Marriott International and its subsidiaries (Starwood Preferred Guest and Ritz Carlton) have combined to become one of the World’s leading hotel chains, offering an almost unsurpassed quantity of hotels – over 6,700 worldwide.

It’s no surprise that with this wide reach comes a great loyalty program – the combined Marriott Rewards & SPG Program (referred to as Marriott Rewards from now on).

You can use Marriott Rewards towards free nights at their locations, but this is only the beginning of what this program has to offer.

Marriott Rewards at a glance

Value of a Marriott Rewards point: High: $0.01 for airline transfer
Low: $0.0013 for car rentals
Ways to redeem Marriott Rewards: * Hotels – 0.83 cents per point (CPP)
* Transfer to Airline Partners – 1.04 CPP
* Travel packages – 1.02 CPP
* Flights – 0.47 CPP
* Car rentals – 0.13 CPP
* Brand-name merchandise ‒ 0.37 CPP
* Gift cards ‒ 0.34 CPP
* Marriott Moments
How to earn Marriott Rewards: * Purchases at Marriott properties
* 2 credit cards
Who these rewards are good for: * World Travellers
Frequently Asked Questions: * Level of flexibility? Medium
* Blackout dates? No
* Do rewards expire? No
* Rewards cover taxes and fees? Yes
* Can these rewards be transferred? Yes
* Is there a way to earn rewards faster? Yes
* Will I lose my miles if I cancel an award stay? No

Related: Aeroplan Alternatives: Your 7 Other Options

Plus a $150 travel bonus.
Offer ends December 21, 2018.

Calculating the value of a Marriott Rewards point

Overall, Marriott Rewards points offer a great deal of value for travellers.

The value you’ll get when you redeem your points depends entirely on what you redeem those points for.

Below we’ll break down all the different ways you can redeem your rewards, with an approximate value of the return you’ll be looking at for each redemption option.

Redeeming for hotel stays: 0.83 CPP

Using your points for a hotel stay is the easiest way to use your points.

Why? 3 main reasons:

  • No blackout dates (provided the hotel has availability),
  • points cover the taxes & fees, and
  • you can use combinations of points and cash.

As an added bonus, if you book a 5-night rewards stay, the 5th night is free ‒ giving you a 20% boost in your point value.

Plus, you can cancel an award night and get your points back as long as it follows the cancellation rules.

How many points do you need to book a hotel?

Well, it depends. Each hotel is assigned a category:

Hotel Category Points Required
1 7,500
2 12,500
3 17,500
4 25,000
5 35,000
6 50,000
7 60,000
8 85,000

Changes will be coming to this table in 2019, including peak and off-peak season pricing. When the details are released, we’ll be sure to update you.

To get an idea of the worth of a point for hotel nights, we surveyed a total of 36 hotels across Canada, looking at a 3-night stay during the Holidays (December 27-30, 2018).

Removing the two highest and lowest numbers, we found an average point value of 0.83 cents.

With that said, there is some incredible value here. If you want to hit the slopes in Mont Tremblant or Whistler during these dates, you could be looking at an outstanding value of 2.8 to 3.3 cents per point.

On the other end of the scale, however, some hotels only provided a value of half a cent per point.

It’s definitely worth it to look around if you want to get the best value for your points.

Transfer to airline partners: 1.04 CPP

This may come as a surprise, but transferring to airline partners will give you some of the best value.

There are more than 40 airline partners available to transfer, and most of them are at a 3:1 ratio.

As an added bonus, for every 60,000 points you transfer, Marriott Rewards will give you an extra 5,000 airline miles. For programs that transfer at a 3:1 ratio, your 60,000 points will turn into 25,000 airline miles.

If you maximize this bonus, here’s what a Marriott Rewards point is worth at varying Aeroplan & Avios point values (which both transfer at a 3:1 ratio):

Aeroplan/Avios Point Value Value of 25,000 Aeroplan miles Marriott Rewards Point Value
1.5 cents $375 0.63 cents
2 cents $500 0.83 cents
2.5 cents $625 1.04 cents

If you can get a solid 2 cents or more for your Aeroplan points, this is the best way to use your Marriott Rewards.

Just make sure to take advantage of the transfer bonus, otherwise you may be better off using your points for hotel stays instead.

Related: Why British Airways Makes Sense For (Most) Canadians

Travel packages – 1.02 CPP

Your Marriott points can also be used to book travel packages at a pretty good average value. These packages can’t be booked online – you’ll need to call Marriott to reserve.

If you reserve a 7-night stay, you’re also given a set number of airline miles as part of the package. This is to cover the airfare to get to your destination.

Please note: Unlike regular hotel reservations, cancellations are not permitted.

These travel packages require quite a few points, so it might take quite a bit of saving for the average person to be able to redeem.

Here’s what you’ll need to redeem for a travel package. There are 2 levels of airline miles you can receive:

Hotel Category 7 nights & 50,000 airline miles 7 nights & 100,000 airline miles
1 – 4 255,000 Marriott points 330,000 Marriott Points
5 315,000 390,000
6 435,000 510,000
7 495,000 570,000
8 675,000 750,000

Is this worth it?

Although not for everyone, there’s some value in using your points this way.

For the category 5 hotel and 50,000 airline miles deal, you’d normally need 120,000 Marriott points to get 50,000 airline miles (at a 3:1 ratio, including the transfer bonus) and 210,000 points to redeem for a category 5 hotel.

This is a savings of 15,000 points.

With our average hotel value of 0.83 cents and our Aeroplan value of 2.5 cents, we get an average value of 1.02 cents. Here’s an example for the category 5 booking from above:

50,000 x 0.025 + 195,000 x 0.0083 = $0.0091

If you can get the flights using the airline miles, this can be a way to save some Marriott Rewards points.

Bonus: If United is your transfer partner, you’ll get 10% extra miles.

Book flights: 0.47 CPP

Marriott Rewards holders also have the option to book flights with any airline. Your points can cover taxes and fees, and you’ll be able to use a combination of points and cash for payment.

We surveyed several flights from Canada to the United States and international destinations. This gave us an average point value of 0.47 cents.

What’s nice is the point values didn’t fluctuate too much. The flights we surveyed had a range of 0.4 to 0.54 cents each.

While there isn’t as much value here compared to hotel stays and airline transfers, this can be a good way to use your points, since you can book any flight on any airline with no blackout dates. And your points cover taxes and fees as well, which is a major bonus.

Use for car rentals: 0.13 CPP

Similar to booking flights, Marriott Rewards points can cover all taxes and fees when you’re booking a car rental.

We test booked compact cars for a 1-day rental at Canada’s major airports.

Car rentals provided the poorest value for your points – an average of only 0.13 cents, with a small point range of 0.09-0.16 cents.

Redeem for brand-name merchandise: 0.37 CPP

Marriott Rewards also provides a large catalogue of merchandise to browse.

Like many programs that offer merchandise, there isn’t much value in using your points here. In fact, we came to an average value of 0.37 cents.

Item Name Points Required Price (13% tax included) Point Value (cents)
JBL Link 500 Multi Room Wireless Smart Speaker 135,000 $678.00 0.50
Cuisinart Smart Stick Two-Speed Hand Blender 17,500 $79.10 0.45
Breville Crystal Clear Electric Glass Kettle 37,500 $169.50 0.45
T-fal Ultraglide Durilium Steam Iron 17,500 $71.19 0.41
Cuisinart PerfecTemp Programmable Tea Steeper & Kettle 40,000 $158.20 0.40
Weber Original Kettle Premium 22″ Charcoal Grill 82,500 $315.27 0.38
TaylorMade M4 3HL Reg 95,000 $361.60 0.38
Apple MacBook Air 13″ 128 GB 365,000 $1,354.87 0.37
Apple Apple TV 32 GB 4th Generation 67,500 $224.87 0.33
Garmin Vivofit 3 Personal Tracker 45,000 $137.86 0.31
Sony Playstation 4 Slim Console 152,500 $372.90 0.24
Cuisinart 11 Piece Advantage Cookware Set 47,500 $113.00 0.24

*Prices as found on google, with 13% sales tax added.

Redeem for gift cards: 0.34 CPP

Marriott Rewards offers a wide assortment of gift cards available for redemption with amounts ranging from $10 to $1,000.

For the most part, gift cards have a set amount of points required for different dollar amounts:

Gift Card Amount Points Required Point Value
$10 5,000 0.20
$25 7,500 0.33
$50 12,500 0.40
$100 25,000 0.40
$200 47,500 0.42
$300 70,000 0.43
$400 95,000 0.32
$500 117,500 0.34
$1,000 235,000 0.21

The average point value is 0.34 cents, but it’s possible to get up to 0.43 cents.

Ideally, if you want to maximize the value for your points, you should redeem for gift cards in the $50 to $300 range

Marriott Moments

The last thing you can use your points for are exclusive Marriott Moments experiences. Here’s the link to see what’s available.

There’s a wide variety of experiences you can redeem for, including tickets to sporting events, exclusive dining experiences, and concerts.

And because many of these options are once-in-a-lifetime events, it’s not really possible to put a price tag on them.

For example, with 50,000 points, you can get 2 tickets to a fully stocked luxury suite at Staples Centre for an NHL game featuring the LA Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins. These are tickets that you wouldn’t be able to get otherwise – unless you knew the right people.

It’s really up to you what you’d value these experiences at, but there could definitely be some value here.

How to earn Marriott Rewards

The easiest way to earn Marriott Rewards is by staying at one of their properties.

You’ll earn points on hotel stays, on-site dining, and even movie and game rentals.

How many points you earn depends on where you stay:

  • 5 points per $1 USD spent at Residence Inn, TownPlace Suites and Element properties, and
  • 10 points per $1 USD spent at all other locations.

Added bonus: You can earn up to 3,000 points per qualifying rental at Hertz Rentals.

The fastest way to earn Marriott Rewards?

You guessed it, by using a credit card.

American Express is the sole issuer of Canadian credit cards for this program, with both a personal and small business version.

Related: SPG Amex Canada Review & Point Value Analysis

The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

The brings the following earn rates:

  • up to 50,000 bonus points when you spend $1,500 in 3 months,
  • 5 points per dollar spent at Marriott properties, and
  • 2 points per dollar spent on everything else.

While this card offers great earn rates and an impressive welcome bonus, it also comes with some perks that seriously up the ante.

For starters, every year, on your card anniversary, you’ll get a certificate valid for a free night (up to a Category 5 hotel). With a point value of 0.83 cents, this alone could be worth $290.

Then, just for owning the card, you’ll get automatic Silver Elite status, which has pretty sweet benefits, including:

  • 10% bonus points on hotel stays,
  • priority late checkout, and
  • complimentary Wi-Fi.

Spend $30,000 per year and you’ll get upgraded to Gold Elite status for even more bonus points and benefits when staying at a Marriott property.

You’ll also be covered by 8 types of insurance, including flight delay, baggage delay, and lost or stolen baggage.

All this for an annual fee of $120. For what you’re getting in return, this is a pretty sweet deal.

The Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express

The business version, the , is nearly identical, with 2 differences.

Firstly, on top of the earn rates for the personal card, you’ll earn 3 points per dollar spent on gas, dining, and travel.

Secondly, it comes with a higher annual fee of $150, but if you’re ready to start earning better rewards for your business, this is a card to consider.

Marriott Rewards questions and answers

Here are some common questions and answers about the Marriott Rewards program:

How flexible are these rewards?

These awards are somewhat flexible because you can use them for multiple travel options, merchandise, and gift cards. But no cash redemption options exist.

Are there blackout dates?

No, Marriott Rewards has no blackout dates. As long as there’s availability, you’ll be able to book with Marriott Rewards.

Do these rewards expire?

No, provided you make a transaction on your account at least once every two years.

Can you use points to cover taxes & fees?

Yes, points can be used to cover taxes and fees.

Can these rewards be transferred?

Yes, your points can be transferred to more than 40 airline partners.

Is there a way to earn rewards faster?

Yes, by earning points at Marriott properties, Hertz rentals, and using Marriott Rewards credit cards.

Do you lose your points if you cancel a booking?

If you book an award night stay, you won’t lose your points, provided you cancel in the time frame given (usually around 48 hours prior to check in).

Car rentals can be cancelled, but are subject to a $35 cancellation fee.

Airline flights booked through Marriott Rewards are non refundable. Changes can be made for a $50 fee, plus any applicable airline charges and extra Marriott points or cash.

The bottom line

The Marriott Rewards program is for so much more than just earning and redeeming free hotel stays.

With transfer options to more than 40 airline partners, the ability to book flights and cars using only points, and other options for redemptions…this program is definitely worth your while.

And with two great credit cards to earn with, plus some great perks that go with them, Marriott makes it easy for you to get involved.