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A year ago, Marriott Rewards merged with Starwood Preferred Guest and Ritz-Carlton Rewards into a new program called Marriott Bonvoy. Bonvoy points are fairly easy to accumulate via both credit cards and hotel stays, but there are also various ways to redeem your points for the vacation of a lifetime. Here are five ways to redeem your Marriott Bonvoy points.
» Learn more: Marriott Rewards program: The complete guide
1. Hotel stays
Obviously, you can redeem your points for hotel stays. However, in order to get more out of your points, there are a few tips that you need to keep in mind:
Peak and off-peak pricing
All the hotels in the Marriott portfolio are assigned a category. The higher the category, the more points your stay will require. On top of that, each property has peak and off-peak pricing. If it’s a busy time for the hotel, expect to redeem more points. If it’s the off-season for that property, you can expect to pay less.
Rooms start at 5,000 points per night for an off-peak Category 1 hotel and go as high as 100,000 points for a peak award at a category 8 hotel.
Just because a hotel is in a lower category, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad hotel. For example, we’ve stayed at a number of great Category 1 and 2 Protea hotels in Africa. Our favorite stay was at the Protea Hotel Kruger Gate, located at the entrance to Kruger National Park. This Category 2 property starts at 10,000 points per night.
On the flip side, some budget brands like Courtyard Marriott in Seattle and Portland clock in at 30,000 points per night or more.
Protea has a massive range of hotels throughout Africa, many in the Category 1-2 range.
The Protea hotel in Lusaka, Zambia, is located on its own private 2,500-acre reserve and offers game drives. Free nights start at 5,000 points per night during off-peak dates and go up to 10,000 points for peak travel. This rate includes breakfast, which represents a good return on your points.
2. Redeem five consecutive nights
When you book a five-night award stay with your Marriott points, you’ll get the fifth night free. This works on both peak and off-peak dates, no matter the category.
The reduced redemption rate shows up automatically when you book online, so you don’t have to worry about any rebates or coupon codes.
» Learn more: 5 hotel loyalty programs that offer free nights
3. Hotel + Air packages
Planning on staying seven days or more in the same location and getting some much-needed R&R? An often underutilized feature of the Marriott Bonvoy program is the Hotel + Air packages. These packages start at 255,000 points and include a seven-night hotel stay and either 50,000 or 100,000 airline miles in the program of your choosing.
With dozens of partners to choose from, redeeming points for one of these packages should be a breeze. Some partners you may know of include American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Southwest and Delta Air Lines. Lesser-known partners include JAL Mileage Bank, Asiana Club, Avianca LifeMiles and Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles.
If you fly on United Airlines, you can take advantage of the United and Marriott partnership called RewardsPlus. When you redeem your points for the United package, you’ll get a 10% bonus, up to 10,000 extra United Airlines miles.
4. Points advance
See a good deal and want to snag the price but don’t have enough points in your account? Marriott will let you make a reservation in advance without having the required points in your account.
Under the Points Advance program, you can snag that sought-after room — as long as you’ve got the points in your account 14 days before arrival, you’re good to go. Marriott will, for all intents and purposes, trust that you’re going to earn the points before you get there. If you don’t have the points needed and complete the reservation before that time frame, the room will be canceled.
There is one caveat that is important to mention in regards to Points Advance bookings: Many luxury hotels have restrictive cancellation policies that are earlier than the 14 days imposed by Points Advance. For example, the Al Maha Desert Resort in Dubai has a penalty-free cancellation policy of 30 days before arrival. Make sure you know the rules for each property you’re booking.
5. Marriott Bonvoy Moments
Want to head to the Super Bowl? How about a concert from the luxury box in Madison Square Garden? With Marriott Bonvoy Moments, you can use your points to bid on experiences that may otherwise be unattainable.
At the time of writing, the current bid for tickets to the Super Bowl with pregame sideline access and a hotel was 2,002,500 points. No small sum, indeed — but if you’ve been hoarding your points and you’re a football fan… this one’s for you.
The bottom line
Hotel points don’t have to just be for hotels anymore. While you can still redeem them for a stay and get great value, you can also use them for flights and experiences that make Marriott Bonvoy points one of the more flexible currencies out there in the miles and points world.
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