Points Guru Chronicles: How the Marriott Rewards Program Works

Craig Sebastiano
by Craig Sebastiano July 15, 2016 / No Comments

The Marriott Rewards program is perfect for frequent travellers who like to stay Marriott hotels and want to earn free accommodation for future stays. And you can earn rewards points even faster, if you use a Marriott Rewards Premier Visa Card.

About Marriott

Marriott is one of the largest hotel companies in the world. It manages more than 4,000 locations in nearly 80 countries and has 19 different brands (including Courtyard, Delta Hotels, Residence Inn, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Renaissance Hotels, and The Ritz-Carlton). Marriott is currently in the process of buying Starwood Hotels & Resorts, which owns a number of brands, including Sheraton, Westin, W Hotels, and Le Meridien. The acquisition is expected to close sometime this year.

Marriott expects to run parallel loyalty programs (Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest) while it integrates Starwood’s operations into its own. During this period, there won’t be any changes to the Marriott Rewards program. Marriott doesn’t expect to launch a newly combined program until 2018.

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How to earn Marriott Rewards points

Marriott has teamed up with Chase to offer the Marriott Rewards Premier Visa. It’s the only credit card in Canada that offers Marriott Rewards points on regular day-to-day purchases. You get one point per for each dollar spent on everyday purchases, two points for each dollar spent at car rental agencies, restaurants, and flights purchased directly from an airline; and five points for every dollar spent at Marriott hotels.

Also, the card’s $120 annual fee is waived in the first year and you get 30,000 bonus points after your first purchase. On the anniversary date of when you signed up for your card, you’ll receive an e-certificate valid for 12 months at a participating Category 1 to 5 hotel. And the card is one of the few credit cards in Canada with no foreign exchange fee.

In addition to the points you can earn with your credit card, you can earn additional points with your Marriott Rewards member card every time you book a Marriott hotel. As long as you remember to provide your membership card number, you’ll earn 10 points per $1 spent at Courtyard, Springhill Suites, and Fairfield Inn & Suites hotels and five points per $1 spent at Residence Inn and Towneplace Suites. You can also earn 10 points for each $1 spent on qualifying charges at Marriott, Renaissance, and Delta hotels.

Elite status

The Marriott Rewards program recognizes top members with Elite status, which has three tiers: Silver, Gold and Platinum. To qualify for Silver Elite, you need to reach 10 qualifying nights. Keep in mind that nights redeemed with points don’t qualify. Once you reach Silver Elite, you earn 20% bonus points for every $1 spent on stays at Marriott hotels. You can also receive benefits such as late checkouts and hotel amenity discounts when available. Having the Marriott Rewards Premier Visa Card will give you 15 credits toward your membership every year so you’ll always be a Silver Elite member.

To obtain Gold Elite status, you need to reach 50 qualified nights. Members with Gold Elite earn 25% bonus points for every $1 spent on stays at Marriott hotels. Where available, you can get executive lounge access and complimentary room upgrades. After 75 qualifying nights, you receive the Platinum Elite status. With Platinum Elite, you earn 50% bonus points and will receive a special gift at participating hotels.

How to redeem Marriott Rewards points

To redeem your points for a hotel, simply sign in to the Marriott Rewards website to see how many points you’ve accumulated. Search your destination and dates, and compare all the available hotels/rooms to see what you can redeem your points for. There are nine categories of hotels, which require different quantities of Marriott Rewards points. The table below indicates the points needed for a one-night stay:

Hotel category Points needed PointSavers Reward
1 7,500 6,000
2 10,000 7,500
3 15,000 10,000
4 20,000 15,000
5 25,000 20,000
6 30,000 25,000
7 35,000 30,000
8 40,000 35,000
9 45,000 40,000

Category 1 hotels are mid-priced, full service hotels that require you to redeem 7,500 points per night. Category 9 hotels offer incredible luxury in the world’s most spectacular destinations and require you to redeem 45,000 points per night. Marriott Rewards points requirements for a free night also vary because of the PointSavers option. On specified dates (known as PointSavers), there are opportunities to redeem fewer points on all hotel categories. With this, you could either save points on your usual category preference, or upgrade and redeem fewer points on a higher category. The Marriott Rewards program has an added offer of getting the fifth night free if you redeem four nights consecutively.

Marriott Rewards points can also be redeemed for gift cards, merchandise, car rentals and flights. You can book flights online, or even transfer points to other airline rewards programs. For example, if you’re an Aeroplan user and are short miles for a flight, you can convert your Marriott Rewards points into Aeroplan miles. You can read more about converting points to airline rewards programs on the Marriott Rewards website.

The value of Marriott Rewards points

Have you wondered how much a Marriott Rewards point is worth? Many rewards members jump at the opportunity to redeem their points but don’t always think of the real value they’re getting from their hard-earned points. While we’ve found that the average value of 1 Marriott Rewards point = $0.0081, the truth is that it varies depending on which hotels you redeem for.

As mentioned above, the Marriott Rewards program places hotels into nine categories: Category 1 is the lowest quality and Category 9 is the highest. The value of each point you redeem is dependent on which hotels you choose to redeem for. For example, if you choose to redeem your points for a Category 2 hotel in Santo Domingo, one Marriott Rewards point could be worth $0.0219. But if you used the same Marriott Rewards points for a Category 2 hotel in Prague, one Marriott Rewards point could only be worth only $0.0102.

Here are some examples of how you can calculate the value of your Marriott Rewards points before you redeem them. By doing the math yourself before you book, you can ensure you’re getting the most value from this rewards program.

Example #1: Redeeming your Marriott Rewards points for a Category 1 hotel in Dallas, Tex.

Price of the lowest standard room = $121.56
Marriott Rewards points required = 7,500
Value of one Marriott Rewards point: $121.56/7,500 = $0.0162

If you redeem 7,500 points for a Category 1 hotel in Dallas, your Marriott Rewards points will be worth $0.0162 each. You typically receive a good value for your points when you redeem at lower levels. This is because most hotels in North America start at $80 a night. Since $80/7,500 pts = $0.0107 regardless of which hotel you pick in Category 1, you are almost guaranteed a return better than $0.01 per point.

Example #2: Redeeming your Marriott Rewards points for a Category 8 hotel in Niagara Falls, Ont.

Price of the lowest standard room = $245.14
Marriott Rewards points required = 40,000
Value of 1 Marriott Rewards point: $245.14/40,000 = $0.0061

In this example, because you booked a Category 8 hotel, you’d think you’d get more value for your points. Unfortunately, since this destination is cheap to stay at already, you’re not going to get a good value from the points you redeem. As such, your points are worth less than $0.01 each, which isn’t a good return for a rewards program.

The bottom line

In general, Marriott Rewards are best redeemed on lower-level category hotels because the price of hotel rooms doesn’t increase as fast as the points needed to redeem them. Even if that Category 8 hotel in Niagara Falls cost $400 a night, your points would’ve only been worth $0.01 each. So the next time you’re thinking of booking a hotel with your Marriott Rewards points, try the calculation used above to see if you’ll get a good return. If not, it may be worth just paying for the hotel this time (with your Marriott Rewards Premier Visa Card, of course) and saving your Marriott Rewards points for another time.

Marriott Rewards Premier Visa

marriott-rewards-visa-from-chase

  • No foreign exchange fees
  • 30,000 bonus points after your first purchase
  • 1 free night stay e-certificate valid for 12 months at any participating category 1-4 Marriott location worldwide upon approval
  • Free anniversary stay e-certificate valid for 12 months at any participating category 1-5 Marriott location worldwide
  • $120 annual fee – first year free

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