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It’s fair to say that the launch of Marriott Bonvoy hasn’t been one of the travel industry’s greatest triumphs. Between the myriad IT issues and poor customer service, many members are far from happy. Amid the chaos and irritation, it is sometimes easy to forget that the value of Marriott Points is actually still quite high…
Here at InsideFlyer, we’ve always been bullish about the ‘floor’ value of Marriott Points, because one thing that the new programme has done well is keeping the old SPG transfer ratios to a vast range of frequent flyer programmes. 60,000 Marriott Points gets you 25,000 airline miles of your choice – or more if there’s a transfer bonus on. As long as you transfer to a high-value programme like Alaska or United, it doesn’t make sense to value Marriott Points much below 0.6p each.
One area of value that I haven’t paid sufficient attention to though, is simply using Marriott Points for hotel stays (duh)! In particular, you can get tremendous value from your points by taking advantage of Marriott’s ‘5th night free’ policy on award bookings.
100,000 Marriott Points, or £2,000?
Recently I needed to book a hotel in New York and it was one of those times when cash rates at hotels anywhere remotely convenient were through the roof. Points rates with Hilton and IHG weren’t much better either.
Marriott though, still has a significant number of Category 4 hotels in New York, which only require 25,000 points per night. If you’re happy staying either downtown (near Wall Street, Battery Park, Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, etc), or just across the East River from midtown Manhattan near Long Island City in Queens (10-15 minutes on the subway from Times Square!), you’ve got at least a dozen Category 4 options to choose from.
Many of these hotels are quite new and as nice (maybe nicer) than similar Marriott hotels in midtown that require 35,000-50,000 points per night. The Moxy NYC Downtown, for instance, looks modern, comfortable and well-located – flexible cash rates for the dates I was looking at averaged ~£340 ($427 USD) without tax, so it can get very expensive. 5 nights would therefore have set me back almost £2,000 ($2469.71) once tax was included!
Instead, I could choose to use 100,000 Marriott Points instead – because the 5th night is free when using points, you only pay 4 x 25,000 points for the whole stay.
That works out roughly at a redemption value of about 2p per Marriott Point – more than 3 times the ‘floor’ value we assign to them.
Would I have spent £400 per night to stay at this particular hotel? No, but to have spent much less per night on the dates required I would have had to accept a considerably worse hotel and a significantly less convenient location and still paid quite a lot of money. Therefore, it’s surely fair to say that the ‘real’ redemption value must be more than 1p per Marriott Point – and that’s still an excellent deal.
Taking advantage of Marriott’s 5th night free policy can turn a good redemption into a great one. 25,000 Marriott Points per night for a decent hotel in New York is already better value than comparable redemptions with the other chains, so being able to reduce it to an average of 20,000 points per night is remarkable.
Do you still value Marriott Points highly, or have the IT (and other) failures put you off?