The Marriott Bonvoy program earns valuable, flexible points which can be transferred to 40+ Marriott transfer partners. When used effectively, Marriott points can deliver high-quality travel rewards.
If you’re just starting with miles and points, it’s important to know the Marriot basics so you can better shape your future point redemption strategy for maximum value.
So even though, you may only think of Marriott for their upscale hotels like the JW Marriott, Le Meridien, Rennaissance, and St. Regis, this guide is all about earning Marriott points and better understanding the Marriott airline partners.
Which credit cards earn Marriott points?
Three Marriott Bonvoy earning cards are available to new applicants, including 2 from American Express and 1 from Chase. They are the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant and the Marriott Bonvoy Business from Amex and the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless from Chase.
Each card comes with its own welcome bonus after meeting the required minimum spend. The cards are different with regard to bonus categories, annual fees, and other perks so it’s important to choose the card that makes sense for you.
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless earns 6x the points for Marriott hotel spending and 2x the points on everything else. You’ll also get a free night for a category 1-5 hotel each year on your card anniversary.
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant earns 6x the points for Marriott hotel purchases, 3x the points for U.S. restaurants and flights booked directly with the airline, and 2x the points on everything else. The card also comes with a free night certificate but for a hotel up to 50k points per night and other perks like a $300 credit at Marriott hotels and Priority Pass Select membership.
Lastly, for businesses, there’s the Marriott Bonvoy Business. The card also earns 6x the points at Marriott properties. But also 4x the points at U.S. restaurants, gas stations, as well as for cell phone and shipping expenses. All other purchases earn 2x points per dollar. As with the personal cards, the business card earns a free anniversary night up to a category 5 hotel.
Keep in mind, though, Chase’s personal Marriott card counts toward 5/24. Depending on your travel goals, it may make sense to include this card as 1 of the first 5 travel rewards cards to get.
Also, you may not be eligible if you’ve received previous SPG welcome bonuses and/or have had particular cards in the last 24 months. Depending on which Marriott card you have, you may also need to wait 90+ days before applying for another card.
How else do you earn Marriott Points?
There are a bunch of ways to earn Marriott points in addition to using one of the Marriott credit cards for your bills and everyday spending.
A few examples include earning Marriott points for paid hotel stays, signing up for seasonal promotions, using their rental car and cruise partners to book travel, and booking meetings and events at a Marriott hotel.
However, not all ways to earn Marriott points are advisable.
For example, Chase and American Express Points transfer to Marriott. But, this isn’t the best value for hotel redemptions. Looking at the math, Marriott points have a lesser value on a per point basis than Amex MR or Chase UR points.
Who are the Marriott transfer partners?
There are 40+ Marriott airline partners, including those from all 3 major airline alliances. Most of the partners transfer at a 3:1 ratio. However, as the chart below shows, there are a couple of exceptions. Avoid Air New Zealand and its unfavorable transfer ratio. On the other hand, United’s transfer ratio is the best on the chart.
Marriott lets you transfer from 3,000-240,000 points per day. Point transfers don’t need to be thousand-point increments. If you needed to transfer 3,500 points, you could. Just keep in mind the transfer bonus discussed next.
What is the Marriott transfer bonus?
When you transfer Marriot points to airlines in 60k-point increments, Marriott gives you a 5k mile bonus. This means transferring 60k Marriott points equals 25k miles in your transfer airline loyalty account.
So ideally, you want to keep your transfers in 60k increments, even though Marriott allows you to transfer any amount above 3,000 per day. You’ll want to strike a balance between maximizing your transfer to earn the 5k mile bonus but also not leave small miles balances in lesser used airline loyalty program accounts.
How long does it take for my Marriott points to transfer?
Marriott points don’t transfer as quickly as other flexible point currencies. Marriott says that once the transfer is started, the points will post to your airline loyalty account within 1 week. So while some points might show up in your airline account in a day or 2, your mileage may vary!
This can be tricky because you can’t transfer your Marriott points back from an airline loyalty account if the award availability disappears.
With this in mind, it’s important to plan ahead.
- Look for flights with plenty of available award seats.
- Check the day before and after your desired departure date for alternate award availability. You may even want to check an alternate nearby airport for award flights. Flexibility can go a long way to complete a successful booking.
- Lastly, when possible, avoid popular destinations at peak times. These award seats tend to disappear fast!
Who can I transfer my points to?
Marriott lets you transfer points to any other Marriott member who’s had a Marriott account for at least 2 months. The account must also be in good standing. This makes combining points between you and a spouse or partner simple to do.
For families and friends traveling together who don’t have enough Marriott points in 1 account, but when combined do, this member perk is a big help when booking award nights or transferring Marriott points to an airline transfer partner.
What are a few of the best ways to use Marriott points?
Of course, when Marriott loyalty members redeem points for award nights at Marriott hotels, the value is solid, especially with the 5th night free. Even with all the changes that came when Marriott acquired SPG, the Marriott award chart is reasonable and has many different hotel brands for a huge geographic footprint around the globe.
But, when transferring Marriott points to an airline transfer partner, some partners are better than others as you saw in the chart above.
Singapore Airlines, Air France, and Virgin Atlantic all have great redemption options, but these miles are also easily earned by transferring Chase UR, Amex MR, and/or Citi TY points to your airline account. (Not to mention the transfer is likely to be instant or a lot quicker with these other programs compared to Marriott.)
Instead, focus on airline loyalty programs only Marriott gives you access to among the flexible points currencies.
For example, Alaska Airlines has several high-value partners, good mileage pricing on premium awards, and allows a free stopover per one-way. On the flipside, they aren’t in an airline alliance and Marriott is the only flexible points program that transfers to Alaska Airlines.
American Airlines is another airline where Marriott is the only flexible currency partner. If you’re short on AA miles, you could use Marriott points to top up your account for a redemption.
Even if an airline can be accessed through another flexible program, you may still want to use Marriott points in order to save other miles and points for different redemptions. This is why it’s so important to know your travel goals and to be strategic about how you earn and use your miles and points.
Overall, Marriott points are capable of returning great value when transferred to the right airline partner and redeemed for award flights. They’re relatively easy to earn and can be redeemed for high-value award flights to destinations around the globe.
Which of the Marriott transfer partners have you used?
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