EDIT: As of May 4, Chase has removed all working links for the 100k point Marriott offer. I will leave this post up, but the best way to get enough points for this package is to use the Best Credit Cards guide and try to pull up the 30k SPG offer. For a couple, I would do 2 personal SPG cards and 1 business one (or 2 business ones if you want a really fancy hotel). For a single person, Marriott + SPG Personal + SPG Business should still get you there, but add on Marriott Business as well if you need a really fancy hotel. Since the SPG points transfer to Marriott 1:3, you are looking at around ~100k Marriott points per SPG card. Since the SPG cards waive the annual fee in the first year anyway, it’s actually a really good low-cost method!
As you know, here at TCK we are all about not just using points, but using points in the most effective way possible. In conjunction with the How To: Fiji, Australia and New Zealand guide that was just posted today, we thought it would be a good idea to more fully explain the Marriott Nights and Flights package in a separate guide. The Nights and Flights (N+F from here on out) is a way to convert Marriott (or Starwood Preferred Guest) points into airline miles in a YUGELY beneficial way. Usually it’s a bad idea to transfer points from a hotel points program (i.e. Hyatt) to an airline points program (i.e. Southwest) because it’s normally a terrible value (i.e. 3 Hyatt points for 1 Southwest point). but in this scenario it’s a must-do. You can visit the website here to learn more about it if you want, or just keep reading. I vote you keep reading.
What is the Marriott Nights and Flights package?
Essentially, Marriott allows you to redeem your points for a “travel package” that includes hotel nights and airline miles instead of just a hotel stay. The cost of each package is based on how nice the hotel is, so you can choose a hotel that fits your wants/needs. Enough talking – let’s see an example!
Let’s say you want to go to Costa Rica, and you have identified the JW Marriott Guanacaste on the beach of Costa Rica as your top destination – a fine choice. As a Category 7 hotel you should expect to pay 35,000 Marriott points a night normally. With the 5th night free on all Marriott point stays, you would pay 210,000 points (35,000 *6) for a 7-night trip. That’s pretty good value on its own, but the N+F package can make it even better.
If we go back to the N+F website then we can see that this same 7-night stay can also be combined with varying amounts of airline miles. Here are the rates for a United N+F package:Since the Marriott points to airline mile transfer is so beneficial here (it’s like giving someone a $1 and them giving you $3), we are always going to look at the one with the largest opportunity – the far right column. For the JW Marriott in Costa Rica, it would cost 330k points if we wanted to get the 7-night stay and get 132k United Miles. You can also get 120k points/miles with Southwest, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Delta Airlines, and 9 other airlines. United is a 10% bonus at 132k because Marriott/United have a partnership – it’s the best deal in terms of # of points, but you might choose a different airline for your package if you have a set destination/route you want and other airlines fit better (like how we chose Alaska Airlines for the Fiji/Australia trip).
So why would we exchange 120k Marriott Points for 120k airline miles? Because their associated value is completely different. Marriott points typically are worth 0.7 cents per point, and United miles (or Southwest, American, etc.) are worth 1.5-2.0 cents per point depending on how you use them. If someone on the street said “give me $800 and I’ll give you $2400” would you do it?! Absolutely! So that’s why these packages are so amazing, because you are trading points (Marriott) for more valuable points (airlines).
Additionally, the package gives you tons of flexibility since you don’t HAVE to use the miles they give you on the same trip the hotel is for. They are giving you MILES, not a physical flight, which is actually really convenient. So if you already have some Southwest points saved up and want to use those to get to Costa Rica, you can then reserve your 132k United miles from the N+F package to get two round trip tickets to Europe instead! As you can see, the N+F package gives you a TON of value and also let’s you maintain complete flexibility over how and when you use your rewards.
What are some trips I could book with a Nights and Flights package?
What are some examples of travel packages you can book at different category levels? How much would each of these travel packages cost? If you need ideas, head over to Award Mapper and filter for Marriott hotels to figure out what hotels look interesting and to see what category those hotels are. And to clarify, for the packages listed below you can choose any miles offered on the N+F website, so feel free to get creative!
Category 1-5 hotels (cheapest) – 270k Marriott points
- 270k for 7 nights at the Courtyard Marriott Cancun + your choice of airline miles
- 270k for 7 nights at the JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort (picture below) in Vietnam + your choice of airline miles
- 270k for 7 nights at the AC Ciutat de Palma in Mallorca + your choice of airline miles
Category 6 hotels – 300k Marriott points
- 300k for 7 nights at the Courtyard Nassau (Bahamas) + your choice of airline miles
- 300k for 7 nights at the Praia D’El Rey Resort (pictured below) on the coast of Portugal + your choice of airline miles
Category 7 hotels – 330k Marriott points
- 330k for 7 nights at the JW Marriott Guanacaste in Costa Rica + your choice of airline miles
- 330k for 7 nights at the Renaissance St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands (pictured below) + your choice of airline miles
Category 8 hotels – 360k Marriott points
- 360k for 7 nights at the Marriott Resort Momi Bay in Fiji + your choice of airline miles. 120k Alaska miles to get you there and on to Australia/NZ for free is a good option here!
- 360k for 7 nights at the Marriott Wailea in Maui (pictured below) + your choice of airline miles. 120k British Airways points to get 4 (almost 5) people to Hawaii from the west coast using our How To: Hawaii guide would be a great option here!
Category 9 – 390k Marriott Points
- 390k for 7 nights at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort in the Cayman Islands + your choice of airline miles
- 390k for 7 nights at Marriott Frenchman’s Cove in St. Thomas (U.S. Virgin Islands) + your choice of airline miles
- 390k for 7 nights at the JW Marriott Cancun (pictured below) + your choice of airline miles
WHEW! That’s a lot of options. See what I mean how it can range from the lower-end to the higher-end and almost anywhere in between? However many miles YOU want to spend, you go for it. The best value in terms of points is likely going to be at the low-end ones, but I find myself consistently doing ones in the Category 7 – Category 8 range so that it can be our fancy hotel for the trip! Especially if the cash rate is super high or it’s a peak time, using miles at nice hotels is an absolute steal. Although all things considered, we would never be able to pay cash for any of these places for a week, so it’s a treat no matter which level you choose!
So how do you actually book it?
First I would start searching for “award availability” at the Marriott hotel you want to go to. Once you find dates that are available with points (click the “Use Reward Points” box when you search), it means that you’re ready to get your points transferred and call Marriott to book your package! You’ll need to call the number listed on the Nights and Flights website in order to book.
In order to book a N+F package, you need to have all of the points in one person’s Marriott Rewards account. If yours are split between a spouse or family member, you can “pool” them for free using a cool trick. Since Marriott charges $10 to pool points between spouses, we use a little loophole through the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) program. Since Marriott and SPG points can be transferred back and forth between your own loyalty accounts, and SPG points can be easily combined with a spouse or family member for free, we do the following:
- Transfer 105k Marriott Points from Brady Marriott to Brady SPG at a 3:1 ratio for 35k SPG using this link
- Transfer 35k SPG points from Brady SPG to Mary SPG (go to the “Give Starpoints” section halfway down this page
- Transfer 35k SPG from Mary SPG to Mary Marriott for 105k Marriott using the “Transfer Starpoints to Marriott Rewards” section on this page
Once you have the points combined in one account, you’re ready for the next step – booking it! If you don’t already have a frequent flyer account with the airline you are hoping to get miles for, sign up for that now.
On the phone, the agent will take the points out of your account and then ask you what airline program you want miles for. Once you give the phone rep your frequent flyer account associated with that airline program, you should see the miles in your frequent flyer account in a few days!
And last, but not least…how in the world can I get enough Marriott points to do this?!
Credit card sign-up bonuses, of course! The Marriott card is an obvious starting point, but you can also get the Starwood Preferred Guest card which earns SPG points – since they transfer 1:3 to Marriott, a 30k sign-up bonus will get you 90k Marriott Points. Check out our Best Credit Cards post in order to know what is the current best route to get Marriott Points!
How will you use your Marriott points? Where are you going to go? Comment below to let us know!