The 6 Best Marriott Transfer Partners — and 6 to Avoid

Using Marriott points to book flights can be worthwhile if you know which airlines have a favorable transfer rate.

JT GenterDec 14, 2020
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Marriott Bonvoy members know that they can use their points for free stays at Marriott. But there’s another use for Marriott Bonvoy points: booking flights.

Marriott, like other hotel loyalty programs, allows members to convert points to airline miles. But unlike other hotel programs, Marriott partners with a whopping 41 airline transfer partners and offers a solid 3:1 transfer ratio for 38 of them.

Some airline partner transfers can be quite lucrative while others aren’t great at all. Here, we'll provide a quick overview of the Marriott Bonvoy program followed by a look at the best (and worst) Marriott transfer partners.

Best ways to earn Marriott Bonvoy points

You can earn Marriott Bonvoy points by staying at Marriott hotels, but the easiest way to rack up a bunch of points fast is by spending on Marriott co-branded credit cards. There are four Marriott credit cards currently offered, and each comes with a solid welcome bonus:

  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card: Limited Time Offer! Earn 100,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

  • Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card: Limited Time Offer! Earn 50,000 Bonus Points after spending $1,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card: Earn 125,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Plus, earn up to $200 in Statement Credits for eligible purchases at U.S. Restaurants within the first 6 months of Card Membership. Offer Expires 5/12/2021. Terms Apply.

  • Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card: Earn 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn up to $150 back in statement credits on eligible purchases made on your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer ends 5/12/21. Terms Apply.

The value of Marriott Bonvoy points

NerdWallet values Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.9 cent each. These points transfer to most airline partners at a rate of 3 Bonvoy points to 1 airline mile. When you’re trading 3 Bonvoy points (worth 2.7 cents according to our valuations), you’ll need to get at least 2.7 cents in value from every airline mile to break even.

This is a little easier if you take advantage of Marriott’s transfer bonus. For every 60,000 Bonvoy points that you transfer, Marriott will add another 5,000 miles. So with most airlines, instead of getting 20,000 miles for 60,000 Bonvoy points, you get 25,000 miles per 60,000 Bonvoy points. At that rate, you need to extract just 2.16 cents per airline mile to break even.

To figure out how much value you get from each airline mile, divide the cash price of your plane ticket by the number of miles you’ll have to redeem. For example, a round-trip economy ticket from Los Angeles to London costs $750 in cash or 50,000 miles. Divide $750 by 50,000 and you'll find that you’re getting a value of 1.5 cents for each mile, which isn’t that good. But if you look at that same trip in a business class seat ($4,650 in cash or 117,500 miles), you'll get nearly 4 cents per mile — a very good value.

Nerdy tip: If you're short just a few thousand airline miles to book an award flight with a Bonvoy transfer partner, you might justify trading your Bonvoy points at a poor value. But normally, you don’t want to trade 3 Bonvoy points for an airline mile that's worth less than 2.7 cents.

Unique transfer partners

Marriott partners with 17 programs that aren’t a transfer partner of any other major transferable currency (American Express, Capital One, Chase or Citi). That means that Marriott Bonvoy points are your sole source of miles for these programs besides earning with them outright.

Here are those 17 exclusive programs:

  • Aegean Miles+Bonus.

  • Aeroflot Bonus.

  • Air New Zealand Airpoints.

  • Asiana Airlines Asiana Club.

  • Copa Airlines ConnectMiles.

  • Hainan Airlines Fortune Wings Club.

  • Japan Airlines JAL Mileage Bank.

  • Korean Air SKYPASS.

  • LATAM Airlines LATAM Pass.

  • Multiplus Fidelidade.

  • Saudia Alfursan.

  • TAP Air Portugal Miles&Go.

  • Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer.

  • Vueling Club.

Not all of these partners offer good value for your transferred Marriott points, but it’s nice to have the option if you need to top off your account for an award with one of these programs.

The 6 best Marriott Bonvoy transfer partners

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Alaska’s partner award chart is chock-full of incredible sweet spots, including flying to Asia in business class for just 50,000 miles each way and getting a stopover on an international one-way award.

United Airlines MileagePlus

If you have Titanium or higher status in Marriott Bonvoy, you can join RewardsPlus, which gets you a 10% bonus when you transfer Marriott points to United miles. Also, sweet spots in the United award program can get you great value for your transferred Bonvoy points.

American Airlines AAdvantage

Although it’s not the most valuable mileage currency, the American Airlines AAdvantage program offers some sweet spots. You can’t get American miles by transferring points from a program like Chase Ultimate Rewards®, Citi ThankYou or American Express Membership Rewards. That makes Marriott transfers particularly valuable for topping off your AAdvantage account.

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin is another program loved by mileage collectors for its incredible sweet spots. Using your Virgin Atlantic points, you can book Delta business class to Europe for 50,000 points. With the bonus, you need just 120,000 Marriott points to get enough Virgin points to book.

Etihad Guest Miles

As it’s not part of an airline alliance, Etihad has an eclectic mix of airline partners and sweet spots. For example, you can fly to Africa in business class for just 44,000 miles each way, or fly business class to Asia for as few as 54,000 miles each way.

Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles

The Turkish Miles&Smiles program offers some of the most spectacular sweet spots around. You can fly to Hawaii for just 7,500 miles each way, or fly in business class to Europe for 45,000 miles one-way.

Other Marriott Bonvoy transfer partners worth considering

  • Air Canada Aeroplan: Air Canada just launched its revamped Aeroplan program, including a new slate of sweet spots. You can book a business class award to Hawaii for 25,000 points or Europe for 60,000 points. If you’re taking advantage of one of these high-value redemptions, it could make sense to transfer Bonvoy points.

  • ANA Mileage Club: With All Nippon Airways' Mileage Club, you can fly to Europe in business class for just 88,000 miles round-trip. By taking advantage of this or other sweet spots, you can get a ton of value from your Marriott points.

  • JAL Mileage Bank: Japan Airlines miles offer one of the best ways to book Emirates first class awards. You can fly between New York City and Dubai for just 165,000 miles round-trip. That’s around the price that other programs (like Alaska Mileage Plan) charge for a one-way award in Emirates first. However, you’re going to need a ton of Marriott points to make this happen.

6 Marriott Bonvoy transfer partners to avoid

Southwest Rapid Rewards

Rapid Rewards points have a value of around 1.6 cents each, and there are no real sweet spots since points prices are tied to cash prices. You’ll likely lose a lot of value by transferring large amounts of Marriott points to Southwest at a 3:1 transfer ratio.

JetBlue TrueBlue and Air New Zealand Airpoints

The transfer rate for Marriott points to both JetBlue (6:1) and Air New Zealand (200:1) is much worse than that of the other transfer partners; these are unlikely to make sense for most travelers.

Frontier Miles

NerdWallet values Frontier miles at just 0.3 cent, so you’d lose a ton of value by transferring Marriott points to Frontier.

InterMiles

If you’ve never heard of InterMiles, that makes sense: It’s the zombie mileage program of Jet Airways, which declared bankruptcy and ceased operations in 2019. So there’s very little value to be found in the program.

Qatar Airways Privilege Club

Qatar’s mileage program leaves a lot to be desired. Since Qatar’s Privilege Club program went through a massive devaluation in mid-2018, it’s hard to find any value in this program.

The bottom line

The best Marriott transfer partners — and worst — ultimately depend on your situation. If you’re just 1,000 Rapid Rewards points short of booking a Southwest award, it can make sense to sacrifice 3,000 Marriott points. Same for any of the other 41 transfer partners.

But to maximize your Marriott points, focus on the programs that provide outsize value through incredible sweet spots.

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