This article is our attempt to decide what Marriott Bonvoy points are worth. How should you value them?
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 wrote this series of articles on how we value each of the major hotel points currencies. We are updating the articles this month.
Here are links to the full series:
- What are Accor Live Limitless points worth?
- What are Hilton Honors points worth?
- What are IHG One Rewards points worth?
- What are Radisson Rewards points worth?
- What are World of Hyatt points worth?
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 hotel will usually be around 50,000 points
At present, no hotels, even the most luxurious ones in the portfolio, cost more than 130,000 Bonvoy points. 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 0.5p this translates to £650. Given Summer 2022 hotel pricing, it hasn’t been difficult to find luxury hotels in key cities selling for far more than this.
How high can value go on the upside?
OK, we now come to the elephant in the room.
In March 2022, Marriott Bonvoy dropped its reward charts. From 2023, there will be no limit to what an award night will cost. When cash rates are through the roof, we can expect points rates to do the same.
We are currently in a temporary holding phase, where Marriott has imposed a 130,000 points cap. This is due to be lifted in October 2022 for bookings in 2023.
When the cap goes, we can expect to see top hotels such as St Regis New York, which often cost £1,000 per night for cash, costing 200,000 points per night or more. A number of hotels are likely to hit 250,000 points per night.
This isn’t a smart move. Not only does it make luxury hotels look unachievable to the average member, but it removes all incentive to hoard Marriott Bonvoy points. Why bother, if you get the same pence per point value at a Moxy? Surely it is better to spend your points quickly before any further devaluations occur?
Hilton Honors was smarter. It uses a hybrid dynamic pricing model. When cash rates are low, points prices fall. When cash rates skyrocket, there is cap to ensure that the points price does not hit an embarrassing level. There is still a reason to build up your Hilton points rather than cashing them out at any opportunity.
Until we know how Marriott Bonvoy will implement dynamic pricing, it is impossible to say what sort of upside you could expect for your points on a good day in 2023 and beyond.
How low can value go on the downside?
Irrespective of what happens with dynamic pricing, there is a floor to what you will receive for your Marriott Bonvoy points.
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 runs from 250 points for $1 credit to 125,000 points for $500. Irrespective of how few you use, you are getting 0.4 cents (currently 0.35p) per Bonvoy point.
If Marriott Bonvoy devalues hugely tomorrow, what is my escape route?
This is our floor price. What can you do with your points if Marriott Bonvoy devalues massively overnight?
This is very much a ‘live’ issue, because it is possible that the ‘pence per point’ value set by dynamic pricing will be terrible. I consider it unlikely but it is a risk.
With Marriott Bonvoy, the best value is to convert your points to airline miles. Importantly, you get more value by doing this than redeeming for some room nights.
Use Marriott Bonvoy points for frequent flyer miles
Marriott Bonvoy has, by far, the most generous airline transfer rate in the industry.
Bonvoy points transfer to over 40 airlines. The transfer rate is 3:1. If you convert 60,000 points at once, you receive a bonus of 5,000 miles, giving you 25,000 miles in total.
If we assume an airline mile is worth 1p, then you are getting 0.42p per Marriott Bonvoy point if you convert in batches of 60,000 points. Convert in smaller chunks and you are getting airline miles worth 0.33p per Marriott Bonvoy point.
This ‘worst case’ scenario is actually pretty good when you look at the numbers.
Use Marriott Bonvoy points to book a home rental
Marriott has a home and villa rental platform called ‘Homes & Villas by Marriott’ – see here.
All properties globally are billed in US$ and if you choose to pay with points you get 0.6 cents (0.52p) per Bonvoy points.
Again, this is surprisingly good – as good as our ‘average value’ of 0.5p for a hotel redemption.
In summary …. what do we think Marriott Bonvoy points are worth?
- on average: 0.5p per point, but this may change when we see what value is used for dynamic pricing
- on a very good day: it isn’t clear, until we see the full impact of dynamic pricing in October 2022
- on a bad day: if you are happy to use your points for in-hotel credit, you are guaranteed 0.4 cents (0.35p) per point
- 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 (0.52p) 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, you should try to lock in redemptions now before dynamic pricing takes full effect later in 2022. These are the hotels which are likely to increase sharply in points price.
- if your travel style is more about travelling off peak and staying in mid range hotels, you may see the points cost of hotels dropping when dynamic pricing is introduced. However, as Marriott Bonvoy points redemptions can be cancelled without penalty, it does no harm to lock in bookings now for 2023 and rebook if the points price drops.
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (October 2022)
There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.
The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year.
EDIT: Until 8th November 2022, the sign-up bonus on the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card is doubled to 40,000 points!
You can apply here.
You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points by converting American Express Membership Rewards points at the rate of 2:3.
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 and MeliaRewards Gold status. We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.
EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.
You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points indirectly:
- American Express Gold (20,000 bonus Amex points)
- American Express Rewards Credit Card (10,000 bonus Amex points)
and for small business owners:
- American Express Business Gold (20,000 bonus Amex points)
- American Express Business Platinum (40,000 bonus Amex points)
The conversion rate from American Express to Marriott Bonvoy points is 2:3.
(Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)