The real winners in the points ecosystem are those who take advantage of limited-time deals and promotions.
One promotion that Marriott fans will want to take a close look at: The chain's Bonvoy rewards program is currently offering double points for members. Register by May 21, 2019, to earn double points for stays at eligible hotels through June 4, 2019.
Sounds like a pretty good deal, doesn't it? It can be, but here are some caveats and other details to be aware of.
Double points kick in with your second stay
This is the big one. Members must have two stays at a Marriott-brand hotel to start earning double points. Frequent travelers should be able to easily take advantage of this, but if you’re a homebody looking to build up your Marriott Bonvoy account, you’ll need to check your calendar and see if you can justify two stays before June 4.
» Learn more: Travel loyalty program reviews
It’s important to note that Marriott defines a stay as “consecutive nights spent at the same hotel, regardless of check-in/check-out activity.” So although you couldn't check into and out of the same hotel two days in a row to activate the deal, you could stay at two different Marriott properties in the same city to do so.
Hotels booked through third-party systems don’t count
If your travel site of choice is Expedia, or you’re a member of Hotels.com’s rewards program, don’t expect to double up with Marriott. Hotel bookings through third-party websites or certain travel agents won’t trigger the double points bonus. The easiest way to ensure that you’ll be earning the points bonus is to book through Marriott.com.
The good news is the double points bonus applies to all Marriott brands where you’d normally earn points. Brands like the Ritz-Carlton, Sheraton, and Springhill Suites all normally earn 10 points per dollar spent on eligible hotel charges, and stays at Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites and Element hotels all normally earn 5 points per dollar. Double those values if you stay during the promotional period.
You can't elect to earn airline miles
Marriott Bonvoy is a flexible rewards program, and when you sign up, you’re able to choose between earning points or provide a frequent flyer number for your favorite airline to earn miles toward that program. This is a great way to link your hotel and airline accounts if you’re more interested in airline programs, but in this case, will cause you to miss out on the double points promotion. Only members who are earning points are eligible. If you’ve elected to earn miles, you can easily switch back over to earning points by updating your online profile or contacting member support.
» Learn more: Here's how much your points and miles are worth
Cardholders have more opportunities to earn
Marriott Bonvoy offers several branded credit cards that offer points incentives beyond just signing up as a member of the program. Cardholders can take advantage of bonus points during the promotion, with any weekend stay earning an additional 500 points. This offer starts immediately with the first stay, so no need to double down to take advantage. Marriott classifies a “weekend stay” as any stay at a hotel that includes both a Friday and Saturday night.
» Learn more: NerdWallet’s top hotel rewards credit cards
Of course, many points-based credit cards have their own reward systems baked in. Just by staying at a hotel, you’re earning points. Maximize the points opportunities by registering for Marriott Bonvoy, earning you points in that system, and then pay with the rewards credit card of your choice, earning even more.
This might seem like a lot of caveats, but it's free to sign up for Marriott Bonvoy, so that part's easy. By creating an account before May 21, 2019, you can take advantage of this promotion and begin earning extra 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
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Bonjour Bonvoy: Marriott, SPG cards getting new names, perks NerdWallet’s top travel credit cards The 7 top hotel rewards credit cards