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Marriott Rewards is one of the most extensive, highest rated loyalty programs for hotels.
The program offers high rewards for Marriott customers, as well as an impressive network of hotels where points can be both earned and redeemed. In fact, Marriott Rewards is considered the largest hotel rewards programs in the world after it merged with Starwood Preferred Guest and Ritz-Carlton Rewards last year.
Along with using rewards for free hotel stays, members can redeem points for various offers such as gift cards, special events tickets, and even frequent flyer miles through partner airlines. Here’s how this award-winning loyalty program works.
The Marriott Rewards program is completely free to join. To start earning rewards, members stay at any Marriott hotel or partner. Marriott Rewards members earn 10 points per $1 spent on hotel stays and hotel affiliated purchases. The points-earning ratio is a bit lower for some purchases. For instance, members earn 5 points per $1 spent at Element, Residence Inn by Marriott and TownePlace Suites and 2.5 points per $1 spent at Marriott Executive Apartments and ExecuStay.
The best part of earning points through Marriott Rewards is you can earn them by staying at a variety of other hotels, too. Here’s a comprehensive list of the 29 partners you can earn Marriott Rewards through:
In addition to hotel partners, Marriott also offers reward points for members who spend money with certain partners or shop through the Marriott Rewards MORE portal. Partners include rental car agencies and even airlines.
Another unique aspect of the Marriott Rewards program is the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card. Marriott is one of the few hotel chains with an affiliated credit card that allows members to earn even more points. With the card, members can rake in an additional 6 points per $1 spent through Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels and 2 points per $1 spent on all other purchases. What’s more, new cardholders can earn two Free Night Awards if they spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months the account is open. The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card comes with a $95 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
Marriott Rewards members can also purchase points outright if they wish. In general, this practice isn’t recommended for any loyalty program, as the price to buy the points is usually a bit more than they are worth. With the Marriott Rewards program, points can be bought in increments of 1,000 for $12.50. That puts the cost of purchasing points at 1.25 cents per point when points are only valued at 1 cent each. Therefore, buying points through the Marriott Rewards program isn’t a great return on investment. However, buying points may come in handy if you need an extra boost to claim a free hotel stay.
Compared to most loyalty rewards programs, Marriott Rewards makes it easy to earn points, largely in part due to their extensive partnerships and credit card opportunities. It is important to remember Marriott Rewards points may expire if you don’t have qualifying activity in the last two years. Qualifying activities include earning points by staying at a hotel, shopping with a Marriott Rewards partner, redeeming points, purchasing points, or making a purchase with a Marriott Rewards affiliated credit card. With so many ways for your account to stay active, it should be pretty easy to avoid losing your hard earned points. In addition, you may be able to avoid expiring points with varying levels of elite statuses, which we will go over soon.
After earning Marriott Rewards points, you surely want to redeem them. Here’s how.Marriott Rewards points can be used for free hotel stays, room upgrades, gift cards, cruise vacations, rental cars, concerts, sporting events, and more. You can even choose to redeem your points for a charitable donation. Marriott Rewards allows members to redeem points at more than 6,500 participating hotels in more than 100 countries. Even better, there are no blackout dates for when members choose to redeem their free stays. For free stays in 2019, Marriott has broken hotel stays into eight different categories. Each category requires a certain amount of points needed to redeem free nights.
To find out how many Marriott Rewards points you’ll need for a specific hotel stay, you can begin by visiting Marriott.com or their partners’ websites. Just as you would any reservation, you enter the location, dates, and number of people on the reservation. Then, you can enter your membership rewards number and check the option to use your points. From there, you’ll see just how many points you need for your desired reservation. The number of points needed is determined by which category the hotel falls into and the number of nights you want to stay.
Alternatively, if you don’t know which hotel you want to stay at, you can book a room with points by selecting “Use Points” in the hotel search bar. Then, a list of hotels will show up along with the number of points per night they require. Make sure you’re signed into your account. Then, in “Review Details,” your points should automatically be deducted. This is also where you will have the option to use your Free Night Award, if applicable.
If you don’t quite have enough points to book your desired trip, this is where purchasing points can come in handy. Paying just a little more outright for points is definitely worth a free stay.
Generally, members will get the most bang for their buck if they redeem rewards for free stays. You can redeem points for other benefits like gift cards and rental cars, but these rates usually vary quite a bit. There isn’t an exact estimate on just how far points go for other reward redemption options. For that reason, sticking with redeeming rewards for hotel stays is recommended.
In addition, all of these Marriott Rewards redemption options start at the standard membership level. Marriott Rewards members will have the opportunity to take advantage of extra perks and bonuses if they reach elite status levels. There are five different elite status levels through Marriott Rewards, and each level comes with its own bonuses. Elite status levels are awarded after members stay a certain number of nights at Marriott or partner hotels each year.
If you happen to have a Marriott affiliated credit card, you may be able to redeem your points as miles through frequent flyer programs or other loyalty rewards programs.
Marriott Rewards also come with elite levels for members who spend more. The five status levels include Silver, Gold, Platinum Elite, Platinum Premier Elite, and Platinum Premier Elite Ambassador.
For Silver Elite status, members need to reach 10 qualifying nights. Benefits of this status are a 10% points bonus from stays, priority late checkout, and a dedicated phone line to make reservations. Gold Elite status is earned after staying 25 nights in a calendar year. Benefits of Gold Elite membership status include a 25% points bonus for hotel stays, priority late checkout based on availability, extra points as a welcome gift, and room upgrades based on availability.
The real benefits start rolling in for Platinum members. With Platinum Elite status, members receive a 50% points bonus on stays, 4 p.m. priority late checkout, extra bonus points during hotel welcome, and a free breakfast at participating locations. Platinum Elite members receive lounge access, guaranteed room types, and enhanced room upgrades during their stays. To qualify, members must stay 50 nights with Marriott in one year.
Platinum Premier Elite members receive all the previous Platinum Elite perks and then some. After staying 75 nights at Marriott hotels in one year, members will receive two Choice Benefits selections upon qualification and a 48-hour room guarantee.
Platinum Premier Elite Ambassador reap all the previously mentioned Platinum perks as well as Ambassador Service and special concierge services before and during their stays. These members spend at least 100 nights at Marriott during a year and spending over $20,000 at qualifying hotels.
Marriott Rewards also recognizes members who continuously receive elite status every year with Lifetime status levels. There are three different Lifetime tiers, including Lifetime Silver Elite status, Lifetime Gold Elite status, and Lifetime Platinum Elite status.
Lifetime Silver Elite status requires 250 lifetime nights and five years of any elite membership. With this status, your points will never expire and you’ll receive all Silver Elite membership benefits for life.
With Lifetime Gold Elite status, members need 400 lifetime nights and seven years of Gold Elite status or higher. This membership allows points to never expire, and members receive Gold Elite benefits for life.
Lifetime Platinum Elite status requires 600 lifetime nights and 10 years of Platinum Elite status. Points never expire, and you’ll receive Platinum Elite benefits for life.
Marriott Rewards partners with several airlines, giving members the ability to exchange rewards for frequent flyer miles. However, the exchange rate is 3 Marriott Rewards points for 1 airline frequent flyer mile. This isn’t necessarily your best return on investment due to the exchange rate. However, it’s still a nice reward redemption opportunity.
Marriott Rewards will sweeten the airline point transfer deal if you transfer enough points. For every 60,000 Marriott Rewards points transferred, Marriott will tack on an extra 15,000-point bonus. Not bad, given the 3:1 exchange rate.
Marriott Rewards partners with a variety of airlines, making it one of the most inclusive hotel loyalty rewards programs out there. Participating airline partners include:
Alternative uses for Marriott Rewards points include car rentals, priority pass membership, TSA PreCheck, online shopping, and charity donations. While these redemption options are nice, your best return on investment is still free hotel stays followed by points transfers to participating airlines.
When it comes to earning Marriott Rewards via credit cards, there are a few options.
First, the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit card offers 6 points per $1 spent at Marriott and SPG hotels. After that, all other purchases earn 2 points per dollar spent. New cardholders will be able to earn two Free Night Awards after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days the account is open.
Next, the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express is another opportunity to rake in extra Marriott Rewards. Like the previous card, this credit option earns 6 points per $1 spent on Marriott and SPG hotels and 2 points per dollar spent on all other purchases.
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