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Marriott Rewards cheat sheet: Get the most out of your points

by on Mon June 20, 2016 • 2 Comments

Marriott Rewards is a hotel loyalty program worth paying attention to. Marriott has some very nice hotels around the world and a couple of really great redemptions in their reward program. This article gives you all of the information you need to know about earning and burning Marriott points.

What hotels can you book with Marriott points?

Marriott has a lot of different brands – 17 to be exact. Some of the brands you may recognize while others have quite small footprints. We can categorize Marriott brands by the following:

  • Luxury: Autograph Collection, Edition Hotels, Ritz-Carlton
  • Premium: Gaylord Hotels, JW Marriott, Marriott Executive Apartments, Marriott
  • Mid-range: Courtyard, Renaissance
  • Lifestyle: AC Hotels, Delta Hotels and Resorts, Moxy Hotels, Protea Hotels
  • Limited Service: Fairfield Inn & Suites, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites, TownPlace Suites

Marriott has more than 4,000 hotels in more than 80 countries around the world.


How many points does a free night cost?

Marriott has nine hotel categories for the majority of their hotels. Ritz-Carlton hotels have their own Tier system, for which there are five different tiers. Marriott redemptions start at 7,500 points for a Category 1 property. A Category 9 hotel costs 45,000 points per night. Ritz-Carlson redemptions start at 40,000 points per night and go upwards to 70,000 points per night.

The same type of points are used regardless of if you are redeeming on the regular Marriott Category chart or on the Ritz-Carlton Tier chart. Marriott also has a PointSavers rate which is a slight discount off of the regular points rate and subject to availability.

Hotel CategoryHotel RewardPointSavers Reward
 1 7,500 6,000
 2 10,000 7,500
 3 15,000 10,000
 4 20,000 15,000
 5 25,000 20,000
 6 30,000 25,000
 7 35,000 30,000
 8 40,000 35,000
 9 45,000 40,000

You can see which hotels are in each category here. A huge bonus of the Marriott program is that if you redeem points for four nights, you can receive a fifth night free. For this reason, having stays of exactly five nights will help you maximize your Marriott points.

Marriott does not have any blackout days for using points, but individual hotels are able to limit the number of rooms available for redemption on a limited number of days each year. This means that usually if there is a standard room available for booking with cash, you will also be able to used points. In rare cases, however, this may not be true.

What are Points + Cash Awards?

If you find yourself short on points, you can also book Cash + Points stays. Participation for Cash + Points rates varies by hotels, but if you are staying at a hotel that is participating it can be a great way to save some points.

Hotel CategoryCashPoints

How much does an upgrade cost?

Room upgrades with points are available at some Marriott hotels. Upgrades start at a cost of 5,000 points per night, however some hotels require two or three upgrade rewards which would cost 10,000 or 15,000 points, respectively. Availability varies by hotel.

Upgrades can also be done with cash. Rates generally are between $20 and $200 per night, depending on the hotel.


Good Deal Redemptions

Marriott has a large number of hotels that make for good redemptions.

A few of our favorites are:

Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa (35,000 – 40,000 points per night)

Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong (60,000 – 70,000 points per night)

JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa (35,000 – 40,000 points per night – it’s on a private island).

One redemption where the Marriott Program really shines is the Hotel + Air Package option. These packages generally require saving up for, as the least costly package is still 200,000 points.

When you redeem a Hotel + Air Package, you will get a 7-night hotel stay as well as a set amount of frequent flyer miles.

You need to know what Category or Tier hotel you are looking to redeem at as well as which airline you would like to receive the miles with before making your redemption. Award nights need to be available in order to make the redemption.

But you don’t need to book the air and hotel together. Just wait until you’re ready to book a 7 night hotel stay, book the package, and you can use the airline miles you receive for any flight you’d like – not just one for the dates of your hotel stay.

These redemptions are generally the best value redemption you can make with Marriott points, providing that you are able to earn the necessary number of Marriott points and have use for a 7-night hotel stay. You must call to book these travel packages.

Tip: Marriott also has Hotel + Air Packages available with a 5-night hotel stay starting at a cost of 165,000 Marriott points. Technically this offer is only available to those with Platinum Status or vacation ownership, but there have been reports of people without either being able to make this redemption. Your mileage may vary. If this is something you are interested in and are turned away by one representative, politely hang up and call back to try your luck again.


What is the cancellation policy?

The cancellation policy of award nights is dependent on the hotel. Some hotels will only require 24 hour advance notice, while others may be more strict. You will usually see the point deposited back into your account within minutes of canceling a stay.

Can you turn Marriott points into airline miles?

Marriott points can be converted into airline miles. The best way to convert points to miles is through Marriott’s Hotel + Air packages in which you can redeem points for a 5- or 7-night hotel stay in addition to getting a specified amount of airline miles.

Details about the Hotel + Air packages can be found in the “Good Deal Redemptions” section of this guide. A Hotel + Air package is one of the best redemptions you can make with Marriott points and is a great way to maximize your points even further by getting some airline miles.

In addition to the Hotel + Flight packages, it is possible to convert Marriott points into airline miles without a hotel stay. These redemption ratios vary by airline.

Full details for each airline can be found here.

Currently, the best conversion rate is to United miles thanks to a special partnership between Marriott and United. 8,000 Marriott points can be converted into 2,000 United miles, with even better rates for larger transfers.

It is generally not advisable to transfer Marriott points to airline miles via this method because of how poor the transfer ratio is, but it may make sense if you need to top off an account for a redemption.

What is a Marriott point worth?

We value Marriott points at about 0.7 cents each. That’s just below the 0.8 cent average value for Marriott Rewards points based on search results collected on, a site that lets you compare live award night prices.

For example, the 45,000 point New York Marriott Marquis is available for $308 on an upcoming summer night, a value per point of about 0.7 cents.

It’s possible to get even more value if you shop around, and are careful about when you use your points. For example, on that same day, you can get the higher end Renaissance New York Midtown for just 40,000 points, versus a room rate of $389, getting you almost 1 cent per point in value.

How do you earn points?

You are able to earn points on applicable room rates with Marriott member hotels as well as dining, and spa reservations at certain hotel brands.

  • 10 points per dollar on all charges: JW, Autograph Collection, Renaissance, Marriott, Marriott Vacation Club, and Delta Hotels.
  • 10 points per dollar spent on the room rate only: Edition, Gaylord Hotels, AC Hotels, Courtyard, SpringHill Suites, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Protea Hotels, Moxy Hotels, and Ritz-Carlton properties.
  • 5 points per dollar: Residence Inn and TownPlace Suites.

If you have status with Marriott, you will earn a bonus on the base points. Silver members earn a 20% bonus on stays, Gold members receive a 25% bonus on stays, and Platinum members receive a 50% bonus on stays.

Marriott runs various promotions throughout the year that offer additional points for staying a certain number of nights.

In addition to earning points from hotel stays, members can earn points through credit card spend on the Marriott or Ritz-Carlton credit cards or with other Marriott partners.

What stays qualify to earn points?

Almost all rates that are booked through will receive stay and points credit. If you book through a third party site such as, Orbitz, or Expedia, then you will not receive points or stay credit for that stay. There have been reports that you may still receive points on eligible charges that are posted to your room, but your mileage may vary.

Tip: Marriott does offer a Best Rate Guarantee program that will match a better rate found on a third party website. If you find a better rate, Marriott will match it and take an additional 25% off. If you find a better rate elsewhere, you should book with Marriott and submit a Best Rate Guarantee. If there are no better rates, you should book directly with Marriott in order to get the most benefits out of your stay.

Can you buy, share or transfer points?

Marriott does allow you to share points with another member, for a small fee.

You can share up to 50,000 points per year for a transaction fee of just $10, regardless of how many points you share. Gold and Platinum members are exempt from the transfer fee. This is much more generous than most hotel programs that charge you per thousand points that you want to share. Just call Marriott on 1-801-468-4000 to initiate the transfer. You can’t handle the transfer / share online.

You can also buy Marriott points online, but the price is much higher.

You’ll pay $12.50 per 1,000 points, up to a maximum 50,000 points a year. At 1.25 cents per point this is generally not a good deal unless you’re topping off an award that will save you a lot more money than what you’re paying to purchase the points.

What cards earn Marriott points?

Chase issues a Marriott co-branded credit card that earns Marriott points. This card currently comes with a signup bonus of 80,000 points after spending $3,000 within the first three months of card membership.

The Marriott Rewards Premier credit card will earn 5 points per dollar spent at Marriott hotels, 2 points per dollar spent on restaurants, car rentals, and airline tickets purchased directly from the airline, and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

In addition to earning points, every year on your cardmember anniversary you will get a certificate for 1 night at a Category 1 to Category 5 Marriott property.

You also will receive 15 nights toward elite status with Marriott and one additional night for every $3,000 spent on the card. Effectively, you will at least have Silver status just from holding the card. The annual fee is waived for the first year and it is $85 per year thereafter. The free night certificate alone makes this card worth having.

The Ritz-Carlton Rewards credit card also earns Marriott points.

You’ll earn 5 points per dollar spent at Ritz Carlton, JW Marriott, Edition, Autograph Collection, Renaissance, and Marriott hotels, 2 points per dollar spent at restaurants, car rentals, and airline tickets purchased directly through the airline, and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. In addition to that, you’ll have a $300 annual travel credit and three Ritz-Carlton upgrade certificates. This card does come with a hefty annual fee of $395.

Marriott is also a transfer partner of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.

You can transfer points from a premium Chase card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Ink Plus. These points transfer to Marriott at a 1:1 ratio. The points earned through the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited are also Ultimate Rewards and can be transferred to Marriott if you hold one of the premium cards mentioned above.

How can you earn Silver status?

The easiest way to earn Silver status is by holding the Marriott co-branded credit card issued by Chase. If you want to earn it the old fashioned way, you’ll need to stay 10 nights or more in a calendar year. Silver members receive some extra perks:

  • Elite reservation line
  • Exclusive guest services line
  • Ultimate reservation guarantee
  • Silver exclusive elite offers
  • Priority late checkout
  • Weekend discounts
  • Gift shop discounts
  • Elite-only rewards
  • 20% points bonus

The most notable benefits of Silver status are late checkout and 20% bonus points.

How can you earn Gold status?

Gold status can be earned by staying 50 nights or more in a calendar year. In addition to the Silver benefits listed above, Gold members receive:

  • Gold exclusive offers
  • Lounge access/breakfast for members and one guest (excluding resorts)
  • Complimentary room upgrade
  • Complimentary enhanced internet access
  • Guaranteed room type
  • Hertz #1 Gold membership
  • Free local phone and local fax
  • Discounted long-distance phone calls
  • 25% points bonus (instead of 20%)

The best benefits of Gold status are free breakfast/lounge access, the possibility of a room upgrade, and enhanced internet access.

How can you earn Platinum status?

Platinum status can be earned by staying 75 nights or more within a calendar year. In addition to the benefits for having Silver and Gold status, Platinum members receive:

  • 48-hour guaranteed availability
  • Arrival gift
  • United MileagePlus Premier Silver status
  • Platinum exclusive elite offers
  • Dedicated Platinum reservation line
  • 50% points bonus (instead of 20% or 25%)

The most valuable aspects of Platinum status are receiving United Silver status and a 50% points bonus.

Do Marriott points expire?

Marriott points expire if there is no account activity in a 24 month period. In order to remain active, you need to earn or redeem points within that amount of time. Staying at a hotel on a paid rate, redeeming points for a hotel stay or something else, using your Marriott credit card, earning points with a program partner, and purchasing points all will extend the expiration of your points.

Tip: Transferring or gifting points receiving transferred or gifted points, and earning points through social media will NOT extend the expiration of your points.

The following two tabs change content below.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Miles dont expireas long as card is open
Learn more

Partner Offer

50,000 bonus points

Intro Offer

$0 introductory annual fee, then $95

Annual Fee


Foreign Transaction Fee Waived


Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?

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2 thoughts on Marriott Rewards cheat sheet: Get the most out of your points

  1. CM

    I have the American Express Platinum business card (and got he 100k point gratis!!) and I also have 150 Marriott points that I’m wanting to redeem for a three night stay at the ritz carlton in cancun. My question is: can I redeem these points while booking my reservation through American Express Fine Hotel & Resorts program? There are a lot of perks associated, but I don’t know if i have to pay the full price on the room, or it they’ll let me utilize my points to pay. Also, I was going to upgrade (regardless) to Club Level at $200/night. Should I bother trying to go through AE?


      @CM – Thanks for reaching out.

      Unfortunately you won’t get the Amex Fine Hotels benefits when you use points to pay for the room.

      Probably best to do the 150k points + $600 for the Club Level upgrade, or just book directly with Marriott if the rates are cheaper than Amex.


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