Should I Transfer Chase or Amex Points to Book a Marriott All-Suite Property?
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As the details of the new unified Marriott and SPG loyalty program have emerged, one of the most common questions we’ve gotten from readers has been whether it makes sense to transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points or American Express Membership Rewards points to Marriott. As a reminder, Ultimate Rewards transfer to Marriott at a 1:1 ratio, while Membership Rewards transfer 3:1 to SPG, which in turn transfers 1:3 to Marriott. So both currencies are effectively 1:1 transfer partners with Marriott.
TPG Associate Editor Brendan Dorsey, who answers reader questions twice a week, did a comprehensive analysis of this topic last month and concluded (correctly, in my opinion) that this transfer only makes sense if you have a specific redemption in mind.
Well, we’ve found that redemption, and it might just be the hotel deal of the year.
The best news to come out of the new Marriott program so far — perhaps the single best thing that could have possibly come out of this merger — was the revelation that all-suite properties would price out at only 60,000 Marriott points through the end of the year. These eye-popping, jaw-dropping properties include the St. Regis Maldives, St. Regis Bora Bora and Al Maha resort outside of Dubai, just to name a few. It’s not uncommon for rooms at these top-of-the-market hotels to go for upwards of $3,000 a night. By comparison, TPG values 60,000 Marriott Rewards points at $540.
So today, let’s take a look at just how good a value you can get by transferring your Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards points to Marriott to book all-suite properties.
Why You Should Transfer Points to Marriott
In order to keep this analysis simple, I’ll focus on the three best known all-suite properties. While there are other hotels on the list worth checking out — including the Mystique Santorini and W Koh Samui, to name a few — the St. Regis Maldives, St. Regis Bora Bora and Al Maha Resort in Dubai are the places that dreams are made of.
Before we dive into the hard numbers, there’s one other important point to make. The 60,000-point rates only apply to base rooms, not upgraded room types. Currently the “base” redemption at the St. Regis Maldives is the overwater villa we’re all dreaming about, but it’s entirely possible that come August, we’ll see it switched so that garden villas (yes, they have those too) are considered “base” and overwater villas cost more.
In order to account for this possibility, I’m including a second example in my calculations, one where rooms like overwater villas cost an extra 25,000 points per night, or 85,000 points total.
|Hotel||Average Nightly Rate||Redemption Value At 60,000 Points Per Night||Redemption Value At 85,000 Points Per Night|
|St. Regis Maldives||$3,000||5 cents per point||3.5 cents per point|
|St. Regis Bora Bora||$2,500||4.1 cents per point||2.9 cents per point|
|Al Maha resort Dubai||$1,700||2.8 cents per point||2 cents per point|
In his most recent valuations, TPG values Ultimate Rewards at 2.1 cents each and Membership Rewards at 1.9 cents each. Marriott points, by comparison, get valued at just 0.9 cents each, so the 1:1 transfer from either program usually results in a loss in value.
Here, however, you can see that it’ll be possible to get 2-3 times more value out of your points by transferring them to Marriott if you’re using the points to book an all-suite property. These resorts are incredibly seasonal, with rates fluctuating from $1,000 on the low end to as high as $6,000-7,000 during peak season, meaning you might be getting an even better deal than the one shown here.
Why You Shouldn’t Transfer Points to Marriott
The privacy and seclusion that make these resorts so appealing is also the best argument against transferring your valuable Chase and Amex points right now. Once you transfer your points, you can never un-transfer them, and as excited as you might be to jump on this unprecedented deal, so is everyone else. The St. Regis Maldives only has 77
rooms suites, and Al Maha only has 42. On any given night, only a fraction of those will be available for award redemptions, so it’s highly unlikely that everyone who wants to take advantage of this deal will be able to.
Since Chase points transfer instantly to Marriott, you might consider holding off and finding the award space you want when the programs merge in August before transferring points. Unfortunately Marriott’s Points Advance feature, which lets you reserve an award stay even if you don’t have enough points in your account, can’t be used on SPG properties until the unified program launches.
Transferring points to Marriott normally represents a serious loss in value, but these all-suite properties that will become bookable for only 60,000 points a night are an absolute steal. For many, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the pinnacle of luxury at a reasonable cost. As usual, just make sure you find the award space you want before transferring your points, and double check what room type you’re getting before you book!
Featured image of the Al Maha Resort in Dubai courtesy of the hotel.