Marriott

The 7 Best Hotel Perks Offered By Credit Cards

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There are many reasons to pick up a credit card — some are worth picking up for the sign-up bonus, some are worth picking up for the return they offer on everyday spend, and some are worth picking up for the long-term perks they offer.

While there are all kinds of perks offered on cards, in this post I figured I’d look at the best hotel perks you can get with credit cards. Here are my favorites, roughly in order:

The Citi Prestige® Card has my single favorite perk offered by any credit card. While a lot of credit cards offer some type of “free night” hotel benefit, there are usually major strings attached. Citi Prestige’s fourth night free benefit is the most straightforward out there. To sum up the basics:

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Which Hotel Programs Let You Earn Points & Elite Nights For Multiple Rooms?

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Different hotel loyalty programs have different policies as to how many points, elite qualifying stays, and elite qualifying nights you can earn if booking multiple rooms. In other words, if you often travel with family and book two rooms, can you receive elite credits and points for each of the rooms?

The rules vary by program, so in this post I figured I’d look at the policies of the major hotel loyalty programs, as they impact earning points and elite qualifying credit for multiple rooms (in the title of each section I’ve added a link to the terms & conditions):

Club Carlson lets you earn points for up to three rooms booked on the same reservation. However, you don’t earn elite qualifying nights for multiple rooms.

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Marriott’s 2017 Status Buy Back Promotion Is Now Live

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Every year Marriott Rewards seems to offer the option of redeeming points to maintain your current elite status. This promotion is exclusively for retaining your current status, and can’t be used to buy up to a higher elite tier.

Now, it’s pretty normal for airlines to offer status buy back opportunities nowadays, though you can usually only pay in cash, and it’s usually outrageously expensive.

Well, Marriott’s elite buy back promotion is now live for 2017. I’d say this is the most lucrative opportunity out there to “pay” to retain elite status (which isn’t to say you should take advantage of it, though, as I’ll explain below).

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All The Ways To Earn Hotel Elite Status With Credit Cards

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One of the trends we’re increasingly seeing is the ability to earn hotel elite status through credit cards. Rather than having to put in up to 75 nights per year worth of stays in order to earn top tier status, many hotel groups are now letting you earn status for spending certain amounts on credit cards

In this post I wanted to look at all the ways to earn elite status with credit cards for several of the major hotel chains, including Club Carlson, Fairmont, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, and Starwood. I’ll break down the option by loyalty program and then status level:

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Earn 3,000 Bonus Amex Points For Spending $200 With Marriott

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For those of you not familiar with Amex Offers, it’s a program available through most Amex cards, where different cards are eligible for different savings and bonus offers. In many cases the offers can be huge, and more than offset the annual fee on a card.

To view Amex Offers, go to the bottom of the account summary page of any American Express card, where you’ll see all the offers you’re eligible for. These offers come in different forms, including discounts and even in some cases bonus points.

At the moment there’s a targeted Amex Offer for 3,000 bonus Membership Rewards points when you spend $200+ at a Marriott hotel. The offer is valid for stays at participating Marriott properties through February 28, 2017. The promotion is for US stays at Marriott, AC Hotels by Marriott, Courtyard by Marriott, Fairfield Inn, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites, TownePlace Suites, EDITION Hotels, JW Marriott, Autograph Collection, Renaissance, Delta, Gaylord Hotels, and Moxy. So it’s great how many brands are included.

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Marriott & Starwood Announce Their First Aligned Global Promotion

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In late September the merger between Marriott and Starwood closed, and I was impressed by the speed at which they added features for members. Starting day one they added status matching between programs, as well as the ability to transfer points. The specifics of the individual programs continues to differ, which is a blessing really, since it means we can take advantage of the relative strengths of the different programs.

Well, here’s another “first” in the merger process — for the first time ever, Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest are offering the same global promotion for members.

Through this new global promotion, members of Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest can earn double base points on their first three stays at participating hotels in each program:

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One Change I’d Like To See 5 Major Hotel Loyalty Programs Make

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Everyone has their own reasons for why they have a preferred loyalty program. Even though we may love our preferred programs, chances are there are still things we’d like to see them change. There are practical things we’d like to see them change (things that allow them to catch-up with the competition), and then also more aspirational changes (like unlimited presidential suite upgrades and spa treatments).

With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to look at five of the most popular loyalty programs, and changes they should make to catch up with the competition. This list isn’t intended to be about the greatest changes I’d like to see them make, but rather about fairly minor yet substantial changes they could make to catch up with the competition. In other words, what’s one area where the major hotel loyalty programs are lagging?

In no particular order:

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Marriott Is Removing Bibles From Millennial-Focused Hotels

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Marriott is unique among the major hotel chains, in that they have the Bible and Book of Mormon bedside at every one of their hotels worldwide (except in Muslim countries). That probably has to do with the company’s roots, though at the same time there’s no denying that Marriott has evolved a lot over the years.

That’s why it’s interesting to note that Marriott is slowly changing their requirements regarding religious materials in hotels. Marriott will no longer offer religious materials at Moxy and Edition hotels, which are two of their millennial-oriented hotel brands.

Here’s the explanation, per the Los Angeles Times:

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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).

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.

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The Sweet Spot Of Redeeming Starpoints At Marriott Hotels

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Marriott’s takeover of Starwood closed a bit over two months ago, and since that date it has been possible to link accounts between programs, allowing members to match status and transfer points.

For the time being, Starpoints can be converted into Marriott Rewards points at a 1:3 ratio (and Marriott Rewards points can be converted into Starpoints at a 3:1 ratio). I was happy to see they chose this as the transfer ratio, since it seems pretty fair to me. Apparently this transfer opportunity will remain possible until Marriott creates a single loyalty program, which is likely to be in 2018 at the earliest.

There are no doubt some good deals available through Marriott Rewards, like their Hotel + Air packages, which allow you to redeem points for a set number of miles with a partner airline, plus seven nights in a hotel. It’s unfortunate that they make you spend all seven nights consecutively in a single hotel, but even if you were to throw away a few nights, it could still represent a good deal.

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Marriott’s Flash Sale: Redeem Points For Merchandise

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Over the next three weeks, Marriott will be offering a flash sale on merchandise. The sale will be starting Tuesday at 12PM ET (November 22, November 29, and December 6), and merchandise is available on a first come first serve basis.

The issue is that Marriott doesn’t really publish exactly what’s available or the pricing in advance, other than to say that it includes brands like Apple, GoPro, and Keurig. However, in past years the popular merchandise sold out pretty quickly, so you’ll want to be there right at noon if you want to snag the best deals.

Typically redeeming hotel points or airline miles for merchandise represents a horrible value, and is something I usually wouldn’t recommend. However, if there is some merchandise you’re interested in, it’s at least worth looking at the sale.

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Here’s What A Hotel Front Desk Associate Knows About Your Elite Status

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I’m sure we’ve all wondered at some point what a front desk associate at a hotel can see about you when you check-in. Do they know how many points you have, if you’ve stayed at the hotel before, if you earned status through a status match or through credit card stays, or what?

Well, while it’s presumably not representative of all hotel chains, reader rickyw shares the “profile sheet” that was accidentally left with his key card during a recent Marriott stay:

“Recently checked into a Marriott property, and the front desk agent accidentally left my ‘profile sheet’ in my envelope with room key. Thought it was interesting what information is displayed to the front desk agent. I feel like it’s been brought up a couple times on here, so thought I’d pass along!”

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Free & Instant 1,500 Marriott Rewards Points (Or 500 Starpoints)

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Marriott Rewards is offering some sort of a 30 day holiday promotion, and they’re kicking it off with a very nice way to earn free bonus points.

Specifically, Marriott Rewards is offering up to 1,500 free Marriott Rewards points — 500 points for linking each of your Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter accounts.

All you have to do is link your social accounts to Marriott Rewards at this link by December 7, 2016.

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Huge Layoffs Coming To Starwood Corporate Next Month

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Marriott’s takeover of Starwood closed on September 23, and so far I’d say they’ve been doing a good job. Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest introduced reciprocal status matching and allowed points transfers from day one, which we’ve never before seen so quickly following a merger being finalized.

However, Marriott is taking their time integrating the brands, and plans on running independent loyalty programs though at least the end of 2017. So those of us who are SPG loyalists can continue to enjoy the program for at least another year.

Unfortunately it’s inevitable that there will eventually be big job cuts at Starwood. When the takeover was first announced, Marriott said that they hoped to achieve $250 million in corporate overhead savings, and one way to make progress towards that goal is by eliminating redundant positions at the two groups.

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