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Does the weak £ make Marriott Bonvoy’s flight ticket redemptions a good deal?

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One of the Starwood features that was adopted by Marriott after it bought the company was the ability to redeem your hotel points for a flight ticket.

Two facts make this offer sound quite attractive.  Marriott Bonvoy is buying you a cash flight ticket so there is no problem with reward availability.  And, because it is a cash ticket, you will receive airline miles and tier points when you fly.

Historically, looking at the cash value of your SPG (now Marriott Bonvoy) points, this deal was terrible value.  Things have now changed.  The Marriott Bonvoy flight booking system is priced in US$ and, with the £ hovering around $1.20 compared to the $1.65 it was at for many years in the early 2010s, it’s worth taking another look.

If you want to book a ticket, you need to go to this page of the Marriott Bonvoy website and click on ‘Take Off’.  You are diverted to a Switchfly-powered page to make your booking.

How to use Marriott Rewards points to book flights

What do I get for my Marriott Bonvoy points when used to book a flight?

Marriott does not publish a pricing table for flight redemptions.

However, Starwood DID publish one and it has not changed substantially.  The chart below is ROUGHLY correct but may be a few thousand points too high or too low in some cases.

Based on the cash cost of your flight, the number of Marriott Bonvoy points you need is approximately:

up to $150 30,000 Marriott Bonvoy points

$150-$215 45,000

$215-$280 60,000

$280-$345 75,000

$345-$410 90,000

$410-$475 105,000

$475-$540 120,000

$540-$605 135,000

$605-$670 150,000

$670-$735 165,000

$735-$800 180,000

$800-$865 195,000

$865-$930 210,000

$930-$995 225,000

$995-$1060 240,000

etc

Looking at a few random examples I ran yesterday:

a $109 ticket came out at 27,500 points (slightly better than the list suggests)

a $296 ticket came out at 75,000 points (as per the chart)

a $380 ticket came out at 97,500 points (slightly worse than the list suggests)

These three examples work out at 0.396c, 0.395c and 0.389c per Marriott Bonvoy point.

At the current exchange rate, it means you are getting 0.30p per point.

Let’s be clear.  0.30p is not great value.  We normally target 0.5p when redeeming Marriott Bonvoy points.  It isn’t totally terrible, however, and ‘totally terrible’ is what you normally expect when a redemption involves the programme handing over hard cash to a third party company.  If you earn all of your Marriott Bonvoy points via business travel, which makes them effectively ‘free’, then you might consider this acceptable.

For comparison, remember that Marriott Bonvoy points convert to Avios at the ratio of 3:1, although this improves to 2.4:1 if you convert in chunks of 60,000 Marriott points.

If you value an Avios point at 1p, then getting 0.33p per Marriott Bonvoy point by converting them to Avios is not a lot better than getting 0.30p by redeeming directly for a flight – and you have zero availability problems and you will earn miles back when you fly!  On this basis, you might find redeeming Marriott Bonvoy points for flights offers some value.

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points via UK credit cards

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold status for as long as they hold the card?  It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold, Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade and Melia Rewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here.

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Marriott Bonvoy points.  That page is regularly updated with the latest special offers and will still be accurate even if you are reading this article months after publication.

(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.)

Comments (5)

  • John says:

    Hotel points are just a proxy for US dollars (or euros in the case of accor). If the flight ticket is priced in pounds a stronger pound would just make it cost more points. So yes a reasonable deal if the ticket is priced in US dollars but you could get the same effect by holding USD in revolut (having converted at the right time)

  • Mikeact says:

    Is it a basic ticket that is provided + extras to pay, ie luggage. Is it flexible etc etc.?

    • maccymac says:

      My thoughts exactly. Is the ticket cancellable like an avios reward booking?

    • marcw says:

      It’s a normal cash ticket, but instead of using cash, you use Marriott Bonvoy points (IHG used to do the same, I don’t know whether they still offer it though) based on a XYZ conversion rate. I believe they use Expedia.

  • Sundar says:

    How does cancellation work ?