How to Get More Than $1,000 in Value from 100,000 Marriott Points
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“What’s a credit card sign-up bonus worth?” It’s one of the questions we hear frequently and it has as many answers as Baskin-Robbins has ice cream flavors (maybe more). While we do our best to list updated point valuations, the value of the points in your accounts varies tremendously based on how you use them.
Right now, both the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card are offering increased 100,000-point welcome bonuses after spending $5,000 in the first three months until April 24, 2019. The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card is also offering a 100k bonus after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months, for a limited time.
So what are 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points worth? Within the Marriott portfolio, 100,000 points can get you less than two nights at a fancy-schmancy luxury resort, a full week at a pretty nice hotel, plus a lot of choices in between those two extremes. Whether it’s just a day, a long weekend, or a one-week stay, we want to make sure you get the maximum value out of those points.
Right now, TPG values a Marriott point at 0.8 cents each. For our research, we focused on places where we could get at least $1,000 in free travel with those 100,000 points. Marriott has a few other ways to redeem your points that we’ll touch on as well. If you are approved for one of these Marriott 100k credit cards and hit the sign-up bonus, you’ll actually end up with something more like 105,000 points since you need to spend $5,000 within three months of receiving the card to earn the welcome bonus. Here’s how to get the most value out of those roughly 100,000 points:
Take That Special Someone to London…
Marriott has plenty of options across Europe when you consider all the different brands that are part of the portfolio — everything form The Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis to Marriott, Sheraton, Westin and Renaissance properties to more family-friendly contenders such as Courtyard and Fairfield.
In an expensive market like London, many of the properties fall into the sky-high award categories. Measured against London prices, 60,000 points for a one-night stay can be a good value. But, as you can see from the screen shot below, your mileage will definitely vary.
The London Marriott Hotel Park Lane is almost $700 per night on the dates we searched according to today’s currency conversion. That’s certainly a decent value for 60,000 points a night. Alas, we could only get one night there with our 100,000 points.
However, if you were to head over to the London Marriott Hotel Canary Wharf, that property is a Category 5, which means redemptions are available form 35,000 points a night. During the summer travel season, I saw average rates in the $300 range, but there are plenty of peak nights where the rate was $400 or more. With the $5,000 minimum spend to hit your sign-up bonus, 105,000 points is just enough for a long weekend.
Just outside London, The Langley, a Luxury Collection Hotel is a soon-to-open property where you can redeem 105,000 points for three nights. The rates at that property peaked at more than $600 per night in the summertime.
If you do plan a trip to London with those Marriott points, don’t miss TPG‘s list of eight points-friendly London hotels with rooms that accommodate four people.
Or Paris …
Paris is another fantastic city to get value for those Marriott points, with a few hotels from which to choose. The best value we found was at the Renaissance Paris Republique (Category 5, from 35k points per night). Be cautious with other Marriott hotels in Paris. Cash rates drop as you move just a bit further from the Louvre, making points bookings a much weaker value. If you take the fam to the City of Lights, don’t miss these free (or nearly free) things to do in Paris with kids.
Or, Maybe Italy
Finally, no discussion of Europe would be complete without Italy. While there are plenty of gorgeous Italian towns you’ve probably never heard of (but should visit), Rome is a city that our family loves to visit. (Here are the best times to visit Italy.) We generally find ourselves there at the start or end of our European trips, and there are values to be had with your Marriott points. The Westin Excelsior (Category 6, from 50k points per night) is usually affordable enough that you may prefer paying cash to using points.
However, the Rome Marriott Grand Hotel Flora (Category 6, from 50k points per night) frequently sees rates of 425 to 450 euro, which works out to about $500.
Find Your Way to Asia
If you’re starting in the US, getting to Asia will probably take a bit longer than Europe. But, it’s certainly worth being on your radar. In Tokyo, most of the properties we found there fell well below the threshold of being able to get $1,000 in value out of 100,000 Marriott points. The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo (Category 8) was one of the few exceptions where 85,000 points could get you almost $800 in value on certain nights.
Hotels in Thailand, even luxury properties, are generally pretty affordable, even with cash. However, we uncovered The Naka in Phuket (Category 6). As a member of the Design Hotels, it’s on the pricier side and looks pretty amazing. From 50,000 points per night, you will get about $700 in value on a number of nights that we checked. Two nights may not be long enough to relax in Phuket, but those 100,000 points can save you $1,400 at The Naka Phuket.
Dreaming of Heading Down Under?
Australia and New Zealand are on plenty of bucket lists. With the seasons reversed from North America, June, July and August are the mild “winter” in popular destinations like Sydney and Melbourne. Room rates during these slower times strongly point to paying cash instead of using your points.
Flip that to December, February or March and rates quickly move up while the number of points needed to redeem for a free night don’t. Pier One Sydney (Category 5), an Autograph Collection Hotel bookable from 35,000 Marriott points a night is a consistent “win” for points redeemers. If you have 105,000 points, you can get three nights at this well-reviewed and well-located hotel in Sydney.
In those months when temperatures are quite a bit colder in the US, you’ll warm up to more than $1,000 in value for your three nights. Other properties in Sydney, such as the Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel at Circular Quay and Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park (both Category 5, from 35k), tend to move around a bit more on the rate calendar. We found a handful of dates where they were both a solid redemption or a poor one.
If you venture out to Perth or Brisbane, you’ll find a mixed bag. Less luxurious labels in Perth, such as Aloft and Four Points, fall into Category 3, or 17,500 points per night. A three-night award redemption will keep you on pace to earn $100 for every 10,000 points you redeem. However, since it’s a Category 3, you’re much better bumping up to a four-night redemption to score the fifth award night free. Now, Perth is a great value.
The W Brisbane (Category 5) is a lovely hotel that will set you back 35,000 points per night. The price of a standard room is consistently in the range where you’d consider using points. We even found one night where standard award rooms were available even though cash prices were more than $1,000 per night.
If you’re hoping to redeem points in New Zealand, think again. The Marriott website lists one property: Four Points by Sheraton Auckland. For almost every date we checked, you’d be better off holding onto your points to redeem elsewhere.
South America Is Calling
Santiago can be a great destination for food and wine lovers, and it also serves as a fantastic jumping-off point for other great destinations in Chile. When you arrive, your Marriott points will take great care of you. The Sheraton Santiago and Renaissance Santiago are both Category 4 Marriott properties, from 25,000 points per night. Prices at the Sheraton typically hover in the mid-$300 range, while the Renaissance is consistently on sale for more than $400 per night. Those 100,000 points will get you that fifth award night free to stretch those points to be worth more than $2,000. The W Santiago is a bit pricier from 35,000 points per night (Category 5). While it might not be the screaming deal the Renaissance is with a fifth night free, the property has cash rates around $450, making it another good choice.
The Caribbean Is Easy on the Wallet
Some of the best places in the Caribbean to take your family with Marriott points also double quite nicely for folks who don’t have kids in tow. My wife and I stayed at the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino (Category 5, from 35k points) a number of years ago. Its private island has an adults-only section and a family section, so it’s easy to stay secluded.
The St. Kitts Marriott Resort and Casino (Category 5) is another treat for 35k points per night. And, the Aruba Marriott Resort and Casino (Category 6) on picture-perfect Palm Beach for 50,000 Marriott points per night should be on your list.
We adored our time at the Westin Grand Cayman last year, which can be booked for 60,000 Marriott points per night. Make sure you walk across the street to the lovely Japanese restaurant. Don’t be fooled by the nondescript shopping center, it’s a treat.
Vancouver is one of our favorite cities. And, Marriott has plenty of properties downtown. The Element Vancouver Metrotown is only 25,000 points per night and is normally a solid value when you compare the cash rates. Since it’s 25k points per night, don’t forget to focus on a five-night stay for the price of four (100,000 points). At 35,000 points, the Delta Hotels Vancouver Downtown Suites is another property where you can get more than $1,000 in value from a three-night stay.
Head to Toronto and you’ll find more properties to maximize your value. The Courtyard Toronto Downtown is 25,000 points (score that fifth night free). The Delta Hotels Toronto is 35,000 points a night with rates consistently in the $300–$400 range.
Using Points Advance Strategically
With points advance, you can book a hotel ahead of time to make sure you get an award room at current award prices and availability. You just need to have enough points in your account 14 days before your arrival to take advantage of the lower award pricing available today. This could be helpful when Marriott moves to peak and non-peak pricing later this year.
Point transfers to airline partners used to be one of the ultimate sweet spots of the Starwood Preferred Guest program. If you transferred 20,000 Starpoints to one of its many airline partners, you’d get a 5,000 mile bonus — ending up with 25,000 miles in almost every case (there were a couple of exceptions). Now, you need 60,000 Marriott points to generate 20,000 miles, plus that 5,000 mile bonus. That’s essentially the same ratio as before since SPG points became Marriott points at a 1:3 ratio, but the current Marriott cards earn less on everyday spending than the previous SPG cards, so it feels a bit more painful.
Regardless, note that United is one notable exception where you’ll earn 10% more miles. A 60,000-point transfer to United nets you 22,000 MileagePlus miles, plus that 5,000 mile bonus.
Still, using 25,000 MileagePlus miles to get $600 in value out of those 60,000 points you transferred will be tough for many redemptions. There are some fringe examples and over 40 airline partners, so you may still find gold.
Redeem for Experiences
Marriott’s experience platform is called Marriott Moments. Back in the days of SPG, I used the SPG experience platform, SPG Moments, for some great once-in-a-lifetime treats. How do you put a price on winning your wife a tennis lesson with Andre Agassi and seats in a luxury box for the men’s semifinal at the US Open? We got to see Billy Joel at Wrigley Field last year through SPG Moments as well.
Marriott Moments just sold out of some Billy Joel packages at 75,000 points each. Your 75,000 points would get you two tickets in a luxury box as well as food and beverage in the suite. Is that worth $750, the value we’re trying to get for our Marriott points? Ticketmaster has tickets in the same area of the arena for about $300 each when you add up all the fees. That probably falls just shy of where we want to be. However, you’re likely to find plenty of US Open Tennis and MLB packages as those dates get closer. And, there are all sorts of culinary and entertainment packages as well as auctions.
Even with the category changes and introduction of peak award seasons, there are still plenty of places for the savvy traveler to redeem their Marriott points and get a great value. Hotel stays are where the greatest value can be found right now. When planning a vacation, be sure to consider whether you can use the fifth award night free benefit to stretch those points 25% further.
If none of these ideas are right for your points, here are five ways for families to maximize 100,000 bonus Marriott points.
There are so many places to use the 100,000 bonus Marriott points you can earn from getting the Bonvoy Brilliant Amex and Marriott Bonvoy Business the hardest part is simply deciding where you want to go.
We did our homework and shared a bunch of great options. What are your favorite uses for your Marriott points?
Featured photo of Marriott Kauai by Luke Bender/Unsplash.
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