Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably seen the upcoming changes to the Marriott/SPG program. The largest question mark, in my mind, is the upcoming devaluation to the Marriott Flights and Nights packages. I think the Flights and Nights packages are a great way to redeem your Marriott points. With uncertainty of what will happen, leads me to my Marriott dilemma.
My Marriott Dilemma
A few months ago, I wrote about my recent credit card application spree. In that round, I opened the Marriott Business Rewards Credit Card. It bypassed the 5/24 rule and with it’s 75,000 point bonus, it would push my Marriott point totals over 220,000 points, which gives me a few options for the Flights and Nights Packages.
I always try to have a plan for my points. Programs will devalue so not having a plan puts you in a potentially bad spot. Which should tell you, I really dislike preemptively transferring my points.
When I planned on the Marriott Flights and Nights program, I had a few options in my head, but nothing that was solid. But, as changes are coming in a couple of months, this is definitely accelerating my plans and will force me to make a decision.
I think my current options are to sit on my points and wait to see what happens, or I can move my points to a program and hope that there is a positive for me after the update. Now, I would move my points to a program I would use, so I would find use for them.
The next question is if I were to preemptively move my points, which program do I decide on?
As with everything in this game, your decisions should be made for what works best for you.
The Flights and Nights packages come with many options for airlines, but realistically I am only going to use a few of these programs. Which ones are on my list?
Before the changes to the Flying Blue program, they would have been on my list. I am not really impressed with the updates to the website and it seems like they took the Delta model of pricing, but made it worse. It doesn’t really have any reason or logic behind it. I think their website has become less user friendly since their update as well.
The program I think that is leading the way, right now, is United.
By redeeming 220,000 Marriott Points, I can have 77,000 United miles. Those 77,000 miles will be good for 2 one ways to Europe, or a few domestic flights. Not to mention, if I could take advantage of the Excursionist Perk with international roundtrip tickets.
Also, keeping the miles from expiring would be very easy. I would just buy a gift card from their MXP app and BOOM, the clock resets.
The other option that is in the running and I am sure many of you will not agree, is Delta. Yes, you read that correctly.
My little airport has 3 airlines that fly from it: Delta, American Airlines, and United (seasonally). I typically use my Delta miles to reposition to New York, so this would give me many flights to New York.
Even with Delta’s lack of award chart, there are positives I find with the program. Their miles do not expire and their award sales can be pretty solid at times. Delta’s most recent award sale was 32,000 miles roundtrip to Europe. Their program definitely is not perfect and you aren’t going to extract some inflated 37 cents per point using them.
For my travel, they actually work out well.
Thinking About the Certificate:
Currently, you can electively turn in your free night certificate for 45,000 Marriott points, which under the new program will equal 15,000 airline miles.
There have been rumblings that Marriott is going to cancel and issue points for unused Marriott certificates from the Flights and Night packages. I prefer airline miles to hotel points, so for me this could actually work out well.
One thought being floated around is that Marriott will just give everyone 45,000 Marriott points and cancel their unused Marriott certificates. I actually think this would be a terrible move by Marriott. Many people want to use that certificate for a week at a hotel.
If Marriott were to cancel those certificates and interchange them for points, what could that point exchange be?
The Point Exchange
Now, I am only going to take a look at the category 1-5 for this breakdown.
Let’s take a look at Marriott’s upcoming award chart:
This part is speculative, but these are the thoughts that run through my head.
If Marriott only gave 45,000 Marriott points, that would only be enough for a week at a category 1 hotel. Keep in mind it would be good for 6 nights, but you do receive the 5th night free benefit, which would make it a week. That would really make many people mad since that would yield one night at a category 5.
On the flip side, I think there is no way Marriott gives people 210,000 Marriott points for a standard category 5 hotel in exchange for their unused certificates.
I think a reasonable compromise would be to fall between the category 3 and 4 hotels, let’s say 20,000 points per night.
While I am still not convinced they would do this, I think 120,000 Marriott points would be a fairly good compromise. Not only would this give you more options for hotels, this could also turn into 50,000 airline miles. Which I personally would be happy with.
Take it One Step Further:
I currently have a 222,646 Marriott points and that means I am only ~48,000 Marriott points away from redeeming for more airline miles. I could move 48,000 Membership Reward points and have 48,000 Marriott points.
If I were to redeem for United, those extra 48,000 points with give me 55,000 United miles. Which would be pretty solid since it would be basically transferring at a rate greater than 1:1
This would also give me 50,000 extra Delta miles. Not to mention I wouldn’t need to pay that stupid excise tax to move my Membership Reward Points to Delta.
The question I keep coming back too is, should I move my Membership Points to Marriott and redeem them without having a plan in place?
Now I have some upcoming travel this fall, but nothing is set yet.
Factoring in the Unused Certificate:
This piece of the puzzle that will need to be speculated until Marriott confirms their plans. I am sure they are waiting on this. If they plan to destroy this, I am sure they will see a lot of redemptions before August 1.
On the low end I would expect to have 15,000 extra airline miles, if Marriott gave 45,000 points for the unused certificate. If they were to go with my thought, I would receive 50,000 airline miles. And if for some reason they actually went full on category 5 equivalent, I would have an extra 85,000 airline miles. Which would be great, but don’t count on it.
This could mean, by my math and assumption, my unused certificate will give me anywhere between 15,000 to 85,000 airline miles. Quite the range, huh?
My Point Return:
If I were to redeem 220,000 Marriott points for the United category 1 -5 package, I will have 77,000 miles to start, with the potential of 15,000 additional miles. I’m thinking it will be closer to 50,000 miles, but we will see.
Which would mean I would have 92,000 to 127,000 United miles for 220,000 Marriott Points. This would be a ratio of 1.73 Marriott points to 1 United mile or 2.39 Marriott points to 1 United Mile.
If I were to move my Membership Reward point to redeem 270,000 Marriott Points for a United package, I would have 132,000 United miles. Add on 15,000 to 50,000 miles for the unused certificates.
This would mean I would have anywhere between 147,000 to 182,000 United Miles. My ratio would be 1.83 Marriott points to 1 United miles or 1.48 Marriott points to 1 United mile.
That would be quite a nice haul of points for 270,000 Marriott points, in my opinion.
The Delta packages are very similar to the United package, except it does’t have the extra 10% bonus transfer.
Redeeming 220,000 Marriott points for a Delta package, would give me 70,000 Delta miles with possibly 15,000 to 50,000 additional miles. This would breakdown to a ratio of 2.58 Marriott points to 1 Delta mile or 1.83 Marriott points to 1 Delta mile.
If I chose redeemed 270,000 Marriott points for a Delta package, I’d have 120,00 Delta miles plus the 15,000 to 50,000 Delta miles. This would give me a ratio of 2 Marriott points to 1 Delta miles or 1.58 Marriott points to 1 Delta mile.
This would also save me money on the excise tax from American Express.
While I am not a fan of moving point without a plan, there is good value for me in these programs. Considering the fact Marriott is going to give points in exchange for unused certificates could be beneficial for me.
The biggest question mark is do I transfer my Membership Reward points to Marriott, or just redeem the 220,00 Marriott points I have? On top of that, which program should I choose? Delta is my main carrier, but United offers me more miles and I could still find a use for them as well.
While there is currently a 10% bonus when you transfer to United, this could be pulled before August 1st as well.
I’m sure I am not alone in speculating how to redeem my Marriott points for a Flights and Night package before August 1st.