May032011

Marriott Rewards airline partner JetBlue offers little value

Marriott Rewards adds JetBlue as its 31st airline partner. Now you can earn TrueBlue loyalty points on Marriott brand hotel stays or exchange Marriott Rewards points to TrueBlue points, but this partnership is of little value based on the earn and burn rates established between the programs.

Marriott Rewards points have far more value for hotels or other airline miles to waste hotel spend earning JetBlue TrueBlue points or burning Marriott Rewards points in exchange for TrueBlue points.

Marriott Earn Rate for JetBlue TrueBlue Points

Earn 1 TrueBlue points per US$1 in hotel spend at Marriott brands of JW Marriott, Renaissance, Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Marriott Vacation Club, Autograph Collection and for room rate only at Edition and Ritz-Carlton hotels.

Earn 1 TrueBlue point per US$2 for room rate only at Courtyard, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites, Fairfield Inn and TownePlace Suites.

Exchange Marriott Rewards points for JetBlue TrueBlue points at these sliding scale rates:

  • 10,000 Marriott Rewards points = 1,000 TrueBlue points
  • 20,000 Marriott Rewards points = 2,500 TrueBlue points
  • 30,000 Marriott Rewards points = 5,000 TrueBlue points
  • 70,000 Marriott Rewards points = 12,500 TrueBlue points
  • 125,000 Marriott Rewards points = 25,000 TrueBlue points

Loyalty Traveler Analysis

Yesterday I started to analyze the value proposition of JetBlue TrueBlue points and shelved the project for a day. Today is my lucky day when I saw The Wandering Aramean blogpost “Jet Blue’s TrueBlue program: now 15-25% more True”. Seth posted a table of JetBlue routes with airfare and calculated the value of TrueBlue points.

My sense of good redemption value for Marriott Rewards points generally hovers around $10 per 1,000 points. For example, 20,000 points for a category-4 $200 per night hotel or 40,000 points for a $400 per night luxury Ritz-Carlton Tier 2 hotel is good redemption value. I can confidently say that JetBlue TrueBlue earn/burn rates for Marriott Rewards is a poor value proposition, unless you are really desperate for some TrueBlue points.

 

Value of a Marriott Rewards point vs. JetBlue TrueBlue point

I think the value of a Marriott point is almost as high as the value of a TrueBlue point. Seth’s data shows TrueBlue points worth about $15 per 1,000 points for many routes. This ratio means the actual redemption value of a TrueBlue point is only about 50% more than a Marriott Rewards point so 1,500 Marriott rewards points = 1,000 JetBlue points in a fair value exchange by my Loyalty Traveler estimate.

Yet, the official exchange rates established between Marriott Rewards and JetBlue TrueBlue show a Marriott Courtyard hotel stay is trading 20 Marriott points for 1 TrueBlue point. The best points-to-miles exchange rate gives 1 TrueBlue point for 5 Marriott Rewards points. These are poor exchange values for Marriott Rewards points.

By the Numbers

An example of a JetBlue airfare from Seth’s chart shows a one-way flight from FLL (Fort Lauderdale) to San Francisco is $156 or 11,100 TrueBlue points.

Earning 11,100 TrueBlue points through Marriott brand hotel stays takes $11,100 in hotel spend and up to $22,200 in hotels spend depending on hotel brands.

JetBlue Earn Rate

JetBlue’s earn rate for flights is based on the airfare. TrueBlue members earn 6 points for every $1 in ticket price for JetBlue.com website purchases. It’s possible to earn over 20,000 TrueBlue points for $1,800 in cross-country tickets.

Spend $180 per JetBlue one-way flights and take 5 roundtrips a year = $1,800 spend x 6 TrueBlue points = 10,800 TrueBlue points for flights based on the $1,800 in JetBlue tickets. 

TrueBlue members receive 3,500 bonus points after reaching thresholds of flight activity at 3,000 points for a 500 points bonus; 6,000 points for a 1,000 points bonus; and 9,000 points for a 2,000 points bonus.

10 JetBlue longhaul one way flights over 1,600 miles in a calendar year earn 10,000 bonus points. 

$1,800 in JetBlue air travel earns 24,300 TrueBluepoints.

Marriott Rewards Earn Rate

$11,000 in hotel spend will earn at least 55,000 Marriott Rewards points if all spend is at Residence Inn or TownePlace Suites, but more likely in the 110,000 range with most Marriott brands earning 10 points per $1. In real travel, elite points and bonus points offers will likely push total points earned after $11,000 in spend to 125,000 points to 250,000 points range.  

Assume Marriott Rewards member earns 125,000 Marriott Rewards points after $11,000 in spend. These Marriott Rewards points can now be exchanged for 25,000 TrueBlue points. Seth’s chart shows an Orlando to San Francisco ticket is $330 or 24,000 TrueBlue points.

Ultimately a $330 JetBlue rebate on $11,000 in Marriott hotel spend is only a 3% return on your hotel loyalty points. Loyalty Travelers should be looking for at least 20% return on paid stays. The ability to get a $330 ticket for 24,000 TrueBlue points earned from flying JetBlue is a decent 18.3% return on $1,800 in JetBlue spend.

Want Miles? Don’t Waste Marriott Rewards for JetBlue

Trading 125,000 Marriott Rewards points for a $330 JetBlue one-way ticket is one option of redeeming points after five-digit Marriott Hotels travel spend. Another option is to exchange 125,000 Marriott Rewards points for 50,000 airline miles with any of these airlines and find a better flight deal for your miles. Think of where 50,000 miles will take you on Aeromexico, Aeroplan (Air Canada), Alaska, British Airways, Continental, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Gol/Varig, Hawaiian Airlines, Mexicana, United Airlines, US Airways, Virgin Atlantic.

 

Hotel Rewards Hold the Real Value in Marriott Rewards points

125,000 points is good for 3 nights in a Tier 2 Ritz-Carlton Hotel like Ritz-Carlton Cancun or Ritz-Carlton New Orleans at 40,000 points per night. Find a Tier 2 Ritz-Carlton Pointsavers award and the nightly cost drops to 30,000 Marriott Rewards points per night with the option for a 5th night free reward. Five nights in the Tier 2 Ritz-Carlton New Orleans for 120,000 points is the kind of exchange you are passing when you decide to trade Marriott Rewards points for JetBlue points.

JetBlue is the 31st airline partner for Marriott Rewards. It might be the lowest value airline partner for Marriott Rewards members.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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