Are Marriott Cash + Points Rates Worth It?
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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.
» Learn more: The complete guide to the Marriott Bonvoy program
About the Marriott Cash + Points rates
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.
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.
» Learn more: The best hotel credit cards right now
How to use Cash + Points at Marriott
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, one night at the Union Station Hotel Nashville, Autograph Collection can costs 50,000 points or $351. Or you can book the Cash + Points rate for $250 + 25,000 Marriott points. On its face, you’d be paying $250 to save 25,000 Marriott points. However, the standard room rate for the same stay is $351, which is only $101 more.
If you chose the Cash + Points redemption, you’re essentially buying 25,000 points for $250, which equates to 1 cent per point. The theoretical purchase of the points exceeds our 0.7 cent valuation of Marriott points.
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, costs $964. However, you can book a Cash + Points stay during this peak travel period for $250 + 30,000 Marriott points.
A free night award for this same sample booking would require 70,000 points.
If you chose the Cash + Points option, you’re essentially buying 30,000 points for $250, which equates to 0.8 cent per point. Although this exceeds our 0.7 cent valuation of Marriott points, it's nearly in line.
Another way to look at this scenario is that instead of paying nearly $1,000 for a room, you could pay only $250 and 40,000 points. This 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.
» Learn more: Why I love Marriott Bonvoy
Final thoughts on Cash + Points redemptions
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 Marriott 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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