Getting the Most out of Your Marriott Rewards

Getting the Most out of Your Marriott Rewards

Marriott is one of the oldest travel brands around, and the largest, having opened their 4,000th property in Washington, D.C. just this past June.  Their loyalty program, Marriott Rewards, can be redeemed for free nights at any of these hotels.  Let's take a look at the Marriott Rewards program in a little more detail!

The Basics

 

Marriott Ankara Turkey

JW Marriott, Ankara, Turkey

Marriott International doesn't just consist of Marriott-branded hotels.  Rather, Marriott Rewards points can be redeemed at all of Marriott's 18 owned brands.  They include Ritz-Carlton, Bulgari, JW Marriott, Edition, Autograph Collection, Renaissance Hotels, AC Hotels, Moxy, Marriott, Gaylord, Courtyard, Protea, Springhill Suites, Fairfield Inn and Suites, Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, Marriott Executive Apartments, and Marriott Vacation Club.

The way you redeem your Marriott Rewards points is similar to other hotel loyalty programs.  Marriott has 9 categories of hotels, with each category having a point value assigned to it.  In addition, the quality of the hotel roughly increases as the category increases.  This is how you can really save money- since the redemption rate in each category is fixed, it doesn't matter how much the hotel is charging per night.  As long as there is award availability, you'll be able to redeem your points for a free night.  So, there could be a situation where one guest is paying $500 a night for their room, and you're staying for free!

One awesome feature of the Marriott Rewards program is that when you redeem four nights, you'll receive the fifth night for free- a 20% discount.  Furthermore, Marriott often offers 'PointSavers Rewards,' which are specially selected hotels each month that are offered at a discount.  Redemption rates are as follows:

Category Hotel Reward PointSavers Reward
Category 1 7,500 Points 6,000 Points
Category 2 10,000 Points 7,500 Points
Category 3 15,000 Points 10,000 Points
Category 4 20,000 Points 15,000 Points
Category 5 25,000 Points 20,000 Points
Category 6 30,000 Points 25,000 Points
Category 7 35,000 Points 30,000 Points
Category 8 40,000 Points 35,000 Points
Category 9 45,000 Points 40,000 Points

Ritz-Carlton Rewards

One thing to note is Ritz-Carlton hotels are listed by tier, not by category, and have a different redemption rate.  They also have PointsSavers Rewards.  Redemption rates are:

Tier Hotel Reward PointSavers Reward
Tier 1 30,000 Points 20,000 Points
Tier 2 40,000 Points 30,000 Points
Tier 3 50,000 Points 40,000 Points
Tier 4 60,000 Points 50,000 Points
Tier 5 70,000 Points 60,000 Points

How To Earn Miles

There are many ways to earn Marriott miles: staying at Marriott properties, credit cards, transfer partners, buying points, and special promotions.  Let's go into each category in detail.

Staying at Marriott Hotels

Marriott Points at Atlantis Resort

Atlantis Resort, Bahamas

Of course, this is the tried and true way of earning points and miles with any program: actually staying at Marriott's hotels.  When you're just getting started, you'll earn 10 points per dollar spent at JW Marriott, Autograph Collection, Renaissance, Marriott, and Marriott Vacation Club hotels.  This means everything you spend on property, including room charges.  Keep in mind that you can elect to instead earn 2 air miles per dollar in more than 30 airline programs instead of earning Marriott points.

With some other brands in Marriott's portfolio, you'll earn 10 Marriott Rewards points (or 2 air miles) on room rates only.  This includes Edition, AC Hotels, Courtyard, Springhill Suites, Fairfield Suites, and Ritz-Carlton hotels.

Other brands in their portfolio like Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites will only earn you 5 Marriott Rewards points or 1 air mile per dollar spent on room rates only.  Marriott Executive Apartments earn 2.5 points per dollar spent on room rates (or 1 air mile) and one elite night credit for every three nights stayed (elite status explained below).

Keep in mind that discounted stays that are purchased through third parties, like Hotwire or Priceline don't usually qualify for elite status or points earning.  I've had luck in the past with some stays posting to my account, but it's more the exception than the rule.

Elite Bonus

If you are a frequent guest at Marriott, you'll have opportunity to earn more points through elite bonuses, among other benefits.  If you earn Silver status, which is after 10 qualifying nights in a calendar year, you'll receive a 20% bonus on points earned when you stay.  Gold is earned after 50 qualifying nights, and will net you a 25% bonus.  Platinum is earned after 75 qualifying nights, and you'll earn a 50% bonus on points earned with this status level.

You can see the importance of status in earning a lot of miles quickly.  One way to earn status quickly, and earn a ton of points in the process is through...

Credit Cards

Credit cards are a great way to earn miles in a quick way, when used responsibly.  The cards often have large sign-up bonuses that you receive after spending a certain amount on the card after account opening.  Chase recently upped the sign up bonus for their Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Cards (there are personal and business cards) to 70,000, but that deal expired August 20th.

The business version of this card has the same offer.  An awesome travel hack would be to apply for both cards at the same time, since only the personal version of the card would count toward your credit score.  The business version can use your company's EID, or your social security number if it's a sole proprietorship.

The great thing about these cards, in addition to the sign up bonuses, is that you'll earn Marriott Rewards points for every dollar you spend.  You'll earn 5 points for every dollar you spend at Marriotts worldwide (including Ritz-Carltons), 2 points for restaurants, car rentals, and airline tickets purchased directly from airlines.  Also, you'll earn 2 points per dollar spent on office supply stores, internet, cable, and phone service purchases if you have the business version of the card.  Every other purchase will earn you 1 point per dollar spent.

It is important to recognize an important strategy in travel hacking: stacking.  Why earn just 10 points per dollar spent at Marriotts when you stay?  If you have top-tier status, staying at a Marriott, and pay with your Marriott credit card, you'll earn 20 points per dollar spent!  That's a free Category 1 night for every $375 spent, often the price per night of many of their higher end properties.

These cards will also help you earn status.  You'll receive 15 elite night credits to count towards your status for having a card. The terms and conditions of the offer don't allow for stacking both the personal and business cards' 15 night credits, though.  Furthermore, you'll earn another elite night credit for every $3,000 you spend on the card.  This means that you could theoretically earn top tier Platinum status without ever staying at a Marriott.  You would need to spend $105,000 on the card in a calendar year (50 nights minus the 15 you were already credited x $3,000), though.

And, to sweeten the deal even more, you'll receive a free Category 1-5 night on each account anniversary.

There is another product from Chase called the Marriott Rewards Credit Card, which offers 30,000 miles for spending $1,000 in three months after card opening as well.  The annual fee is only $45, but has less earning potential than its bigger brothers.

Transfer Partners

Marriott in Dubai

JW Marriott Marquis, Dubai

There are plenty of options to pick up some Marriott Rewards miles without using credit cards or hotel stays.  Hertz offers 2,000 Marriott Rewards points on 2-4 day rentals, and 5,000 Marriott rewards points.  Use discount CDP 154080 at checkout.  CruisesOnly offers 3 points per dollar spent on all cruises on their website until the end of July.  If you're a gambler, the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas offers the opportunity to transfer its frequent gambler Identity points to Marriott Rewards points!

And, if you have an Chase Ultimate Rewards earning account, like a Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you can transfer into Marriott's program at a 1:1 transfer ratio!  This is a great option to top off accounts in need.  Keep in mind that you'll have to transfer in 1,000 point increments.

A new development is Marriott and United's partnership in their RewardsPlus program.  RewardsPlus is a program that offers United flyers and Marriott guests reciprocal benefits across elite programs.  MileagePlus miles (United's name for their program's miles) can now be transferred into Marriott Rewards accounts at a 1:1 transfer ratio.  You can transfer up to 50,000 miles per year with this program.  In the other direction, Marriott points can be transferred to United miles at a variable rate, depending on how much you transfer (it will be between 4:1 and 2.1:1 under this new promotion).

And, if you have Marriott Platinum status, you'll be granted United Silver status.  In the other direction, if you have Premier Gold, Platinum, or 1K status, you'll automatically receive Gold Elite status.  Click the link above to sign up.

Buying Points

Buying points is an option for those of you that need more Marriott Rewards points in a hurry.  This is usually not a preferred option, but Points.com, the broker of these deals, often runs bonus point promotions throughout the year (which we'll be sure to let you know about).  The rate for points at time of writing is $12.50 per 1,000 Marriott Rewards points.  As mentioned, bonus offers of up to 100% of points purchased have been seen before on Points.com.

Special Promotions

Occasionally, Marriott will run a promotion that earns you some extra bonus points.  Currently, Marriott is running PlusPoints, which gives you up to 2,000 points per 30 days for checking into Marriott, Renaissance, and Autograph Collection properties.  For example, using hashtags like #LoveMarriottRewards on Twitter will earn you 25 points.  It takes some effort, sure, but with the program running until November 8th, you have the potential to earn 6,000 points before the end of the promotion!

Summary

The above should get you started in a big way with earning free nights at Marriott properties.  There is a lot of information in this post- if you have any questions about Marriott Rewards points, feel free to drop us a line below!

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