Are Marriott Cash + Points Rates Worth It?

If you don't have enough points for an award stay, this redemption method can help you save on expensive nights.

Keith M. RossoMarch 5, 2021
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If you’re planning a getaway to a Marriott hotel and don’t have enough points to book as an award stay, or simply want to conserve your points, you might consider making a Cash + Points booking. Marriott's Cash + Points redemption options give you the ability to book a stay by paying a cash copay and a fraction of the points for a traditional award night, and your choices are outlined in a handy chart.

For example, instead of cashing in 35,000 Marriott points for one award night at a Category 5 hotel, you could potentially book the same stay by paying $140 and using 17,000 points. Here's a closer look at whether booking a Cash + Points rate is worth it.

About the Marriott Cash + Points rates

Mixed availability

Before diving into details of the Marriott Cash + Points redemptions, it’s important to know that Marriott has discretion on Cash + Points room availability. As a result, the number of hotels participating is extremely limited.

Additionally, there’s no easy way to quickly see which hotels are offering Cash + Points availability for your desired travel dates. You can only see if there’s availability within an individual hotel’s website, which can be time consuming if you’re comparing multiple hotels.

The redemption chart

Similar to Marriott’s award chart for free nights, the Cash + Points redemption chart details the cost for off peak, standard and peak bookings across Marriott’s eight categories. Booking a Cash + Points night starts as low as $55 + 1,500 points for an off peak booking at Marriott’s lowest Category 1 hotels.

Fees

When you book an award stay entirely with points, you usually don't have to pay taxes and fees on top of the points with one exception: if the hotel charges a resort fee, you will have an additional cash outlay for the stay.

On the other hand, when you book a Cash + Points rate, you’ll be responsible for any taxes and fees that apply to the cash portion of the rate. Depending on the category hotel, the additional taxes and fees can add a noticeable amount to the cost of the stay.

Keep in mind, when you book a Cash + Points rate, you won't earn points based on the cash portion of the award.

Finding value (or not) with Marriott's Cash + Points awards

Before booking a Cash + Points rate, it’s a good idea to run the numbers to be sure you’re getting a good deal. In certain cases, you might be better off paying the standard cash room rate because the cash portion of the Cash + Points rate plus taxes and fees can be more than what you’d pay for a regular stay.

For example, the Union Station Hotel Nashville, Autograph Collection is a Category 7 Marriott hotel. A sample one-night award costs 45,000 points, or you can book the Cash + Points rate for $250 + 25,000 Marriott points. On its face, you’d be paying $250 to save 20,000 Marriott points. However, the standard room rate for the same stay is only $210.

In this example, the Points + Cash option isn’t economical.

Here’s an example where the Cash + Points rate could make sense. A sample one-night stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage, a Category 7 Marriott hotel, costs nearly $600. However, you can book a Cash + Points stay during this peak travel period for $250 + 40,000 Marriott points.

A free night award for this same sample booking would require 70,000 points. In other words, the $250 cash payment allows you to save about $350 versus booking the standard room rate, and it gives you an opportunity to save 30,000 points to put toward a future stay. What's more, the Cash + Points redemption might also be the best option for travelers who don’t have the 70,000 points saved up in their account.

NerdWallet values Marriott points at 0.9 cent each. Usually Cash + Points redemptions won’t get you over that value (this example comes out to 0.8 cent per point), but using Cash + Points can still be wise to allow you stay at a hotel you couldn’t otherwise afford.

The bottom line

Is booking with the Marriott Cash + Points rate worth it? In short: It depends.

Booking this rate can potentially reduce your out-of-pocket cost for a hotel stay and may appeal to Bonvoy members who don’t have enough points accumulated to book a free night at a specific property. For your stay, compare the cash copay portion of the Cash + Points rate to the standard room rate. In certain cases, the cash rate of the stay could actually be cheaper.

Keep in mind that hotel participation in the Cash + Points program is at the property’s discretion, which means availability is limited.

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