How To Redeem Marriott Bonvoy Points For Best Value

How To Redeem Marriott Bonvoy Points For Best Value

11
In the interest of full disclosure, OMAAT earns a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through some of the below links. These are the best publicly available offers (terms apply) that we have found for each product or service. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, hotel chain, or product manufacturer/service provider, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Please check out our advertiser policy for further details about our partners, and thanks for your support!

I write a lot about the value of hotel loyalty programs, and in this post I wanted to specifically look at the best ways to go about redeeming Marriott Bonvoy points, and how I use my points. Just as I wrote guides to redeeming Hilton Honors points and World of Hyatt points, in this post I wanted to share strategies for redeeming Marriott Bonvoy points for maximum value.

Basics of redeeming Marriott Bonvoy points

Let’s start by talking about the basics of redeeming Marriott Bonvoy points — how much should you expect to pay for free nights, are there blackout dates, how much are Marriott Bonvoy points worth, etc.?

I value Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.7 cents each

Personally I value Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.7 cents each. There’s no science to that, but rather I think that’s a fair, conservative valuation for what the points are worth. In other words, I won’t redeem my Bonvoy points unless I can get well over 0.7 cents of value per point. This also accounts for the ability to convert Marriott Bonvoy points into airline miles at a fair ratio.

It’s important to come up with a points valuation for yourself (it can be different than mine), so that you can decide whether to pay cash or redeem points for a hotel stay.

St. Regis Maldives

Marriott Bonvoy has dynamic award pricing

Nowadays Marriott Bonvoy no longer has an award chart, but rather has dynamic award pricing. That means that the number of points required for a free night stay can vary based on how much a stay would cost in cash, and there’s no longer a minimum or maximum number of points that a free night reward will cost.

As a general rule of thumb, you can expect that most properties cost somewhere between 5,000 and 120,000 points per night. A small number of properties are more expensive.

Ritz-Carlton Turks & Caicos

Marriott Bonvoy award blackout dates policy

Every hotel loyalty program has a different policy when it comes to blackout dates. Generally speaking, hotel loyalty programs let you redeem points for a stay as long as a standard room is available for sale. Unfortunately in the case of Marriott Bonvoy, there is a limited blackout dates policy.

What does that mean? Marriott Bonvoy doesn’t have blackout dates, but there are some capacity controls at times. On most days, most Marriott properties will make all standard rooms available for awards, though on a limited number of days, hotels can limit the number of standard rooms available for awards.

In other words, it’s possible that a hotel could have standard rooms available for sale if paying cash, but not with points. That should be the exception rather than the norm, though.

St. Regis Venice

Marriott Bonvoy offers a fifth night free on awards

If you want to maximize your Marriott Bonvoy points, I recommend redeeming for hotel stays in five night increments. Marriott has a fifth night free policy for awards, or more accurately, it’s called “Stay for 5, Pay for 4.”

When you redeem points for five consecutive nights at a property, you’ll only be charged the points for four nights. The cheapest of the five nights won’t be charged. You can use this back-to-back for multiple stays, so if you stay 10 nights, you could get two nights free.

The Dubai EDITION

Marriott Bonvoy points can be converted into airline miles

One cool thing about Marriott Bonvoy is that points can efficiently be converted into airline miles. Marriott Bonvoy has over three dozen airline partners, and points transfer at a 3:1 ratio. With most partners, you get a bonus of 5,000 miles for every 60,000 Bonvoy points you transfer, meaning that 60,000 Bonvoy points will typically get you 25,000 airline miles.

While this isn’t how I’d personally generally prefer to use my points, it’s not a bad use of points if you’re struggling to get good value with them otherwise.

Gritti Palace Venice, Luxury Collection

Marriott Cash & Points usually isn’t a great value

Marriott has a Cash & Points program, whereby (as the name suggests) you can redeem part cash and part points toward a hotel stay. This comes with significantly more capacity controls than standard free night award redemptions, so it won’t always be available.

To see if Cash & Points is available, just search for regular free night award availability, and if it’s available, you’ll see it listed as an option. You can crunch the numbers with each redemption, but more often than not I find that this doesn’t represent a great value.

For example, take the Duxton Reserve Singapore, where the rate is either 43,000 Bonvoy points or 21,500 Bonvoy points plus 170 SGD (~122 USD). You’re essentially paying $122 to save 21,500 Bonvoy points, which is a decent deal, since I value those points at $150.

The catch? This isn’t a great redemption to begin with, since the revenue cost would only be $294.

Marriott Cash & Points pricing

As another example, take the Sheraton Grand Dubai, where the rate is either 35,000 Bonvoy points or 17,500 Bonvoy points plus 202 AED (~55 USD). You’re essentially paying $55 to save 17,500 Bonvoy points, which is a good deal, since I value those points at $123.

The catch? This also isn’t a great redemption to begin with, since the revenue cost would only be $131.

Marriott Cash & Points pricing

Essentially you’ll typically find that Cash & Points is sometimes a good deal compared to outright redeeming points, though often redeeming points at these hotels isn’t a good deal to begin with, since the revenue rates are typically low. Why? Cash & Points is capacity controlled, and typically only available when the hotel isn’t forecasted to be full, so those are also situations where cash rates might not be that high.

The Marriott Bonvoy award calendar is useful

I find Marriott Bonvoy’s calendar feature to be incredibly useful for deciding when it’s a good deal to redeem points. When you search a destination, just select the “Flexible Dates” tab, and then you can choose the month where you want to search availability.

Marriott Bonvoy award calendar

You’ll then see award pricing for an entire month at a time, which is an easy way to see when you can get the best deal.

Marriott Bonvoy award calendar

You can then also switch between the award calendar and the pricing calendar, to see when you’re going to get the best value. For example, in the case of the hotel I was searching, it’s interesting how both October 25 and November 1 cost 57,000 Bonvoy points, while when paying cash they cost 517 EUR and 412 EUR, respectively. Obviously you’d get a better deal redeeming points with the former option, in terms of value per point.

Marriott Bonvoy pricing calendar

Earn Marriott Bonvoy elite status to get more value

When you do redeem points, you’ll of course want to get as much value on-property as possible. That’s where having elite status really helps, especially if you can earn Bonvoy Platinum Elite, Titanium Elite, or Ambassador Elite status. This is where benefits really start to get valuable, in terms of getting suite upgrades, receiving complimentary breakfast, and having access to Choice Benefits.

Keep in mind that Marriott Bonvoy status is pretty easy to earn in the United States with credit cards. For example, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card (review) offers Platinum Elite status for as long as you have the card, along with a slew of other perks.

On top of that, you can easily earn up to 40 elite nights per year just for having two co-branded Marriott credit cards, including the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card (review) and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card (review). Those elite nights can help you qualify for Bonvoy Choice Benefits, including Nightly Upgrade Awards.

St. Regis Deer Valley

Pool Marriott Bonvoy points to maximize value

While not as generous as the policies of Hilton Honors or World of Hyatt, Marriott Bonvoy does let you pool points between accounts. You can do this with any other member, though you’re limited to transferring up to 100,000 points per calendar year, and you can receive up to 500,000 points per calendar year.

Hotel Grande Bretagne Athens, Luxury Collection

The best uses of Marriott Bonvoy points

With the basics of redeeming Marriott Bonvoy points out of the way, how do you get the most value from your points? Unfortunately this isn’t nearly as straightforward as it used to be. Back in the day when Marriott had a published award chart, it was easy to extract outsized value by redeeming at hotels during peak periods.

That isn’t so simple anymore, since Marriott now has dynamic award pricing. I continue to redeem my Marriott Bonvoy points for free night redemptions in standard rooms, ideally for five nights (so one night is free). There’s no longer a consistent sweet spot in the way that there was before, but rather I’m finding some value with Bonvoy points for all kinds of redemptions.

Here’s how I generally think about it:

  • The most luxurious hotels during the highest demand periods generally still represent a great use of points, at least compared to the cash cost; there are still some limits on Marriott Bonvoy’s award pricing
  • Beyond that, you’ll often find the best value using points in markets during quieter periods, where the cash rates don’t shift hugely by season; this comes down to the economics of Marriott Bonvoy, as the program pays a lot less when members redeem points at properties that aren’t close to being full

Let me use the St. Regis Aspen as an example, as this is a popular ski resort. In the peak of winter, I can find a five night award stay for 478,000 Bonvoy points (including one free night), which comes out to an average of 95,600 Bonvoy points per night (which I value at ~$669).

St. Regis Aspen points cost

The cash rate, meanwhile, would be over $1,600 per night. Suffice it to say that redeeming points is quite a good value.

St. Regis Aspen cash cost

Another aspirational destination is the Maldives, so let’s also use the Ritz-Carlton Maldives as an example. During a busy period I can find a five night award stay for 468,000 Bonvoy points (including one free night), which comes out to an average of 93,600 Bonvoy points per night (which I value at ~$655).

Ritz-Carlton Maldives points cost

The cash rate, meanwhile, would be over $2,250 per night, so that’s an amazing use of points.

Ritz-Carlton Maldives cash cost

So even with Marriott Bonvoy no longer having a cap on how much redemptions can cost, I’m still finding the most value when redeeming at luxury properties.

Bottom line

Marriott Bonvoy is a popular hotel loyalty program, which I’ve been participating in for well over a decade. While the program isn’t nearly as useful as back in the day, there’s still value to be had.

Nowadays Marriott Bonvoy has dynamic award pricing, so there’s no longer an award chart, and no maximum to how much an award redemption could cost. Even so, I continue to find the most value with Marriott Bonvoy to be booking luxury hotels in standard rooms for periods of five nights, especially hotels that would otherwise retail for $1,500+ per night.

What has your experience been with redeeming Marriott Bonvoy points?

Conversations (11)
The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
Type your response here.

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Anyone can comment, and your email address will not be published. Register to save your unique username and earn special OMAAT reputation perks!

  1. Ryan Guest

    I recently booked a six night state at the Ritz-Carlton Maldives (Fari Islands) for 391k points and an 85k point FNA. I checked again today and the rate had actually gone down, so I called Bonvoy and, without cancelling my original reservation, they were able to credit me the 71k point difference. It pays to keep checking.

    So, 320k Bonvoy points plus one 85k FNA for six nights at an aspirational hotel is quite a...

    I recently booked a six night state at the Ritz-Carlton Maldives (Fari Islands) for 391k points and an 85k point FNA. I checked again today and the rate had actually gone down, so I called Bonvoy and, without cancelling my original reservation, they were able to credit me the 71k point difference. It pays to keep checking.

    So, 320k Bonvoy points plus one 85k FNA for six nights at an aspirational hotel is quite a good deal, imho.

    I only wish we had been so lucky finding award availability for our QSuites. :(

  2. Andy Guest

    And regarding Marriott's Cash and Points option, we learned it the hard way that no Marriott points will be earned on the cash payment part that we paid. That's another fine print.

    1. AD Diamond

      I also learned that the hard way at the St Regis Bora Bora, where i had wanted to book points only. But strangely the reservation errored out until I added a cash upgrade... hmm.

  3. Tosa Joe Guest

    A great value when redeeming points is Marriott's AC Hotels, particularly in smaller European cities. I recently booked a five night award stay in Brescia Italy AC Hotel for a mere 70,500 points. AC Hotels has a large footprint, and you will enjoy spending time in locales that aren't on the tourist map.

  4. lamphstravels New Member

    Marriott points can be useful. And thanks for the tips. I sent you an e-mail, but why continue to push Marriott when there was supposed to be follow-up re: currency exchange rate ripoffs by some of Marriott's properties?

  5. Philip Guest

    It's all horses for courses when it comes to the best use of points of course. Personally, I really like the option to transfer Bonvoy points to airline schemes that don't have credit card transfer partners (eg American and Korean if I recall) or only one partner such as Thai I think. It's allowed me to top up for award flights when I had no other sources of extra points/miles

  6. Rajan Gill Guest

    I like the ritz Carlton Maldives example. I redeemed around 385,000 points for a 5 night stay (one night free). I just had to pay for the flights transfers. Had I booked this for cash, it would have cost me around $13,000. So to me this is a great use of points, taking into consideration that a bonvoy point is worth .7 cents. It’s best to use points for hotel stays that cost over $1500 per night and use the 5th night free.

    1. AD Diamond

      And incidentals! But still amazing redemption. Well done!

  7. Likes-to-fly Member

    This with calendar is indeed useful. So far I have good experience with redeeming Bonvoy points at luxury hotels (it saves a lot of money), however the Elite status is unfortunately harder to get in Europe than in the US. I always keep Silver as a minimum (I like "ultimate reservation guarantee", because for me this is what counts the most), but I must say that I also constantly receive status extensions, upgrades and promotions...

    This with calendar is indeed useful. So far I have good experience with redeeming Bonvoy points at luxury hotels (it saves a lot of money), however the Elite status is unfortunately harder to get in Europe than in the US. I always keep Silver as a minimum (I like "ultimate reservation guarantee", because for me this is what counts the most), but I must say that I also constantly receive status extensions, upgrades and promotions for earning extra points, so at the end points do quickly accumulate. :-)

    1. John Guest

      I agree, points are easier to get in Europe than status, the Amex Platinum is useful for that - This blog never covers European cards but they also come with Gold Status for Marriott (at least the ones distributed by Swisscard in Switzerland and from Amex France) - they more expensive than in US and have less perks, but still worth it.

  8. sandiegodereck New Member

    Thanks Ben! I had no idea that Bonvoy has a flexible calendar like the airlines. In fairness, I usually don't have flexibility, but this is great for when I do!

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

AD Diamond

And incidentals! But still amazing redemption. Well done!

0
AD Diamond

I also learned that the hard way at the St Regis Bora Bora, where i had wanted to book points only. But strangely the reservation errored out until I added a cash upgrade... hmm.

0
Ryan Guest

I recently booked a six night state at the Ritz-Carlton Maldives (Fari Islands) for 391k points and an 85k point FNA. I checked again today and the rate had actually gone down, so I called Bonvoy and, without cancelling my original reservation, they were able to credit me the 71k point difference. It pays to keep checking. So, 320k Bonvoy points plus one 85k FNA for six nights at an aspirational hotel is quite a good deal, imho. I only wish we had been so lucky finding award availability for our QSuites. :(

0
Meet Ben Schlappig, OMAAT Founder
5,163,247 Miles Traveled

32,614,600 Words Written

35,045 Posts Published

Keep Exploring OMAAT