Marriott Selling Gift Cards For 20% Off (Last Chance)

Filed Under: Hotel Deals, Marriott

I’ve written before about how I think many travel brands could be doing a better job creatively generating revenue. With so many companies having liquidity issues, I didn’t understand why we weren’t seeing more promotions from travel brands incentivizing people to pay now for travel later.

At the beginning of the week Marriott launched a great promotion that many have found valuable. I just wanted to post a reminder of that, since this promotion ends tomorrow — I just took advantage of it myself, and wanted to make sure everyone who was considering the promotion has a chance to take advantage of it before it ends.

Marriott selling gift cards for 20% off

Between Monday, May 11 and Sunday, May 17, 2020, Marriott is selling gift cards for 20% off (or if you want to look at it differently, they’re offering a 25% bonus):

  • The discount applies to electronic gift cards purchased in USD, though the gift cards can be used globally (the exchange rate might be slightly worse than market rates)
  • You can purchase up to $5,000 worth of gift cards per person per credit card per day
  • Gift cards will be delivered electronically within one to seven business days for order verification
  • Gift cards don’t expire
  • Only gift cards purchased online are available for 20% off, and not those purchased on-property
  • Gift cards can’t be used to pay for a pre-purchased rate
  • You won’t be able to use these gift cards at Bulgari, Design Hotels, Ritz-Carlton Residences, and Homes and Villas by Marriott

You can purchase gift cards in the following increments:

  • Buy a $50 gift card for $40
  • Buy a $100 gift card for $80
  • Buy a $250 gift card for $200
  • Buy a $500 gift card for $400
  • Buy a $1,000 gift card for $800

Should you buy Marriott gift cards at a discount?

If you’re in a position where you have the cash to buy Marriott gift cards at a discount (without causing liquidity issues), I’d highly recommend doing so. The gift cards don’t expire, and getting a 25% bonus on gift cards is pretty awesome.

The major restriction here is that you can’t use these on pre-paid rates.

Buying Marriott gift cards with a 25% bonus is potentially a great deal

Which credit card should you use for Marriott gift cards?

When the promotion launched, a Marriott spokesperson confirmed that purchasing Marriott gift cards would qualify as a Marriott purchases for the purposes of credit card spending, so you should earn 6x Bonvoy points on Marriott co-brand cards.

Nonetheless people were skeptical, and beyond that the question was whether buying gift cards would qualify as a “travel” purchase for the purposes of credit card spending.

As it turns out, buying Marriott gift cards does indeed code as a travel purchase. Based on my valuation of points, personally I bought gift cards with my Chase Sapphire Reserve, so I could earn 3x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent.

Based on my valuation of points that’s like a ~5.1% return on that spending, while I value 6x Bonvoy points at a ~4.2% return.

Marriott will sell points with a 60% bonus

While this isn’t yet live, between May 18 and June 30, 2020, Marriott will sell Bonvoy points with a 60% bonus. Up until now the best deal we’ve seen on Bonvoy points is a 50% bonus, so with a 60% bonus you’ll be looking at paying ~0.78 cents per point.

Personally I don’t think that’s a slam dunk in current circumstances, but maybe some will find it to be worthwhile. Personally I value Bonvoy points at ~0.7 cents each.

Marriott will sell Bonvoy points with a 60% bonus

10% off Homes and Villas by Marriott

On May 18 & May 19, 2020, you’ll be able to receive 10% off all stays booked through Homes and Villas by Marriott International, which is Marriott’s premium home rental platform. That’s nothing to get too excited about, in my opinion, but is worth being aware of.

Marriott’s home rental platform will offer stays for 10% off

Bottom line

Marriott is selling gift cards with a 20% discount or 25% bonus for one week, which is potentially a great deal. These gift cards don’t expire and can be used at most Marriott brands globally.

If you’re usually a frequent Marriott guest and have the cash to spend on this, then it’s a great deal, in my opinion. These purchases do code as travel, which many people will be happy to hear, since it means that generally there’s no opportunity cost for your credit card rewards vs. paying for a stay directly at a Marriott property.

If you haven’t yet taken advantage of this promotion, you have just one day left to do so.

Do you plan on buying discounted Marriott gift cards?

Comments
  1. Are gift card sales through Marriott – would they be categorized as travel for credit cards?

  2. Booked a Trip to Maldives can I use gift card to pay for seaplane transfer and the taxes and fees ?

  3. Off topic: Ben, do you know what happened to Hilton’s availability on WA Maldives?? it literally disappeared on any dates, it makes me wonder if it still worth buying points in any of these programs since they vanished with the best hotels availability…

  4. @ JackG @ steve — I’ve asked a Marriott representative that question, and will update this post when I have an answer. 🙂

  5. Fingers crossed the wife and I can still get the Ritz Reserve in Dorado this summer. Love the place, but it ain’t cheap. Will Marriott gift cards work there?

  6. Do those gift card purchases qualify for the 6x points with the Bonvoy Brilliant Amex?

  7. @ DCAFrank — The terms don’t mention Ritz Reserve properties being excluded, so it would appear to me that they would be eligible (though I’m a bit surprised by that, because other non-Bonvoy participating properties are excluded).

  8. Further update — a Marriott spokesperson has confirmed to me that purchasing gift cards would qualify for 6x Bonvoy points on co-branded credit cards, so it counts the same as a Marriott stay for those purposes. That’s great news.

    However, he is checking with the relevant department just to be extra sure, so I’d hold off until I get final confirmation.

  9. Can you ask them to confirm if the gift card purchase would trigger the $300 statement credit on the Amex Brilliant card?

  10. I would only recommend buying and using these cards for hotels that bill in USD otherwise you will be losing value on the hotel in-house exchange rate.

    I once tried using a gift card in Rio at JW Marriott and the difference from “bank rate” on xe.com was 12%

  11. Last question: This gift card should work coupled with Virtuoso benefits, FHR benefits (if not a pre paid rate) and FS special partner benefit rates (forget the travel agent name of program) if all are not pre paid?

  12. @ Stags — That’s correct, assuming you’re settling payment at the property itself (which is usually the case on these rates).

  13. Hi Ben,

    Thanks for the lovely update. Quick question. If someone has exhausted their 100,000 points purchase limit during the previous 50% bonus sale, will they still be eligible to buy more points during the current 60% bonus sale when it goes live ?

  14. Nik:
    I think it works, but Marriott uses their own (disadvantageous) exchange rate.

    HA:
    You should be able to have a family member purchase and gift you the points. I think.

  15. I used one last year at the Marriott Auditorium in Madrid and the exchange rate was pretty much identical to the spot exchange rate. Different hotels could process in different ways though.

  16. @Roland @Nik…. I think these are the key questions for international use. I can see four scenarios how these might work internationally, and I am sure individual international hotels may only allow one or even not even allow their use

    1. Charged in local currency (Euros, ect) with a foreign transaction fee?

    2. Charged in local currency without a foreign transaction fee (at what rate here is the question, are these visas for example)?

    3. Converted to dollars before used at the hotels rip off rate (similar to the rip off option restaurants will give you to convert to dollars prior to charging).

    4. Converted to dollars prior to charging at the hotels discretion at a fair exchange rate.

    4 or 2 are pretty much the best options, and I bet 4 most likely what happened on the described Madrid use in these comments.

  17. Got a final answer, which is that yes, gift card purchases count for 6x Bonvoy points on Bonvoy credit cards.

  18. Ben,

    Will it be possible to reach out to your Marriott contact to get a step by step reservation system instruction for the front desk agent on how to redeem the gift card? About half the time i used the gift card, the front desk agent struggled to figure out the command in their system so I was thinking a cheat sheet that i can hand out will be helpful to make the check out experience more smooth.

    thanks,

  19. @Nik @Roland …I am likewise VERY curious how these get processed at international properties. I’ve personally seen a 12% difference @ a Marriott property in Mexico after they double dipped in the exchanges. First, by “converting from Pesos to USD” (since they publish their rates and everything at the resort is denominated in USD including room rate). Second, they helpfully offer to charge the Peso transaction as USD on their credit card terminal.

    …my friend, this is “mexico” we need to convert to Pesos. The USD prices are only there for your reference and convenience.

    In a not uncommon scenario like the one I just described you are first trapped by the hotels predatory exchange rate (which I guess you can argue), then the follow-on rape ensues since the gift card is processed in USD with predatory exchange rate back into pesos.

    Your 20% off suddenly became 8%…

  20. Good stuff, thx! Would Marriott Vacation Club maintenance fees be included? I’d also like to look over the full T’s & C’s if you could kindly provide a link.

  21. Thanks, Lucky. I’ve booked using FH&R for the Ritz Reserve. So I was hoping I could use the gift card when I settle the bill for incidentals.

  22. I think the biggest barrier to gift card purchase (aside from an unlikely scenario of Marriott folding) is the “Gift cards can’t be used to pay for a pre-purchased rate” caveat. The prepaid rates are usually 10-20% less than standard rates, diminishing the value of this discount. Anyone come up with a way to get around that?

  23. Charge is pending as “Marriott Gift Cards” so I doubt this will work with the $300 Amex Credit.

  24. Will these card be valid World-Wide? Or only in USD countries? if so probably worse exchange rates?

  25. @Lucky

    The biggest question isn’t x6 on Marriott but is it x3 on Citi Prestige or CSR.
    Anyone can confirm those yet?
    There could be a possibility that Marriott codes it differently but still gives x6 to its own co-branded cards.

  26. I used such a gift card in the past. These gift cards can only be applied as a credit to your folio by a hotel front desk after you check in. You cannot use them online or for anything else.

    You cannot use the gift cards for MVC maintenance fees, but once you check in to your MVC resort, you can then ask the front desk to apply the gift card to your folio, to pay for anything you change to your room.

  27. Saw several q’s above about whether Marriott gc’s would count towards the bonvoy brilliant credit. Saw too the separate comment that these gc purchases will count “the same as a Marriott stay.” Soooo am I off-base in surmising this is an implied answer to the first question. Or is this a don’t ask, don’t tell sort of thing? Hazard asking the q yet again as I need soon to make a decision to keep or downgrade the Brilliant card….

  28. you can just buy groceries for the $300 starting June 1 so really is it worth $150 for a free night, I would say yes.

  29. Hi Ben, as usual what a useful information and thank you.

    In the mean time I have a question. Normally Marriott will offer certain “special rate” to a big conference. Will I still be able to use this “gift card” to pay the room if reservation made by this type of special rate?

    Ryan

  30. Hi Ben, as usual what a useful information and thank you.

    In the mean time I have a question. Normally Marriott will offer certain “special rate” to a big conference. Will I still be able to use this “gift card” to pay for the room if reservation made by this type of special rate?

    Ryan

  31. @Ryan any sort of prepaid rate cannot be paid with a gift card. You apply a gift card to your folio at the front desk after you check in. So a gift card can only be used to pay for anything charged to your room, including room rates that are paid at check out.

  32. Clicked through to buy one for $250, but it only gives an option for $1,000 card for $800. I don’t need that much.

  33. I only bought a $1000 card as wondering if they’ll have a better sale later on. What do you think?

  34. it says gift cards will be delivered in 1-7 business days but i got mine in 1-7 seconds

  35. @Kevin B You need to click on the value card you want. The default is $1000 but there are several others to chose from starting at only $50.

  36. @Kevin B you have to click on browse cards to pick the smaller gift cards because it defaults at showing the $1000 one. The first five black ones go in descending order of dollar amount.

  37. One warning about marriott gift card if you plan to use them internationally. Marriott gives you a very bad conversion rate to local currency. The difference can be up to 5% difference from the rate you’ll get by charging to your credit card in local currency and then using the credit card companies exchange rate

  38. Hello Ben ..

    Thank you for your continues efforts ..
    my question is Can gift card used to settle promotional discounted rate such as ( AAA rate ) or other Marriott promotional rate Like ( M11 ) .

    Thanks .

  39. What am I not understanding? “selling gift cards for 20% off (or if you want to look at it differently, they’re offering a 25% bonus” How am I supposed to look at it different, that part wasn’t mentioned. Is it because we would be earning CC points on top of the purchase?

  40. I have not done much traveling but have been looking into a Marriott Westin that I know serves a wonderful fancy (expensive) dinner buffet at the restaurant on their property. Would I be able to use the gift card towards my bill in the restaurant?

  41. @Nik – used a USD Marriott gift card in Europe last year. The properties charged me in Euro and the equivalent in USD was deducted from the gift card. For me, exchange rate was close enough.

  42. @Josh

    I don’t have an answer but do understand your frustration.

    The Arrival Plus is really a pain to burn the remaining miles. You need a very precise calculation to maximize this card before cancelling it. (having 500 miles left).
    Other 2% cash back card and contactless payment, which defeats the chip & pin benefit make it very hard to justify $89 for this card anymore. There is very few places left on earth that a chip and pin is your only option. Probably only unmanned gas stations in remote areas of the world.

  43. Well don’t I feel silly. Thanks Bill G & VA1379. Got a $250 for $200 with my Bonvoy Visa. Gonna get 6x points for that plus my points for the stay. Winner winner.

  44. My dear friends everywhere:

    do not do this!!! Do not buy points, and do not buy gift cards!

    Times are changing, and life from now on will be different until the mid 20’s, even if you do not want to believe it.

    You will not be able to travel internationally this year or next year. I am a respected specialist in the medical field, and I personally believe: there will be no vaccine until 2022/23 (if at all: the “2019” version of Corona tells you that we were unable to develop a vaccine in all the years before of previous strains!).

    I so hope I am wrong, but personally, I cancelled every single reservation until the end of 2021 (as a Bonvoy Titanium and Lufthansa HON, earning status through my activities as a medical professional), because I strongly believe life will NOT be back to normal until sometime around 2025!

    All you are doing is giving a credit line to travel business at this point. You might end with nothing in the end, when those companies go down. 🙁

  45. @Lucky –

    Interesting that your contact said the card will earn 6x Marriott points. A month ago I was going to buy a GC with my Bonvoy Amex Card (the $90 one). I was told by both Amex and the people at Marriott that it would not earn the 6x bonus if I paid with the Bonvoy card. Did they change the rules for this promotion?

    Also, do you happen to know if I pay with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, will I earn the 3x bonus on this purchase for “travel”?

    And lastly, assuming both cards earn the bonus points, what is more valuable on a $1000 gift card purchase (6000 Bonvoy points or 3000 Chase UR points)?

    Thanks,

    Briola

  46. I used Marriott gift cards for part of a stay in Vienna this past December, and my experience was similar to that of @Roland. The exchange rate was similar to the current bank exchange rate. I was quite happy with that.

    In practice of actually using them: Having read up before my trip on the use of gift cards internationally, I made sure to inform the front desk upon checking in that I would like to use a couple of gift cards. That was smart, as the clerk was going to need to figure out how to apply gift cards issued in USD to the bill. That gave them the time to do that rather than me bringing it up as I was trying to check out at the end of the week. Check out was a breeze without the added stress for myself or the desk clerk figuring out gift cards last minute.

  47. Has anybody bought and can confirm they got 6x points on their Marriott credit card?

  48. I can confirm that the $300 Amex Bonvoy credit applies towards these gift card purchases. Purchased a $200 gift card on 5/11 for $160. Received a credit for $160 on 5/13.

  49. If we use these GCs to pay for our stay, do we still receive the 10 points (+ any elite bonus points) per dollar spent on nights?

  50. Does anyone know how this post on your credit card like a hotel charge for the citi prestige ?
    Thanks
    JR

  51. Great write up Ben. Thank you.
    Given the userous hotel rates in Tuscaloosa this fall I’ll happily take the 20%.

  52. I actually have some question to those who ‘successfully’ done it before.

    Can you pay with more than 1 giftcard per stay?
    Since I don’t need to carry any physical card. I might consider 20x$50 rather than 1x$1000.

    @Sel, D.

    I think you misunderstood what is manufacture, this isn’t. Unless you know something we don’t. 😉

  53. Preposterous that they won’t let you use it for the advance, non-refundable rate. That means they’re still not desperate for cash. Wait a couple months. Short of a vaccine, there’s no magic bullet that’s going to help the travel industry.

  54. @AW

    You are confusing Marriott corporate who sells the gift cards, and Marriott properties who accept the gift cards.

  55. “The gift cards don’t expire, and getting a 25% bonus on gift cards is pretty awesome.”

    Where is the 25% bonus. All I see is 20%???

  56. @ Duke2020 — A 20% discount is the same as a 25% bonus. You’re paying $800 for $1,000 worth of gift cards.

  57. @Lucky

    Will these count as Marriott spend on the Amex Business Bonvoy card

    I still have the old Amex SPG and miss the Sheraton lounge benefit.

  58. @ChocolateFactory: I bought gift cards last month and got 5x Marriott points (old Chase Visa)

  59. Why would anyone be stupid enough right now to buy miles? It will be a blast wearing your mask all vacation long! Airline service is going to go by the way side, no more meals, lower of service, ect, this will also happen to the hotels.

  60. Can I use these to pay upon arrival for a non-prepaid booking done via Booking.com? The rate is significantly lower that on Marriott website!

  61. Ridiculous can’t get through to a live agent….keeps saying if you liked to hold please press zero does it every 5 seconds. Have to keep pressing 0. Ordered gift card yesterday never got it and can’t get support …lovely!

  62. @Tricia Robleto, did you receive it yet? I ordered one on May 14 and haven’t received it yet. I also tried calling on the number in the email and getting the same issue as you.

  63. @Kevin B, Thanks. I just checked the spam folder and my trash folder to see if I accidentally deleted it … unfortunately nothing.

  64. Just ordered 2 min ago. Both order confirmation and eGC details came within 30 sec to email inbox. Lightening fast.
    Need to use up the remaining 2020 travel credit on the CSR given travel in the rest of the year is almost nil due to the Pandemic as our travel is 100% leisure.

  65. @Brandon

    Chase Marriott cards count as x6.
    CSR counts as travel x3.
    AMEX Marriott card not sure but likely x6 can’t confirm until statement closes but trigger the $300 credit, hence x6.
    Citi Prestige seems to count as hotel x3 but can’t confirm until statement closes.

  66. I can confirm the gift cards count as 6x Marriott spending for American Express (Bonvoy Brilliant) purposes

  67. I can confirm that I received the Amex Brilliant credit on my gift card purchase.

    I purchased a $100 gift card for $80 on Thursday 5/14. The $80 credit posted to my account on 5/15 (but didn’t appear online until today 5/16).

    I am going to go buy another gift card now use up the full $300 credit.

  68. @Anthony

    How do you check that between statement cycles for x6? Or did your statement just closed?
    I just assume so because part of the $300 credit does post.

  69. @Eskimo

    Go to transactions screen, the amount of pts earned would show up in 2 to 3 days time.
    You do not need to wait for statement close to find out, but do need to wait a couple days from the posted transaction. Some merchants are much quicker than others.

  70. I can confirm that the purchase coded for 3x points on my Citi Premier card (so it did qualify as hotel spend).

  71. <>

    @Eskimo
    For my 6-night stay in Vienna, I used cash+points. I booked 5+ nights so I used points for 4 nights, got 1 night free, and paid for the remaining night with 3 gift cards. Remaining amount owed at checkout after gift cards about $35. I had to laugh quietly to myself; it sounded sort of ridiculous to be checking out of a nice hotel after a wonderful 6 nights and be told the remaining amount I owe is $35.

    Obviously the total for the trip was more than $35 (value of points + gift cards), but it just sounded funny.

  72. @miafll

    You are right, I’ve never noticed that before. I hardly cross check points earned with spend as it seems their system is reliable. (Or blogs will pick it up)

    @Cynthia
    Thank you for your confirmation. I now feel more confident in spreading the purchase into few smaller cards. Your story would be a lot funnier if you had brought coins to pay those $35 since you expect few euros short for the stay. 🙂

  73. I just went to the site, and I selected the $250 e gift card which has “20% off” next to it. Yet when I went to check out, it showed a subtotal of $250. Does this mean I’ll get a gift card for $301.20 or will they actually only charge me $200? I didn’t want to press the purchase button without knowing. Could someone who has purchased a gift card please advise.

  74. @Darlene

    You pay $200 for a $250 card. You will see the $50 discount on the page you enter your credit card.

  75. Just bought $10k worth of cards! Should be a nice little savings (assuming travel comes back soon).

  76. You can use gift cards on prepaid rates, I do it all the time. But it’s a workaround I’d rather not post here for Marriott to see. Go to Flyertalk and you can find it.

  77. I bought a $1000 ecard Saturday and it went thru as $1000 charge on my credit card. I emailed my complaint and have a case # started.

  78. I purchased a pretty one and that was the problem. The black one was the one with the discount. Wish I had known. I just got thru to customer service and was told that I purchased the wrong one and was not discounted! I was able to cancel my card, but now the promotion is over.

  79. @Kris, unfortunate. I think people were having pointing it out either posted in this thread or the FB group… but you can still take advantage of the bonus points deal that’s out now.

  80. I was able to cancel mine, received an email right away but am still waiting on a credit card refund. It’s been 48 hrs.

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