If there’s one thing going for the Marriott Bonvoy program, is its flexibility when it comes to using those hard-earned points. You could trade them for a night’s accommodation at most hotels, or transfer your points to a frequent flyer program for flight rewards.
It can be confusing to work out what the best use of your points is, so this guide will take a look at a few different scenarios to see where you’d get ahead. If you’re new to the Marriott Bonvoy program, brush up on your knowledge with our ultimate starter guide.
When should I use Marriott Bonvoy points for hotel stays?
The primary purpose of Marriott Bonvoy points is, of course, hotel stays. Generally speaking, points are best used for 5-star luxury properties that you might not normally book with cash. Unfortunately, Marriott now uses dynamic pricing, so we can’t always accurately pinpoint how far your points will go.
Luckily, members still get the fifth night free when booking five consecutive nights at one property with Bonvoy points. Therefore, it’s best to use your Bonvoy points for hotel stays when:
- You are able to stay for five nights and just pay for four
- It’s at a high-end property you wouldn’t usually book with cash, or
- It’s at a mid-scale property at a time when cash rates are unusually high (e.g. special event periods, school holidays), or you want to use your points for a longer stay
Let’s say you had 500,000 Marriott Bonvoy points ready to redeem. That could fetch you:
- 5 nights at a top-tier property such as the St Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort. On the dates we checked, it’s 484,000 points (including one night free) and covers the room charge of roughly US$11,132, or A$16,680.
- 15 nights at a mid-scale property such as the Pier One Sydney. On our dates, it costs 499,000 points and covers a room charge of $5,235
You’ll see that those two redemption examples highlight vastly different uses of reward points — the Maldives booking is aspirational for that once-in-a-lifetime trip. The other is more practical and would be ideal for an extended holiday across Europe or the US, for example.
But ultimately, it shows that using points for ultra-luxurious properties, such as the St Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort, gets you the best value overall. I’d certainly choose that option over 15 nights in a mid-scale hotel!
When should I transfer Marriott Bonvoy points for airline miles?
Broadly speaking, Marriott Bonvoy points transfer at a 3:1 rate to most participating frequent flyer programs. To sweeten the deal, you’ll get an extra 5,000 frequent flyer miles for every 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points you transfer across, though there are a few exceptions. (Some airlines don’t offer the bonus, but United MileagePlus actually doubles the bonus, so you get 10,000 bonus miles for each 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.)
That means the sweet spot for these transfers is anything in multiples of 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. Once again, let’s assume you had 500,000 points ready to go.
You could convert it to 206,666 frequent flyer points of your choice, including Qantas Frequent Flyer and Velocity Frequent Flyer, or 248,666 United MileagePlus miles. We notionally value that stash of Qantas or Velocity Points at around A$3,720, but you could then use those points for a Business or First Class flight worth even more.
Should I earn Marriott Bonvoy points or airline miles?
So far in this guide, the focus has been on using points for various rewards. But let’s take a step back — should you be earning Marriott Bonvoy points or airline miles directly with each hotel stay? Using Qantas Frequent Flyer as an example, you have the option of either:
- Earning 2 Qantas Points per US$1 spent on qualifying charges at top-tier Marriott properties
- Earning 10 Marriott Bonvoy points per US$1 spent on qualifying charges at most Marriott properties
Marriott Bonvoy Points is usually the best choice
Even if you don’t stay at hotels all that often and don’t spend too much on the room rate, it’s still usually better to credit the stay to Marriott Bonvoy rather than directly to a frequent flyer program.
This is because Marriott Bonvoy points are more flexible, plus you can transfer them to more frequent flyer programs at a higher rate than earning those miles directly from hotel stays.
If you spent about US$1,000 a year on room charges, you’d expect to earn:
- 2,000 Qantas Points directly from the room rate, or
- 10,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points which could be used for hotel stays or later converted to 3,333 Qantas Points
It might make sense to earn airline miles directly if you spend less than US$300 a year on room rates. That’s because there’s a minimum of 3,000 Marriott Bonvoy points needed to transfer to airline miles, and you’ll earn less than that with a sub-$300 spend.
Marriott Bonvoy is an incredibly versatile rewards program on its own. It’s easy to earn points, and you have many different ways to reward yourself.
Great options range from luxurious 5-star experiences to resorts, to longer stays at mid-range hotels and getting airline miles. Unfortunately, the popular Hotel + Air packages are no more, and the program now uses dynamic pricing for hotel stays. But there are still good redemption and transfer opportunities.
In terms of earning rewards from hotel stays, it’s generally best to stick with earning Marriott Bonvoy points first, as it’s more flexible, and you’ll usually get a better transfer rate to airline partners, compared to earning those frequent flyer miles directly from each stay.
Just short of points? Learn about buying Marriott Bonvoy points, especially when there are big bonuses going on.
Frequently asked questions
Dynamic pricing can vary the number of points needed for a free night. At the moment, the top ultra-luxurious properties are averaging around 120,000 points a night.
Base members will usually earn 10 Marriott Bonvoy points per US$1 spent on qualifying expenses. You might also be able to earn around 2 airline miles per US$1 spent instead.
The value of your Marriott points depends on what you redeem it for. The points are worth more if you manage to book an expensive hotel room during peak season, for example.