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Marriott Rewards Program: The Complete Guide

Aug. 23, 2018
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We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

After merging with Starwood Preferred Guest and Ritz-Carlton Rewards in August 2018, Marriott Rewards is one of the largest hotel rewards programs in the world.

Although the primary use of points is free hotel nights, Marriott Rewards can be transferred to airline frequent flyer programs, redeemed for gift cards or experiences, or used to cover other travel experiences. The value of your points will vary based on redemption method, but as a general rule, you should aim to redeem at a value of 1 cent per point, or more.

Here’s an overview of the fully merged program, or you can jump ahead to sections specifically about:

Earning Marriott Rewards points

Using Marriott Rewards points

Marriott Rewards: The basics

The new Marriott Rewards program encompasses 29 brands across price points, from low-end, budget-friendly properties, to luxurious getaways around the world. The brands participating in the Marriott Rewards program are:

  • AC Hotels
  • Aloft Hotels
  • Autograph Collection Hotels
  • Courtyard by Marriott
  • Delta Hotels
  • Design Hotels
  • Edition Hotels
  • Element Hotels
  • Fairfield by Marriott
  • Four Points by Sheraton
  • Gaylord Hotels
  • JW Marriott
  • Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts
  • The Luxury Collection
  • Marriott
  • Marriott Executive Apartments
  • Marriott Vacation Club
  • Moxy Hotels
  • Protea Hotels
  • Renaissance Hotels
  • Residence Inn by Marriott
  • The Ritz-Carlton
  • Sheraton Hotels and Resorts
  • Springhill Suites by Marriott
  • St. Regis Hotels & Resorts
  • TownePlace Suites by Marriott
  • Tribute Portfolio
  • W Hotels Worldwide
  • Westin Hotels & Resorts

Marriott Rewards elite levels

There are five elite levels guests can reach with the Marriott Rewards program: Silver, Gold and three levels of Platinum.

  • Silver Elite status: Silver Elite status is reached after 10 qualifying nights. Benefits include a 10% points bonus from stays, priority late checkout and a dedicated elite reservations line.
  • Gold Elite status: Gold Elite status is earned after staying 25 nights in a year. Benefits include a 25% points bonus from stays, 2 p.m. priority late checkout based on availability, in-hotel welcome gift of extra points, and enhanced room upgrade based on availability.
  • Platinum Elite status: Platinum Elite status is earned after staying 50 nights in one year. Platinum Elite members receive a 50% points bonus from stays, 4 p.m. priority late checkout, and an in-hotel welcome gift of extra points, a breakfast offering at participating hotels or a welcome amenity. Platinum Elite members also get an annual one-time Choice Benefit upon qualification. At the hotel, elites at this level get lounge access, as well as a guaranteed room type, along with enhanced room upgrades — including select suites — at check-in if available.
  • Platinum Premier Elite status: Platinum Elite members can reach Platinum Premier Elite after staying 75 nights in a single year. In addition to all of the Platinum Elite benefits, Platinum Premier Elite members also receive a second Choice Benefit selection upon qualification and a 48-hour room guarantee.
  • Platinum Premier Elite Ambassador status: For the most loyal customers, who spend at least 100 nights at Marriott properties a year and over $20,000 in qualifying spend at hotels, Marriott offers a third tier of Platinum Elite status. In addition to all the benefits of Platinum Elite and Platinum Premier Elite, members also receive Ambassador Service and Your24 concierge services before and during stays with Marriott Rewards.

Marriott Rewards lifetime status

In addition to yearly acknowledgment, guests who earn loyalty year after year can earn lifetime status with Marriott Rewards. Three lifetime tiers are available, based on how many years of status one earns and lifetime nights stayed.

Lifetime Silver Elite status: 250 lifetime nights and five years of any elite status

  • Points never expire.
  • All Silver Elite benefits for life.

Lifetime Gold Elite status: 400 lifetime nights and seven years of Gold Elite status or higher

  • Points never expire.
  • All Gold Elite benefits for life.

Lifetime Platinum Elite status: 600 lifetime nights and 10 years of Platinum Elite status 

  • Points never expire.
  • All Platinum Elite benefits for life.

Through the end of 2018, it’s also possible for current lifetime elite members to be grandfathered into Lifetime Platinum Premier Elite status. Those who have 10 years of Platinum status by Dec. 31, 2018 and 750 lifetime nights, or have 750 lifetime nights and earn 2 million qualifying lifetime points, will earn Lifetime Platinum Premier Elite status.

Like the other statuses, Lifetime Platinum Premier Elite status will grant all of the benefits from the elite tier for life, and points won’t expire. But starting Jan. 1, 2019, it will not be possible to qualify for Lifetime Platinum Premier Elite status.

Earning Marriott Rewards points

Cards that earn Marriott Rewards points

There are several credit cards that earn Marriott Rewards points, including our picks below. Please note that some are not available to new applicants.

Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card

  • 6X points for every $1 spent at participating Marriott and SPG hotels.
  • 2X points for all other eligible purchases.

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

  • 6X points for every $1 spent at participating Marriott and SPG hotels.
  • 2X points for all other eligible purchases.

Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

  • 6X points for every $1 spent at participating Marriott and SPG hotels.
  • 4X points at U.S. restaurants and U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2X points on all other eligible purchases.

Marriott Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card

  • 5X points at participating Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels.
  • 2X points at restaurants, car rental agencies and office supply stores, on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline, or internet, cable and phone services.
  • 1 point per dollar spent on everything else.

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Luxury Credit Card from American Express

  • 6X points for every $1 spent at Marriott and SPG hotels.
  • 3X points for every $1 spent at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines.
  • 2X points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card (no longer available)

  • 5X points at participating Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels worldwide.
  • 2X points per $1 spent at restaurants and car rental agencies and on tickets purchased directly from the airline.
  • 1 point per dollar spent on everything else.

The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card (no longer available)

  • 5X points at participating Ritz-Carlton Rewards and SPG hotels.
  • 2X points on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline, car rental agencies and restaurants.
  • 1 point per dollar spent on everything else.
  • 10% annual points premium on points earned through card purchases during the year.

How to get more Marriott Rewards points

In addition to earning Marriott Rewards points (as well as air miles) from staying at participating Marriott properties, individuals can also earn points by spending through select partners, like Hertz, or shopping through the Marriott Rewards MORE retailer portal. For more ways to earn rewards with Marriott’s partners, check out the Marriott site.

Marriott Rewards points can also be purchased in increments of 1,000 for $12.50. This means that points cost 1.25 cents each, which may or may not be worth it, depending on your trip. We last estimated the value of Marriott Rewards points at around 1 cent each, so keep that in mind before you buy points for your next stay. (Note that NerdWallet is in the process of updating its valuation methodology. This review will be updated as soon as possible.)

When staying at hotels, guests earn 10 Marriott Rewards points per $1 spent at most hotels. This includes room rates and incidentals that can be charged to a room, including food, drinks and spa services. The exceptions are:

  • 5 Marriott Rewards points per $1 spent at Element, Residence Inn by Marriott and TownePlace Suites. 
  • 2.5 Marriott Rewards points per $1 spent at Marriott Executive Apartments and ExecuStay.

Using Marriott Rewards points

Marriott Rewards points can be used in a number of ways. As stated above, the primary use of Marriott Rewards points is for hotel stays. Starting in early 2019, Marriott Rewards will have eight hotel categories, ranging from 7,500 to 85,000 points per night.

It’s also important to note that Marriott Rewards points will expire if you don’t have qualifying activity from the past 24 months. Qualifying activity includes making a purchase on a Marriott Rewards or Starwood Preferred Guest credit card, earning points by staying at a hotel, earning points through a Marriott Rewards partner, redeeming points or purchasing points.

Airline transfer partners

Marriott Rewards points may also be transferred to more than 40 airline partners, at the rate of 3 Marriott Rewards points for 1 airline frequent flyer mile. In addition, for every 60,000 points transferred to a frequent flyer program, Marriott Rewards will add a 15,000-point bonus, providing members with a total of 25,000 miles in the airline program of their choice. Airline transfer partners include:

Marriott Rewards may also be used for airfare or car rentals, Priority Pass membership, TSA Precheck membership or shopping, or donated to charity. However, all of these may represent a poor use of points, as they often end up undervalued compared with using points for hotel stays or upgrades, or transferring to frequent flyer miles.

Good Marriott Rewards redemption options

When redeeming Marriott Rewards points for free hotel stays, we estimate the average value at 1 cent each. Domestic stays have a higher average redemption value than international stays. Here are our calculated values:

  • Domestic weekday stays: 1.1 cents per point.
  • Domestic weekend stays: 1 cent per point.
  • International weekday stays: 1 cent per point.
  • International weekend stays: 0.9 cents per point.

To get a better value from your points, check out the PointSavers program. PointSaver awards cost around 30% fewer points than standard awards.

You can also get more value out of your points if you redeem them for a stay of five consecutive nights. You’ll get the fifth night free, so if you’re redeeming for a hotel stay that costs 10,000 points per night, five nights will cost 40,000 points instead of 50,000 points.

Bad redemption options

Some redemption options do not give you good value for your points. We suggest you skip these rewards:

  • Air + Car: Redemption may vary, but we estimate the value of your points at less than 0.4 cents each.
  • CruisesOnly: Redemption may vary, but we estimate the value of your points around 0.4 cents each.
  • Gift cards: Redemption varies, but we estimate the value of your points between 0.2 and 0.4 cents each.
  • Merchandise: Redemption varies, but we estimate the value of your points at less than 0.3 cents each, compared with Amazon prices.

Other redemption options

Marriott Rewards also has an interesting redemption option that isn’t easily quantifiable: travel packages. When you redeem for travel packages, you’re getting seven nights at a hotel and a certain number of airline miles. The value of your points will vary depending on the category of your hotel, the airline you fly and the dates of your trip, among other factors.

If you want to redeem for travel packages, check to see how far your Marriott Rewards points will go. As a general rule, you should aim for a points value of 1 cent or more. See the methodology section below for information on how to value redemption options.

We are updating our valuation methodology

We are in the process of updating our loyalty program valuations. We will update this review with our valuation of post-merger Marriott Rewards points, as well as the methodology, soon. Please reach out to us with specific questions, if needed.

Methodology

The calculated value of these points is based on an estimated redemption rate, not a credit card rewards earn rate. Therefore, you may notice that these numbers don’t match the rewards rates on our credit card finder tool. Read on for how we estimated these points values.

We tested 10 popular cities — five domestic and five international — to determine the value of a Marriott Rewards point when redeemed for free nights. These are the cities we used for our estimations:

  • Dallas
  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles
  • New York City
  • Orlando, Florida
  • London
  • Mexico City
  • Paris
  • Tokyo
  • Toronto

For domestic stays, points value ranged from 0.8 to 1.6 cents each for weekday stays, 0.8 to 1.3 cents each for weekend stays. For international stays, points value ranged from 0.6 to 1.7 cents each for weekday stays, 0.5 to 1.7 cents each for weekend stays.

To determine the value of your points for specific hotel stays, divide the cash value of the hotel stay by the number of Marriott Rewards points required. So if a night at your hotel of choice would cost either $200 or 15,000 points, the math would be as follows:
$200 / 15,000 = 0.013, or 1.3 cents per point

Use this same calculation to value any rewards option. For example, if you want a $100 Best Buy gift card, it will cost you 30,000 points and the valuation is as follows:
$100 / 30,000 = 0.0033, or 0.33 cents per point

 

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