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Many readers will have received an email from Amex recently advertising a 50% bonus on Membership Rewards Points transfers to Marriott Bonvoy.
Following the recent 50% Hilton Honors transfer bonus, I speculated that a Marriott Bonvoy transfer bonus might be on its way, and I am extremely pleased to see it now actually happen. Make no mistake – this has the potential to be the most important deal of the year for many points/miles collectors here in the UK.
What’s the deal?
Basically, rather than getting 1.5 Marriott Points for each Amex Point, between now and 31st December, you can get 2.25 Marriott Points.
“Transfer before 31 December 2019 and you’ll receive 9 Marriott Bonvoy points for every 4 Membership Rewards points, when you transfer 1,000 or more.1 That’s 50% more than the usual rate. You can use Marriott Bonvoy points at more than 7,000 hotels in 130 countries.“
Note that Bonus Points can take up to eight weeks to transfer.
Is the offer targeted?
Possibly – but I don’t think so.
Not everyone will have received an email about the offer and there is nothing showing on the Amex website about it. That said, I didn’t receive an email about the similar Hilton offer, but was assured that it applied to all accounts when I enquired. Agents frequently get things wrong of course, but as regards the Hilton promotion, the advice was 100% accurate – in fact the bonus points hit my account just this week.
If you haven’t received an email about the Marriott offer, the best thing to do is to message Amex through your online account and ask them to confirm that you are eligible.
Why is this promo so interesting?
We frequently write about redemption ‘sweet spots’ on the award charts of airline programmes like Alaska Mileage Plan, United Mileage Plus, American AAdvantage (etc, etc). The most common question we get about those awards is along the lines of, “that sounds great, but how do I collect enough of those miles in the UK?”.
Buying miles is always an option (particularly when there is a good bonus), but that’s nowhere near as satisfying as collecting miles and flying for ‘free’.
The great thing about Marriott Bonvoy Points is that they can be transferred to a vast array of different airline programmes at very decent rates. In most cases, 60,000 Marriott Points will get you 20,000 standard airline miles + 5,000 bonus miles, so 25,000 in total.
Given the standard Amex-Marriott transfer rate is 1:1.5, that means you can normally indirectly transfer 40,000 Amex MR Points into 25,000 airline miles of whatever variety you want.
With the current 50% Amex to Marriott transfer bonus, you now only need to transfer 26,800 Amex Points (technically 26,667, but transfers have to be in multiples of 400) to end up with 25,000 airline miles.
In other words, each Amex MR Point can now be transferred into ~0.94 airline miles in pretty much any programme.
You might be thinking that doesn’t seem very impressive, because you can always transfer direct from Amex to BA/Virgin/Singapore/Cathay Asia Miles/etc at 1:1 rate, but that doesn’t tell you the whole story.
First of all, different types of airline miles are better for certain types of redemptions than others. If you want to fly long haul Business or First Class, Alaska or AA Miles are almost always going to be a better option than BA Avios, particularly once you factor in surcharges.
Secondly, airline programmes regularly offer bonuses when you transfer points across from hotel programmes. For example, BA is currently offering a 35% bonus if you transfer Marriott Points into Avios. Frankly, I doubt that the bonus Marriot Points will show up in your account before the current BA offer ends, but there are always going to be similar offers in future. Besides, the real value here is in the regular hotel point transfer bonuses offered by programmes like AA and United rather than BA.
A word of caution…
This is a fantastic deal, and if you play your cards smartly you could bag some truly incredible awards. I’ve only mentioned the relatively obvious options like Alaska/AA/United so far, but I’ll take a look at some of the lesser known Marriott transfer partners like Aegean and Turkish soon.
I thought the Hilton transfer bonus was pretty good (and it was!), but now regret not having more Amex Points to send across to Marriott…
Are you tempted by the new 50% Marriott transfer bonus?