Marriott Bonvoy Guide | Maximize your points

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Are you looking for a Marriott Bonvoy guide? Ever since Marriott Rewards merged with Starwood Preferred Guest and Ritz-Carlton Rewards in August 2018, the combined program has easily become the best hotel loyalty program in the world. Unfortunately, there have been some devaluations over the years, so you’ll want to know how to maximize your points.

Full disclosure, my dad worked for Starwood Hotels (now owned by Marriott) for 30+ years, so I have a bias towards the brand and its current owners. That said, as someone who loves hotels and loyalty points, I absolutely love Marriott Bonvoy since there are multiple ways to redeem your points and you can transfer them to various airline partners. Oh, and did you know when you book your stays directly at Marriott.com, you’re guaranteed the lowest rate.

Read my Marriott Rewards guide now to find out my full thoughts on the program.

Marriott Bonvoy guide

What is Marriott Bonvoy?

Marriott Bonvoy is the loyalty program for Marriott properties. When Marriott bought Starwood hotels, the two loyalty programs (Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest) merged into one. The program was renamed Marriott Bonvoy and is now in use at 7,000+ properties in more than 115 countries. Signing up is free, so there’s no reason to not become a member.

Here’s a list of the 29 Marriott brands where you can earn and redeem your points:

  • AC Hotels
  • Aloft Hotels
  • Autograph Collection Hotels
  • Courtyard by Marriott
  • Delta Hotels
  • Design Hotels
  • Edition Hotels
  • Element Hotels
  • Fairfield by Marriott
  • Four Points by Sheraton
  • Gaylord Hotels
  • JW Marriott
  • Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts
  • The Luxury Collection
  • Marriott
  • Marriott Executive Apartments
  • Marriott Vacation Club
  • Moxy Hotels
  • Protea Hotels
  • Renaissance Hotels
  • Residence Inn by Marriott
  • The Ritz-Carlton
  • Sheraton Hotels and Resorts
  • Springhill Suites by Marriott
  • St. Regis Hotels & Resorts
  • TownePlace Suites by Marriott
  • Tribute Portfolio
  • W Hotels Worldwide
  • Westin Hotels & Resorts

In recent years, Marriott has also partnered with a few all-inclusive resorts where you can earn and redeem your points.

Marriott Bonvoy points value

I’m going to try and go over Marriott Bonvoy’s points value in this Marriott Bonvoy guide, but you need to understand that every redemption value is different. I’ve personally searched hundreds of hotel rooms across the globe and I’ve come up with a rough value of $0.009 CAD per point. What that means is, you should aim to get a value of at least .9 cents per point when making a redemption. To figure out the value of a specific redemption, you would use the following formula:

Cash value of your stay (including taxes and fees) X 100 / points required = Value per point in cents

Take a look at these screenshots I took of a few different properties around the world. I choose a 3-night stay (Friday – Monday) in early October. The dates shouldn’t matter as all we’re doing here is looking at how many points it’ll cost you for a free night and what your points end up being worth.

You’ll notice that I purposely chose properties that have different category rankings. I’ve done this to show a rough value per category. For simplicity purposes, I’ve also converted the points’ value into Canadian dollars. Here’s the value per point for all of the above redemptions

  • TownPlace Suites New Orleans Harvey/West Bank – 1.29 cents per point
  • Shearton Vancouver Wall Centre – .62 cents per point
  • The Westin Bayshore, Vancouver – .56 cents per point
  • W Amsterdam – 1.04 cents per point
  • The St. Regis Hong Kong – .61 cents per point

As you can see, the category 2 and 7 hotels give good value for your points. Generally speaking, categories 1, 2, 7, and 8 give the best value for your points. Although in this example, the St. Regis in Hong Kong is a terrible value for your points. The problem is, the majority of Marriott properties are categories 4-6, so getting good value can be difficult at times.

If you can get at least .9 cents per point, then redeeming your points is a no brainer. Heck, I’d argue that if you can get at least .8, it’s close enough. If the value of a redemption is below that number, I recommend paying cash. It’s also worth noting that Marriott Bonvoy allows you to get the 5th night free when you book 4 nights (must be in a row and at the same hotel), so you can often get good value when booking 5-nights.

Marriott Bonvoy redemption chart

CATEGORYSTANDARDOFF PEAKPEAK
17,5005,00010,000
212,50010,00015,000
317,50015,00020,000
425,00020,00030,000
535,00030,00040,000
650,00040,00060,000
760,00050,00070,000
885,00070,000100,000

As you can see, the lower category Marriott properties require fewer points than higher tier ones. Unfortunately, Marriott Bonvoy also has dynamic pricing. What that means is that the number of points required for a free night during busier periods will increase. On the flip side of things, when there’s less demand, fewer points are required for redemptions.

Originally when dynamic pricing was introduced, Marriott management claimed that there would be an equal night of off-peak and peak nights so things would be balanced. My own casual observations say otherwise. There are way too many peak nights. To further complicate things, there are too many hotels in a higher category than they deserve to be. This is easily the most frustrating part of my Marriott Bonvoy guide.

To redeem your Marriott Bonvoy points, simply go to Marriott.com and enter your destination/dates. You’ll see a checkbox that says “use points” which you need to select. Your search results will show you how many points it takes to make a redemption.

What you’ll also notice is that you may have the option to use cash and points which is handy if you don’t have enough points to make a redemption. Alternatively, you can purchase additional Marriott Rewards points in increments of 1,000 if you need a top-up.

If you plan on paying cash, always book through Marriott.com since you’re guaranteed the lowest rate. As a Marriott Bonvoy member, you’ll even save a few extra dollars.

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points

Before you can start earning Marriott Bonvoy, you need to sign up for the program. Joining Marriott Bonvoy is free, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t. As for earning Marriott Rewards, there are a few ways to do so:

Staying at Marriott Properties

Whenever you stay at a Marriott property, you’ll earn 10 points per US$1 spent on eligible hotel charges, except at Element, Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites hotels, where you’ll earn five points per eligible US$1. Eligible hotel charges usually refer to your room rate, food and beverage, and some other things such as spa treatments at select properties. You normally don’t earn points on taxes, resort fees or parking.

Co-branded credit cards

The quickest way to earn points is by using a credit card that allows you to earn collect Marriott Bonvoy on your everyday purchases. The number of points you earn will depend on your credit card which can vary by country so it’s best to see what’s available to you locally. The card that will earn you the most points is the American Express Marriott Bonvoy card since it’s the official co-branded credit card of Marriott. The welcome bonus is usually around 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. There’s also the American Express Platinum Card where you can transfer your Membership Rewards over to Marriott Bonvoy at 1:1.2 ratio.

Promotions

Quite often Marriott runs promotions and contests where you can earn additional points. Usually, you play a little game and you’re then awarded a random amount of points. These promotions are usually advertised via their mailing list and social media, so make sure you’re signed up.

Travel partners

In the past, Marriott has had a few travel partners where you can earn Marriott Bonvoy points. There have been car rental agencies, cruise companies, and even roaming data partners where you could earn points when using their services. The points earned are minimal, but if you were going to use them anyways, you might as well earn some Marriott Bonvoy points at the same time.

Marriott Bonvoy Elite levels

With Marriott Bonvoy, you earn different elite levels depending on how many nights you’ve stayed and how much you’ve spent. Each tier gives you additional benefits so it pays to be loyal. Platinum is where you really start to see some impressive benefits, so that’s what you want to aim for if you’re a frequent traveller. Once you’ve reached a status tier, you get it for the remainder of the current year, and all of the following year. You would have to re-earn your status in the following year if you want to maintain it. Here’s what you get with each Marriott Bonoy tier status.

Silver Elite

  • Reached after 10 nights
  • 10% bonus points on stays
  • Priority late checkout
  • Dedicated reservation line

Gold Elite

  • Reached after 25 nights
  • 25% bonus points on stays
  • Room upgrade when available
  • 2PM priority late checkout
  • Welcome gift
  • Dedicated reservation line

Platinum Elite

  • Reached after 50 nights
  • 50% bonus points on stays
  • Room upgrade when available
  • 4PM priority late checkout
  • Welcome gift
  • Breakfast at participating hotels
  • Lounge access
  • Dedicated reservation line

Titanium Elite

  • Reached after 75 nights
  • 75% bonus points on stays
  • Room upgrade when available
  • 4PM priority late checkout
  • Welcome gift
  • Breakfast at participating hotels
  • Lounge access
  • 48-Hour guarantee
  • Dedicated reservation line

Ambassador Elite

  • Reached after 100 nights + $20,000 spend
  • 75% bonus points on stays
  • Room upgrade when available
  • 24 hour check-in and checkout
  • Welcome gift
  • Breakfast at participating hotels
  • Lounge access
  • 48-Hour guarantee
  • Ambassador service
  • Dedicated reservation line

Airline transfer partners

As part of this Marriott Bonvoy guide, you’ll learn what else you can do with your points. Marriott allows you to transfer your points to more than 40 airline partners. Most of the programs have a 3:1 Marriott to airline transfer ratio and you get an additional 5,000 miles per 60,000 points transferred. With so many airline partners available, you can see why my Marriott Bonvoy review is positive. Here are some of the current airline transfer partners:

  • Air Canada
  • Air France/KLM
  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • ANA
  • British Airways
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Frontier Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Iberia Airlines
  • Japan Airlines
  • Jet Airways
  • JetBlue
  • Lufthansa
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • TAP Air Portugal
  • Turkish Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic

Admittedly, this transfer ratio is not the best. Regular credit card travel loyalty programs have a much better transfer ratio. That said, Marriott Bonvoy has more airline partners than all the credit card providers out there. You should only transfer your Marriott Bonvoy points to an airline partner if you’re short a few thousand points for a dream redemption.

Final thoughts

Hopefully, you’ve learned a lot from this Marriott Bonvoy guide. There is no other hotel rewards program like it. With so many different properties available, you really have a lot of choices when it comes to earning and redeeming your points. If you travel a lot for business, it makes sense to be loyal to the Marriott brand since you’ll earn many additional perks as you increase your status.

Marriott Bonvoy Guide | Maximize your points

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi

17 Comments

  1. Tawcan on December 12, 2018 at 7:30 PM

    I really like the Marriott rewards program. Before the merger, we managed to fly to Maui and stay there for 12 days and saved over $10,000. Pretty awesome if you ask me.

    https://www.tawcan.com/travel-hacking-saved-money/

    After the merger the points devalued a bit but there are still quite a number of hotels that offer great values.

    • Barry Choi on December 12, 2018 at 8:37 PM

      Tawcan,

      There are definitely some good value hotels. New York has plenty of hotels where you can get a good return for your points.

  2. Tom on February 17, 2019 at 12:12 PM

    Hi Barry…my wife and I just love reading your travel/credit card blogs. We have the HSBC premier world elite card but we’re tempted to sign up for other cards to take advantage of the signup offers(Alaska Air Mileage or SPG Amex). My question is do you think it’s better to concentrate accumulating points on one card or have our spending scattered at different card programs?

    • Barry Choi on February 17, 2019 at 4:24 PM

      Hi Tom,

      Thanks for the kind feedback. I personally favour maximizing sign up bonus since it’s the quickest way to earn points. That being said, you’d have to be comfortable applying for multiple credit cards and you’d have to meet the minimum spend.

      Here’s an article I wrote to show how a couple can really maximize signing up for cards together.

      https://www.moneywehave.com/amex-train-how-to-redeem-a-business-class-around-the-world-trip-with-american-express-credit-cards/

      If you prefer to keep things simple, just apply for a few cards with big bonuses right now such as Marriott BONVOY, TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite and the WestJet MasterCard.

      As a couple, it can be easy to earn points fast.

  3. Tom on February 17, 2019 at 9:15 PM

    It’s so confusing with all these multitudes of credit cards. So you prefer the Marriott Bonvoy over the Amex Cobalt and the WestJet card over the Alaska card? I love the companion fare idea. We live in YVR and fly Alaska as much as WestJet. I guess also it’s best to find loyalty programs that will allow transfering the points into other programs to speed up the points accumulation?

    • Barry Choi on February 17, 2019 at 9:42 PM

      Tom,

      It sort of depends, I personally look at maximum value and I do prefer programs that give you transfer partners. I prefer Amex Rewards over Marriott Bonvoy so basically either the Amex Gold Rewards card or the Amex Platinum card because you can transfer to Marriott at 1:1.2 ratio. If you really dive deep you’ll realize that it’s sometimes cheaper to pay regular price for a room at Marriott and then claim the points via Amex Membership Rewards as opposed to Marriot e.g. A category 5 hotel is 35,000 Bonvoy points or 29,167 Amex MR points. Since MR points have a 1% value, that room has to cost you more than $291.67 per night for it tobe worth claiming 35K Bonvoy points. Basically with Amex MR, you can transfer points as you need it.

      Both the Alaska Airlines and WestJet cards are both good since they both give you a companion voucher. The nice thing about Alaska Airlines miles is that you can use them on Cathay Pacific flights so you’re miles go a lot further. Having both cards isn’t a bad thing just for the companion vouchers and free baggage. I live in Toronto and have both cards, but I got them mainly for the sign up bonus.

      When collecting points, try to think what your goal is for your points is. If you want to use them to get you to Asia, then start collecting points that will get you there.

  4. Tom on February 17, 2019 at 9:53 PM

    Thank you so much for your expert advice. One final question… I am recently retired and my current income this year will not meet the income requirements for the world Elite cards. Do they take into consideration that I currently have two other world elite cards and my investment accounts would allow me to meet the annual income requirements if I chose to withdraw them?

    • Barry Choi on February 17, 2019 at 10:11 PM

      Tom,

      Would you qualify for the World Elites under household income? If not, your home bank would likely take into consideration your investments and other accounts. Alternatively, and not that I’m encouraging it, I sometimes wonder how many credit card providers actually verify the income reported on applications if you know what I mean.

      • Dave on April 29, 2019 at 2:48 PM

        Barry, the CC companies must stipulate the income requirement (due to the World, World Elite, Infinite levels) in order to justify the higher interchange commissions. However, they can’t verify the sheer volume of applications that they receive – so they trust the applicants.

  5. Audrey on April 30, 2019 at 5:31 PM

    Has anyone had any issues with free nights transferring over to the new program? I’m currently trying to get a free night credited back to my account since switch over. I obtained 1 free night after staying 9 consecutive nights last July. The one year redemption has not expired but I’m being told nothing on record. Any thoughts on how to pursue?
    Not a good feel to start a new program.

    • Barry Choi on April 30, 2019 at 6:47 PM

      Audrey,

      There was a lot of bugs when the switchover happened. Was the free night on your account before the switchover?

      Do you have status? I personally have found that some of the basic phone support have no idea how to do certain things but when I called the Platinum line, the same issue I had was resolved in 5 minutes.

      • Audrey on April 30, 2019 at 8:56 PM

        Yes….the free night was listed prior to the switch. I had just signed up last July prior to my 9 night stay at a Delta in Calgary and again 1 night in Toronto last Sept. I’m only at the Silver elite status. When I called to ask about the situation, customer care said there was no record of 1 free night. Not happy with that response she offered to put in a request to investigate further. I received an email response back from a Guest Experience Assistant stating there was no mention of a free night voucher promotion on my account and can I provide more information. I don’t know what else I can provide since the free night notation was on my previous Marriott account that I no longer have access to. Does this seem odd that they do not have access to this information and putting the onus on me to provide it? I will try the Platinum status contact and see if they can resolve the issue. Thanks for the suggestion.

        • Barry Choi on April 30, 2019 at 10:10 PM

          Was there a promotion of some sort where you earned that free night? Maybe if you can find the promotion details somewhere and your nights stayed history would show that you indeed earned the free night, it would help your case?

          Again, the knowledge each individual agent has since the switchover is a bit mind-boggling.

  6. Andy on August 6, 2019 at 9:20 AM

    Hi,

    My company pays for my stays ( airline ) so I don’t get the points or stay credits. However how many points are needed for lounge access?

    Will be in Dubai on 72 hour layover at JW Marriott

    Regards

    • Barry Choi on August 6, 2019 at 9:27 AM

      Hi Andy,

      Lounge access with Marriott is based on status where you need Titanium. You can’t use points to access the lounge.

    • Andy on August 6, 2019 at 9:34 AM

      Oops,

      Left wrong email contact that’s why repost…

      • Barry Choi on August 6, 2019 at 9:53 AM

        Hi Andy,

        You would need Titanium status to get access to the lounge. You can’t use points to get in.

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