Everything You Need To Know About Marriott Hotel + Air Packages

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While Marriott’s takeover of Starwood is officially complete, they’re continuing to run individual loyalty programs for the time being. However, since the day the takeover closed, Marriott has offered tier matching and points transfers for members, which has created a fantastic opportunity for members to take advantage of the relative strengths of both programs.

Points can be transferred between both programs at a ratio of one Starpoint per three Marriott Rewards points. I consider that to be a fair transfer ratio, and based on my understanding, so far the number of points transfers between programs has been roughly equal (meaning as many people have converted Starpoints into Marriott Rewards points as the other way around).

linking-marriott-starwood-accounts-1

With that in mind, I figured I’d write in a bit more detail about one of the very best uses of Marriott Rewards points, which is Hotel + Air Packages. This allows you to redeem points for a set number of nights in a certain category of hotel, plus a certain number of miles in select frequent flyer programs.

marriott-hotel-air-packages

How much do Marriott Hotel + Air Packages cost?

The Hotel + Air Package charts can be a bit confusing, given that there are three factors impacting how much a package costs:

  • What category of hotel you want to use your free nights at
  • How many miles you want
  • Which program you want your miles with

There are five types of packages available, including the following frequent flyer programs:

Package TierAirline Mileage Programs
RewardsPlusUnited MileagePlus
Package 1Aeromexico, Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways, Copa Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, GOL/Varig, Hawaiian Airlines, Iberia Airlines, Virgin Atlantic
Package 2Aeroflot, airberlin, Air China, Air France/KLM, Alitalia, ANA, Asia Miles, Asiana Airlines, Avianca-TACA LifeMiles, China Eastern, China Southern, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Japan Airlines, Jet Airways, Korean Air SKYPASS, LAN, Lufthansa Miles & More, Multiplus, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Saudia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways Voyager, TAP Air Portugal, Turkish Airlines
Package 3Southwest Airlines
Package 4JetBlue Airways and Virgin America

Here’s the cost of a RewardsPlus Package (as you’ll see, this ratio is a bit better than with other programs, which is because Marriott and United have a special relationship):

RewardsPlus Hotel + Air Package7 Nights + 55,000 Miles7 Nights + 77,000 Miles7 Nights + 110,000 Miles7 Nights + 132,000 Miles
Category 1-5200,000220,000250,000270,000
Category 6230,000250,000280,000300,000
Category 7260,000280,000310,000330,000
Category 8290,000310,000340,000360,000
Category 9320,000340,000370,000390,000
Ritz Tier 1-3350,000370,000400,000420,000
Ritz Tier 4-5470,000490,000520,000540,000

Here’s the cost of Package 1:

Hotel + Air Package 17 Nights + 50,000 Miles7 Nights + 70,000 Miles7 Nights + 100,000 Miles7 Nights + 120,000 Miles
Category 1-5200,000220,000250,000270,000
Category 6230,000250,000280,000300,000
Category 7260,000280,000310,000330,000
Category 8290,000310,000340,000360,000
Category 9320,000340,000370,000390,000
Ritz Tier 1-3350,000370,000400,000420,000
Ritz Tier 4-5470,000490,000520,000540,000

Here’s the cost of Package 2:

Hotel + Air Package 27 Nights + 35,000 Miles7 Nights + 50,000 Miles7 Nights + 70,000 Miles7 Nights + 85,000 Miles
Category 1-5200,000220,000250,000270,000
Category 6230,000250,000280,000300,000
Category 7260,000280,000310,000330,000
Category 8290,000310,000340,000360,000
Category 9320,000340,000370,000390,000
Ritz Tier 1-3350,000370,000400,000420,000
Ritz Tier 4-5470,000490,000520,000540,000

Here’s the cost of Package 3:

Hotel + Air Package 37 Nights + 50,000 Points7 Nights + 70,000 Points7 Nights + 100,000 Points7 Nights + 120,000 Points
Category 1-5200,000220,000250,000270,000
Category 6230,000250,000280,000300,000
Category 7260,000280,000310,000330,000
Category 8290,000310,000340,000360,000
Category 9320,000340,000370,000390,000
Ritz Tier 1-3350,000370,000400,000420,000
Ritz Tier 4-5470,000490,000520,000540,000

Here’s the cost of Package 4:

Hotel + Air Package 47 Nights + 25,000 Points7 Nights + 35,000 Points7 Nights + 50,000 Points7 Nights + 60,000 Points
Category 1-5200,000220,000250,000270,000
Category 6230,000250,000280,000300,000
Category 7260,000280,000310,000330,000
Category 8290,000310,000340,000360,000
Category 9320,000340,000370,000390,000
Ritz Tier 1-3350,000370,000400,000420,000
Ritz Tier 4-5470,000490,000520,000540,000

As a point of comparison, here’s how much Marriott usually charges per free night, though this comes with a fifth night free feature:

Hotel CategoryCost
Category 17,500 points
Category 210,000 points
Category 315,000 points
Category 420,000 points
Category 525,000 points
Category 630,000 points
Category 735,000 points
Category 840,000 points
Category 945,000 points
Tier 130,000 points
Tier 240,000 points
Tier 350,000 points
Tier 460,000 points
Tier 570,000 points

What are the rules for redeeming Marriott Hotel + Air Packages?

Before I crunch the numbers too much on the value of these packages, let’s talk about the basic rules:

  • If you want to redeem for one of these packages you have to call Marriott Rewards
  • All seven nights have to be redeemed consecutively at the same hotel, so unfortunately you can’t use a single Hotel + Air Package for multiple hotels, multiple stays at a single hotel, or multiple rooms for a single hotel
  • You don’t have to decide which hotel you want to stay at when you redeem for a package; instead you’ll be issued an electronic certificate that can be redeemed at any eligible property, and it will be valid for a year from when it’s issued (many have reported luck having these extended, though I wouldn’t count on it)
  • You’ll be asked which program you want to transfer miles to, and it can several days (or even longer) for miles to transfer
  • You can later upgrade your package to a higher category; in other words, if you want the airline miles now you can just confirm the cheapest package immediately, and then later if you decide you want something better than a Category 1-5 certificate, you can pay the points difference to upgrade

Crunching the numbers on Marriott Hotel + Air Packages

With the basics out of the way, let’s start crunching some numbers.

One of the reasons Starpoints are so valuable is that they can be converted into airline miles at a 1:1 ratio, with a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred. So in other words, one Starpoint is worth 1.25 airline miles. On top of that, one Starpoint can be converted into three Marriott Rewards points.

So by the transitive property (am I getting my high school math properties right here?), one airline mile is worth 2.4 Marriott Rewards points.

While I think that’s fair, for the purposes of this post I’d rather be more conservative. I’ve said that I think Marriott points are worth ~0.8 cents each, so to be conservative, let’s say that one airline mile is worth two Marriott Rewards points. That’s to say that one airline mile is worth ~1.6 cents, which I think is a fairer valuation.

With that number in mind, let’s go through some examples.

Examples of Marriott Hotel + Air Packages

As a general rule, the best value for Hotel + Air Packages is for the packages that offer the most miles. As you can see, the incremental points for additional miles with a package is low, especially when you consider that two Marriott points are worth one airline mile. In many cases you’re incrementally paying one Marriott Rewards point per airline mile.

Let’s say you want Alaska or American miles, and you want the most miles possible. A Category 1-5 package plus 120,000 miles will cost you 270,000 points. I value those 120,000 miles at 240,000 Marriott points, meaning I’m paying just 30,000 points for a week-long hotel stay.

I’d come out even on that redemption even if I just used one of my seven nights of the hotel stay at a Category 5 property.

jw-marriott-new-delhi
The JW Marriott New Delhi is a Category 5 property

However, if I’m redeeming for a hotel stay, I’d generally rather redeem for a slightly more aspirational property.

Let’s instead say we’re redeeming for a package at a Category 9 property, which is Marriott’s top tier. That package, including 120,000 miles, would cost 390,000 points. When you subtract 240,000 points from that total (which is what I value the 120,000 miles at), you’re paying 150,000 Marriott points for a week at a Category 9 property, which would otherwise cost 270,000 points (since the fifth night would be redeem if you outright redeemed points).

In other words, you’d be coming out ahead on that redemption if you stayed just four nights. You could use this at the Grosvenor House London, for example.

grosvenor-house-london
The Grosvenor House London is a Category 9 property

Or how about a Ritz-Carlton resort getaway? The Ritz-Carlton Bali is a Tier 3 hotel, so a seven night package plus 120,000 miles would cost you 420,000 points. When you subtract the 240,000 points for what I value the miles at, you’re paying 180,000 Marriott Rewards points for a week at the Ritz-Carlton Bali.

A free night there would otherwise cost 50,000 points, so you’re coming out ahead after just four nights.

Put another way, those 180,000 Marriott points are worth 60,000 Starpoints, so if you stay the whole week you’re paying an average of fewer than 10,000 Starpoints per night.

ritz-carlton-bali
The Ritz-Carlton Bali is a Tier 3 property

Bottom line

The above examples are based on my conservative valuation of two Marriott Rewards point being worth one airline miles (a ratio I intentionally watered down, when the math otherwise suggested that 2.4 Marriott points should be worth one airline mile).

Marriott Hotel + Air Packages are easily the best use of Marriott points, even if you don’t actually want to spend seven nights in a hotel. If you are looking to redeem for one of these packages, keep in mind:

  • You can fund this using Starpoints, given that you can transfer points at a 1:3 ratio, meaning even points earned on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express can be used towards such a package
  • You can book a Category 1-5 package at first, and later upgrade to another package (though you can’t downgrade a package later)
  • This can make a lot of sense even if you don’t intend to use all seven nights of hotel stays
  • This can be stacked with hotel promotions to get even better value, as we sometimes see frequent flyer programs offer bonus miles when transferring hotel points
  • United redemptions are the best value on a per mile basis, though many won’t value United miles as much as some other mileage currencies

This really is an exceptional value, and I’m looking forward to transferring Starpoints to Marriott for the purposes of one of these redemptions.

Are you tempted to redeem Marriott points for a Hotel + Air Package, and if so, for which hotel and frequent flyer program?

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Comments

  1. I definitely plan on redeeming package 3 for the Southwest Companion Pass (which I can’t believe you didn’t mention) early in January 2017. Probably for the Cat 1-5 because, as you said, you can always upgrade later. Also, I think you had an error in your bottom line paragraph equating airline miles to Marriott points.

  2. Does anyone know if the hotel electronic certificate is transferable? Meaning I could let someone else use it, other than the person who is receiving the miles?

  3. Josh, my understanding is that you need to be a Marriott Vacation owner to redeem the five night package.

  4. One quick clarification: The 7 award nights must be used at one hotel during a single stay, but the award nights themselves do not need to be contiguous. So for example if you found award nights on either side of a night (or nights) with no award availability you could pay cash for that night and combine with the 7 award nights for an 8 night consecutive award. Marriott award availability is sometimes not quite as good as Starwood so this is a useful bit of knowledge.

  5. Very helpful article–I had never been aware of “Package 2”. For those airlines (which are mostly premium international carriers), it really wouldn’t make sense to use N&F, at least not when using SPG points. For example, transferring 90,000 SPG directly to JAL would net you 110,000 JAL miles, whereas 90,000 SPG to Marriott N&F would only get you 85,000. Since JAL miles are so valuable, it would rarely be worth it to use the N&F option. But for other packages, a terrific option. Thanks again for the great overview.

  6. There is a typo: “when the math otherwise suggested that one Marriott point should be worth 2.4 airline miles” Should be the other way round. 😉

  7. @FlyerDad – how is that a 1:1 comparison? Yes you don’t end up with as many miles but you get 7 nights in a hotel also. Am I missing something?

  8. @listen
    Because that is exactly how it is done – by calling.
    Have you actually tried to redeem the package?

    The option is NOT functional online. Everyone has to call. It is a MANUAL process. Not only the package itself, but using the 7-night cert also need to call to get it attach to the booking you might make it online (just the normal hotel award).

  9. Wish I had more Starpoints to redeem for this. Seems like a terrific value for United miles particularly.

  10. I’m a little confused. So is this a new product that Marriott is selling, where anyone can buy a package of X nights + a swag of frequent flyer miles in their choice (from the Marriott/Starwood transferee options,) of frequent flyer miles for the flights component of the package?

    It’s an interesting idea. Love the ‘Nights + Flights’ name.

  11. Hoping against hope that this still exists in January 2018, but not holding my breath. I’d go for Package 3 for the Southwest companion pass and category 9, maybe for the Marriott Rome Grand Flora.

  12. Also for Lufthansa, you can use 57,500 Lufthansa miles for RT bus. to everywhere in EU, even North Africa using “mileage bargains” on their website 4 months in advance.

  13. I don’t understand why we are trying to calculate the value of the package in terms of miles. Mile valuations vary by the airline (you even linked to your own article discussing that) that you are trying to redeem towards. If only there was something to help us value this across all the different options…

    Hint: It’s cash.

    There are SO MANY articles out there that do that valuation I think you were trying to deliberately stay away from that. But the title of “Everything you need to know” is total click bait since everyone actually knows nothing after reading this since you used a valuation (2.4 Marriott points/mile) that doesn’t apply to ANY airline/hotel ratio in your own article that you linked to.

    In some cases, it’s better to not recreate the wheel

  14. @Eric: Depends on how much you value those Marriott nights. A lot of folks only use a couple of those nights or not at all. And JAL miles (as an example) are really hard to come by–SPG is the only transfer program. To keep it simple, 7 nights at a Category 6 hotel will also get you 85,000 JAL points. But a straight transfer from SPG would get you 125,000 miles–huge 40,000 mile difference and opens up more possibilities for where and what class you want to fly. Compare that with United, where you actually come out ahead both on points (132,000 NF vs. 125,000 SPG) AND 7 nights at a category 6! So no-brainer for United, but less so for JAL. As I said, it depends on what’s most important to you and whether you really intend to use all 7 nights.

  15. It’s not just that the incremental cost is 1 point per mile (for package 1). It is just that you get one mile per point.
    If you subtract 50,000 points from the number of needed points per each category you get exactly the number of points you would need for 6 (or 7, considered the 5th night free benefit) nights for that hotel category. So what do these packages mean? You don’t need fewer points for the hotel stay but fewer points for converting into airline miles. So there is no difference between the cells within one specific row.
    Then you can take into account (for a specific airline) at how much you value a mile and at how much you usually value a Marriott point. And then realize, wow, via those packages I get quite a bunch of worthy miles for the same number of relatively “worthless” points.

  16. Traded in for 120,000 SWA miles & a stay at the Barcelona Renaissance in January this year. Great use of Marriott points and I have the SWA companion pass for almost 2 years. The SWA points posted almost immediately and the next day I had the companion pass in my profile.

  17. What room types are bookable with this? I am guessing the standard guest room? W are a family of 5 so I am wary of this. Are suites available, or is there the option to somehow upgrade with points, cash or whatnot? Any experience on this out there?

  18. I know that the raw numbers makes the United Miles redemption the most appealing but is the extra 12,000 miles worth redeeming for United versus redeeming for Alaska Miles? Anyone have any thoughts especially with United’s devaluations and recent “enhancements” of stop-over rules?

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