A Complete Guide to the Marriott Travel Packages — The best way to redeem your SPG/Marriott points!



Marriott Travel Packages is the best way to redeem your SPG/Marriott points. In this post, I will introduce how to make the best out of SPG/Marriott through Marriott Travel Packages.

Why choose the Marriott Travel Packages?

As a hotel fan, I have not been redeeming Marriott and SPG points for hotels for over a year. Why? I have been saving points for a Marriott Rewards Travel Package.

So what does that mean and why should you be interested? In short, through Marriott Travel Packages, we can convert tons of Marriott points (or SPG points, since 1 SPG pt = 3 Marriott pt) to airline mileages with a ratio that is too good to be true, AND get 7 consecutive free nights with the redemption. The value of this redemption lies mostly in the acquisition of miles over the free nights, as we are in need of flights more than luxurious hotels. The goal of award travel is primarily to save money, and to do so we have options like staying an Airbnb or a friend’s place instead of in a hotel. But for traveling to another country, for instance, airlines are really the only options, since there is no “Airbnb” or “Uber” in the flight market. Unfortunately we cannot take a boat, or swim through the Atlantic or the Pacific to go to another country, right?

Swim across the Atlantic? >.^

What are Marriott Travel Packages?

The above five tables (screenshots from Marriott) tell what Marriott Travel Packages are. The points shown in the table are how much we need to redeem, with the corresponding column showing the airline miles and the corresponding row showing the categories or tiers of the 7 free nights we can get with the redemption.

The RewardsPlus Hotel + Air Package seen at the top is for United Airlines exclusively. For all other eligible airlines, they are listed at the end of the tables. Through analysis, we found the equations to calculate the airline miles we can get:

  • RewardsPlus: AM = (MRP – 6 x MPN) x 110%
  • Package 1&3: AM = (MRP – 6 x MPN) x 100%
  • Package 2: AM = (MRP – 6 x MPN) x 70%
  • Package 4: AM = (MRP – 6 x MPN) x 50%

(AM = Airline Miles we will get from the Package redemption

MRP = Marriott Rewards points redeemed for the Package

MPN = Marriott Points per Night for the redemption of a free night at the highest category/tier)

For a more fundamental introduction of the Marriott Travel Packages, please refer to the Marriott official webpage for the Travel Packages. In this post, we will focus on “accumulation” and “redemption” of the Packages.

How to Redeem

Let’s first talk about the redemption.

1. Conversion ratio

Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi Thankyou Points, and SPG points are classified as the four main flexible programs, in which we can convert the points to various airline miles or hotel points. In this sense, the Marriott Rewards Travel Package is a more gigantic system with conversion features. (SPG is also good. Hey! Do not forget that SPG and Marriott have merged). Among all the package options, only RewardPlus and Packages 1&3 are worth discussing due to their reasonable conversion ratios.

14 airlines, including United Airlines, are covered in the RewardPlus and Package 1&3 redemptions. For United Airlines, the package is a 10% bonus over Packages 1&3. Thus, we will then compare the conversion ratio of Marriott Travel Packages to that of the base ratio of SPG (1:1.25 if redeeming in multiples of 20K). In the table below, which is for Package 1&3 redemptions, all ratios are normalized to AM/SPG, where SPG is MRP/3. In other words, the number in this table shows how many airline miles we will get per SPG point redeemed via Marriott Travel Packages. Again this is for Package 1&3. Multiply 1.1 for the RewardPlus cases.

Hotel + Air Package 1 & 37 Nights + 50,000 Miles7 Nights + 70,000 Miles7 Nights + 100,000 Miles7 Nights + 120,000 Miles
Category 1-5
0.750.951.201.33
Category 6
0.650.841.071.20
Category 7
0.580.750.971.09
Category 8
0.520.680.881.00
Category 9
0.470.620.810.92
Tier 1-30.430.570.750.86
Tier 4-50.320.430.580.67

Among these ratios, we can find the most valuable one 1.33 is the 90,000 SPG points = 270,000 Marriott Rewards points = 120,000 airline miles + 7 free nights Cat. 1-5. Besides that, anything else is lower than 1.25 (the direct conversion ratio of SPG to its most partner airlines), which will make this redemption less valuable if we aim to pool in a lot of airline miles. Yes, do not forget there are 7 consecutive free nights, which are worth $500 or more, and even worth $1000 if they are redeemed properly to get the best values. Nonetheless, in most cases we will probably not be able to redeem for extremely expensive hotels for 7 consecutive nights. Then what can we do? The tip is we can call customer service to cancel the hotel portion and “refund” the 7 free nights back to Marriott points!

2. Cancel the hotel portion and get some point back

Based on physixfan’s data point, the Marriott Rewards points refunded from 7 nights are listed below.

Category 1-5
45,000
Category 6
75,000
Category 7
105,000
Category 8
135,000
Category 9
165,000
Tier 1-3195,000
Tier 4-5315,000

In this sense, the SPG to airline miles conversion ratios are further escalated.

Package 1 & 3 Airlines50,000 Miles70,000 Miles100,000 Miles120,000 Miles
SPG to Miles0.971.201.461.60

It is noteworthy that the ratios of getting 100,000 miles and 120,000 miles are both larger than 1.25, the base ratio of SPG to miles. In other words, through Marriott Travel Packages, to achieve 100,000 airline miles, we need 205,000 Marriott points, or 68,333 SPG points, with a ratio of 1.46; to get 120,000 miles, we need only 225,000 Marriott points, or 75,000 SPG points, with a ratio of 1.60. The latter is extremely valuable. How much is it worth? Based on the estimates of miles and points, the airline miles are worth around 1.6 cpp (cent per point), while SPG points are worth 2.4 cpp. In contrast, through the Marriott Travel Packages, the SPG values are enhanced: 1.60 x 1.6 cpp = 2.56 cpp.

United Airlines55,000 Miles77,000 Miles110,000 Miles132,000 Miles
SPG to UA1.061.321.611.76

For Marriott’s partner United Airlines, due to 10% bonus miles, all the ratios for getting 77,000, 110,000, and 132,000 miles are over 1.25. Similar to the calculations in the last paragraph, the SPG points are improved to be worth 1.76 x 1.6 cpp = 2.816 cpp.

On the contrary, for Package 2&4 redemptions, the best ratio of SPG to miles is 1.13. Compared with the base SPG ratio 1.25, it is not worthy to acquire miles of the airlines in Package 2&4, including ANA and JAL.

Based on physixfan’s experience, we need to request the rep to “cancel the hotel portion” for “refunding” the 7 free nights, which is somewhat the official term but does not appear in T&C. It is not suggested to “refund” the 7 free nights right away and we should wait at least until the airline miles show up. It would be a better idea to ask for refund of the 7 free nights when the expiration date approaches, because we can then say “we do not have a chance to use it”. Well, sometimes the rep will say “OK, I can extend the validity for another year”. We can get more values from redeeming these 7 free nights so if you can find use this will definitely elevate your redemption, and keep in mind that living in a Cat 5 Marriott hotel for 7 nights will cost us 150,000 Marriott points.

Last but not least, remember to keep an eye on our updates regarding the conversion bonus sales. With bonus from the sales, the SPG to miles ratios will be further improved. The airlines will carry out promotions from time to time to stimulate people to convert hotel points to airline miles. For instance, during October and November of 2016, we saw the 25% bonus for UA miles, and right now, we see the 30% extra miles rewarded for Aeroplan. With these promos, the Marriott Travel Packages are really too good to be true!

3. Which airline I should select

Based on the analyses we did above, we will only focus on UA miles and miles from Package 1&3 airlines. Although there are many different airlines, we only recommend the following 6 miles that are most likely to provide us with the best values.

AirlineHubAllianceMajor PartnersMile ValueUS-CN (Self)US-CN (Partners)YQHighlight
United Airlines (UA)ORD, IAH, EWR, DENStar AllianceNH, SQ, CA, LH1.570/140/16070/160/240NoneSufficient availability
American Airlines (AA)DFW, CLT, ORD, PHLOne WorldJL, CX, QR, EY1.575/140/22075/140/220LowGood partners
Delta Air Lines (DL)ATL, DTW, MSP, LGASkyTeamMU, CZ, AF, KL1.2VaryVaryHighMiles never expire
Alaska Airlines (AS)LAX, PDX, SEA, ANCN/AJL, CX, EK, HU1.9N/AVaryLowMiles are valuable
Southwest Airlines (WN)N/AN/AN/A1.3N/AN/ANoneCompanion pass
Air Canada (AC)YYZ, YVR, YUL, YYCStar AllianceNH, SQ, CA, LH1.575/150/21075/150/210LowStopover policy

US-CN miles: the miles required to book a return flight between US and China, economy/business/first, unit k; “Vary” in US-CN miles (self) means the airline does not have a published redemption table. “Vary” in US-CN miles (partner) means the miles needed for redemption on a partner depends on the specific operating airline.

YQ: The high/low/none indicates the possibility of YQ occurrence when redeeming the miles on its own or its partners.

Among all of these, we highly recommend the following mileage plans without reservation.

  1. UA: With a 10% bonus, the SPG to miles ratios are the highest and the promos for converting hotel points to UA miles occurred from time to time. Additionally, UA does not collect YQ for award redemptions.
    1. AC: A second best choice for Star Alliance. Again, keep in mind there is a promo going on with 30% extra bonus miles when converting hotel points to >200K AC miles (25% for 100-200 and 20% below that), which ends on April 17. The AC mileage plan is terrific, except that it collects YQ when the miles are redeemed on Lufthansa and ANA.
  2. AA. It has famous and luxurious partners including two of the Big Gulf Three: Qatar, Etihad, and also the Five-Star asian airlines Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines. AA does not collect YQ, except on British Airways and Iberia.
  3. AS. Although there are no promos, AS still has quite the high mile value (~1.9 cpp), thanks to  premium partners including Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Emirates and Hainan Airlines, and Virgin America. It is currently the best option for Marriott Rewards Travel Package. For example, redeeming AS miles on CX for a US-CHINA roundtrip will cost us 60/100/140 for eco/biz/first respectivly, and will be 70/120/140 for JL metal.

4. Step-by-step guide of redemption

  1. Check the tables and record the airline, category or tier and the corresponding number of Marriott points needed.
  2. Convert SPG to Marriott at 1:3 ratio if the Marriott account does not have enough points.
  3. If your Marriott points are still not enough, find a friend who is willing to transfer some points as complementary and has the same address as you, and then get his/her account ready.
  4. Call 1-800-321-7396.
  5. Feed the rep with your Marriott account and your friend’s account. Verify your address.
  6. Feed the rep with the info in step a.
  7. The 7 consecutive free nights are valid one year after the first date of issue.

Or, if you already know where you are redeeming it beforehand, you can follow the procedures on Marriott.com:

To redeem for a Hotel + Air Package award:
Contact the airline you will use as your carrier. (You must be a member of their frequent flyer program.) Inquire about the number of miles needed to travel from departure location to your destination and remember to take into account the number of people traveling in your party. Once you know the number of miles needed, call 1-800-MARRIOTT to make your hotel reservation. Make sure to inform the reservation agent that you are using a Travel Package Award. After your reservation is confirmed, you can be transferred to a Marriott Rewards Guest Relations representative to complete the order over the phone.

Reward Delivery Information

1. Hotel certificate will be issued electronically and will be available at the hotel upon check-in.

2. Airline miles/Rapid Rewards Points will automatically be sent to your frequent flyer account. Please allow approximately 6 weeks for your miles to be posted to your frequently flyer account or contact your local Marriott Rewards office to inquire about express service (may include a fee).

How to Accumulate

Let’s talk about accumulation.

Based on the analyses above, we need 270,000 Marriott points, or 90,000 SPG points, for a best-value Package redemption, which seems unaffordable to most people. Nevertheless, the merging of SPG and Marriott generated a chance as we can always convert SPG points to Marriott points at 1:3 ratio. The best and fastest ways to accumulate Marriott/SPG points are summarized below.

1. Big sign-up bonus

Although both Amex MR and Chase UR can be converted to SPG or Marriott respectively, they will not be recommended owing to their low conversion ratios. What is exciting now is that we have one card at it’s highest sign-up bonus:

By signing up for these four cards, completing eligible purchases to get the sign-up bonuses, we can get 110,000 SPG points, or 330,000 Marriott points barely from the sign-up bonuses, which is more than enough for a best-value Package redemption, not counting in the points from transactions.  Actually, we can get about 65,000 SPG points from the two Chase cards by getting the sign-up bonus point, transaction, and AU points. Then, we can “borrow” 25,000 SPG points for the best-value Package redemption, which will be elaborated in Part 5.

2. Referral bonus

Both Amex SPG/Biz and Chase Marriott/Biz offer the opportunity to refer a friend and reward you points, which is a main source of points. You can earn 5,000 SPG points per referral of AMEX SPG and Amex SPG/Biz, respectively, capped with 55,000 points per calendar year. Different from SPG, Chase Marriott and Chase Marriott Biz send targeted referral promotions to the customers, so the rewarded points are case by case, but the general case is 10,000 Marriott points per referral, up to 50,000 per calendar year. For more info, refer to Credit Card Refer a Friend Benefits Explained.

When the Amex SPG comes with it’s best sign-up bonus, you should be able to get it and refer 11 friends of yours to apply for it, resulting in 90,000 SPG points for you combining your sign up bonus and referral bonus, which is just the number of points necessary for the redemption of a best-value Package.

3. Hotel stay points

With all this talk about bonuses it’s easy to neglect hotel stays as a source of point accumulation. A stay at any SPG property yields 2 SPG points per 1 dollar spent, with an extra 50% bonus if you are a gold or platinum member. A stay at any Marriott property generates 10 Marriott points, with extra 20%, 25%, and 50% bonus from silver, gold, and platinum membership, respectively. It is not a high ratio but better than general credit card transactions. It is unwise to stay at hotels purely for accumulation of points (mattress run), with the exception of when there are…

Promos! Yes, do not forget there are plenty of promos. Check here, and here, for current SPG and Marriott stay promos respectively.

In addition, Marriott has its own referral program, where you can invite your friends to join Marriott program and stay at Marriott properties, Your friend and you will both earn 2,000 Marrott points per his/her first five stays. The number of people you can earn from your referrals will be up to 5. In this sense, you can earn at most 50,000 Marriott points by referring 5 people and they each stay at five or more Marriott properties in a calendar year. For more info, refer to the website.

Generally hotel stay promos can be stacked unless stated otherwise. Then, it could make sense to do mattress run in a quite cheap hotel, by stacking the stay promos, points from stay, credit card cashbback, shopping portal cashback (e.g. Top Cashback has 5-7% cashback for booking Marriott properties through their links).

4. Buy points directly

We can always buy points directly from SPG and Marriott, but it does not make sense to do so as the cost are 3.5 cpp and 1.25 cpp for SPG and Marriott points, respectively. However, SPG often offers discounted buying points, such as the best-ever targeted 50% off for purchasing SPG points, will lower the cost down to 1.75 cpp. Right now, SPG offers 30% discount, with which we need to buy 20,000-30,000 points at 2.45 cpp, which ends at April 30, 2017. The current promo is not appealing but acceptable, as we have analyzed above that we can get more than 2.56 cpp values out of it.

In short, we think deals like purchasing SPG and Marriott points with 2.5 cpp and 0.83 cpp respectively, can be considered, depending how you evaluate the costs and values. Remember to use a shopping portal and proper credit cards when buying points from Points.com.

5. Combine points

This is huge. SPG members can transfer points from one account to another if both of them have had  the same address for more than 30 days. The Marriott does not require the account holders to have the same address. Instead, Marriott will collect a flat $10 fee (free for Gold and Plat members) for transferring points between accounts, with a limit of 50,000 points for incoming and outgoing respectively. A trick to overcome this transfer limit is that we can book a hotel using points from two accounts in order to “transfer points”. Remember that we need both accounts to have the same address in this case to make this trick work. An exemplary action is given below. Say you want to transfer from your friend’s account to your account. We first need to find a hotel we “want to” book, say a Cat 7 Marriott property, and we want to stay for 7 nights, in the far future. Anyway, we need to make sure that the points needed for this redemption is more than what you have in your account. Marriott does not require you to have enough points to make a reservation, and it only requires you to have enough points at the first date of stay. Then, we can call 801-468-4000 to inform the rep of both of your account numbers and let the rep know you guys want to travel together, and request the rep to transfer the points from your friend’s account to yours to complete the reservation. After that, you can cancel the reservation and the portion of your friend’s points will be returned to your account. This is totally eligible as it is stated in T&C.

Well, even if you guys do not combine the points before redeeming the Travel Packages, you can use the same trick at the time of redeeming them.

With this trick, it is possible to redeem 225,000 Marriott points for Travel Packages by doing the following steps. First, transfer 45,000 points from a friend’s account to your account (notice that it is within the yearly limit). Then, redeem the best-value package and wait for 120,000 (or 132,000 for UA) airline miles to show up in your account. Finally, “refund” the 7 free nights to get 45,000 Marriott points back, and transfer those points back to your friend’s account. By doing all of these steps, we complete the redemption of Travel Packages without violating any T&C.

Besides these five means of accumulation of points, there are other ways which are perhaps too slow (daily purchases using credit card), adventurous (manufacturing spending), or hard-to-do (reselling). Some people may think it makes sense to convert UR or UA miles to Marriott, or even MR to SPG to make up enough points for redemptions, but we do not recommend these as they are devaluating points by doing so. Think about our incentive of redeeming Travel Packages, which is to acquire high-value airline miles. By converting high-value UR or MR points to low-value Marriott points, we will most likely get less values or even pay more for Travel Package redemptions.

Finally, we would like to predict that after Marriott and SPG are fully merged to one program, the Marriott Travel Packages would get devaluated or even totally cancelled, as it is another way of performing devaluation of their points.

To re-cap:

  • The Marriott Travel Packages program is the fifth flexible point system, in addition to the UR, MR, TYP and SPG.
  • The best-value Package needs 270,000 Marriott or 90,000 SPG points.
  • The best-value Package needs 225,000 Mariott or 75,000 SPG points with the refund of 7 free nights.
  • 120,000 airline miles (132,000 miles for UA) will be awarded by redemption of the best-value Package.
  • The SPG to non-UA miles ratio is 1.33, and 1.60 with the refund of the 7 free nights; The SPG to UA miles ratio is 1.47, and 1.76 with the refund of the 7 free nights.
  • Stacking with airline promos results in extra bonus miles, such as the AC promo which ends on April 17, 2017.
  • Airlines including UA, AA, AS, AC are highly recommended and DL and WN (RIP companion pass) are also recommended.
  • Five fast-track point accumulation ways: sign-up bonus, referral, hotel stay, points purchase, and points combination
  • Chase Marriott is offering the best-ever sign-up bonus! Amex SPG just ended but be on the look out for that huge 35K points offer! Furthermore, you can earn referral bonus from these cards.
  • For earning points from hotel stays, remember to stack with current SPG stay promo, Marriott stay promo, and Marriott membership referral bonus.
  • 30% off SPG point purchase is underway with 2.45 cpp price at 20,000-30,000 points, ending on April 30, 2017.
  • Always check shopping portals for extra cashback.
  • It is legitimate to combine points from different account for redeeming Travel Packages.
  • It is NOT recommended to convert UR or MR points or UA miles for redemption of Packages.
  • The future of Marriott Rewards Travel Package is vague.

FAQ

Please comment below to ask any questions.

Q: Can we redeem the 5-night Travel Packages.

A: No, at the moment they are reserved for Marriott Vacation Club Owners. Some people got luck of redeeming 5-night package by calling Marriott overseas customer service, but YMMV. There is a rumor that it will open to everybody soon.

Q: Why did not you analyze the 5-night Packages?

A: With the refund of free nights, the SPG to miles ratios will not differ most likely for both 5-night and 7-night packages.

Q: I want to utilize my free night certificates. Can you recommend some hotels?

A: Yes! Just await the second episode of the Marriott Travel Packages series: Hotels recommended for free nights

Q: Can I upgrade to a higher category/tier of hotel after I purchase the package?

A: Yes! In fact, we encourage everyone to purchase the lowest tier as to use the least amount of points, and if you so desire you can upgrade with 30,000 Marriott (10,000 SPG) points per category/tier at a later date!


This is a translated article, please click “中文” at the top right corner of this page (desktop version) for the original Chinese version. The article is written by aleph, and translated by jldh8866.


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