I learn new hotel travel strategies all the time. Thanks to Kevin at Upgrd.com for clearly explaining this tip on his blog. Recently I was upgraded to Marriott Rewards Gold elite status thanks to the promotion offer for Air China PhoenixMiles members. Now that I am elite, I have become aware of this elite-only opportunity with Marriott Rewards to buy $1,000 in Marriott Cheques for 135,000 points.
The $1,000 Marriott Cheques offer is only available to Silver, Gold, Platinum and other elites in Marriott Rewards. The special rate of 135,000 points apparently is a 25% discount on the normal cost at 180,000 points. The website currently states this offer expired on December 31, 2010. Marriott Rewards told me today this offer is still available for 2011 and there is no offer expiration date listed at present. 2011 availability is also mentioned by Marriott Concierge in this FlyerTalk thread.
To redeem points for $1,000 Marriott Cheques (20 x $50 cheques): Contact 1-800-321-7396 or online https://www.marriott.com/rewards/moreRewardDetail.mi?marrRewardCode=E195&points=135,000
The $1,000 Marriott Cheques offer is a valuable strategy to know when it comes time to spend your Marriott points for your free hotel stay.
Terms of Cheques:
- No change is given so need to pay within $50 of total bill and settle the balance with cash or credit card to avoid losing cheque value .
- May be used for publicly listed room rates and packages. [LT note: no AAA, AARP, corporate rates, although some members report being able to use Marriott Cheques on these rates. Breakfast, free night packages, spa, dining packages are eligible rates.]
- Marriott Cheques expire after one year from issuance.
Loyalty Traveler Analysis:
Kevin shows a breakdown on his blog where he stayed at Renaissance Eden Roc Miami Beach for two nights and paid with $400 in Marriott Cheques (8 x $50 cheque). He spent 54,000 points for the $400 in cheques (40% of 135,000 points). He earned 6,320 points as a Marriott Rewards Platinum member on his $435 paid stay, charging just $35 of the total to his credit card. He also earned two elite qualification nights.
The bottom line is the Renaissance Eden Roc is a category 6 hotel that would have required 60,000 points for a two-night stay and he would not have earned elite credit on a reward stay. Kevin used his points to stay at the hotel and earn elite credit for less than the points cost to redeem points for two free nights.
Marriott cheques also covered his parking charges ($60) which would not have been paid for with a reward stay.
Points Analysis Summary
- 54,000 points = $400 gift cheques used for two paid nights at Renaissance Eden Roc
- 6,320 points earned for paid hotel stay with base earning on $388.
- Net cost of two nights in points = 47,680 points.
- Kevin saved 12,320 points on this stay while earning 2 elite credit nights.
- Marriott Cheques total: $400 = 47,680 points net redeemed
- Marriott Cheques Value of points = $8.39 per 1,000
If Kevin had spent 60,000 points he would have saved room and tax with the reward, but he would have needed to pay the full parking charge of $60.
- $370 room rate + tax = 60,000 points net redeemed
- Reward nights Value of Points = $6.17 per 1,000
In this example Kevin ultimately received higher value ($8.39 vs. $6.17 per 1,000 points or about an extra $120 in value for 50,000 points).
Kevin also earned elite credit for a hotel stay using his Marriott Rewards points by redeeming points for Marriott cheques and paying for a stay with cheques rather than redeeming points for a free stay.
When to use Marriott Cheques strategy
This is a particularly valuable strategy when staying at hotels where the rates are relatively low compared to the hotel reward category. Fixed price rewards common in hotel loyalty programs means there is often a disconnect in the room rate and the reward category.
For example, many hotels in central business districts run $200 to $300 a night on weekdays and then drop to under $150 on weekends when the business travelers are scarce. These hotels typically have a high category reward, let’s say Marriott Rewards category 6, and the fixed price means that a $300 weekday night will cost 30,000 points or a $130 Friday night will still cost 30,000 points.
Marriott Cheques allow the Marriott Rewards elite member frequent guest to leverage the value of points by spending cheques when rates are low relative to the Marriott Rewards hotel category and spending points when rates are high and make the cheques lesser value than a direct free night redemption.
Of course this deal means you need 135,000 Marriott Rewards points to redeem for $1,000 in Marriott Cheques. There is also the $100 Marriott Cheque for 25,000 points ($4/1,000 points), but that is a much lower value than $1,000 Marriott Cheques for 135,000 points ($7.40/1,000 points).
This might be a good time to consider a Marriott Rewards Visa if you do not spend more than $5,000 a year on Marriott stays.
Certainly Marriott Cheques are not a strategy for everyone, but they are a useful option for the Marriott Rewards frequent guest with a big account balance.