With the travel industry recovery in full swing, you may be considering a trip, though you don’t want to break the bank (trust us, we know how expensive those gardening and home-improvement projects can be).
Fortunately, we can use points and miles to travel for almost entirely free — or at least at a much lower cost than paying cash for everything. One of the most expensive parts of traveling, of course, is staying at a hotel. Once you stay for multiple nights, stays can get pricey — and fast. But if you have points in your loyalty account, you can dramatically lessen the amount you pay out of pocket for a given stay.
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And right now, there’s an easy way to earn a whole lot of points without leaving your house: the limited-time increased Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card offer of 100,000 Marriott points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
But what do you do with those points if you decide to apply for the card and then earn the sign-up bonus? Obviously, you’ll want to stretch the points as far as they’ll go, getting the most value out of every point used.
Generally speaking, Category 6 Marriott properties tend to be “sweet spot” hotels (depending on the location, of course). They often are higher-end properties that can become expensive during various times of the year but can be had for 50,000 Marriott points per night on standard nights. But don’t discount lower-category properties where the value to be had can be compelling, especially for a longer stay.
Here are 11 different ways to redeem 100,000 Marriott points for potentially more than $1,000 in value.
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Related: How to get up to 25 award nights from 100,000 Marriott points
Theme park stays
If you’ve been dying to visit Disneyland to check out Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge but don’t want to spend a fortune on lodging, the Delta Hotels Anaheim Garden Grove is a fantastic pick. As a Category 4 hotel, you can snag off-peak dates for just 20,000 points per night. If you’ve got 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, that will cover six nights — pay for nights one through four with points and get the fifth night free as a Marriott Bonvoy member. Then pay with points for the sixth night. Nearly a week is more than enough time to explore the Star Wars attractions and well beyond.
And you can’t beat the location, which is just a 10-minute drive to Disneyland (the hotel offers a shuttle service). This Delta Hotels property also has a pool, fitness center, grab-and-go market and a wine bar in the lobby.
Related: How families can stretch 100,000 Marriott points
Related: What a Disneyland vacation costs on 3 budgets
Home to the most magical place on earth, Orlando is one of the world’s top travel destinations. The area has all sorts of hotels, from budget brands to five-star luxury properties. If you’re staying on or adjacent to the Walt Disney World property, though, your options are fairly limited to Disney’s own properties.
However, two properties in the Marriott portfolio — the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin — are located just steps from the major theme parks and offer travelers who have Marriott points a very well-located option that won’t cost a ton out of pocket. Best of all, both of these properties (the Swan falls under the Westin brand and the Dolphin under Sheraton) are Category 6 properties that require 50,000 points per night under standard availability.
We were able to find plenty of nights in the late summer and through the fall with standard — and even off-peak — availability. And, given that many nights are showing cash rates of about $300-plus per night, you’ll get around $1,000 in value for those 100,000 points (or less!) when you factor in taxes and fees on top of the nightly room rate. (Just remember that you’ll still pay a resort fee on Marriott award stays.)
If you’re not dead-set on staying on Disney property, check out the JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes, another Category 6 property with plenty of off-peak and standard award availability in peak visiting periods. Cash rates are often around $350 per night but can go a lot higher, so if you’re able to find standard or off-peak award availability, you’ll get a great return for your points.
Related: The best points hotels near Disney World
Hitting the world’s best beaches
While this island doesn’t get as much attention as its neighbor Aruba, Curaçao is a spectacular island destination offering year-round beautiful weather, gorgeous beaches, vibrant culture and so much more. And the recently upgraded Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort is the place to stay. It offers two pools, multiple dining options, newly designed guest rooms and more.
The resort is a Category 5, meaning you can get a great return on your points, especially when booking off-peak or standard award nights at 30,000 or 35,000 points, respectively, per night.
Though not located right on the beach, the recently renovated Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove is a great option for anyone visiting the Miami area who wants a high-end, laid-back property away from the hustle and bustle of South Beach. A Marriott Category 6 hotel, it’s a great value on points — rooms consistently hover between $350 and $500 per night, so when you can find a room for off-peak or standard award pricing, you’re really maximizing your Marriott points.
The Category 6 Ritz-Carlton, Cancun is a beachfront resort in one of Mexico’s most popular vacation spots. It’s very accessible, especially from the eastern half of the U.S., with many cities featuring nonstop flights multiple times per week, if not daily. Since this is a Category 6 hotel, you’ll be able to book nights for 50,000 points during standard availability. And while cash rates at this property aren’t typically sky-high, rates do approach $500 per night during the peak winter months and around holidays.
If you’re a fan of planning far in advance, you could score the coveted Christmastime redemption, where cash rates exceed $1,000 per night. Even if you have to pay 60,000 points per night for peak nights, you’ll get great value out of them, given how pricey it is to travel during that time of year.
Los Cabos, Mexico
We love the JW Marriott Los Cabos Beach Resort & Spa for its stunning location, high-quality rooms, gorgeous public spaces and superb staff. Oh, and the fact that it’s a great deal on points. Similar to the Ritz in Cancún, cash rates at this property aren’t especially high for most of the year. Still, if you have your eye on a more peak time of the year, you can get an amazing value for your points — especially if you can find standard availability where you’ll pay 50,000 points per night.
How does a private island in Thailand on points sound to you?
Yeah, it sounds pretty great to us, too. The Naka Island, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Phuket is located on its own island off the coast of the popular city of Phuket — though it feels like a million miles away. You can only reach the island by speedboat — and once you do, you won’t want to leave. Each of the resort’s villas is gorgeous and very private, and the resort’s pools and private beach are drop-dead gorgeous.
The best part? It’s a Category 6 property, meaning you can book rooms for 50,000 points per night during standard availability.
An archipelago of 99 islands in the Andaman Sea, Langkawi is emerging as a hot spot for travelers to Southeast Asia looking for a beach getaway. And it’s where you’ll find some spectacular deals with your Marriott points. The St. Regis Langkawi is a jaw-dropping luxury resort that consistently shows cash rates around $500 per night. Fortunately, there appears to be plenty of nights available at the standard rate for a Category 6 property: 50,000 points per night.
Tip: If you can’t find availability at The St. Regis, there’s also a Ritz-Carlton in Langkawi, and it too is a Category 6 property.
Europe’s top properties
Explore Austria’s capital city from the Vienna Marriott Hotel, a Category 6 property. Vienna isn’t known to be particularly cheap, so when rates eclipse $500 per night during the peak summer travel season, you’ll be sure to get a great value for your points, especially if you can find off-peak or standard nights.
Fancy a trip to Spain’s Canary Islands off the coast of Northwest Africa? Park yourself at The Ritz-Carlton, Abama on the island of Tenerife to soak up some sun and the relaxed Spanish lifestyle. Summer is high season in Europe, but on a quick search of availability, we’re seeing plenty of days with standard award availability, giving you a great return for your points at “one of Spain’s best-kept secrets,” according to TPG senior writer Lori Zaino.
Explore the Douro Valley in Portugal from the city of Porto, famous for its port wineries and many beautiful bridges spanning the Douro River. The Sheraton Porto Hotel & Spa is a Category 4 property located in the city’s business district, which likely wouldn’t be your first choice for a leisure trip to the area. Still, ride-sharing services like Uber are easy to use and very cheap in Portugal.
Since the Sheraton is a Category 4 hotel, you could potentially stay six nights on points, assuming you’re able to find off-peak award availability (20,000 points per night) and take advantage of Bonvoy’s fifth award night free perk.
current Marriott credit card offers
If the Bonvoy Boundless limited-time increased welcome offer isn’t quite right for you, there are plenty of other ways to earn a hefty amount of Marriott points:
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card: Earn 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new card to make $1,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening.
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card: Earn Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months. Plus, earn up to $200 in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants within the first six months of card membership.
- Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card: Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $150 back in statement credits on eligible purchases made within the first three months of card membership.
If you’re looking to go on a long-overdue vacation but just have the 100,000 bonus points available from the limited-time Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card offer available to you, you still have plenty of options available to you. You’ll have to be willing to put the time and effort into doing the appropriate research, but there’s no reason you can’t squeeze a lot of value out of each one of your Bonvoy points.
Featured photo of the St. Regis Langkawi by Ethan Steinberg/The Points Guy
SPONSORED: With states reopening, enjoying a meal from a restaurant no longer just means curbside pickup.
And when you do spend on dining, you should use a credit card that will maximize your rewards and potentially even score special discounts. Thanks to temporary card bonuses and changes due to coronavirus, you may even be able to score a meal at your favorite restaurant for free.
These are the best credit cards for dining out, taking out, and ordering in to maximize every meal purchase.
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
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