miles are worth the same thing, the reader asking today’s question would be right to be confused. After all, the numbers “add up” before we consider the value those quantities represent.

Marriott awards the 5th night free on award stays. A Category 5 Marriott normally costs 25,000 points per night. Therefore, you can normally book a Category 5 Marriott for 7 nights for 150,000 Marriott Rewards points (5th night is free, so 6 nights x 25K = 150K). That math means that in a Marriott Travel Package, you are trading an excess 120,000 Marriott points (270K – 150K for a 7-night Cat 5 stay = 120K excess Marriott points) for 120,000 airline miles with the airlines shown in the packages above. That appears to be equal.

But it isn’t. In most instances, airline miles are much more valuable than hotel points. Think of it this way: if I offered to trade you one ounce of silver for one ounce of gold, would you call it an even trade? Of course not. Just because the quantity is the same doesn’t mean the value is the same.

And you don’t just have to take my word for it — we can look right at Marriott to see that they agree that airline miles are more valuable than their points. If you were to skip the packages above and just convert Marriott points to airline miles, it would cost a lot more than 120,000 Marriott points to get 120,000 airline miles. In fact, if you don’t get a travel package, Marriott would charge you 140,000 points for just 50,000 airline miles in the same airline programs:

a table with points and numbers

Another quick-reference barometer would be considering the rate at which we could transfer from Marriott–>SPG—>Airline miles. Marriott points transfer to SPG at 3:1. Therefore, 120,000 Marriott points equals 40,000 SPG points. SPG points transfer to airlines 1:1 and add a 5,000 mile bonus if you transfer 20,000 at a time. In other words:

120,000 Marriott points = 40,000 SPG points = 50,000 airline miles

That saves you 20,000 Marriott points over transferring directly from Marriott, but you’re still converting 120K Marriott points into just 50K airline miles. With a Travel Package, you’re getting an additional 70,000 airline miles. That’s huge even before we compare dollars and cents.

But let’s compare dollars and cents

If we compare cash value, the differences really start to stand out. Our Reasonable Redemption Value for Marriott points is .72 cents per point. This means that, in general, if you use your points towards hotel stays, you can expect to get around .72 cents per point as compared to the cash cost of the room. Obviously, this can vary wildly depending on where, how, and when you use your points. At some of the Top 5 Cat 5 Marriotts in the world, you can do quite a bit better– but those are the outliers. Most Category 5 Marriotts are going for a value much closer to .72 cents per point.

So if we go by our Reasonable Redemption Value, 120,000 Marriott Rewards points are worth around $864, give or take a bit.

On the other hand, let’s pick one of the airline partners to compare value: Alaska Airlines. 120,000 Alaska Airline miles can be worth quite a bit more than $864. In our Reasonable Redemption Values, we peg (almost) all airline miles on the same standard — the number of miles required for a domestic US round trip economy class award ticket compared to the average cash cost of an economy class ticket in the US. We do that in order to have some sort of fair point of comparison. You can read more about Frequent Miler’s process for that here: Airline Miles are worth 1.4 cents each. A simplified approach to Reasonable Redemption Values. Based on that metric, 120K Alaska Airlines miles are worth about $1,680 — about double the value of the Marriott Rewards points.

However, you can get a lot more value out of international premium-cabin travel. For example, Alaska charges 55,000 miles each way in business class between the United States and Australia.

a screenshot of a screen

As you can see above, one of their partners is Fiji Airways. You could fly round trip in business class to Australia with a stopover in Fiji for 110,000 Alaska Airlines miles. That’s worth a heck of a lot more than $864 to most people. Even if we’re really generous and value Marriott Rewards at 1c each, the value of those 120,000 points as Marriott points is $1,200. I’d much rather give up $1,200 in hotel room value to get a “free” round trip business class ticket to Australia and Fiji. And don’t forget, you’ve still got that 7-night Category 5 certificate. Trading 270,000 Marriott points for a 7-night hotel certificate and round trip business class to Australia and Fiji seems like an epic redemption.

And that’s not the only valuable option

That’s just one partner and one example. If you transferred the points to Virgin Atlantic, you could book a round trip first class ticket to Japan on ANA with 120,000 Virgin Atlantic miles. Again, that’s worth a lot more than the valuation of 120,000 Marriott points. Here are the prices for round-trip first class on ANA from Chicago to Tokyo over two random months later this year:

a screenshot of a calendar

Would I say that you are getting $19,747 in value out of your 120,000 Marriott points by converting them to Virgin Atlantic? Absolutely not. But I think it’s fair to say that you’re doing better than $864 and better than just about any Marriott Rewards redemption I can imagine. Trading 120K Marriott points for 120K airline miles is a no-brainer.

Bottom line

The value in the Marriott Travel Packages is in getting a lot more bang for your buck out of your Marriott Rewards points. There are dozens of airline partners (though some award fewer than 120,000 miles, see the charts here), so the possibilities are endless. Of course, some hotels — like the JW Marriott Phu Quoc — present amazing value at 7 nights for 150K Marriott points. The beauty of a Marriott Travel Package is that you don’t lose that amazing value — the deal is just amplified if you can also get a 1:1 transfer rate from 120K Marriott points to airline miles.

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[…] using points to either transfer directly to airlines or to buy Marriott Travel Packages (See: Why are Marriott Travel Packages a good deal?). If you’re able to use Greg’s techniques above to purchase the 90K Starpoints necessary for a […]

James R

So Nick, should one book a Category 1 to 5 Travel certificate before Mid July or obtain one for as high of a category as one can and then tie it to a reservation? I ask because i understand it takes several weeks to get a package and the new scale will be in place July 1, 2018 and we wont travel till 2019. Also I hope Marriott will honor it without any devaluation in the hotel points or airline miles required. Additionally Can you also suggest which International airline as of July 2018 would be the best bargain to fly in business or first class to a destination or should we use Alaska? A stop over would be a nice addition.

[…] using points to either transfer directly to airlines or to buy Marriott Travel Packages (See: Why are Marriott Travel Packages a good deal?). If you’re able to use Greg’s techniques above to purchase the 90K Starpoints […]


Anyone know if you can extend the 7 Night certificate and stay 10 nights and get two free nights?

[…] using points to either transfer directly to airlines or to buy Marriott Travel Packages (See: Why are Marriott Travel Packages a good deal?). If you’re able to use Greg’s techniques above to purchase the 90K Starpoints […]

[…] said, the best option for these conversions is usually Marriott Travel Packages (See: Why are Marriott Travel Packages a good deal?) if they count. In review, Marriott Travel Packages enable you to convert Marriott points for a set […]

[…] we’ve written many times about the value of Marriott Travel Packages (See: Why are Marriott Travel Packages a good deal?). As per the chart below, 270K Marriott points would normally transfer to 120K Avios with a travel […]

[…] changes also mean that the number of properties available in Marriott’s Category 1-5 Hotel + Air packages will reduce. If you’ve had your eye on a category 6, 7 or 8 Hotel + Air package, check the […]


I appreciate all of the hard work that went into this study, but really is not worth it? Life is too short.


Great post Nick! Building up Marriot & SPG for that biz class trip to Australia & Fiji! Hope there is decent availability!

long time spg customer

where on the marriott website are these marriott travel packages shown? Searching high and low on the site and do not see them or the award chart you show. I see flights and hotel deals but they do not show the numbers in your column.


I actually find some good probabilities for the Cat 5 – some properties with easy access to DC for example. Sante Fe and its surrounding area can be a good 7 days leisure trip.
The Ren Le Defense in Paris still is a Cat 5.

SkyCity in HKG is a Cat 6 so you would need to ante up 30K to upgrade it from Cat 5. We used our previous cert there in Jan 2017 before moving to JWM for 5 more nights. The E-bus terminus is just across the big parking lot of Expo and you can take various E-bus to many parts of Hong Kong including the New Territories. There is an S1 bus station for the Tung Chung MTR station or you can take the hotel’s shuttle. Also super convenient to take the green mini bus to various parts of Lantau Island, including the Discovery Bay where there is a very enjoyable ferry ride directly to the Central of Hong Kong Island.
The SkyCity HKG location looks inconvenient from the surface but in reality it is not.

My suggestion is to go over the Cat 4, 5 and 6 list on Marriott Reward site and see if you can find something that works for you.

[…] Why Are Marriott Travel Packages a Good Deal:  If you’re new to this hobby, you may have stumbled across Marriott Travel Packages and wondered if they are a good use of points or not.  You can get a free 5-7 night certificate plus some airline miles in exchange for your Marriott points.  With all the moving parts, it could be tough to determine if it’s a good use of points. […]

Jodi C

Could you tell me the best route to book NY to ROme fco converint g marriot points. I have to but 4 tickets and looking to go first class. Have 3 years worth of marriot points I’d love to use. Won’t be there long as I’m moving around to Venice and Florence but I can fly into and out of any of the above haven’t booked hotels yet. Heading there end of March.


Really enjoyed this post. Thank you!