There are many ways to use Marriott Bonvoy points — some may seem obvious, but others might come as a surprise. NerdWallet values Bonvoy points at 1 cent apiece, so depending on what choice you make, these redemptions can be a deal, a steal — or just a great way for you to enjoy earned points.
Let’s look at some options so you can decide which is best for you.
» Learn more: Your complete guide to the Marriott Bonvoy program
Hotel stays and vacation packages
In our book, taking a trip without paying for accommodations is an obvious winner. Marriott Bonvoy has many options to choose from where you can use your points to pay for a stay.
Marriott Bonvoy properties are separated into categories that require between 5,000 and 100,000 points per night for your stay. In addition, the number of points needed can increase or decrease based on your dates, which are called off-peak, standard or peak timing.
Let’s look at an example of what you’ll spend for different categories, using a Category 1 property (which requires the fewest amount of points for a night) and a Category 8 property (which requires the most points) on the same dates.
As you can see, three nights at The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch (a Category 8 property) would cost a total of 255,000 points for April 1-4 in Avon, Colorado. This averages out to 85,000 Marriott points a night.
But the same three nights at a Category 1 property — in this case, the Fairfield Inn & Suites Burlington in Burlington, Colorado — would cost 22,5000 points for the stay, which averages out to just 7,500 Marriott points a night.
For comparison, let’s look at these same properties for three nights in May:
The same Category 8 hotel for May 4-7 is now 210,000 points per stay, which averages 70,000 points per night — down 15,000 points a night from the April date.
However, our Category 1 hotel shows the same number of points needed as the April date. Different properties can have varying criteria for off-peak, standard and peak pricing.
Another nice perk of using Marriott points for hotel stays? If you use your points to book at least five consecutive nights, the fifth award night is free. This can be a great way to stretch the value of your points even further if you have the time in your schedule.
Points can also be redeemed for vacation packages that include seven-night stays (or more), along with miles for various airline mile programs.
» Learn more: 10 great ways to use 50,000 Bonvoy points
Homes and villas
Homes & Villas is a newer opportunity that gives travelers access to entire properties, which are reviewed and approved before being added to the program. Currently, there are homes and villas available in the United States, Central America, Mexico, South America, Europe and the Caribbean.
Each property provides 24/7 support for guests, high-speed internet and premium amenities for bedding and bath. The locations are managed by professional property management companies that Marriott audits.
When you use Marriott Bonvoy points to pay for these rentals, the amount needed will vary based on the destination and length of stay. Each home will show the points rate after you select your dates and before you book.
To use points, you’ll need to include your Bonvoy account number and email address in your reservation. Assuming you have enough points in your account, you’ll receive confirmation within 48 hours of booking your reservation.
Need some airline miles? You can transfer your points to more than 40 participating airlines, with a minimum transfer of 3,000 points and a maximum of 240,000 points a day.
Your points will transfer to airline miles at a 3:1 ratio for most airline programs, which means that for every 3,000 Marriott points transferred you will get 1,000 miles. In addition, Marriott will add 5,000 bonus miles for every 60,000 points you transfer.
Another way to use Marriott Bonvoy points is to redeem them for “Cruise Certificates” via Cruise With Points (a third-party provider). Depending on the number of points you have, you can redeem them for a monetary credit or pay for your whole cruise. This must be done by phone, not online.
Below is a chart with some example redemption rates, showing how many Marriott Bonvoy points are needed to redeem gift certificates toward the price of the cruise:
Since NerdWallet values Marriott points at1 cent
each, these aren’t the most valuable redemptions out there. But if you have points to use, there are many cruise lines available for this benefit, from luxury lines to river cruises in destinations all over the world.
Marriott Bonvoy Moments
Marriott Bonvoy Moments are ways to use your miles for “experiences.”
Here are two examples showing both the auction-based bid system and how you can buy event packages with your points.
First, let’s look at a bidding event. The particular example shown is offered for a specific date, March 16-18 in Herzliya, Israel.
The package includes a two-night stay at the Ritz-Carlton, Herzliya in an executive suite; daily breakfast for two and a Van Gogh-inspired dinner at Herbert Samuel Restaurant; a tour of the Van Gogh exhibition at the Arena Mall Promenade; and a private VIP tour of graffiti art in Florentine, Tel Aviv.
When we checked, the top bid for this event was 105,000 points.
Other packages are not auction items, like this event for two to attend an LA Kings vs. Dallas Stars game on April 4 in a luxury suite at the Staples Center. You can simply purchase access to this event for 50,000 points.
Bonvoy points can also be used to purchase gift cards for dining, retail, apparel, entertainment and more. Some well-known examples include CVS, Macy’s, Starbucks and even Uber.
Points needed will vary depending on the merchant, but some may be similar. For example, a $25 gift card for any of the merchants listed above costs 10,000 points. However, some merchants may only offer certain card amounts for purchase.
Many items that can be purchased with points, including electronics, health and beauty items, and home/outdoor living products. Some examples are Citizen wall clocks from 17,500 to 70,000 points or fragrances from many brands (also varying widely in the number of points necessary).
The bottom line
Marriott points can be redeemed in many ways beyond just hotel redemptions. Though some options may cost more points than others (and some can provide better value), your spending and travel priorities should always dictate how you use those points.
Booking hotels will usually be your best bet if you’re looking to get the most value from your points.
How to maximize your rewardsYou 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: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
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- Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
- Premium travel rewards: The Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Business travelers: The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Find the best hotel credit card for you
The 5 best ways to rack up Marriott Bonvoy points
Your guide to the Marriott Bonvoy award chart