This article is our attempt to decide what Marriott Bonvoy points are worth.
Valuing miles and points is a thankless job. We have always published articles on what Avios points are worth, but that Avios article is so complex that it simply proves my point.
In the face of constant reader requests, however, I am launching a series of articles on how we value each of the major hotel points currencies.
Our earlier articles on what Accor Live Limitless points are worth is here, what Hilton Honors points are worth is here and what IHG Rewards points are worth is here. If you read any of those, you can ignore the repeated methodology section below and head straight to the numbers.
The reason I have changed my mind after all these years is that I have found a methodology that works for me. It takes a subjective valuation and then explains the boundaries around it. Or, in plain English:
- I will tell you (without justifying it) what I think a Marriott Bonvoy point is worth
- I will tell you, on the upside, how far wrong I can be (which is good news)
- I will tell you, on the downside, how far wrong I can be (which is bad news)
- I will tell you what Marriott Bonvoy points are worth if you turn them into something else – usually airline miles – which effectively locks in a floor value
Why I think ‘range’ is important when valuing hotel points
When we look at using Avios for business or First Class flights, the ‘cash alternative’ is often a poor comparison. Most HfP readers don’t want to, or simply can’t afford to, pay cash for business or First Class flights. Their choice is Avios or nothing. Even if you can afford to pay, what are you comparing with? A cheap non-refundable sale flight? A pricier flexible ticket? The cost of an indirect flight, not on BA?
Hotels redemptions are different:
- you stay in far more hotels each year compared to the number of premium cabin flights you take, so you can be selective about when you use points
- you can usually afford to pay for a hotel if you choose not to use points
- there are far more options in the hotel market than in the flight market – most people only have a lot of miles in one airline programme, whereas you are likely to hold hotel points in multiple schemes
It is easy to sit on hotel points until you get a good deal
The net result of the three facts above is that it is easy to turn down a hotel redemption when it doesn’t seem like good value. You can pay cash or redeem via another hotel scheme instead.
Here is the crux of what I am trying to say. If you compare two hotel schemes:
- scheme A usually gets you 0.3p per point but if you are lucky you can get 1p
- scheme B usually gets you 0.4p per point but if you are lucky you can get 0.6p
…. scheme A may actually be the best.
Most people who try to ‘value’ hotel points don’t take this into account.
If you redeemed points for every stay you did, regardless of the cash price, scheme B would be the best. No-one does this though. In reality you can pay cash for your stays in scheme A until the day when a bumper redemption arrives and you can get 1p.
What are Marriott Bonvoy points worth?
With our methodology out of the way, let’s take a look at what Marriott Bonvoy points are worth.
To keep things simple, we do not adjust for the fact that you would earn points back if you paid cash instead. This can have a noticeable impact when generous bonuses are running.
On the upside, members get ‘five nights for the points of four’ when redeeming. This is available to all members, not just those with elite status. We don’t factor this in.
The HfP average valuation of a Marriott Bonvoy point:
We are not justifying this valuation, except to say that I have looked at enough Marriott redemptions over the years to be happy with it. Anyone who knows Marriott Bonvoy should know that this feels right. A £250 5-star hotel will usually be around 50,000 points.
No hotels, even the most luxurious ones in the portfolio, cost more than 100,000 Bonvoy points. This is the Category 8 peak date price (Category 8 is 85,000 points on a ‘standard’ day.) You need to remember that Marriott Bonvoy has more top hotels, via St Regis, The Ritz-Carlton and The Luxury Collection, than other major chains.
At the bottom end, a Category 1 hotel on an off-peak night will cost just 5,000 points. You can be pretty sure that the cash price of the room will be at least (5,000 x 0.5p) £25 and probably far more.
How high can value go on the upside?
High, which is good.
Each Marriott Bonvoy hotel is placed in one of eight categories. Inside each category there is a peak, standard and off-peak price.
In peak season, you can do better than 0.5p.
Here’s a real example. In December 2020, I redeemed 400,000 points for two villas at The Ritz Carlton Al Wadi Desert in Ras Al-Khaimah. This would have cost £4,800 for cash, which I would have paid if necessary. I got 1.2p per point. It justified all of the Marriott stays where I paid cash rather than redeem for 0.5p per point.
How low can value go on the downside?
Low, which is a problem, especially at the moment.
One good thing about Marriott Bonvoy is that the points cost is capped on the upside. One bad thing is that it is also capped on the downside.
Each hotel is trapped inside its points category. This means that, at times when cash rates are low, you can be getting very little value for your points. This is especially true at the moment, when covid restrictions mean that many hotels have had to cut their prices sharply. There are many hotels where a redemption will get you around 0.3p instead of our usual 0.5p.
This isn’t a problem, however. As long as you are aware that 0.3p per Marriott Bonvoy point is a bad deal, you can simply save your points to use another time.
If Marriott Bonvoy devalues hugely tomorrow, what is my escape route?
This is our floor price. What can you do with your points if Marriott Bonvoy devalues massively overnight?
With Marriott Bonvoy, the best value is to convert your points to airline miles. Importantly, you get more value by doing this than redeeming for some room nights.
Use Marriott Bonvoy points for frequent flyer miles
Marriott Bonvoy has, by far, the most generous airline transfer rate in the industry.
Bonvoy points transfer to over 40 airlines. The transfer rate is 3:1. If you convert 60,000 points at once, you receive a bonus of 5,000 miles, giving you 25,000 miles in total.
If we assume an airline mile is worth 1p, then you are getting 0.42p per Marriott Bonvoy point if you convert in batches of 60,000 points. Convert in smaller chunks and you are getting airline miles worth 0.33p per Marriott Bonvoy point.
The ‘worse case’ scenario is, as you can see, actually more valuable than our ‘low case’ for hotel room redemptions!
Use Marriott Bonvoy points to book a home rental
Marriott has a home and villa rental platform called ‘Homes & Villas by Marriott’ – see here.
All properties globally are billed in US$ and if you choose to pay with points you get 0.6 cents (0.44p) per Bonvoy points.
Using Marriott Bonvoy points to pay your hotel bill
There is also another way to cash out Marriott Bonvoy points easily.
Marriott offers ‘Instant Rewards’, which allow you to redeem your points towards your hotel bill at participating properties. Details are on the Bonvoy site here.
The chart, which runs from 250 points for $1 credit to 125,000 points for $500. At the top end, you are getting ($500 = £363) 0.29p per Bonvoy point.
This is not as good as converting to airline miles or booking a home and villa rental, but you are getting something very close to cash.
In summary …. what do we think Marriott Bonvoy points are worth?
- on average: 0.5p per point
- on a very good day: 0.75p for standard properties, but if you occasionally stay in super-prime hotels and resorts at peak times then 1p+ is possible
- on a bad day: 0.3p per point (value of a point when hotel prices are low) although you never need to get this low due to the ‘worse case scenario’ below
- if you transfer out to airline miles in a worse case scenario: 0.42p per point when transferring in chunks of 60,000 points, or 0.33p for other quantities
- if you are happy to book home and villa rentals with your points, you are guaranteed 0.6 cents (0.44p) per point if you pay with points
As to how this should impact your behaviour:
- if you tend to visit prime hotels in prime locations at prime times of the year, it makes sense to reject redeeming your points until you can achieve a redemption valuation of 0.75p or more per Marriott Bonvoy point. Those who may visit luxury beach or city resorts, such as the top St Regis or The Ritz-Carlton hotels, should hold out for nearer 1p.
- if your travel style is more about travelling off peak and staying in mid range hotels, or you are worried about long-term devaluations, any Marriott Bonvoy redemption which gets you above 0.5p per point is worth taking