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American Express is offering a 30% bonus on point transfers from Membership Rewards to Marriott Bonvoy through Oct. 31, 2019. In this article, we'll look at some sweet spot Marriott redemptions to help you decide whether taking advantage of this transfer bonus makes sense for you.
Under the terms of the bonus, you'll receive 1,300 Marriott Bonvoy points for every 1,000 Membership Reward points transferred. (The normal transfer value is 1:1.) The bonus is hard-coded into the transfer ratio, so it'll be easy to see exactly how many points you'll receive into your Marriott account.
All point transfers must be initiated by 11:59 p.m. Mountain time on Oct. 31, 2019, to earn the 30% bonus. Points are transferable in increments of 1,000. Terms apply.
Cards that earn Membership Rewards points
To take advantage of the transfer bonus, you must have an American Express card that earns Membership Rewards points. The following cards are eligible:
The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express.
Blue from American Express®.
» Learn more: American Express Platinum review: Luxury isn’t cheap
Marriott Bonvoy program basics
Marriott is one of the largest global hotel chains, with over 7,000 properties in over 131 countries. There are 30 brands in Marriott’s portfolio, and the properties range from budget to luxury. Bonvoy is the company’s loyalty program and offers five elite status tiers:
Bonvoy points are primarily earned in three ways:
Through staying at Marriott hotels.
Via spending with Marriott credit cards.
By transferring points from American Express Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Is it a good idea to transfer AmEx points to Marriott?
Although a 30% transfer bonus can sound appealing, it’s important to consider two factors:
How valuable is the points currency that you’re transferring?
Do you have a redemption in mind that makes sense from a cent-per-point (CPP) perspective?
We value Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.8 cent each. So, if you are able to find a redemption that exceeds that valuation, it could be worthwhile to do a points transfer. The value of American Express points can fluctuate widely based on how you redeem them.
For example, if you don’t travel that much and prefer to use your points to shop via the American Express website, you'll extract a value of 0.5 cent per point on purchases like these Sony wireless headphones.
However, if you hold the The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, you receive a 35% bonus on "Pay With Points" flight purchases.
What this means is that when you book any first or business class flight through the American Express travel portal, you'll get 35% of your points back. This also applies to lower cabin flight on your designated airline. You will earn miles on these flights, since it is considered a cash booking. In this instance, you're getting 1.35 cents' worth of value out of each Membership Rewards point. Terms apply.
Given the large variance in the perceived value of American Express points, it's a personal choice to determine what those points are worth to you. This hobby is way more of an art than a science, so there are very few points transfer situations that are universally appealing to everyone.
Remember, points are meant to be used and enjoyed, not hoarded for years in the hope for best possible imaginable redemption. So with that said, let’s take a look at some sweet spots that can hopefully help make the decision a bit easier.
Marriott sweet spots
The best redemptions seem to be at premium properties (Category 6 and higher) and at midrange to lower-end properties (categories 1 through 3).
For example, a two-night weekend stay at the Category 8 W Aspen during prime ski season in January 2020 costs 200,000 points + $111.30 in taxes and resort fees, or $2,646.71 inclusive of taxes. Note, the 100,000 nightly rate represents Marriott’s new peak pricing, which went into effect Sept 14, 2019. This redemption gets you 1.3 cents per point ($2,535.41/200,000), which is above our 0.8 cent valuation of Bonvoy points.
Incorporating the 30% transfer bonus and the fact that points need to be transferred in increments of 1,000, you would need to transfer 154,000 AmEx points to receive 200,200 Marriott points. This transfer would also result in a 1.6 cent per point redemption ($2,535.41/154,000). Depending on how you value your Membership Reward points, this could be a redemption that makes sense.
» Learn more: Marriott Rewards program: The complete guide
Mid- to lower-end redemption
An example of a mid-tier property is the Category 3 Residence Inn Tampa Downtown. A two-night weekend stay in November is 35,000 points or $610 inclusive of taxes. This redemption is worth 1.7 cents per point ($610/35,000), which is over double our 0.8 cent per point Bonvoy valuation.
If you were to take advantage of the 30% transfer bonus for this redemption, you would be transferring 27,000 AmEx points to receive 35,100 Marriott points. This transfer would yield a solid 2.3 cents per point in value out of your Membership Rewards points ($610/27,000).
Generally, I'm cautious about transferring Membership Rewards points to hotels, but in this instance, using only 27,000 points on a $610 redemption is a pretty good deal.
On the lower-end, a two-night weekend stay at the Category 1 TownePlace Suites Houston Northwest costs 15,000 points or $414 (including taxes). This redemption gets you an outstanding 2.8 cents per point ($414/15,000), which is over triple our 0.8 cent Bonvoy point valuation.
Taking into account the 30% transfer bonus, you would need to transfer 12,000 Membership Rewards points to receive 15,600 Marriott points. This transfer would result in a very solid 3.5 cent per point redemption value ($414/12,000).
Generally, we take a conservative view on prospective point transfers, even if a bonus is part of the equation. If you have a hotel stay with Marriott coming up and the redemption makes sense, transferring points from American Express with the 30% bonus included could be worthwhile. However, this largely depends on how valuable you perceive your American Express points to be.
All information about The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, Amex EveryDay® Credit Card and Blue from American Express® has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, Amex EveryDay® Credit Card and Blue from American Express® are no longer available through NerdWallet.
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 2020, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: 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: Find the best travel credit card for you Which Marriott Bonvoy credit card should I choose? Your guide to the Marriott Bonvoy award chart