I prefer spending Marriott reward points in one of two ways:
- Book category one (7,500 points) or two (10,000 points) budget hotels in major cities across America. These rooms aren’t the greatest, but they are clean and offer a free, cheap breakfast. If you are just passing through, there aren’t many better options.
- Accumulate a ton of Marriott (and/or Ritz Carlton) rewards and transfer them all at once for a Marriott Vacation Package. Marriott and Ritz Carlton are owned by the same parent company, and the rewards are interchangeable.
Today I want to focus on point number two, and highlight a few of the most attractive options.
What Are Marriott Travel Packages?
Marriott travel packages allow you to convert your Marriott (and/or Ritz Carlton) points into airline miles at an attractive rate. In fact, it might be better than a 1:1 conversion. Take a look at this chart:
This is the standard Travel Package chart. It’s the exact same chart and miles requirements for almost all the major airlines, except United. United has a special relationship and you can get and extra 10% in miles if you convert to United miles instead of Southwest, American Airlines, British Airways, etc.
What the chart is saying is this:
- Transfer 270,000 Marriott points for 7 nights at a category 1-5 Marriott hotel + 120,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards miles.
You are smart enough to understand the rest, and I don’t need to explain each line in the chart.
What is the Best Value?
If you look on the chart, you have 28 different transfer options with your Marriott points! Which should you choose?
Well, if you look from left to right, you’ll notice that the additional miles are actually being added or subtracted from the airline transfer. For example:
- Transferring 200,000 Marriott reward points will get you 7 nights at any category 1-5 Marriott + 50,000 Southwest miles.
- But transferring 270,000 Marriott reward points will get you 7 nights at any category 1-5 Marriott + 120,000 Southwest miles.
So you can see that transferring the additional 70,000 Marriott points get you 70,000 more Southwest miles. The travel package is offering airline miles at a 1:1 ratio, which is attractive since most people value Marriott Reward points much less than these airline miles.
This becomes a bigger issue if you are considering choosing Southwest as the transfer partner. Currently, Marriott transfers count toward the Southwest Companion Pass, which doubles the value of these miles. If you don’t know, the Companion Pass allows you to choose someone to fly free with you for 2 calendar years.
So if you transfer the 120,000 miles through the Marriott travel package, you’ll automatically qualify for the Companion Pass!
Moving down the chart above, you can see that higher category Marriott hotels require more points. It’s 30,000 points more for each category, or roughly 5,000 points per night (Equivalent of 6 nights since Marriott always offers stay 4, get 1 night free). And guess what, that’s the normal increase for each category when you book a Marriott room. There are no discounts or extra charges here, that’s just the normal award rate.
You’ll have to research hotels to find something that interests you. There aren’t many great category 5 hotels left in America, but it’s doable internationally. If you can gather a few more points, an upgrade to the higher categories might be in order.
It’s also worth nothing that you can book a travel package, then later upgrade the hotel portion at no extra charge. So if you gather more Marriott rewards after redeeming the 270,000 travel package, you can call and upgrade.
How to Get Enough Points
Chase frequently offers the Marriott Rewards Premier credit card with a signup bonus of 70,000 or more Marriott points. Sometimes they offer that many points on the business version as well. If you and a spouse both got the personal and business at the peak offers, you’d have 280,000. (You can compare the offers here)
Do you have any experience with Marriott Travel Packages or anything else mentioned here? Let me know with a comment.