Since Marriott Bonvoy merged together Marriott Rewards and SPG, the unified program has run three points sales. The first one (in April 2019) offered 25% off, and the subsequent two (in September and November 2019) offered 30% off.
I’ve been a bit lukewarm about these sales so far, but Marriott has just launched another one which runs from now till 26 March 2020, 12.59 p.m SGT. With this sale, you can get a 50% bonus on points purchases.
Note that this is a bonus, not a discount. When you buy points with a 50% bonus, your equivalent cost per point is 0.83 US cents per point.
Here’s how that compares with previous sales:
|25% off||30% off||50% bonus|
|Cost per point||0.9375 US cents||0.875 US cents||0.83 US cents|
As you can see, a 50% bonus represents the lowest price Marriott has offered so far.
You can normally buy a maximum of 50,000 points per year, but for this sale, Marriott is doubling the cap to 100,000 points (pre-bonus). You can buy a maximum of 50,000 points (pre-bonus) per transaction, so you’ll need to make two transactions to max out your limit.
A new member may buy points 30 days after enrollment if your Marriott Bonvoy account has a qualifying activity (like a stay). Otherwise, you’ll need to wait 90 days to purchase points.
What can you do with Marriott Bonvoy points?
As a reminder, here’s Marriott’s award chart:
If you bought points at 0.83 US cents each, a night at the St Regis Maldives (Category 8) could cost about US$564 a night with the fifth night free. That’s well below half the usual rate, but still pretty expensive. Moreover, with a per night cost of 85,000 points and a purchase cap (post-bonus) of 150,000 points, you’d find it hard to accumulate enough points for a worthwhile stay.
|If you’ve got Maldives envy, a much better option is to buy Hilton points at the current 100% bonus sale, then redeem the Conrad Maldives. With the fifth night free factored in, you pay US$380 a night. Score!|
In my opinion, a much better option is to look at buying points for miles transfers. Marriott points transfer to more than 40 airlines at a 3:1 ratio, and you get a bonus 5,000 miles for every 60,000 points transferred.
Suppose you bought 60,000 points (US$500), then transferred them to 20,000 (base) + 5,000 (bonus) Alaska Mileage Plan miles. Your equivalent cost per mile is 2 US cents, well below the 2.15 US cents offered during the most recent sale.
You could then redeem a one-way Business Class ticket to Tokyo on Japan Airlines for US$500 plus taxes, which is obviously not as fantastic as it was before (on account of the JAL one-way trick nerf), but still decent value in and of itself.
Alternatively, you could redeem a one-way Business or First Class ticket to the USA on Cathay Pacific for 50,000 (US$1,000) or 70,000 (US$1,400) miles, also a good option.
Here’s the full list of Marriott Bonvoy airline transfer partners:
|FREQUENT FLYER PROGRAMS||POINTS : MILES|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||3:1|
|Air China PhoenixMiles||3:1|
|Air France-KLM Flying Blue||3:1|
|Air New Zealand Airpoints||200:1|
|Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan™||3:1|
|American Airlines AAdvantage®||3:1|
|ANA Mileage Club||3:1|
|Asiana Airlines Asiana Club||3:1|
|British Airways Executive Club||3:1|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||3:1|
|China Eastern Airlines Eastern Miles||3:1|
|China Southern Airlines Sky Pearl Club||3:1|
|Copa Airlines ConnectMiles||3:1|
|Hainan Airlines Fortune Wings Club||3:1|
|Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles®||3:1|
|Japan Airlines JAL Mileage Bank||3:1|
|Korean Air SKYPASS||3:1|
|LATAM Airlines LATAM Pass||3:1|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||3:1|
|Qatar Airways Privilege Club||3:1|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer®||3:1|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards®||3:1|
|TAP Air Portugal Miles&Go||3:1|
|Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus||3:1|
|Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles||3:1|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||3:1|
|Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer||3:1|
There are other programs with great sweet spots, but the issue again is accumulating enough Marriott Bonvoy points to get the miles required.
For example, if you put your points into Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, you could redeem a round-trip Japan to New York First Class trip on ANA for 120,000 miles, or US$2,388- not jaw-droppingly cheap, but still cheaper than paying full fare (there’ll be additional fuel surcharges). However, this requires transferring 300,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.
Similarly, with ANA Mileage Club, you can redeem a round-trip Business Class ticket from Singapore to the USA from as low as 100,000 miles (US$2,000). This will require 240,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.
So my advice is to stick with Alaska Mileage Plan miles, unless someone else knows of other feasible sweet spots given the points purchase limit.
What card should I use to buy Marriott Bonvoy points?
Purchases of Marriott Bonvoy points are processed by Points.com in USD, so they won’t code as hotel purchases. Here’s the best cards to maximize the miles earned on your purchase:
|OCBC 90N Card||4 mpd||None||Until 29 Feb 2020|
|Citi Rewards Visa||4 mpd||S$1,000 per statement period|
|UOB Visa Signature||4 mpd||S$2,000 per statement period||Min FCY spend of S$1,000 per statement period|
|DBS Woman’s World Card||4 mpd||S$2,000 per calendar month||Use caution- some people report not getting the bonus 2.8 mpd, only the base 1.2 mpd|
|SCB Visa Infinite||3 mpd||None||Min spend S$2,000 per statement period|
|BOC Elite Miles ||3 mpd||None|
Remember that the 4 mpd on FCY purchases with the OCBC 90N Card only lasts till 29 Feb 2020, so be sure to buy before then if you intend to use it.
A 50% bonus on Marriott Bonvoy points purchases can make sense if you’re looking at very high end properties (although you’d arguably do better by buying Hilton points in that case), or if you want to buy Alaska Mileage Plan miles.
If you have upcoming travel plans, do the maths and see whether this makes sense for you. Remember, don’t buy points speculatively!