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Two things about Marriott Rewards that I am growing to love

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Long-term readers of Head for Points will know that I have not been the greatest fan of Marriott Rewards although I have always acknowledged that people who commit enough to earn top-tier status (75 nights!) are well treated.

My main problems have always revolved around:

the fact that Marriott has very few aspirational properties I want to stay at, and

Marriott Rewards is not an easy scheme to earn points in: it is not an Amex partner, it has a weak – and not currently available – UK credit card, and you need to do a ludicrous number of nights to earn status (unlike the US, you don’t have a Marriott on every street corner in Europe)

The acquisition of Starwood has changed all this:

Marriott Rewards is now a de facto Amex Membership Rewards partner because you can go Amex to Starwood at 2:1 and then Starwood to Marriott at 1:3

The Starwood American Express card effectively lets you earn 3 Marriott points for every £1 you spend (compared to 1 per £1 on the old MasterCard) as well as a 30,000 Marriott Rewards points bonus for signing up.  The card also gives double points – effectively 6 Marriott points per £1 – when you stay at either a Marriott or Starwood property.

American Express Platinum gets you automatic free Starwood Gold which you can instantly match to Marriott Rewards Gold

Starwood has brought a LOT of upmarket hotels into the Marriott family

Because I can now generate Starwood points at will, via an Amex Membership Rewards conversion or by spending on their credit card, I have been paying more attention to Marriott Rewards.  And, I have to say, there are two features of the Marriott Rewards programme which I have quickly come to love.

JW Marriott Venice main building

Loveable feature 1:  You can book a Marriott Rewards redemption without having the points in your account

This is very cool and very handy.  You can log into the Marriott Rewards website and book yourself a reward stay even if you don’t have any points.  Marriott doesn’t care, as long as you earn them eight days before you check in.

These is a great feature.  I have just booked the JW Marriott in Venice for a few nights in August (this is probably the best Marriott hotel in Europe, excluding the Ritz-Carlton chain).  Here is the review of my last stay.

The stay will cost me 120,000 Marriott points.  I don’t have that at the moment.  However, I have over four months to do it.  I will probably end up moving across American Express points to Starwood and then to Marriott, but I will also get my Starwood Amex card back into action for a bit.  I might even do a couple of Marriott stays.  The bottom line is that my reservation is secure and I can worry about earning the points later.

JW Marriott Venice room

Loveable feature 2:  I can finally book suites or bigger rooms for points, by adding some cash

Marriott Rewards is the only programme that has fully embraced the idea of making all room types available for points, as long as you top up with cash.

To be fair, many other hotels will do this but it requires negotiation with the property directly.  With Marriott Rewards, the numbers are there on the website.

We have booked a Junior Suite at the JW Marriott in Venice.  We had this room type last year and it worked well for a family of four, with two kids on rollaway beds.  There are bigger suites in the hotel but they are often funny shapes or over two levels or with poorer views.  We found that the Junior Suites work well for a family.

Booking is a doddle.  Pretty much all room types at this hotel are available for points, with a cash supplement for a bigger room.

In this case, a standard room is 40,000 points per night.  The Junior Suite is 40,000 points per night plus €300 per night top-up.  Other room types are available for more or less €.  Compared to paying cash for the Junior Suite, I’m getting 0.8p per Marriott Rewards point, so 2.4p per Starwood point, which is excellent value.

(If you were thinking of booking this hotel, note that it is classified by Marriott as a ‘resort’.  This means that Marriott Rewards status benefits, such as free breakfast, do not apply.)


Marriott Rewards is winning me round.  Once the superior Starwood hotels are merged onto the Marriott Rewards platform, you will also be able to book those on ‘book now, earn the points later’.

If you’ve got children, or if you simply don’t like staying in small standard rooms when travelling, you will also find the co-pay option to get a bigger room on a reward stay to be of great interest.  If this option is added to the Starwood hotels as well next year, it will be great.

We can only hope that both of these features are retained when Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest are merged into a new ‘super programme’ during 2018.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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  1. ‘Book now, get the points later’ is very useful but surely it drastically reduces availability as many bookings are made and never taken up – even more than paying the points and then cancelling later?

    • Depends how many use it to make speculative bookings and how many simply use it to let them book earlier and secure their room.

      • See Wally’s post three upwards.
        I have two bookings for June but will cancel one when I pay the points shortly.

  2. Hi Rob
    We are looking at this hotel pre cruise -Venice to Rome. You can also book via Amex Platinum FHR to get resort credit (€85) and free breakfast for two with upgrade and late check out..

  3. Is there any signup bonus for new HILTON account?
    No stay planned but may get Barclay Hilton Card

    • Nothing at present (looked a couple of months ago when introducing a friend to collecting points!)

  4. Where on the website will it tell you if a hotel is classed as a “resort” and therefore status benefits won’t apply?

  5. There’s another interesting feature in my view, nights over your status (which normally would be lost) roll-over to the next year and jumpstart your collection. This has happen to me the last 2 years at least, first year at lower level now at the highest. All because last year I had a double-nights promotion.

  6. Melvin says:

    Well timed article for me. Was investigating Orlando World Centre late last night but was getting frustrated as i couldn’t seem to get the system to offer me any suites. We are family of five so need suite or interconnecting rooms. Dates i want are not open yet so just picking random dates in October with no luck – maybe i was just tired!

  7. Melvin says:

    Does Marriott rewards allow account pooling i.e. can i make a reward booking using points from two accounts?

    Looking at signing up myself and the missus for SPG credit cards and transferring points to Marriott so i assume we would need separate Marriott reward accounts?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Think they allow transfers but you can transfer SPG Points between accounts registered with the same address, then transfer those to a single Marriot account

  8. Concerto says:

    €300 per night seems a lot for an upsell to a junior suite. Are there cheaper rooms available which are a bit larger? Although it is Venice, in the middle of Ferragosto.

    • There are cheaper rooms that are larger than the Junior Suites! But they are a stupid shape and face a fire escape – we had one first time we went.

      If you think €300 upsell is expensive you haven’t been to Venice in August recently.

      • Concerto says:

        No, I avoid the place like the plague. Anyway, Summer should be low season, as it is in all other European cities. However, the Italians have something called Ferragosto…

  9. Another useful feature of Marriott is being able to transfer points between strangers especially with a booking requiring more points.

  10. Weston Newgirl says:

    Well I just found out that they changed the check in time at the Forest of Arden Marriott from 3pm to 4pm, which I think is rather late and would deter me from booking with them in future. It may be that this is because they are now guaranteeing elite members 4pm check out?

  11. Hi. I am nearing my gold lifetime status with Marriott. Is there any way of transferring avios or klm miles into Marriott points? Thanks, neil

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