If you’re a Platinum Marriott Rewards member, you’re able to spend 135,000 points to get $1000 of gift cheques (in $50 increments). These cheques can be used to pay your hotel bill at any Marriott owned property. The primary catch is that you can only use them to pay for publicly available rates (i.e. no corporate or AAA rates). On the UPGRD podcast a few months back, I mentioned how I like using these gift cheques to pay for paid stays at resorts, rather than using points. I do this for a few reasons:
- You can earn status while using points (indirectly via the cheques)
- You earn some of your points back
- You can book rates that include spa packages, free breakfasts, etc.
There was some question on whether or not this actually turns out to be a “good deal” in terms of point usage. I didn’t know the answer at the time, but I’ve decided to actually take a look and see how good of a deal it actually is. Read on to find out.
Let’s use my stay at the Renaissance Eden Roc a few months back as an example. I stayed there for two nights, and here’s my bill below.
So the total bill came out to be $434.84. I paid for $400 of it with gift cheques, and I put the last $34.84 on my credit card as you don’t get change back when you use the $50 cheques. Okay so let’s take a look at my Marriott Rewards statement and see how I did.
I earned 6,320 points for the stay. Let’s do the math. I spent $400 worth of gift cheques, which would be 8/20 cheques, or 40% of a $1000 gift cheque bundle for 135,000 points. 40% of 135,000 is 54,000. Subtract the 6,320 points, as I earned those back, and we get 47,680 points for the stay. So let me head over to Marriott and see how much those two nights would cost in points.
Marriott wants me to pony up 60,000 points for a similar stay with points. In this case, it was clearly worth it to use to the gift cheques. Not only did I spend less points, but I also got a couple of elite qualifying nights in the process. I think a major factor is the price, relative to the property’s category. For example, a category 7 hotel in Hawaii is going to cost just as many points as a category 7 hotel in the Caribbean. However, we went to the Caribbean during the off-season and the Marriott had rates as low as $150/night. No way am I going to pay full price on points for that! Gift cheques allow you to get those sweet rates and still not pay any of your own pocket money. A last point is that you can pay for the bundle room rates with these as well. For example, in Grand Cayman we booked a 4th night free rate with buffet breakfast for two included every morning. You can rarely find that sort of package with points.
All in all, I recommend picking a pack of these up. You have a few more days to do so before the new year. On the site, it currently says that these will be offered until December 31, 2010. I’m not sure if they will bring them back next year or not. Get ’em while you can!