Why You Should Consider Booking a Marriott Travel Package Soon

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I’ve cried wolf before, and I am perfectly happy to have been proved wrong when Marriott announced that it would continue to offer direct airline mile conversions at the same attractive rate currently available through Starwood Preferred Guest. But, lately, I’ve been becoming more nervous about the most attractive element of Marriott Rewards as it currently stands: its Hotel + Air Travel Packages.

As a reminder, this is the award chart for Marriott’s Travel Packages.


The top right-hand corner is where you should be looking, as it offers the highest value.

For 270,000 Marriott points (equivalent to 90,000 Starpoints), you can receive 120,000 Alaska miles (or Avios if you refuse to listen to Joe and myself banging on about the high value of Alaska miles…) and a seven-night stay in a Category 1-5 hotel.

Why am I crying wolf again?

First of all, Marriott made an unannounced, no notice change to SPG’s Best Rate Guarantee policy. Not even remotely the same thing, I admit… but unquestionably demonstrating Marriott’s willingness to make changes overnight when the impact is negative for customers.

But, ultimately, my concern comes down to simple mathematics. Since Marriott announced that 60,000 Marriott points will continue to convert to 25,000 miles, we now have a reference point to work with. To receive 120,000 Alaska miles / Avios / AA or Virgin miles, etc. therefore as a direct conversion, you would require 288,000 Marriott points (actually you can’t receive exactly 120,000 miles without making incredibly sub-optimal conversions, so I’ve used the ratio of 60 Marriott points =  25 miles)

I admit that maybe, just maybe, Marriott might decide to reward large points balances with 18,000 free points (288K – 270K) and a free seven-night hotel stay.

But I believe that it is far more likely that the best Travel Packages are due for a devaluation. After all, Marriott did hint that it wanted to rationalise its Travel Package offer; it does have other less lucrative Travel Package partners (Turkish, Singapore, ANA, Flying Blue, etc.) where you only receive 85,000 miles:

What do I think might happen?

I believe that some form of miles + hotel stay combination will continue to exist. I believe that the most logical pricing of a travel package would involve:

  • Receiving fewer miles than if you convert all of those points directly to miles
  • Receiving free hotel nights at a discount to the regular price using points

If we take 270,000 Marriott points as our baseline, we could convert those to 112,500 miles (270K times 25 / 60). So we ought to expect to receive fewer miles than that.

A week at a Category 1-5 hotel – which should become Category 4 under the new programme since both cost 25,000 points per night – would cost 150,000 Marriott points.  So I wouldn’t be remotely surprised to see something like this for our basic 270K point Travel Package:

  • 75,000 miles – equivalent to 180,000 Marriott points if converted directly to miles
  • Those leftover 90,000 Marriott points would be getting us a seven-night hotel stay that would otherwise cost 150,000 points if booked directly using points, a 40% discount

What do I recommend?

Let me make something 100% clear. I have no contact with Marriott and have no idea what they are planning. But I do know that a Marriott Travel Packages devaluation can easily be justified, whilst still remaining a highly attractive reward option.

So, if you do have 90,000 Starpoints or 270,000 Marriott points, perhaps you should consider calling Marriott Rewards to book a Travel Package whilst you can. After all, you will receive:

  • 120,000 Alaska (or other airline) Miles
  • A certificate valid for one week in a Category 1-5 hotel. This certificate will be valid for one year, and can usually be extended for a second year

Perhaps I have more Alaska miles than I need. But I am still contemplating a final Travel Package whilst these lucrative amounts still exist…

Are you willing to risk hanging on to those Marriott points / Starpoints? Can you think of a better use of them than the First Class experience that 120,000 Alaska miles will come close to getting you?



  1. VK says

    I read somewhere that Marriott has said that they will be cancelling unused 7 night certs back to points once August passes. This was not speculation but a direct response from Marriott.

    • Craig Sowerby says

      I think there is some confusion about that. My take is that the current 1-5 certificates will map across to the new category 4, since they cost the same number of points.

      But if they indeed turn a certificate into a points refund, surely they’d have to refund 150,000 points since that’s what 7 nights at a Category 5 would cost. Anything less and there would be a number of unhappy customers. who suddenly can’t afford the hotel week they were planning..

      Of course, Marriott might not be referring to the travel hacker’s paradise of the Cat. 1-5 package, but more expensive ones which don’t have a direct equivalent in the new award chart. There they might need to offer a combination of a points refund and a different free week certificate.

  2. Simon says


    I was thinking of getting a Travel package now (well, before the end of the SPG points sale this week) for the 1-5 cat BUT hoping to upgrade to a Tier 4-5 later in the year as I have insufficient points now for that tier. I will need another 270,000 Marriott points to do this (as things stand now). Do you think (a) it will still be possible to upgrade a Travel Package post–Jul 31st and, if yes, (b) do you imagine the 270.000 Marriott points I currently need to make that upgrade will be considerably more from Aug 1st onwards? I’m hoping, too, that the SPG Amex Card might linger for a while, too, From August as this is my main way of accruing Marriott points.

    Many thanks,


    • Craig Sowerby says

      Excellent question Simon.

      Right now standard Tier 4 awards cost 60K per night and Tier 5 costs 70K per night. The new Marriott award chart caps out at 60K per night. So there should be some sort of equivalence, but that assumes that you could afford a Tier 4-5 Package today.

      I would expect that Marriott will continue to allow people to upgrade their certificates to higher categories. What we don’t really know is what the new Travel Package chart will look like. So it could cost more or less points than the current situation. (I imagine that upgrading after August would be based on the new award chart)

      It’s also safe to say that Marriott / SPG will be a disaster zone for 3-6 months whilst the agents get trained in the new way of doing things! I’m planning to do things in June/July, or wait until 2019 for anything tricky!

    • Joe Deeney says

      Hi Hamed,

      Thanks for the heads-up! I’ll email our contacts at TCB to see if they can take a look at what’s happening there.

  3. Ian Macky says

    Prior to the merger, if you took a 270K Cat1-5 TP, and then subsequently phoned up and asked for the package to be cancelled, Marriott gave you 45K points back into your account (and you obviously got to keep the airline miles, as they can’t be recalled). Basically, in that scenario, they deemed that the miles costs 225K marriott.

    Whether or not they think they could get away with doing similarly because THEY decide to cancel the certs, is another matter.

    Those that have a hotel booking already done using a TP I guess are in a win-win, provided that Marriott doesn’t bar such bookings from being cancelled. If the new terms look favourable, just cancel the booking. If it does come to pass that you get the equivalent points back for 7 nights, then getting them back as points would mean escaping the stipulation of having to book a continous 7-night stay.

    • Craig Sowerby says

      Completely agree Ian. Forcibly cancelling 7-night certificates in exchange for 45K points would cause outrage. Same with cancelling existing hotel reservations.

      But since 270K points –> 120K Alaska miles is already a pretty good deal, any gambling types can certainly book TPs and hope for a massive windfall on top (if they are cancelled and 150K points refunded). Worst case scenario for me would be 7 or 14 nights in 2019 towards Platinum re-qualification at one of my favorite ex-SPG hotels…

  4. Amit says

    What happens if I convert to AA? I read something about a bonus but cannot find the link- thanks

  5. Terence says

    Hi, what email address can i contact with regards to upgrading of a travel package certificate ? or must it be on the phone ? Twitter team mentioned the certificate cannot be upgraded

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