How to Maximize Your Marriott Bonvoy Credit Card Points

With nearly 9,000 locations around the globe, it’s no surprise that Marriott Bonvoy is a fan-favorite travel rewards program. Marriott points can take you nearly anywhere you can imagine, and partner hotels range from budget-friendly options to splurge-worthy luxury destinations.

Even better, you can sign up for a co-branded Marriott Bonvoy credit card from either Chase or American Express to earn these points on the purchases you already make every day. There’s a Marriott card for all kinds of cardholders, from the no-annual-fee Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card to the $650-per-year Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card loaded with perks. (See Rates & Fees)

Earning Marriott Bonvoy points is great, but if free travel is your goal, you need to know how to spend them as well. Hotel points are notorious for being inflated in value, so it can be difficult to know you are getting a good deal when you book with rewards. Still, Marriott offers plenty of opportunities for strategic redemptions.

“The program is quite comprehensive, offering various ways to earn and redeem points that can significantly enhance travel experiences,” says Andy Chang, founder and CEO of The Credit Review, in an email. “Maximizing points is not just about earning as many as possible; it’s about understanding the best ways to utilize them for optimal value.”

[Read: Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards.]

Best Ways to Redeem Marriott Bonvoy Credit Card Points

When it comes to redeeming travel credit card rewards, putting in a little extra effort to research the best deals can enable your points to take you as far as possible. The right strategies can ensure your credit card points — whether from your sign-up bonus or spending — can be cashed in for enough free nights to make any associated fees worth it.

“By considering these tactics, you can significantly enhance your travels and enjoy a variety of rich experiences with the points you earn,” says Chang.

The “best” way to spend your points will depend on your particular goals, but, in general, you should look for redemption options that yield a high value for your points and unlock experiences you might not be able to afford otherwise.

Choose High-Category Hotels

With so many brands under its umbrella, Marriott Bonvoy offers a wide range of hotel types and experiences, and prices are set accordingly. Hotels like The Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott are categorized as “luxury,” while Sheraton or Westin hotels are “premium” and Courtyard and Aloft Hotels are “select.” Both the cash and points prices of a luxury hotel brand will run higher than that of a select hotel.

Traveling on rewards can be a great opportunity to spring for a more plush stay than you might access if you were paying with cash. According to Pradeep Guragain, co-founder of travel site Magical Nepal, luxury stays often come with a better point value.

“Use points for stays at high-category Marriott hotels, especially in expensive cities or during peak travel seasons. This can offer significantly higher value per point compared to lower-tier properties,” Guragain said.

To determine the value of a room’s rewards rate, divide the cash price by the number of points needed to redeem a free night. This will give you the rate in cents per point.

For example, let’s say a room costs 40,000 points or $200 cash per night. Divide $200 by 40,000 and you get $0.005, or a half-cent per point. You can use this formula to compare options across the different hotel categories to find the best deal.

Book During the Off-Season

Marriott Bonvoy prices rewards nights based on demand, so traveling during the off-season can be another way to score a great deal.

“Book during nonpeak periods when fewer points are required for the same property. Avoid times when demand is high, as this often leads to unfavorable point-to-dollar ratios,” Guragain says.

The busiest time of year to travel will depend on your destination, so research when the crowds hit before picking your travel dates. If your trip is weather-dependent (say, a summer beach vacation), consider the “shoulder season,” or the times between the busiest parts of the year and the off-season. That way, you still get to experience your destination during a desirable time of year without paying peak prices.

[Read: Best Airline Credit Cards.]

Take Advantage of Fifth Nights Free

Marriott Bonvoy has a unique feature known as “Stay for 5, Pay for 4,” in which rewards members can get their fifth night free on qualifying stays where the first four nights are booked with points. This is an invaluable benefit for longer trips, as you not only get to avoid paying for your stay in cash, but an entire night of the vacation also can be included at no cost.

“To really get the most out of your Marriott points, make sure you take advantage of Bonvoy’s fifth night free benefit. There’s nothing better than booking five nights with points for the price of four nights,” says Spencer Howard, founder of the Straight to the Points flight deal newsletter.

Consider Redeeming for Experiences

While using your points for hotel stays is the most common redemption, it is not the only way you can spend your credit card rewards. Bonvoy points can be redeemed in a variety of ways, including for experiences like sporting events or cooking classes.

“Utilizing points through the Marriott Bonvoy Moments program can be a great move. This often overlooked avenue offers exclusive access to events and experiences that could provide a greater return on points than a hotel stay, especially if you value unique experiences over simply having a place to sleep,” says Chang.

[Read: Best Rewards Credit Cards.]

Other Tips for Traveling on Points

In addition to seeking out high-value redemption options, follow these best practices for booking with rewards to ensure you use your Marriott Bonvoy credit card points effectively:

Do your research. To find the best deals on rewards stays, you’ll need to be vigilant about monitoring for promotions and comparing all of the options available to you. “Regularly check the Marriott Bonvoy website for promotions and deals. Use tools like PointSavers to potentially save thousands on bookings,” says Guragain.

Avoid nontravel redemptions. The best points value can almost always be found on hotel stays, though you can sometimes score good deals on flights with partner airlines or experiences. Other redemption options, however, typically offer a poor return. “One horrible way to use Marriott points that really stands out is the option to use your points for gift cards. … You can get so much more value by using these points for a hotel stay or even transferring them to an airline partner,” says Howard.

Pay entirely with points when possible. You’ll get the best return on Bonvoy points when you book entirely with that currency. While Marriott offers a “points and cash” option, it’s not typically the most lucrative redemption, Chang says.

Be flexible with your plans. Though you may not always be flexible on travel dates or location, the willingness to change your plans can lead to some great point redemptions. If you need to schedule your vacation in the summer, consider a destination where summer is the shoulder season rather than the peak. If you have your mind set on a particular country, be flexible with your dates and you might just score a great deal.

Remember, the best redemption option for you is the one that leads to a trip and memories you will cherish. While you want to ensure you are getting a good deal for your rewards, make sure you also prioritize the experience you want.

“The goal should always be about getting the most ‘value’ from your points, which sometimes means thinking outside the box rather than just focusing on the cost of a hotel night,” Chang says.

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