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Marriott Rewards Program: How to Get the Best Value

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Contents

Marriott hosts a variety of redemption options that can seem overwhelming at first, but we’ve analyzed various scenarios to show you how to get the most value for your points. We found the overall average value of the Marriott point to be $0.006 or 0.6 cents, however depending on the type of redemption that value can rise to as high as 1.15 cents per point or as low as 0.2 cents per point.

Overview of Marriott Program 

We divide your redemption options into 8 categories: Hotel Reservations (which itself has 4 options), Airline Transfers, Vacation Packages, Priority Pass Membership, Airline and Cruise bookings, Instant rewards and Gift cards. Below you will see, in order, the redemptions that give you the best value. As a hotel loyalty program, Marriott Rewards Points gets you get the highest value when you use them to book free nights at a Marriott property. Hotel reservations are generally the most rewarding option, with values above one cent per point. Our research indicates that the other options generally get you less than one cent per Marriott point with other alternatives. Your next best options are to book cruises and air tickets. Things get a little trickier with quantifying airline transfers and vacation packages as we will explain shortly. 

Redemption Value per Point (cents)
Hotel Reservations 
Point Savers  1.15
Cash + Points  0.93
Standard Reservation 0.85
Priority Pass  0.50
Vacation Packages  Varies 
Cruises  0.40
Book Flights  0.40
Gift Cards  0.30
Miles Transfer  0.27
Instant Reward  0.22-0.50

You can redeem your Marriott Rewards Points for a variety of options such as Priority Pass, retailer gift cards, or instant rewards. Priority Pass allows you to use your points to register for any of the three levels of lounge membership and gain access to hundreds of lounges across the world. You may also purchase gift cards from different retailers for a point value of 0.30 per point. Instant rewards enables you to redeem points to pay for expenses during your stay at a Marriott property; these range in value from 0.20 to 0.50 per point. Overall, they are not valuable options when compared to the redemptions we go in depth with below. 

Redeeming for Hotel Reservations 

Marriott classifies its hotels into categories 1-9, and tiers 1-5 for Ritz Carlton properties. These classifications are based on the number of amenities available and the location of the property. For example, you will see many more category 8 hotels in the center of New York City as opposed to a smaller city such as Dallas. Each category of hotel has a set number of points needed for a free night as you can see in the table below. 

Standard Reservation

The standard reservation is the rate you will pay if you choose to book your free night with only points. Across several bookings we get an average of 0.85 cents per point.  However, it can vary depending when and where you make your booking. For example, you will see a slightly higher value for weekday bookings since those are generally more expensive than weekend bookings. You will also see a higher value for bookings made within the U.S since those are on average more expensive than international bookings. Additionally, when you book five nights with points, the last night is free. This saving could fall as low as $63.75 with a category 1 to as high as $595 for a tier 5. 

Categories  Standard Points Cash + Points Points Savers Standard Point Value (cents) Cash+Point Value (cents) PointSavers Point Value (cents)
1 7,500 3,000 +$45 6,000 1.19 1.52 1.51
2 10,000 5,000 + $50 7,500 1.16 1.35 1.57
3 15,000 8,000 + $55 10,000 0.98 1.14 1.46
4 20,000 11,000 + $60 15,000 0.80 0.89 1.10
5 25,000 14,000 + $65 20,000 0.60 0.62 0.76
6 30,000 17,500 + $75 25,000 0.63 0.59 0.76
7 35,000 21,000 + $90 30,000 0.49 0.42 0.61
8 40,000 24,500 + $145 35,000 0.75 0.63 0.87
9 45,000 28,000 + $220 40,000 0.68 0.30 0.60
Tier 2 40,000 20,500 + $145 30,000 0.70 0.63 0.94
Tier 3 50,000 26,000 + $170 40,000 0.72 0.73 0.89
Tier 4  60,000 32,000 + $260 50,000 0.62 0.39 0.72

Cash + Points

With the Cash + Points option, rather than paying for the reservation with only points, you will be paying with cash (a certain designated amount for each hotel category) and then a smaller amount of points. On average, this option fetches you a better value for your points from categories 1-6 as you can see below. Starting with category 7 however, the standard reservation will give you a higher average point value. 

PointSavers

Finally, Marriott occasionally offers a PointSavers option where certain hotels will allow you to pay for a category of room with the amount of points needed for the category below. Across all bookings we obtain a universal average of 1.15 cents per point for this option. PointsSavers will always gives you a higher average value than a standard redemption with the exception of category 9 hotels, while also giving you a higher value than Cash + Points for all categories except category 1 hotels.  

Also noteworthy is Seasonal Awards where certain hotels depending on the time of year will cost you at least 25% less points. This redemption is less common than Points Savers and only encompasses hotel categories 1-8. If a hotel you are booking is eligible for Seasonal Awards, we would recommend comparing the number of points you need against all redemption options first, before deciding which is the best deal. 

Bottom Line for Hotel Redemptions

When it comes to using your points for free reservations, the value of your points should try to exceed our standard average of 0.85 cents per point for the most bang for your buck. PointSavers should always be your first search due to it consistently giving you a higher value than a standard reservation. If however, the option is unavailable, we would recommend using Cash + Points, especially if you intend to stay at a hotel between categories 1-4.  Remember though, these options might not always exceed 0.85 cents. For example, PointSavers for categories 6-9 tend to have a below average point value but still higher than the standard reservation value. Finding a value above 0.85 cents will be easier for people looking for lower category hotels, the good news being categories 2-5 make up 70% of all Marriott properties. If a high-end hotel is what you seek, the standard redemption for categories 7-9 actually average at 0.58 cents per point compared to the Cash + Points average of 0.48 cents per point. Surprisingly, we find category 8 to have the highest value of all the upper echelon categories. 

Where are Marriott Hotels Located?

All over the world is the quick answer to that question. A good measure of this program’s strength is determining how available the properties are to you. North America, Europe, and Asia hold the majority of properties throughout the world with North America having 83% of all Marriott properties. Within those three continents every major city will have at least one Marriott property as opposed to the southern hemisphere continents where a major city might not have one. For those who frequent South America, Wyndham's network has many more hotels avaliable within the continent.  

Within the United States, you will never go far without seeing a Marriott property. Major tourist states such as New York, California, and Florida each have 136, 332, and 305 properties respectively.  Even if you decide to take a quiet ski vacation to Vermont or a hiking trip in Wyoming, you will still find 8 properties in each of those states, the lowest of the 50 states. 

marriott-properties

Marriott also boasts a variety of brands each with several properties throughout the world. Below you can see all the different brands and how many of each are found throughout the world. 

Brands  Number of Properties 
Ritz-Carlton 94
Edition 4
JW Marriott 79
Autograph Collection 104
Renaissance Hotels 165
Marriott Hotels 532
Delta Hotels and Resorts 37
Marriott Executive Apartments 27
Marriott Vacation Club 59
Gaylord Hotels 5
AC Hotels 92
Courtyard 1067
Residence Inn 718
SpringHill Suites 348
Fairfield Inn & Suites 795
TownePlace Suites 284
Protea Hotels 102
 Moxy Hotel 8

Airline and Cruise Redemptions

Through the rewards portal you can choose from over 100 airlines and pay for a flight or cruise with points. In both regards, we find that this option consistently values your point at 0.40 cents, which when compared to the Standard Reservation value is obviously much lower. Essentially, unless you must desperately book a flight, we recommend you use your points for the free nights. Even so, below you can view a few sample flight itineraries, their prices, and how many miles it takes to redeem them. 

Flight (01/14/2016) Price  Points Needed Value (cents)
JFK to SFO $143 37,500 0.38
JFK to MIA $128 32,500 0.39
JFK to LHR $353 90,000 0.39
JFK to HND $517 130,000 0.40

If you do not want to book directly through Marriott, you can also transfer your points for miles with one of over 35 partnered airlines. As opposed to the Starwood rewards program, which for the most part is a 1:1 redemption, the Marriott program has a different rate for different airlines. You can see all the different rates here.

Generally, the value of a frequent flyer mile falls between 1.1 to 2 cents per point and thus worth more than the average Marriott Point.  For example, with an exchange of 2000 Delta SkyMiles, you will be required to transfer five points for one mile; the equivalent of 4.25 cents worth of points for 1.40 cents (Delta SkyMiles value) worth of miles. In other words, 0.85 cents per point gets reduced to 0.28 cents per point. We find the average transfer ratio across all rates to be 3.7:1. You will want your transfer to be as close to 1:1 as possible to get the best deal. If you were really hoping to transfer points for miles, the Starwood program may be the better option for you because of its constant 1:1 transfer ratio, although that may no longer matter in the future. If you keep reading however, we explain in our "Vacation Package" section below how you can get your transfer down to 1:1 with Marriott.

Airlines Available for Transfers through Marriott Rewards Program
Aeromexico Club Premier Gol Smiles
Aeroplan / Air Canada Hawaiian Airlines
Air Berlin Iberia Airlines 
Air China Japan Airlines
Alaska Airlines LAN Airlines
Alitalia MilleMiglia Miles and More (Lufthansa)
All Nippon Airways (ANA) Qatar Airways
American Airlines AAdvantage Qantas Airways 
Asia Miles Saudia Arabian Airlines
Asiana Airlines Singapore Airlines
British Airways Southwest Airlines 
China Eastern Airlines TAP Air Portugal 
China Southern Airlines Turkish Airlines 
Copa Airlines  United Milelage Plus
Delta Air Lines Virgin Atlantic
Emirates Skywards Jet Blue Airways 
Etihad Airways Virgin America 
Frontier Airlines 

Vacation Package Redemption 

Like Starwood’s Nights and Flights redemption, Marriott offers packages starting at 200,000 points all the way up to 540,000 points, and enable you to book seven free nights plus receive a certain amount of airmiles; you can find all the prices here. Basically, you are spending a large amount of points to get seven nights, while also receiving airmiles for the airline of your choice. Large, sweeping packages such as these are more difficult to assess due to several moving variables. Why not just book the 7-nights for fewer points or just transfer the miles separately? While the actual point value for this redemption is difficult to quantify, answering those questions one by one will guide you in deciding whether to choose this redemption.

To start, let’s consider the Hotel + Air Package 1 for a Category 5 hotel. For 200,000 points, travelers can get 7 nights and 50,000 miles. Standard redemptions for a 7-night stay typically go for 150,000 (the cost of 6 nights at a Category 5 with the 5th night free) – which we’ll assume is the same value for the seven nights in Package 1. The difference therefore is whether the extra 50,000 points required to redeem the package is worth the extra 50,000 airmiles included.

We next need to determine whether the dollar value of the 50,000 extra points you are spending is less than the dollar value of the miles you are receiving. Say you wanted to transfer for Delta Skymiles, which generally are worth 1.4 cents per point. We multiply that value by 50,000 miles, giving us a monetary value of $700 worth of miles. Next we take 50,000 extra points, and multiply it by our standard reservation average of 0.85 cents per point giving us $425 worth of points. Essentially, you are trading in $425 worth of points for $700 worth of miles, which is great.

Finally we ask, why not just transfer the miles separately? Recall how the average transfer ratio is 3.7:1. Through some package options you will be getting a better transfer ratio than normal. Transferring for 50,000 Skymiles has a ratio 2.8:1 ordinarily. Here, however, you are paying 50,000 points for 50,000 miles making this transfer 1:1.

Overall, if you have at least 200,000 points accumulated, this could be a great deal. Some options will allow you to receive miles for greater value than normal while using points to pay for six nights but staying seven. Be careful though, because there are many packages which are very bad deals. We've put together an excel model in which you can see the price for all packages and select different airlines to see with which category of hotel will get the best value and transfer ratio for your points and miles.

Credit Cards that Earn Marriott Hotel Points

Chase issues three credit cards co-branded with Marriott International – the Marriott Rewards® Credit Card, Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card and the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card. These offer consumers the chance to earn Marriott rewards points with every $1 charged to them. The Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card is one of our favorite hotel credit cards, due to the 1 free night stay at a category 1-5 hotel it offers each account anniversary. The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card is more of a luxury card targeted at frequent travelers, providing benefits such as airport lounge access and annual travel & hotel credit.

Because these cards all come with different annual fees, and earn different rewards and bonuses, it may be difficult to figure out which of them is best suited for your needs. Through our interactive tool below, you can get an estimate of the value each card will provide you, given the spending you input. Keep in mind, however, that the tool does not account for the lounge benefits/airline credit – if you plan on using either of these, be sure to add their value onto the net rewards to offset whatever annual fees the cards might have.

Edit Monthly Spend: $1,430
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Card Annual Fee 2-yr Net Rewards Rate

The Net Rewards Rate is equal to the Rewards Value over two years divided by the total spending. The total spending is equal to the values entered into the tool and multiplied by 24 months. See the Rewards Value note to see details on how it is calculated.

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Bonus Value

The bonus field shows our estimate for the value of the card’s sign-up bonus. If the bonus is point or mile based, we multiply the total bonus points/miles by our estimate for their value to arrive at a dollar equivalent. We display $0 if there is no bonus or if the user doesn’t qualify for the bonus based on the current spending entered into the tool.

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

2-yr Rewards Value

The Rewards Value is calculated by adding together the rewards earned from charging purchases to the card over two years and any sign-up bonuses (if applicable). They are then multiplied by our estimated point/mile value, with any annual fees (if applicable) subtracted. All values are based on our own estimates for the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using a card.

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card
$395 1.40%
$930
Earn two complimentary nights at any participating Tier 1-4 Ritz-Carlton Hotel, after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
$504
Graph Card Read Review More Details
Annual Fee $395
APR 15.99%

Card Details

  • Earn two complimentary nights at any participating Tier 1-4 Ritz-Carlton Hotel, after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • 5 points for every $1 spent on Ritz-Carlton or partner hotels
  • 2 points for every $1 on airline tickets purchased directly with the airline
  • 1 point per $1 otherwise
  • Complimentary upgrades to the Ritz-Carlton Club Level three times annually on paid stays of up to 7 nights
  • $300 annual airline incidentals credit
  • $100 hotel credit on stays of two nights or longer
  • Worldwide Airport Lounge Access
  • Automatic gold elite status your first year
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Personal service assistance to cardmembers
  • Automatic Gold Elite Status your first year
  • Maintain Gold Elite thereafter by spending 10,000 each year

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 34,320 x $0.011 = $364
Bonuses
0 x $0.011 = $930
Less Annual Fees -$790
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 504

Bottom Line

Always a Good Redemption: 

The best value from the Marriott Rewards Program comes from redeeming your rewards for more than $0.0085 or 0.85 cents per point, which bookings at Categories 1-4 will consistently fetch you. As we mention above, for these categories, the PointSavers option will give you the highest value, followed by Cash + Points and lastly a standard reservation. Interestingly, tiers 2-4 also get you a value higher than 0.85 cents per point with the PointSavers option. Seasonal Awards will also be a great redemption for whenever it is available. 

Sometimes a Good Redemption: 

Occasionally, you can get a decent point value for the higher category hotels with Standard Reservations and Points Savers at an average of 0.70 cents per point. You may be able to get that value above 0.85 cents depending on time of year and location. Also, as we go into length above, depending on the airline you transfer to and the category of hotel you choose, vacation packages can be a great deal. However it could also be a terrible deal in some cases so it is only "sometimes" a good redemption. Use our tool to make sure you get the absolute best deal.  

Bad Redemption Options: 

All the rest of the redemption options should generally be avoided if you're trying to maximize point value. Starting with Priority Pass at 0.50 cents per point, the value of your point only gets lower. Cash + Points for categories 7-9 is the worst of the hotel reservation redemptions with values coming in below 0.5 cents per point. Booking cruises and airlines gives you a point value of 0.40 cents, while transferring points for miles will always devalue your points even further. If you really want to transfer for miles, consider the vacation package option because of its better transfer ratios. Finally gift cards and instant rewards should almost never be used for point redemptions.

Comments and Questions

* See the online credit card application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button, you can review the credit card terms and conditions on the issuer's website.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program. 

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Advertiser Disclosure: Some of the offers that appear on this website are from companies which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). The site does not review or include all companies or all available products. For more information please see our Advertiser Disclosure.