Historically speaking, Marriott Rewards hardly ever held points sales, while SPG ran them several times a year. The last SPG points sale was in June 2018, just a couple of months before the Marriott merger. Since then, Marriott Bonvoy has been too busy dealing with “noise around the edges” to run a sale, even though points sales are typically a money-printing exercise for loyalty programs.
That’s now changed, and Marriott Bonvoy has just announced a points sale that runs from now till 11.59 am, 16 May 2019 Singapore time. Members get 25% off points when they buy 5,000 or more points in a single transaction. You can only buy points if your account has been open for at least 90 days (30 if there’s a qualifying activity like a stay).
Should you buy Marriott Bonvoy points at 25% off?
The best SPG sales offered 35% off the usual 3.5 US cents per point price, or 2.275 US cents each. 1 SPG point has become 3 Marriott Bonvoy points, so that’s an equivalent price of 0.758 US cents each.
With the 25% off sale, you’re buying Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.9375 US cents each. This is 24% more expensive than the cheapest SPG points sale.
Of course, it’s not fair to do a straight comparison because the most expensive properties in the SPG portfolio cost 90,000 SPG points (270,000 Marriott Bonvoy points), while the most expensive properties in the new Marriott Bonvoy portfolio cost 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.
In that sense, if you’re looking at the uberluxe properties then your points go further than before. For example, a Category 8 hotel like the St Regis Maldives or W Maldives would cost as US$656 to US$938 per night depending on season if you bought Marriott Bonvoy points at 25% off. US$938 is too high for me, but if you were able to book the hotel during off-peak it might represent some savings from the usual US$1K+ rates.
Remember that you can bring down the price further by taking advantage of the 5th night free policy on award redemptions, which gives makes the price as low as US$525 per night.
In any case this is an academic exercise because the maximum points you can buy in a year is capped at 50,000– not even enough for an off peak night at a Category 8. So more realistically, you won’t be buying enough points for an entire vacation, just to top off an account.
|Addendum: It’s worth noting that as per the Marriott Bonvoy T&Cs, a member may receive up to 100,000 points from another member per calendar year, capped at a maximum of 500,000 points in total. In other words, if you found 10 people willing to buy points and transfer them to you, you could work around the purchase limit|
Here’s the full list of T&C:
- Transactions must be completed between 9:00 AM ET April 15, 2019 and 11:59 PM ET May 15, 2019 to be eligible for the discount.
- Purchased points do not count towards Marriott Bonvoy Elite status.
- A member may purchase or receive as a gift from another member a combined maximum of 50,000 points per calendar year.
- Points may be purchased in increments of 1,000.
- Excluding promo periods, purchase rate is 12.50 (USD) per 1,000 points.
- Please allow 24-48 hours for transaction to be completed and points awarded to recipient.
- You must be a member in good standing to both purchase and receive points.
- A new member may purchase points thirty (30) days after enrollment if their Marriott Bonvoy account reflects qualifying activity as described in the Marriott Bonvoy Program Rules. After ninety (90) days from enrollment, a new member is eligible to purchase points regardless of their account activity.
- Once points have been purchased or gifted, no refunds will be permitted.
- Purchasing points using a Marriott BonvoyTTM or The Ritz-CarltonTM credit card will result in earning one point per dollar spent on these transactions.
- All Marriott Bonvoy Program Rules apply and can be found at https://www.marriott.com/loyalty/terms/default.mi
What cards should I use?
Marriott Bonvoy purchases are processed by Points.com in USD, so here’s the cards I’d use
- UOB Visa Signature- 4.0 mpd, min S$1K max S$2K of foreign currency spending in a statement period
- Citibank Rewards Visa or Citibank Rewards Mastercard– 4.0 mpd, max S$1K a month (I’ve just confirmed this a few days ago)
- DBS Woman’s World Card- 4.0 mpd, but requires that you write in to DBS to get the bonus 7X credited (3X, or 1.2 mpd will be awarded as base points)
- BOC Elite Miles World Mastercard- 3.0 mpd, no cap
- Standard Chartered Visa Infinite– 3.0 mpd, minimum S$2K spending a statement period
I’d adopt a wait and see approach with this. Marriott, like American Airlines, is probably going to test several different sales prices to see what sticks with customers. 25% may be a dipstick test to see response, and it’s possible there will be bigger sales in the future. Of course, if you’re just shy of a redemption and need to top off your account, then this is better than paying the regular price.
You can convert American Express Membership Rewards points to Marriott Bonvoy at a 1:1 ratio, but this represents an inferior return on your spending compared to airline miles.