Marriott Bonvoy is the hotel loyalty program of choice for many Canadians, both for hotel bookings and for its flexibility to transfer to a huge variety of airline partners.
Since merging with Starwood Preferred Guest, Marriott Bonvoy has joined the ranks of programs that run frequent promotions on purchasing points directly from the program.
Marriott Bonvoy has now launched their latest promotion for anyone looking to boost their points balance in preparation for summer travel and beyond.
Buy Marriott Bonvoy Points with a 25% Bonus
Marriott Bonvoy is offering a bonus on points purchases until September 15, 2022. Rather than their usual tiered bonuses, it appears that the standard offer across the board is for a 25% bonus when you buy at least 2,000 points.
This is a comparatively weak offer to what we’ve seen in the past, where Marriott offered bonuses of up to 60%.
Typically, Marriott charges 1.25 cents per point (USD) to buy directly from the program. With a 25% bonus, the rate improves to 1 cent per point (USD).
Buying Bonvoy points at this rate is above our current valuation of 0.7 cents per Bonvoy point (USD). Therefore, unless you had a compelling reason to buy points, it doesn’t represent that great of a deal.
Since we’ve seen Marriott go as high as 60% on these promotions before, it may be worthwhile to wait for a higher bonus.
How many Marriott Bonvoy points can you buy?
Since 2021, Marriott Bonvoy has imposed a limit of 100,000 points purchased per calendar year, up from 50,000 previously.
This limit includes points purchased for yourself, plus points you receive that were purchased and gifted by others. Previously purchased points do count towards the limit.
If you max out this promotion, it’ll cost $1,250 (USD) for 125,000 Bonvoy points.
Which credit card should you use to buy Marriott Bonvoy points?
Marriott sells points through an external vendor, Points.com. They don’t count as a travel purchase, and there’s no extra benefit to using a co-branded Amex Marriott Bonvoy card issued in Canada or the US.
Instead, I’d suggest any card with a high base earn rate, or one where you’re working on meeting the minimum spend requirement.
Because the purchase is charged in USD, you might consider using a Canadian-issued card with no foreign exchange fees, or any US credit card.
Who Should Buy Marriott Bonvoy Points?
Buying points can be a good way to top-up your account if you’re keen to make a redemption soon.
Booking a High-Value Aspirational Hotel
The Marriott Bonvoy portfolio contains some of the most exceptional hotel brands in the world, including Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, and EDITION, among others.
With sky-high cash prices, booking on points can bring these experiences within reach, in spite of the demise of the Marriott Bonvoy award chart.
The best of the best go for 80,000–120,000 points per night. Compare that to the cash price at the Luxury Collection’s Al Maha Desert Resort Dubai, which can easily exceed $1,600 (CAD) per night!
At a cash price of $1,000 (USD) for 100,000 points (with the current 25% bonus), which would be enough for a night at Al Maha on many dates, it definitely makes sense to buy points instead of pay cash if a luxury booking is on your radar.
Or if the desert isn’t your style, you could indulge in decadence at the JW Marriott Maldives. Even with “relatively” more reasonable prices under $1,000 (CAD) per night, a points booking is still the way to go.
Of course, you’ll want to ensure you’ve lined up the award availability at the hotel before pulling the trigger on a points purchase, especially if you’re trying to maximize the fifth-night-free benefit.
Quick Top-Up for Any Upcoming Redemption
For travellers with more humble taste, the top end of the Marriott Bonvoy chart isn’t the only place to find good value.
At the end of the day, as long as the value of your redemption is above the acquisition cost of 1 cent per point (USD), you’ll come out ahead on any booking.
For example, at the lower end, the Courtyard Phnom Penh offers better value on points that with cash. You can find dates under 10,000 points per night at the PointSavers rate. Against a nightly cash price of $118, an 8,000-point booking is a value of 1.5 cents per point (CAD).
However, compared to aspirational properties, the value proposition in buying Bonvoy points for lower-end redemptions is less clear-cut. It’s heavily dependent on finding a discrepancy between the cash price and the points price, and that can often be hard to predict.
Therefore, since Bonvoy points are rather easy to earn anyway, I’d recommend exhausting the cheaper sources first before buying points outright.
Transfer to Exclusive Airline Partners
Marriott Bonvoy has over 40 airline partners. For most programs, Bonvoy points can be transferred to airline miles at a rate of 3:1, with a 5,000-mile bonus for transferring in increments of 60,000 Bonvoy points.
By buying Bonvoy points at 1 cent per point (USD) and transferring to frequent flyer programs, you’re effectively purchasing airline miles for 2.4 cents per mile (USD).
This is certainly quite expensive, but the real benefit is gaining access to exclusive airlines.
For example, Singapore Airlines doesn’t make First Class award space bookable for partner programs like Aeroplan. Usually, you can only book Singapore Suites with their own KrisFlyer loyalty program.
And with few transfer partners in Canada (HSBC Rewards is the only other one), Marriott Bonvoy can provide a rare gateway to sample this luxurious experience.
Other niche transfer partners include Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan for its unique partner-based sweet spots, ANA Mileage Club for its generous round-the-world award ticket, Korean Air SKYPASS for Korean Air First Class, or any other airline loyalty program with a weaker footprint in the credit card industry.
Multi-Player Mode: Pool Points Among the Family
One of Marriott Bonvoy’s greatest strengths lies in the ability to transfer points freely between accounts. Each member may send up to 100,000 points per calendar year, and receive up to 500,000 points per calendar year.
If you have elite status on the primary account in your household, it’s ideal to pool your points in the elite member’s account to make bookings, especially for high-end properties where the perks of hotel status really shine.
Once you’ve hit your points purchase cap on your main account, you can buy more points on another account to take advantage of any remaining transfer room. Note that members must be enrolled for 30 days and have some activity on their account before they are eligible to purchase points.
Other Ways to Earn Marriott Bonvoy Points
Marriott Bonvoy has moved to dynamic pricing in 2022, so it can be a risky proposition to commit money to their loyalty program if you aren’t imminently planning a booking.
If you aren’t in a rush to acquire Bonvoy points but would like to slowly build your balance for a bigger redemption down the road, I’d recommend looking at credit card opportunities first.
Canadian Credit Cards by American Express
American Express issues two co-branded Marriott Bonvoy cards in Canada:
- American Express Marriott Bonvoy Card: Earn 70,000 Bonvoy points upon spending $3,000 in the first three months, with an annual fee of $120. Earn a further 10,000 Bonvoy points with 5x on eats and drinks for the first six months, up to $2,000. This brings the total current welcome bonus to 80,000 Bonvoy points.
- American Express Marriott Bonvoy Business Card: Earn 70,000 Bonvoy points upon spending $3,000 in the first three months, plus 5x on gas, dining, and travel up to $2,000 in the first six months, with an annual fee of $150. This brings the total current welcome bonus to 80,000 Bonvoy points.
At 0.15–0.19 cents per point (CAD), the annual fees on both cards represent extremely favourable acquisition costs compared to today’s valuation of 0.9 cents per point (CAD).
American Express Membership Rewards can also be transferred to Marriott Bonvoy at a rate of 1:1.2. All MR-earning cards good options; however, the following provide the best return on annual fees:
- American Express Gold Rewards Card: Earn up to 75,000 MR points in the first year, with a net annual fee of $150 (CAD).
- Converted to Marriott Bonvoy, this becomes 90,000 Bonvoy points.
- American Express Business Gold Rewards Card: Earn up to 115,000 MR points in the first year, with an annual fee of $199 (CAD).
- Converted to Marriott Bonvoy, this becomes 138,000 Bonvoy points.
- American Express Business Edge Card: Earn up to 77,000 MR points in the first year, with an annual fee of $99 (CAD).
- Converted to Marriott Bonvoy, this becomes 92,400 Bonvoy points.
- Choice Card by American Express: Earn 10,000 MR points upon spending $1,000 (CAD) in the first three months, with no annual fee.
- Converted to Marriott Bonvoy, this becomes 12,000 Bonvoy points.
After transferring points to Bonvoy, the annual fees represent acquisition costs below 0.2 cents per point (CAD). Indeed, all of the above cards offer good value for the Marriott Bonvoy program.
US Credit Cards by American Express & Chase
South of the border, American Express issues two co-branded Marriott Bonvoy cards:
- American Express US Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card: Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy points upon spending $3,000 (USD) in the first three months, with an annual fee of $450 (USD) (offset by a $300 (USD) annual Marriott credit).
- American Express US Marriott Bonvoy Business Card: Earn 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy points upon spending $5,000 (USD) in the first three months, with an annual fee of $125 (USD).
In addition, Chase has also partnered with the hotel chain, offering two co-branded personal cards on the Visa network:
- Chase Marriott Bonvoy Bold Card: Earn 30,000 Marriott Bonvoy points upon spending $1,000 (USD) in the first three months, with no annual fee.
- Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card: Earn three 50,000-point Free Night Awards upon spending $3,000 (USD) within the first three months, with an annual fee of $95 (USD).
All of the above cards are quite compelling once you consider the annual Free Night Awards you earn.
Also, keep in mind that if you’ve received the welcome bonus on an Amex US Marriott Bonvoy card within the last 24 months, you’re not eligible for the Chase offers, and vice versa.
So even though there are many ways to earn Bonvoy points from US credit cards, you’ll have to choose just one that suits you best in the short term.
As you decide whether this promotion is a good opportunity for you to meet your travel goals, here’s a look back at Marriott Bonvoy’s past bonuses on purchasing points:
25% more purchased points
35–55% more purchased points
45% more purchased points
55% more purchased points
45–50% more purchased points
30% discount on purchased points
50% more purchased points
50% more purchased points
60% more purchased points
With so many other ways to collect Marriott Bonvoy points, I wouldn’t rush to speculatively buy points at 1 cent per point (USD).
But if you need to push your balance over the hump for a dream redemption that has gotten more expensive with dynamic pricing, this promotion is a solid way to make it happen.
Consider loading up with a 25% bonus – cash rates at top-tier properties are astronomical, and points bookings are only getting further out of reach as well, so don’t let the opportunity pass you by.
Make sure to purchase Marriott Bonvoy points before September 15, 2022 to take advantage of this offer if you’re interested.