Beginner’s guide to traveling the world with points and miles (part 4)

There are countless reward programs available to help Canadians achieve their travel dreams. In the previous section, I demonstrated how to redeem your Aeroplan miles for flights. As for using points for hotel stays, Marriott Bonvoy is one of the best hotel reward programs available for Canadians because points are flexible and can be redeemed in multiple ways.

So in this last article of the series, I will be discussing tips and strategies to use when redeeming Marriott Bonvoy points.

Before reading on, make sure you’ve read the previous sections. This includes Part 1 about the first steps to traveling the world with points and miles. Part 2 about boosting your points earning potential with credit cards. Lastly, Part 3 about redeeming your Aeroplan miles.

10) Redeem Marriott Bonvoy points

It’s easy to redeem your Bonvoy points for hotel stays at over 6,700 Marriott properties world wide.

Once you’ve signed in to your Marriott account, click the Find & Reserve tab at the top of the page which will present the following drop down.

Simply enter your destination, dates and number of guests without forgetting to click the “Use points” box.  Upon clicking the Find Hotels button, you’ll be presented with a list of all the hotels for your destination and the number of points required.

Click the View Rates button to see what room types are available and their respective rate details. Once you’re satisfied with your selection, complete the reservation by adding your credit card information and paying any necessary taxes and fees.

A reminder that you can book your stay with the Amex Mariott Bonvoy card where you’ll earn 5 points per dollar spent at Marriott properties.

Earn 50,000 bonus points with Amex Marriott Bonvoy card

This card also provides automatic Marriott Silver Elite status and a free night certificate worth up to 35,000 points every year for an annual fee of $120. Plus, by clicking through this application link, you’ll be able to earn a generous 50,000 Bonvoy points after spending $1,500 in the first three months.

Now, here are some basic tips and different ways to redeem your Marriott points.

Keep your points from expiring

Marriott Bonvoy points expire after 24 months of inactivity.  So, to keep your account active, you need to earn or use points at least once during that time.

Keep in mind that gifting or receiving points from someone else doesn’t extend the expiry date of your account.

Share your points with others

Marriott allows you to transfer up to a maximum of 100,000 points per calendar year to another member’s account. This is great way to combine points with another family member or spouse when missing the total amount of points for an expensive hotel redemption. To share your points, you must call Marriott at (801) 468-4000 to initiate the transfer. It costs $10 for basic and Silver Elite members and it’s free for Gold Elite and higher members.

Receive a fifth night free when redeeming points

This is a nifty redemption benefit with Marriott Bonvoy points which allows you to book five nights for the price of four. For example, a category 4 hotel costs 25,000 points per night. Thus, staying four or five nights would cost the same price at 100,000 points.

Get a 5th night free when redeeming Bonvoy points

This also works for a 10-night stay which would cost 200,000 points instead of 250,000 points. So, when planning to redeem Bonvoy points, it’s best to do so in 5-night intervals in order to get that extra night free!

*Note that fifth night free Awards do not apply to Cash + Points bookings.

Use points advance to reserve ahead of time

Marriott allows you to book a Points Advance hotel reservation for stays more than 30 days away even if you don’t have the sufficient number of points right now. The catch is that you need to have the missing required points in your account at least 14 days prior to your stay. If not, the reservation will likely be cancelled.

Points Advance is extremely ideal to lock in potential future travel dates now. If you wait to book, you could be disappointed by the lack of availability. This is especially true for popular hotels or during busy holiday periods like Christmas or New Year’s Eve. 

Don’t book with online travel agencies

When you book a Marriott hotel through an online travel agency (like Expedia or Booking.com), you will not earn any points or elite night credits for your stay. Plus, you might not receive elite benefits during your stay which can include free WiFi, late checkout, welcome gift and free breakfast depending on your Marriott status.  

Marriott Elite status chart

Thus, when not redeeming points, it’s best to always book directly on the Marriott website to receive points and status benefits during your stay.

Remember that you can easily obtain Marriott Silver Elite status just by having the Amex Marriott Bonvoy card

Transfer your points to airline partners

But if you’re not interested in staying in Marriott hotels, you can also transfer your Bonvoy points to over 40 airline partners, including Aeroplan, usually at a 3:1 ratio.

Image result for marriott transfer to airlines

Interestingly, Marriott offers a 25% bonus when you transfer points in multiples of 60,000. For example, 60,000 points transferred to Aeroplan is 20,000 miles + 5,000 bonus miles for a total of 25,000 miles! This is extremely useful for topping up your frequent flyer account if you’re missing the miles for a certain redemption.

*Note that you’re limited to transferring 240,000 Bonvoy points per day.

Book special experiences with points

Marriott Bonvoy Moments

Lastly, it’s possible to use your points for experiences and events with Marriott Bonvoy Moments.  A selection of the events proposed are backstage concert tickets, sporting events, dining with famous chefs, etc. Some experiences have fixed award prices, but most are setup as auctions where you have to bid, in increments of 2,500 points, against other members to win. Also, remember that once you’ve submitted a bid for an auction, you can’t go back and withdraw it.

Summary

Learning the basics of how to redeem Marriott Bonvoy points for hotel stays is an important step when planning your dream vacation or trip. Some of the tips presented in this article include:

  • Share Bonvoy points with others
  • Receive a fifth night free when redeeming points
  • Use points advance to reserve ahead of time
  • Transfer your points to airline partners
  • Book special experiences with points

Conclusion

My goal in this 4 part beginner’s guide to traveling the world was to simply introduce the idea of using points and miles to save money on flights and hotels. I was also once a beginner in this hobby so I know that it can be daunting for novices to enter it. Therefore, I wanted to provide a road map to help my fellow travelers achieve their travel dreams through the following steps.

  1. Determine your travel goals
  2. Establish how many points are needed for your trip
  3. Sign up to reward programs
  4. Track your reward accounts
  5. Start earning reward points and miles
  6. Boost your earning potential with credit cards
  7. Track monthly spending
  8. Establish a strategy to meet minimum spend
  9. Redeem your Aeroplan miles for flights
  10. Redeem your Marriott Bonvoy points for hotel stays

Once all these steps are complete, you’ll be ready to pack your bags and go travel 🙂

I sincerely hope that you have found this series useful. Feel free to leave a comment below about your dream vacation or trip with points and miles!

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