Program Sweet Spot: Marriott Rewards Hotel And Air Packages

Program Sweet Spot: Marriott Rewards Hotel And Air Packages

By | 2018-04-20T11:46:40+00:00 March 12th, 2018|Hot Deals!, Hotel Loyalty Programs, Marriott, News, Reward Programs|
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Marriott Rewards Hotel And Air Packages

Before Marriott acquired Starwood hotels, I didn’t have much interest in the Marriott Rewards program mainly due to the lack of earning opportunities in Canada. However, since the merger, Starwood has allowed points transfers between the two programs, with SPG points transferring to Marriott at a generous 1:3 ratio. This opened my eyes to the new program, and I’ve since been able to redeem points for some really terrific hotel stays, such as The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong (the tallest hotel in the world), and more recently, The Ritz-Carlton Pacific Place in Jakarta, which was one of my best Marriott redemptions to date. Like all programs, Marriott has some great redemption options, and some not so great redemption options. One of my favourite ways to redeem points is through the Marriott Rewards Hotel and Air Packages.

Unlike Starwood, transferring Marriott Reward points to airlines on their own represents fairly poor value, as the transfer rates simply don’t make sense. Here’s the transfer rates for the set of airlines I would use most, which includes Air Canada Aeroplan and Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan:

Marriott Transfer Rates To Popular Airlines

Marriott Transfer Rates To Popular Airlines

To earn 50,000 airline miles in this group, you would need to transfer the equivalent of 46,667 Starwood points to Marriott. Transferring the SPG points directly would net 56,667 airlines miles (SPG transfers to airlines at 1:1 ratio with 5,000 mile bonus for each set of 20,000 points). While not too different, it still makes sense to just transfer SPG points directly. Where it really goes sideways is with the next set of airlines:

Marriott Rewards To Airline Transfer Rate

Marriott Rewards To Airline Transfer Rates

In this example, it would take the same 46,667 SPG points to earn 35,000 airline miles from Singapore Airlines, Etihad, ANA, etc. Simply not worth it, considering the same number of SPG points transferred directly would earn the same 56,667 miles as the above example.

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Enter The Marriott Rewards Hotel And Air Packages

While the Marriott Rewards to airline transfer rates are not competitive, there is one way to get exceedingly good value out of your points when redeeming for airline miles: The Marriott Rewards Hotel and Air packages. In addition to airline miles, redemptions also include a 7-night stay at any Marriott branded property. Here’s the chart for the various options when redeeming one of these packages for airline miles in the most relevant airline category for Canadians, including Air Canada Aeroplan, British Airways Executive Club, and Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. Be warned though: just as different programs have sweet spots and sucker spots, so do the Marriott Rewards Hotel and Air packages.

Marriott Rewards Hotel And Air Packages

Marriott Rewards Hotel And Air Packages

I’m using this example as it contains the 3 airline programs I recommend most to Canadians: Air Canada Aeroplan, British Airways Avios, and Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. First let me explain how the chart works.

Like other hotel programs, Marriott categorizes their hotels for reward stays, with category 1 being the cheapest, and category 9 being the most expensive for redemptions. This is generally aligned with paid rates (though not always), with more expensive hotels being a higher category. Ritz-Carlton is separate, with the bottom two groups representing the two packages available for their properties.

To redeem one of the Marriott Reward Hotel and Air packages you first need to decide which category hotel you’re most likely to stay at, and then decide how many miles you would like to transfer. Here’s the kicker though. You don’t actually need to have a hotel selected before you redeem for a package. Marriott simply attaches a certificate to your online profile, which remains valid for one year after the package has been purchased. So, without considering the hotels, let’s look at the value in just the airline miles.

Sticking to the category 1-5 properties, there are four options and rates available depending on how many airline miles you wish to purchase.

  • 50,000 airlines miles – 200,000 Marriott Reward points (66,667 SPG)
  • 70,000 airlines miles – 220,000 Marriott Reward points (73,334 SPG)
  • 100,000 airline miles – 250,000 Marriott Reward points (83,334 SPG)
  • 120,000 airline miles – 270,000 Marriott Reward points (90,000 SPG)

Based on the number of SPG points required, the first two packages don’t make much sense (without considering the value of the hotel certificate), as you could transfer directly from SPG to the airline to earn significantly more miles:

  • 66,667 SPG = 81,667 airline miles when transferred directly from SPG
  • 73,334 SPG = 88,334 airline miles when transferred directly from SPG

The third option is relatively break-even compared to direct SPG transfers:

  • 83,334 SPG = 103,334 airline miles when transferred directly from SPG

The fourth option is definitely the package sweet spot, where you will actually earn more airline miles compared to transferring directly from SPG:

  • 90,000 SPG = 110,000 airline miles when transferred directly from SPG

In summary, if you’re looking to transfer SPG or Marriott points into airline miles, the best option is to choose a category 1-5 Marriott Rewards Hotel and Air Package, as the transfer rate will be better than transferring directly through SPG and you’ll receive a 7-night stay certificate valid for any category 1-5 Marriott Hotel.

Wait… What If I Choose A Different Category Hotel When I Go To Redeem My Certificate?

No problem – as long as you selected the lowest category (1-5) when choosing your package. Marriott is really generous when it comes to redemptions, and allows you pay additional points should you want to stay at a higher category hotel. Let’s say for example you wanted to stay at Mauna Kea Hotel in Hawaii, which is a category 9 hotel.

Marriott will allow you to upgrade your certificate by paying the point difference between packages. The category 9 package costs 390,000 Marriott Reward points, so you would need to pay 120,000 additional points for the category 9 certificate (390,000 – 270,000). A word of caution though: this doesn’t work in the other direction. If you thought you would be staying at a category 9 hotel when purchasing the package, but end up staying at any category lower, Marriott will not refund the difference.

What’s The Catch?

Well, there aren’t really, to be honest. A few considerations though:

  • 7-night stay certificates must be used consecutively (they cannot be split up at different properties)
  • Valid for one year after purchasing the Hotel and Air Package. Reservation must be made within one year, though I’ve heard account of people extending the validity by one year
  • Certificates are non-transferrable, though you can often gift them by booking the hotel in your name and adding a friend or family member to the reservation (must be done by phone and I recommend confirming this prior to the stay if you don’t plan on checking in)
  • Airline miles don’t transfer immediately (usually take 1-2 weeks)
  • Airline frequent flyer account must match Marriott Rewards account info
  • Marriott allows you to book hotels without having the points required, which is really helpful when booking over peak periods.

Examples Of How I’ve Leveraged Marriott Reward Hotel And Air Packages

I’ve only redeemed points twice for Marriott Reward Hotel And Air Packages: The first time I needed Alaska miles and the hotel certificate was an added bonus. The second time I needed a specific hotel, and the airline miles were extra. I’ll break down the value from each:

Marriott Rewards Hotel and Air Packages Example 1

This goes back to winter of 2016 when I was looking to book my crazy 11-day trip around the world, and needed some Alaska Miles to book Cathay Pacific First Class from Los Angeles to New Delhi via Hong Kong. I didn’t have a specific hotel to use the 7-night stay certificate, so I purchased a category 1-5/120,000 airline mile package.

I used 70,000 Alaska miles for my flight to New Delhi, which included first class from Los Angeles to Hong Kong.

Cathay Pacific First Class

Cathay Pacific First Class

And business class from Hong Kong to New Delhi on Cathay Pacific.

Cathay Pacific Business Class To Africa Is A Program Sweet Spot

Cathay Pacific Business Class

Then I redeemed 30,000 Alaska miles for two segments on Japan Airlines, including business class from New Delhi to Tokyo.

Japan Airlines Business Class

Japan Airlines Business Class

And first class from Tokyo to Jakarta.

Japan Airlines First Class

Japan Airlines First Class

As it turned out, I didn’t have a use for the 7-night stay certificate, but I had friends vacationing in Greece for their honeymoon. As such, I was able to gift them the certificate by booking the hotel in my name, and they transferred the addition points needed for a stay at the beautiful category 9 Domes Noruz Hotel in Crete.

Image Courtesy Of Marriott

Image Courtesy Of Marriott

Marriott Rewards Hotel and Air Packages Example 2

This redemption was from the other perspective, where I needed to book a specific hotel and thought I may as well get some airline miles out of it too for a future trip. I recently booked Hawaii for spring break, and decided to stay at the Marriott Wailea Resort, which recently underwent a top to bottom 100-million dollar renovation, and looks stunning.

Image Courtesy Of Marriott

Image Courtesy Of Marriott

Being a category 8 property, a 7-night stay would cost 240,000 Marriott Reward points (40,000 points per night with the 5th night free), which is actually pretty good value on it’s own considering the paid rates at the hotel.

Marriott Wailea Resort Rewards Redemption

Marriott Wailea Resort Rewards Redemption

Marriott Wailea Resort Paid Rates

Marriott Wailea Resort Paid Rates

Since I was committed to spending that many points, I thought it made sense to purchase one of the Marriott Reward Hotel and Air Packages for only 120,000 more hotel points, and in exchange get a 7-night stay certificate and 120,000 Alaska Airline Mileage Plan miles. Picking up 120,000 airline miles for the equivalent of 40,000 SPG points (3:1 transfer from SPG to Marriott) is a no-brainer, even if I don’t have a specific redemption in mind (though I am considering another trip overseas as early as April, and wouldn’t mind trying Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines first class again). Best of all, I actually booked this hotel speculatively back in the fall when availability was still good over spring break, and only just purchased one of the Marriott Rewards Hotel and Air packages. Being able to reserve hotels without having the points or certificate at the time of booking is a huge benefit of the Marriott Rewards program, especially when planning travel over peak periods.

Marriott Rewards Hotel And Air Packages Bottom Line

If you’re looking to transfer hotel points into airline miles, the Marriott Rewards Hotel and Air packages could make a lot of sense to get maximum value out of your points. As long as you need at least 100,000 airlines miles, the transfer ratios are competitive with SPG, but also include a 7-night stay certificate at any Marriott hotel worldwide, which can add a lot of value to the redemption.

If you don’t have a specific hotel in mind, choose a category 1-5 package for maximum value, and upgrade at a later date if necessary, which can be done easily over the phone (don’t forget you can easily gift these reservations by booking a stay in your name and adding a friend to the reservation).

Interested in earning more points to purchase one of the Marriott Rewards Hotel and Air Packages?

 

Apply for the American Express Business Gold Reward Card and earn 40,000 Membership Reward points with the first year annual fee waived (60,000 Marriott Reward points)

Apply for the American Express Business Platinum Card and earn 60,000 Membership Reward points – the highest welcome bonus in Canada (90,000 Marriott Reward points)

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The Marriott Rewards Hotel and Air packages are one of the best ways to convert hotel points into airline miles for the decent transfer rates and added benefit of a 7-night hotel stay. I’m curious to see if this program changes as the Marriott and Starwood reward programs become one, but will continue to take full advantage of it while it lasts!

Have you redeemed points for one of the Marriott Rewards Hotel and Air Packages? Tell us about it in the comment section below!

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About the Author:

Champagne taste on a beer budget has always been reminiscent of Tyler’s travel style. Raised in British Columbia, Tyler has an unquenchable thirst for more adventure, which is fueled by leveraging airline and hotel loyalty programs to travel the world in luxury and style. Want to learn how you can travel the world on points, like Tyler? Sign up for an American Express Platinum card and get 60,000 bonus points and a $200 travel credit towards your next dream vacation. (Offer subject to approval and when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months).

2 Comments

  1. Harley March 13, 2018 at 6:06 pm - Reply

    Could you use the 7 night certificate if you were only staying for 5 days for example ? And just forfeit the last two days ? It’s rare that one stays in a location for 7 days . Thanks !

    • Tyler Weatherup March 13, 2018 at 8:20 pm - Reply

      Yes – this should work, though it may depend on who you talk to (the agent I spoke with said they could, but you wouldn’t get any amount back for the forfeited days). If someone says no, just hang up and call again. Better yet, stay for 7-nights and get full value, though I agree, staying put for a week is a rare occurrence for some (myself included).

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