By: Julie Szpira
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At 10xTravel, our goal is to set people on the right path to earn as many points and miles as possible, then use those points and miles to maximize their travel.
Getting started can be overwhelming, so our first advice is always to earn the highest bonuses on the best cards available.
After starting with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, two Chase Southwest credit cards—for those who want the Southwest Companion Pass – and the Chase United MileagePlus Explorer, we often have readers ask, “What card next?”
When the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier card is suggested, many readers will explain that they only stay at AirBnB’s, so they don’t see any value in getting the card.
After I recover from my tiny panic attack, I calmly explain all the reasons for getting the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier credit card. Here’s what I tell people who don’t initially see the value in this card…
Chase Marriott Rewards Premier is a Chase 5/24 Restricted Card
Due to the Chase 5/24 rule, the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier credit card cannot be opened if you have opened more than 5 credit cards, from any bank, within the last 24 months—business cards from banks other than Capital One and Discover are an exception.
When starting out in this hobby, it is recommended to maximize your Chase 5/24 slots by only opening Chase cards, until you have opened 5 cards. Once you’ve done that, you can move onto other cards.
For many readers, they just don’t see how they can get value out of Marriott Rewards points, so they get to 3/24 or 4/24 and just start opening cards from other banks, leaving them unable to get the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier card if they change their minds.
While you may not see how you can find value in Marriott Rewards points right now, you want to maximize the cards you are able to open and the bonuses you can earn, and that means opening the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Card before you get to 5/24.
The points can be used in variety of ways, and you’ll be glad to have them down the line.
Marriott Rewards Points Can Become SPG Starpoints
In September 2016, Marriott International and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide completed a merger that combined the hotel brands and linked their loyalty programs—this last bit is key.
If you are at all familiar with the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) program, you know that SPG Starpoints are generally considered to be the most valuable rewards currency on a point by point basis due to reasonable hotel redemption rates and the ability to transfer SPG Starpoints to more than 30 airline programs.
Since the merger, members have been allowed to move points between Marriott Rewards and SPG at a ratio of 3 Marriott Rewards points to 1 SPG Starpoint.
If you are someone that never stays in hotels, you can earn the sign-up bonus from the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier credit card, transfer those points to SPG, and then transfer the SPG points to your airline of choice.
With the conversion between Marriott Rewards and SPG being 3:1, 60,000 Marriott Rewards points would be needed to transfer to SPG for 20,000 points.
SPG points can then be transferred to more than 30 airline partners at a 1:1 ratio. There are a few airline programs such as Air New Zealand Airpoints, Gol Smiles and United MileagePlus that do not offer a favorable 1:1 transfer ratio, and should be avoided.
SPG Starpoints Airline Transfer Partners
When transferring SPG points in increments of 20,000 points, you are rewarded with a bonus of 5,000 points for each multiple of 20,000 points transferred. For example, transferring 20,000 SPG points to American Airlines would result in 25,000 American AAdvantage miles deposited in your account!
The Transfer Calculation of SPG points to American AAdvantage miles
You can transfer a maximum of 79,999 Starpoints to an airline within a 24-hour timeframe. To maximize the transfer bonus, you should stick to transferring no more than 60,000 Starpoints in this timeframe if at all possible.
Marriott Rewards Points Transfer Direct to United
One notable exception to the SPG airline transfer program is United, as SPG points transfer to United at a 2:1 ratio. That is a horrible use of SPG points, so it is recommended to avoid that transfer at all costs.
The Transfer Calculation of SPG points to United MileagePlus miles
However, if you are someone that is looking to fly on United, and you want to convert your Marriott points to United MileagePlus miles, you can transfer your Marriott Rewards points directly to United at a more favorable rate.
Using the Marriott Airline and Travel Rewards program, you can transfer 56,000 Marriott Rewards points to United to gain 25,000 MileagePlus Miles. This transfer ratio is almost similar to that of the SPG transfers for 1:1 airlines.
The Marriott Airline and Travel Rewards program is only valuable for United MileagePlus transfers. If you are planning to transfer your hotel points to other airlines, it is better to first transfer your Marriott Rewards points to SPG points.
While this is an option, we strongly recommend considering other options for earning United MileagePlus miles such as transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
Earning 25,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles through the Marriott Airline and Travel Rewards program would require 70,000 Marriott Rewards, rather than the 60,000 that would be required by first transfering through SPG.
Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Card Free Night Certificate
The Chase Marriott Rewards Premier card offers one free night stay at a Category 1-5 hotel every cardmember anniversary. The credit card annual fee is $85 per year, so you are essentially getting a fixed rate night at a Category 1-5 hotel.
The free night can come in handy when you need a hotel for just one night due to a positioning flight, or you are planning a hotel stay during a high demand event (college football games, holiday travel, festivals), and you can almost always get far more than $85 in value for the night.
For example, a great college football rivalry occurs at the end of November when Michigan plays Ohio State. For a big rivalry game, you can expect that many people will travel to the city of Columbus, Ohio, and accommodations will be scare or very expensive.
Using the free night certificate at the Category 5 Renaissance Columbus Downtown Hotel will save you the $247 nightly rate. You can then extend your stay for just 25,000 Marriott Rewards points per night.
Using a Category 1-5 Anniversary Free Night Certificate can save you a ton of cash!
Marriott Hotel + Air Packages
Marriott Hotel + Air packages are a great way to redeem Marriott Rewards points for a week’s hotel stay and airline miles.
At the most basic level, you trade in 200,000-270,000 Marriott Rewards points, and in return, you get a 7-night stay at a Category 1-5 hotel, plus 50,000-132,000 airline points or miles, depending on the airline miles you would like to earn..
Marriott Rewards points redemption for Hotel+Air Packages
In most cases, the best use of Marriott Rewards points is to exchange for the most amount miles for each package. Using Hotel+Air Package 1 as an example, the 7 nights + 50,000 miles package costs 200,000 Marriott Rewards points. However, the 7 nights + 120,000 miles package costs just 270,000 Marriott Rewards points. So, for an extra 70,000 Marriott Rewards points, you get an extra 70,000 airline miles. That’s an excellent exchange for Marriott Rewards points.
If you recall in the example above, 60,000 Marriott Rewards points is worth 25,000 airline miles using the SPG transfer program. Being able to get extra airline miles at a 1:1 ratio for Marriott Rewards points is a great use of Marriott Rewards points.
American Airlines is one of the Hotel+Air Package 1 airlines. For 270,000 Marriott Rewards points, you would earn a Category 1-5 certificate, which is good for a 7-night stay, as well as 120,000 American AAdvantage miles.
If you were just going to use the SPG transfer program, you would transfer 270,000 Marriott Rewards points to SPG, which would give you 90,000 SPG Starpoints. SPG only allows you to transfer 79,999 points to an airline per day, so you would have to transfer 60,000 SPG points in one transfer, and the remaining 30,000 SPG points on the next day.
The Transfer Calculation of 90,000 SPG points to American AAdvantage miles
Transfering 60,000 SPG points to American Airlines would give you 75,000 AAdvantage miles and transferring 30,000 SPG points would give you 35,000 miles, for a total of 110,000 AAdvantage miles.
Your best bet to earn the most miles on American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, Alaska, Air Canada, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic is to transfer all your SPG points to Marriott and book through the Hotel+Air package so you can get tons of miles plus a 7-night hotel stay.
For those of you who think “I don’t even stay at hotels, so the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier credit card isn’t valuable to me,” I hope the above examples have made you reconsider.
The Marriott Rewards points earned from the sign-up bonus can help you achieve your flight goals through transferring points, and the anniversary free night certificate can be utilized to reduce the cost of accommodations during peak travel season.
Pick up the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier card before you hit 5/24. I’m sure you will find a use for the Marriott Rewards points you earn!