The smartest ways to spend 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy points
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As the world’s largest hotel chain, a Marriott property is often incredibly easy to find. Whether you’re looking for a luxurious beach hotel or a place to crash on a road trip, there’s something for every traveler. But instead of laying out cash on your next trip, there can be a better way to pay: with your travel rewards.
While many people think that earning hotel loyalty points is just something for business travelers, there are, in fact, many other ways to earn Marriott Bonvoy points without living in a hotel. One of the easiest methods for earning Bonvoy points is through travel credit cards. And with six Marriott credit cards available, earning Bonvoy points is easier than ever.
Currently, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card is offering an increased welcome bonus where you can earn 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy points after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first three months of opening the account. Although this card comes with a $650 annual fee (see rates and fees), there are many benefits that help offset the cost.
There are two other cards in the Marriott suite offering increased bonus offers. With both the Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card and Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful™ credit card, you’ll earn 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy points after spending $4,000 on the card within the first three months. The two cards offer very similar benefits, with the main difference being that one is issued by American Express and the other is issued by Chase.
There’s also Marriott’s no-annual-fee card, the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card, offering 30,000 Marriott Bonvoy points after spending $1,000 on the card within the first three months. The business credit card, the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card, is offering 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy points after spending $3,000 on the card within the first three months.
You could instead opt for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card, but currently, this card is offering award certificates as a sign-up bonus instead of points. With the offer, you’ll earn three Free Night Awards (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after you spend $3,000 on the card within the first three months.
With 150,000 points in your Marriott account, which you can currently earn from earning the welcome bonus on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card, where will those points take you? With more than 8,000 Marriott properties worldwide, a vacation on points can be very much in your future. Whether it’s exploring the outdoors, laying on the beach in the Caribbean or heading off on your first trip to Europe, there’s likely a Marriott hotel that fits your personal travel style. Here are some of the best ways to use your Marriott Bonvoy points.
If you’re looking for the best value on redeeming your Marriott Bonvoy points, then a hotel stay is the way to go. There are 30 different brands within the Marriott portfolio, including some well-known options such as The Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, JW Marriott, Marriott Hotels, W Hotels, Sheraton, Westin, Courtyard Hotels, Aloft Hotels, Residence Inn & Suites and more.
Marriott no longer has a set award chart; instead, the number of points required is loosely tied to the cash rate, time of the year and hotel occupancy. If you’re flexible with your travel dates, you can find the number of points required for a particular hotel by using the flexible dates calendar to book during a less-expensive time frame.
When using points, Marriott also offers a fifth-night-free benefit. For stays of five nights (or longer) booked using Bonvoy points, the least expensive night is free. This benefit is offered to all guests and doesn’t require any level of elite status or requirement to hold a certain Marriott credit card.
Here are some examples where you can use your Bonvoy points for a free hotel stay, earning you good value.
With the National Mall just a short stroll away, the Washington Marriott at Metro Center is a great place to call home for a few nights while exploring all of the sites in Washington, DC on foot. And if you find yourself needing to take the metro, the Metro Center station is less than a block away.
The hotel also features a Starbucks in the lobby and an indoor swimming pool for those who want to relax after a long day of exploring.
Best of all, the hotel typically costs between 30,000 and 40,000 Bonvoy points per night. With more than 70 museums in the city, it’s hard to see everything in one trip. But with the 150,000 Bonvoy points earned from the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card, you’ll be able to see quite a bit — especially since your fifth night is free when redeeming points.
With a plethora of hotels in the Disney World vicinity, it can be hard to pick a place to stay — especially when there are so many opportunities to use your hotel points. But if you want to pick a place where you can avoid a shuttle to the parks, the relatively new Walt Disney World Swan Reserve is a great choice. At just a 10-minute walk to the Friendship boat launch, you’ll be on your way to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios in no time, although you’ll have to take a shuttle to the Magic Kingdom.
Additionally, since this is a Disney property hotel, you’ll be able to access all four Disney World parks 30 minutes early and receive extended hours at select parks on certain nights. This alone is a huge benefit and can help ensure you don’t miss a ride during your stay.
Ranging between 52,000 and 60,000 points on most nights during the year, the 150,000 points earned from the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card’s welcome offer can easily allow you to experience the best of Disney for two or three nights, all on points.
You don’t have to spend a fortune — in points — to stay at a Marriott property. While many dream of a beachfront hotel or being within walking distance of Disney, the ideal redemption for some might be to explore a quaint city. And with an abundance of hotels within the Marriott portfolio, it’s easy to find a property in almost any city you’re visiting.
The Element Bentonville is one example of this. Right in the heart of Bentonville, Arkansas, the home of Walmart, you’re in close proximity to the Crystal Bridges Museum and Bentonville Town Square, home to an original five-and-dime store. Within an hour in many directions, you can explore the great outdoors or even enjoy the college town of Fayetteville.
With room rates starting at around 15,000 points per night, you might not spend all your points during one stay. However, if you truly want to explore the area, the 150,000 points earned from the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card will allow you to stay for up to 12 nights, depending on the nightly rate and taking into account the free fifth night. Or, just spend a long weekend and you’ll still have points left over to explore another destination.
Right on the marina, the Residence Inn Marina Del Rey is within walking distance of Venice Beach, giving you the full beach experience without the expensive price tag. Rent bikes — either offsite or directly through the hotel — and you can bike to the Santa Monica Pier and Third Street Promenade.
All guest rooms are suites, featuring a full kitchen, dining area and a separate living room. There’s also an outdoor pool to cool off during the warm summer months. And like most Residence properties, there’s complimentary breakfast for all guests.
Despite being located in such an expensive city and close to the beach, this property typically costs around 40,000 per night. After meeting the minimum spend requirement on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex, you’ll have earned 155,000 points, putting you just around 5,000 points shy of a full five-night stay, since your fifth night is free when redeeming points.
Looking for a relaxing Caribbean vacation? If so, a stay at the Atlantis is a great option, especially since you can use your Marriott points for a free stay. This paradise resort features a 141-acre waterpark — complimentary for all hotel guests — with multiple waterslides, a rapids river, 11 pools and five miles of white sandy beaches.
With three different towers of rooms for redeeming your Marriott points — all at different price points — The Cove tower is the newest and most luxurious. The tower is also entirely made up of suite rooms, with separate living and sleeping areas. There’s also an adults-only pool, which is reserved for guests staying at The Cove.
For a two-night stay at the property in a room in The Cove, it will cost you about 150,000 points, depending on the time of the year. While you’ll probably want to visit the hotel for a longer amount of time, being able to redeem the points earned from the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex will still help reduce your overall cost. Alternatively, you can also stay in one of the other two towers — The Coral or The Royal — for fewer points.
The JW Marriott Cancun Resort is a great spot, especially when it comes to using your Marriott points for a luxury beach destination. Located right on the beach in Cancun’s hotel zone, you’ll find crystal-clear water and multiple pools — a 14-foot outdoor dive pool with an artificial reef, a family pool and an adults-only pool. The hotel also features multiple restaurants, a spa, a fitness center and a kids’ club. With the Marriott Cancun Resort next door, you’re able to use all of its amenities as well, giving you even more pool and dining options.
This property averages about 60,000 points per night, but there are times when you can snag a free night for as few as 41,000 points per night. With the 150,000 points earned from the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card, you can get two or three nights for free, depending on the time of year. However, if you want to stretch your points even further, you can opt to stay at the Marriott Cancun Resort next door, which routinely costs between 30,000 and 40,000 points per night.
Located just 40 minutes from Lisbon is the Penha Longa Resort, situated in the charming town of Sintra. Encompassing design from the 14th century, this is a truly unique property. With a golf course on site, family-friendly activities and Michelin-starred dining, you’ll have the opportunity to get out of the city and take in the fresh air.
Being in Sintra also puts you near many attractions, such as the Pena Palace, Quinta da Regaleira and Moorish Castle. You’re also just 20 minutes away from other destinations, such as Cascais and Cabo da Roca.
Despite being a luxury property as part of The Ritz-Carlton Collection, you can typically stay at the Penha Longa Resort for between 30,000 and 40,000 points per night. This is a great way to extend the points earned from the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Credit Card bonus. Alternatively, split your time with a few nights at a Marriott in Lisbon with this property in Sintra to get the real feel of the area.
Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa — Maldives
If you’ve always thought the price point of vacationing in the Maldives was too expensive, think again. With travel rewards, a once-in-a-lifetime vacation to this destination can be yours.
The Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa is surrounded by crystal-clear blue water and a white sandy beach. The hotel features a separate kids’ and adult pool, multiple dining options, a fitness center with an outdoor tennis court and a spa. If you’re traveling with little ones, kids will enjoy daily entertainment at the onsite kids’ club. And with many water activity offerings, you can enjoy snorkeling, scuba diving, jetskiing and much more.
One of the best components of the Sheraton is the proximity to the airport. At just 15 minutes away, you can avoid the costly seaplane that is required to get to many other resorts in the Maldives and instead take the complimentary speedboat ride.
Prices tend to range between a reasonable 41,000 and 63,000 points per night, so the points earned from the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex can come in quite handy and save you a nice chunk of cash. While there are other, more luxurious properties in the Maldives, you’ll find that the points rate is significantly higher.
While redeeming your points at Marriott hotels will typically get you the best value, if you find that you’d prefer airline miles instead, your Marriott Bonvoy points can also help you with free flights. With close to 40 different partner airline programs, points typically transfer at a 3-to-1 ratio. This means for every 3,000 Marriott points transferred, you’ll end up with 1,000 points or miles in the respective airline program. Some of the popular airline programs include Air Canada Aeroplan, American Airlines AAdvantage, Delta SkyMiles, Southwest Rapid Rewards and United MileagePlus.
Additionally, for select programs, for every 60,000 points you transfer at once, you’ll receive 5,000 bonus miles. This bonus doesn’t apply when transferring to American Airlines AAdvantage, Avianca LifeMiles, Delta SkyMiles and Korean Air SkyPass.
And if United Airlines is your airline of choice, all transfers — regardless of the number of points transferred over — receive a 10% bonus. This means points transfer at a 3-to-1.1 ratio, so for every 3,000 points transferred, you’ll receive 1,100 points.
But is transferring points a good value? Frequent flyer website The Points Guy values Marriott points at 0.84 cents apiece. This means the 150,000 points earned from the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex are worth $1,260. If you were to transfer all those points to United Airlines, as an example, you’d end up with 65,000 United MileagePlus miles. With United miles worth 1.21 cents a piece, that values the originally earned 150,000 points at just $787. But of course, the value depends on the airline program of choice and your specific redemption.
Looking for something totally different when it comes to redeeming your Marriott points? If so, Marriott offers Marriott Bonvoy Moments where you can bid on numerous experiences with your points. This ranges from sporting events — like suite seats at Manchester United’s Old Trafford — to wellness retreats and everything in between.
The number of points required for one of these special events is typically quite high and not always the best redemption, but you might find the perfect unique experience that you could have never afforded otherwise.
Learn more about the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex.
Learn more about the Marriott Bonvoy Bevy Amex.
Learn more about the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless.
Learn more about the Marriott Bonvoy Bold.
Learn more about the Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex.
Check out CNN Underscored’s guide to the best travel credit cards currently available.