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Marriott Bonvoy members can certainly 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 40 airline transfer partners and offers a 3:1 transfer ratio for 38 of them.
Some airline partner transfers can be quite lucrative, while others aren’t great at all. Here are the best (and worst) Marriott transfer partners.
The value of Marriott Bonvoy points
But first before you transfer your Bonvoy points, you should know what a Bonvoy is actually worth. NerdWallet values Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.7 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 2.1 cents according to our valuations), you’ll need to get at least 2.1 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 5,000 more 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 1.7 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, let's say 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.
The best Marriott Bonvoy transfer partners
1. 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 on Cathay Pacific and getting a stopover on an international one-way award.
2. United Airlines MileagePlus
With the RewardsPlus partnership between United and Marriott, MileagePlus members receive a 10% bonus when converting Marriott points into United miles, resulting in a transfer ratio of 3:1. In addition, when you transfer 60,000 Marriott points, you will receive a 5,000 mile bonus. Thus, a 60,000 Marriott point transfer to United will net you 27,000 United miles.
Also, sweet spots in the United award program can get you great value for your transferred Bonvoy points.
3. 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®, Capital One or American Express Membership Rewards. In July 2021, Citi ThankYou added American Airlines as a transfer partner, however this partnership is set to expire Nov. 13, 2021. American's lack of transfer partners makes Marriott transfers particularly valuable for topping off your AAdvantage account.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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's Aeroplan program offers a 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.
Delta SkyMiles: You certainly can transfer Delta miles to Marriott, and you can go in the reverse, too. Delta SkyMiles transfer at a rate of 3 Bonvoy points to 1 Skymile.
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. If this redemption doesn’t make sense for you, JAL offers various other sweet spots in its award chart.
» Learn more: The best airline credit cards right now
Marriott Bonvoy's exclusive transfer partners
Marriott partners with more than a dozen 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 exclusive programs:
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.
South African Airways Voyager.
Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer.
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.
Marriott Bonvoy transfer partners to avoid
1. Southwest Rapid Rewards
Rapid Rewards points have a value of around 1.4 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.
2. Air New Zealand Airpoints
The transfer rate for Marriott points to Air New Zealand (200:1) is much worse than that of the other transfer partners; this is unlikely to make sense for most travelers.
3. Frontier Miles
NerdWallet values Frontier miles at just 0.7 cent, so you’d lose a ton of value by transferring Marriott points to Frontier.
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.
5. 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 it.
If you want to leverage Marriott’s transfer partners ...
In general, Bonvoys are best spent at Marriott hotels themselves. But sometimes you need to top of an airline point balance. Or perhaps you realized that your company's headquarters used to be next to a Marriott, but since the company went entirely work-from-home, you have no allegiance to Marriott any more. In cases like that, it can make sense to send your points to an airline's frequent flyer program rather than let them collect virtual dust.
But to maximize your Marriott points, focus on the specific airline loyalty programs that provide outsize value through incredible sweet spots.
Ways to earn Marriott Bonvoy points
Tempted by these transfers so much that you need even more Bonvoys? 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 (annual fee: $95): For a Limited Time Only! Earn 125,000 Bonus Points and 1 Free Night Award (value up to 50,000 points) after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card (annual fee: $0): For a Limited Time Only! Earn 60,000 Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (annual fee: $450): Earn 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points and a bonus Free Night Award after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Resort fees may apply. Terms apply. Offer expires 11/3/2021.
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card (annual fee: $125): Earn 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points & 2 bonus Free Night Awards after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months. Each bonus Free Night Award has a redemption level up to 50K points. Certain hotels have resort fees. Offer ends 11/3/2021. Terms Apply.
» Learn more: The smartest ways to earn Marriott Bonvoy points
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card