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How to Earn, Redeem, and Maximize Marriott Bonvoy Points
Photo by 1000Photography / Shutterstock Dozens of top hotels, including the St. Regis Punta Mita, are part of the Marriott Bonvoy family.
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Although hotel loyalty programs are commonplace these days, Marriott was one of the first two chains (the other was Holiday Inn) to launch its own proprietary scheme back in 1983. Today, that program is known as Marriott Bonvoy, and counts over 120 million members worldwide—fitting for the world’s largest hotel company. Here’s everything you need to know about how you can earn, redeem, and maximize Marriott Bonvoy points.
What is Marriott Bonvoy?
Don’t be confused by the name. Marriott Bonvoy is actually the loyalty program of 30 different brands under the Marriott umbrella, including fancy Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis hotels, as well as midrange chains like Sheraton and Westin (and the namesake Marriott), plus budget labels like Courtyard and Four Points. All told, the program comprises over 7,000 hotels in 131 countries around the world. That’s a lot of places where travelers can earn and redeem Marriott Bonvoy points.
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points
You might think that you need to stay in hotels all the time to rack up enough points for award stays, but there are plenty of ways to earn Marriott Bonvoy points.
Shop with a Marriott Bonvoy credit card
The fastest way to earn Marriott Bonvoy points is to get one of the hotel chain’s cobranded credit cards and to use it for everyday purchases. Here are four of the best to consider.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
Fine-tuned for folks seeking out the finer things, this premium card offers a ton of great travel-related perks and one of the best bonuses out there.
- Introductory offer: Up to 125,000 bonus points. You earn 100,000 after making $5,000 in eligible purchases on your card in the first three months of card membership, and an additional 25,000 bonus points after your first anniversary, along with Platinum elite status for a year beginning February 2021. In all, that’s 50,000 more points than this card typically comes with.
- Earning rates: Cardholders earn six points per dollar on eligible purchases at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, three points per dollar at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines, and two points per dollar on everything else.
- Other perks: This card’s benefits are truly impressive, and include up to $300 in statement credits each year of card membership for purchases at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, plus a free night award every year after their account anniversary worth up to 50,000 points. Cardholders are also eligible for either a $100 statement credit for Global Entry once every four years, or up to $85 toward a TSA PreCheck application once every 4.5 years, and they can enroll in Priority Pass Select airport lounge access.
- Annual fee: $450
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
Even occasional hotel guests can get a lot of value from this more moderately priced credit card.
- Introductory offer: Up to 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 within the first three months of account opening.
- Earning rates: The card earns six points per dollar on Marriott purchases and two points per dollar on everything else.
- Other perks: Cardholders get a free night award worth up to 35,000 points every account year, and 15 nights of elite credit every calendar year, which is enough for the first tier of elite status, Silver. Spend $35,000 or more on purchases in a calendar year and you get bumped up to Gold. You can also count on free premium Wi-Fi during stays.
- Annual fee: $95
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card
Primarily geared toward business travelers, this card is a top earner.
- Introductory offer: Earn up to 100,000 bonus points after you make $5,000 in purchases on your card within the first three months of card membership plus $150 in statement credits within your first six months toward eligible purchases on U.S. advertising in select media. (This includes television and radio, but also online through merchants like Google and Facebook.) New card members will also enjoy Marriott Bonvoy Platinum elite status for a year starting February 2021.
- Earning rates: Rack up six points per dollar on eligible purchases at Marriott Bonvoy hotels and four points per dollar at U.S. restaurants and gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers, and on U.S. purchases for shipping; get two points per dollar on everything else.
- Other perks: Cardholders get a free night award each year after their account anniversary worth up to 35,000 points. They also receive 15 nights’ elite credit each calendar year, enough for Silver status outright, and a good boost toward midlevel Gold.
- Annual fee: $125
Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card
Just starting out with hotel points? The Bold has no annual fee but still earns points in a hurry.
- Introductory offer: 30,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first three months.
- Earning rates: Accumulate three points per dollar at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, two points per dollar on other travel purchases, and one per dollar on everything else.
- Other perks: Cardholders receive 15 nights toward elite credit every year, enough for starter Silver status.
- Annual fee: $0
Stay at a hotel in the Marriott Bonvoy program
Because Marriott Bonvoy is a hotel loyalty program, which you can easily join, the next best way to earn points is . . . on hotel stays. Bonvoy members earn 10 points per dollar spent at participating hotels. This includes charges like restaurant tabs, spa treatments, and activities billed through the hotel. Certain chains, including Element, Residence Inn, and TownePlace Suites only award five points per dollar.
Earn more points with Marriott Bonvoy elite status
You can earn even more Bonvoy points if you stay enough to achieve (or have a credit card that automatically confers) elite status.
- Requirements: 10 nights per calendar year
- Earning: 11 points per dollar on Marriott purchases (instead of 10)
- Perks: Dedicated customer service and availability-based late checkout
- Requirements: 25 nights or more per calendar year
- Earning: 12.5 points per dollar on Marriott purchases
- Perks: Free premium in-room Wi-Fi and a middling chance of room upgrades
- Requirements: 50 nights per calendar year
- Earning: 15 points per dollar on Marriott purchases
- Perks: late checkout extended to 4 p.m., a welcome amenity like bonus points or free breakfast, and the chance to redeem certificates for suites or to gift someone else Silver status.
- Requirements: 75 nights or more per calendar year
- Earning: 17.5 points per dollar on Marriott purchases
- Perks: The top chance of room upgrades, plus access to some suite upgrades and club lounge access at certain brands, including JW Marriotts and Renaissance Hotels.
- Requirements: 100 nights plus $20,000 in Marriott spending per calendar year
- Earning: 17.5 points per dollar at Marriott purchases
- Perks: In addition to the perks listed above, you can take advantage of the services of a personal Ambassador who will oversee your stays and preferences, and book stays based on “Your24” preferences—basically the option to check in and check out at any time of day based on 24-hour cycles.
Transfer points from a non-Marriott credit card
Even if you’re not a Marriott loyalist, you might already have points from a credit card that transfer to the program.
Chase Ultimate Rewards is a 1:1 transfer partner of Marriott Bonvoy. So if you carry the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can convert your Ultimate Rewards points into Marriott Bonvoy ones. American Express Membership Rewards points earned on cards like the Platinum Card® from American Express and the American Express Gold® Card also transfer to Marriott Bonvoy at a 1:1 ratio.
Pool your points with other members
Although Marriott Bonvoy doesn’t have an official “points pooling” feature where family members can automatically combine their accounts, the program does allow you to share between 1,000 to 100,000 points per year with another Marriott Bonvoy member for free. Doing so can be just the way to add enough points together for a booking rather than having to make a hodgepodge of reservations from various accounts.
Take a cruise, rent a car, or eat out with a Bonvoy partner
On the earning side, Marriott Bonvoy members can accrue three points per dollar spent on cruise vacations with CruisesOnly and up to 2,000 points per Hertz car rental.
Members can also join Marriott’s Eat Around Town dining rewards program and earn bonus points on charges at over 11,000 participating restaurants.
How to redeem Marriott Bonvoy points for a hotel stay
Like many other travel rewards programs, Marriott has made its award charts more complex lately. Here’s the gist of how award nights with the program work.
Marriott’s hotels fall into eight categories according to the chain’s award chart, and within each category, award nights range from off-peak to standard to peak pricing that can vary not just by season or month but also from day to day depending on capacity and bookings. Hotels in Category 1, such as the Fairfield Inn & Suites Abilene in Texas, range from 5,000 points per night during off peak times, to 7,500 points at standard times, and 10,000 at peak times.
Hotels in the highest Category 8, like the relatively new JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa, range from 70,000 points per night at off-peak times all the way up to 100,000 points on peak nights. So depending on when you book, you could either save a lot of points (or need a lot more of them to reserve a room).
Here are the points ranges for each Marriott Bonvoy awards category.
- Category 1: 5,000–10,000
- Category 2: 10,000–15,000
- Category 3: 15,000–20,000
- Category 4: 20,000–30,000
- Category 5: 30,000–40,000
- Category 6: 40,000–60,000
- Category 7: 50,000–70,000
- Category 8: 70,000–100,000
Although your value may vary, in general, try to get about 0.7–1 cent per point in value for redemptions. You can figure this out by dividing the cash price of a stay over the total points required. So, for instance, let’s say you’re booking a peak night at a Category 6 hotel like the Hotel Trio Healdsburg in California’s Sonoma County. You should use your points only if the room costs over $420 (the equivalent of 60,000 points at 0.7 cents per points).
Throwing one more curveball into the system is that you can sometimes find even cheaper “PointSavers” rates that shave thousands more points off of stays. These rates can be hit or miss, and are usually only offered at really slow times of year, such as winter in Europe, rainy season in tropical destinations, or after the snow has started to melt in ski locales. Here’s how much those prices range.
- Category 1: 4,000–8,500
- Category 2: 8,000–13,000
- Category 3: 12,000–27,500
- Category 4: 17,500–27,500
- Category 5: 27,500–37,500
- Category 6: 35,000–55,000
- Category 7: 45,000–65,000
- Category 8: 65,000–90,000
It can be worth trying to pinpoint these awards in order to conserve your stash of Bonvoy points.
Fifth night free
It’s also worth noting that when you book award stays of five nights or more, the fifth night is free. So if you were to book five nights at a Category 7 hotel, such as the London Edition, instead of needing 250,000 points, you’d only be charged 200,000 points (during off-peak times, of course).
Cash + points
Marriott Bonvoy also lets you pay for rooms using a mix of points and cash. The points portion of the tab varies according to peak, standard and off-peak timing, while the cash copay remains the same. Here’s how that looks:
- Category 1: 1,500–4,500 + $55
- Category 2: 4,000–7,000 + $65
- Category 3: 6,00–9,500 + $80
- Category 4: 8,000–15,000 + $105
- Category 5: 13,500–21,000 + $140
- Category 6: 19,000–30,000 + $190
- Category 7: 25,000–40,000 + $250
- Category 8: 27,500–57,500 + $440
Redeeming points and cash can be helpful if you don’t have quite enough points in your account for an outright booking. But because those cash portions remain the same no matter the time of year, make sure the math works out in your favor and that you’re not using a preposterous amount of points to cover only a small portion of the room rate during off-peak dates.
Cover room upgrades and charges
Marriott Bonvoy members can use their points to cover other stay charges, such as restaurant bills or spa treatments, as well as to upgrade to higher categories of rooms. However, you don’t tend to get a ton of value from your points this way—usually around 0.4 cents apiece or less—so avoid it if possible.
Redeem for Hotel + Air packages
If you are sitting on a ton of Marriott Bonvoy points, you could consider taking advantage of the program’s Hotel + Air packages. Basically, you redeem hundreds of thousands of points for a seven-night stay plus a bundle of airline miles with one of the program’s partners. Depending on the hotel category and the specific airline partner, you need between 255,000 to 750,000 points for the seven-night stay plus 55,000–110,000 miles. Because of how complicated this can be, and that it locks you into a seven-night redemption and miles with one particular airline, Hotel + Air packages are only worthwhile in very specific circumstances.
Transfer points to airline loyalty programs
If you do want to get some airline miles out of your Marriott loyalty, the good news is you can convert your Bonvoy points into miles with over 40 airline partners. These include major U.S. airlines like American Airlines, Delta, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest, and United, as well as international programs like Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, All Nippon Airways Mileage Club, Air Canada Aeroplan, and more.
For most partners, three Marriott Bonvoy points are worth one airline mile. When you transfer 60,000 Marriott points at a time, you end up with a 5,000 miles bonus, so instead of 20,000 airline miles, you end up with 25,000. You must transfer at least 3,000 Marriott points at a time, up to 240,000 max per day.
Cash in points for gift cards and merchandise
Finally, you can cash in your Marriott Bonvoy points for merchandise at hundreds of merchants. However, the value of doing so is abysmal, so save your points for hotel stays when you start to travel again.
Maximizing Marriott Bonvoy points
There are a few simple ways to make sure you are getting the most value from your Marriott Bonvoy points.
First, try to redeem for hotel stays rather than other options since you usually get more money from your points this way. After all, they are hotel points designed to be used for travel, so think about them in this context and avoid the temptation to cash them in for more meager returns.
Second, take advantage of other discounted redemption options, namely, those PointSavers rates and the fifth-night-free option on longer stays. Doing so can save you tens of thousands of points per night at higher-end hotels.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, consider getting a Marriott Bonvoy credit card. Not only will doing so enable you to earn a large introductory bonus, but it will also help you rack up points on everyday purchases faster than you think. Don’t forget that the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant, Marriott Bonvoy Business, and Marriott Bonvoy Boundless cards also all offer annual free night awards that can also save you hundreds of dollars on a stay each year. The automatic elite status these cards offer will increase your earning potential and mean that you can enjoy extra perks during stays.
While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they are subject to change at any time, and may have changed or may no longer be available.
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