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 stash of Marriott rewards and transfer them all at once for a Marriott travel package.
Today I want to focus on option number two.
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. Take a look at this chart:
This is the standard Travel Package chart. This chart applies to almost all the major airlines, except United. United has a special relationship and you can get an 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.
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 will get you 70,000 additional 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.
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 a ton of category 5 hotels in America, but there are more available internationally.
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 to a higher category hotel.
How to Obtain Enough Points
Chase frequently offers the Marriott Rewards Premier credit card with a signup bonus of 80,000 or more Marriott points. Sometimes, they offer that many points on the business version as well. If you and a spouse obtain both the personal and business cards, you’d have more than enough points for a travel package. (You can compare the offers here)