There is no doubt in my mind that Marriott Bonvoy is one of the best travel rewards programs in Canada. Admittedly, the program has been devalued quite a bit over the years, but it’s the best hotel loyalty program since Marriott has more than 6,500 hotels in 115+ countries. That’s more properties than any other hotel chain in the world, which means you have plenty of ways to earn and redeem your points.
Since every redemption is different, you need to know your Marriott points value. I value one Marriott Bonvoy point at 1 cent CAD. With that in mind, I can make the most out of my redemptions. For example, if I’m claiming a hotel room that’s 25,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, the regular nightly rate needs to be at least $250 for it to be a good redemption.
From getting free hotel rooms to transferring your points to airline programs, here’s how to maximize the value of your Marriott Bonvoy points.
Know your Marriott points value
As I stated above, you need to get a minimum value of 1 cent CAD per point for the redemption to be worth it. If a hotel costs 35,000 points for a free night, then the night you’re getting it for free should be worth $350 after taxes. If the regular rate is $349 or less, then you should pay cash.
That said, if you collect American Express Membership Rewards points, you can transfer your points to Marriott Bonvoy at a 1 to 1.2 ratio. That means 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points will cost you 29,167 Membership Rewards points. 29,167 MR points have a value of $291.67 when using their travel portal. With the value and transfer ratio in mind, the nightly hotel rate only needs to be $291.67 or more for you to get a good value out of transferring your MR points to Marriott Bonvoy. This, of course, assumes you collect MR points with a credit card such as the American Express Platinum Card.
Get your 5th night free
One of the best values for redeeming your Marriott Bonvoy points is taking advantage of the book 4-nights on points and get the 5th night free benefit. This benefit is exactly as it sounds. If a room costs 40,000 points a night, you will pay only 160,000 points for five nights as part of this promotion. That works out to 32,000 points a night instead of 40,000.
Peak/off-peak pricing still applies, so the cost of your 5-night stay may vary a little depending on the category of the hotel and the time of your stay. Even with this promo, you still need to see if using your points is worth it when comparing it to the nightly rate. Since we’ve valued 160,000 points at $1,600, I wouldn’t use my points unless the total cash price for the 5-nights comes out to at least $1,600 or $1,333 if I’m transferring Membership Rewards points.
Keep an eye out for promotions
Marriott has promotions regularly, so it’s worth checking their website occasionally to see what’s available. Quite often, there’s a promotion called PointSavers, where it’ll cost you fewer points for specific hotels. There are also times where they’ll give you bonus points when you stay at select properties.
Right now there’s a promotion where you’ll earn 2,500 bonus points on each stay, plus a one-time bonus of 5,000 additional points after three stays. You do need to register for the promo and it’s only valid on stays through October 18, 2020.
Past promotions include a 60% bonus for any purchased points. That means if you bought 10,000 points, you’d get 16,000 points total.
Similar promotions have been done with Marriott gift cards, but the bonus isn’t as generous compared to buying points. That said, any bonus that’s worth more than what you’re spending is usually worth it since you’re getting a discount.
Annual free night
Most Marriott Bonvoy credit cards give you a free annual night, which can easily offset the annual fee that comes with your card. For example, in Canada, there’s the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card that come with an annual fee of $120 and $150 respectively. Both cards give you a free yearly night with a redemption value of up to 35,000 points.
35,000 points are enough for one free night at a category 5 hotel during standard redemption times. Remember, 35,000 Marriott points value is at least $350, so with both cards, you come out ahead by at least $200 every year.
It’s important to note that the free anniversary night is only awarded after your first year. Think of it as an incentive to keep the card. In case you’re wondering, the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card gives you a sign up bonus of 50,000 points. You can get 51,000 points when using a referral link, but that also requires you to spend more to get those points.
Airline transfer partners
One feature of Marriott Bonvoy that’s often forgotten is their airline transfer partners. Marriott has over 40 airline partners, and the transfer ratio is usually 3:1. What’s interesting about the program is that you get 5,000 extra miles when you transfer at least 60,000 Marriott Bonoy points. In other words, 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points are worth 25,000 miles with many airlines.
This might not be the best ratio available, but it’s an excellent way to get the most out of your Marriott Bonvoy points, especially if you’re short some miles with an airline. Also, since it’s not easy to earn miles with a lot of different airlines, using your Marriott Bonvoy points is easy if you’re looking for a specific redemption.
The current airline partners are as follows:
- AEGEAN Miles+Bonus
- Aer Lingus AerClub
- Aeroflot Bonus
- Aeromexico ClubPremier
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- Air China PhoenixMiles
- Air France-KLM Flying Blue
- Air New Zealand Airpoints
- Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
- Alitalia MilleMiglia
- American Airlines AAdvantage
- ANA Mileage Club
- Asiana Airlines Asiana Club
- Avianca LifeMiles
- British Airways Executive Club
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- China Southern Airlines Sky Pearl Club
- Copa Airlines ConnectMiles
- Delta SkyMiles
- Emirates Skywards
- Etihad Guest
- FRONTIER Miles
- Hainan Airlines Fortune Wings Club
- Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
- Iberia Plus
- Japan Airlines JAL Mileage Bank
- JetBlue TrueBlue
- Korean Air SKYPASS
- LATAM Airlines LATAM Pass
- Multiplus Fidelidade
- Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Qatar Airways Privilege Club
- SAA Voyager
- Saudia Alfursan
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Southwest Rapid Rewards
- TAP Air Portugal Miles&Go
- Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
- Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
- United MileagePlus
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer
- Vueling Club
Target off-peak rates
CATEGORY STANDARD OFF PEAK PEAK
1 7,500 5,000 10,000
2 12,500 10,000 15,000
3 17,500 15,000 20,000
4 25,000 20,000 30,000
5 35,000 30,000 40,000
6 50,000 40,000 60,000
7 60,000 50,000 70,000
8 85,000 70,000 100,000
As you can see, Marriott Bonvoy uses a standard, peak, and off-peak redemption schedule. If you can plan your trips around periods when there is low-demand, you can get the best Marriott points value.
Of course, this is easier said than done as it’s not like there are typically weeks or months at a time where a hotel has off-peak pricing. You need to manually search dates to see what rates you can find. The Marriott website does have a monthly search feature so you can see how many points a night will cost you, but that’s still a lot of manpower you need to put in for the perfect redemption.
Keep in mind that hotels can adjust their peak/off-peak pricing as they deem fit. If you see an off-peak rate that works for you, book it right away just in case prices go up. Remember, Marriott allows you to get a full refund on any award redemptions as long as you cancel at least 24 hours before the date of your arrival.
Earn more points with American Express
As mentioned above, you can transfer your American Express Membership Rewards points to Marriott Bonvoy at a 1:1.2 ratio, which means there are more credit cards that you can use to earn you Marriott Bonvoy points.
The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card gives you the highest earn rate at Marriott Bonvoy properties, but there are American Express cards that give you higher earn rates in some categories. For example, the Amex Cobalt Card gives you 5 points per $1 spent on eats and drinks (Groceries, restaurants, bars, cafés, and food delivery).
Alternatively, there’s the Gold Rewards Card and the American Express Platinum Card that come with generous sign up bonuses. When you factor in all the welcome bonuses from the cards where you can earn Marriott Bonvoy points, it wouldn’t be too hard to accumulate 150,000+ points in a short period of time.
Getting good Marriott points value is easy as long as you understand what the value of your points are and what are the best ways to use your points. Earning points quickly is just as crucial since you can’t spend points that you don’t have.