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25% Transfer Bonus from Amex MR to Marriott Bonvoy! Ricky September 1, 2020

25% Transfer Bonus from Amex MR to Marriott Bonvoy!

For the first time that I can recall, we’re seeing a 25% transfer bonus from American Express Membership Rewards to Marriott Bonvoy.

Between September 1 and September 30, 2020, you’ll receive an extra 25% bonus when you transfer your MR points to Marriott Bonvoy, resulting in an effective transfer ratio of 2 Amex MR points = 3 Marriott Bonvoy points!

This is a very exciting opportunity to make excellent use of your Amex MR Select points from the Cobalt Card and Business Edge Card in particular, and there are also a variety of new opportunities to access a wider range of frequent flyer programs thanks to Marriott Bonvoy’s 40+ airline partners. Let’s delve into all the details.

25% Transfer Bonus

Ever since the launch of Marriott Bonvoy following the merger of the legacy Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) programs, the transfer ratio from Canadian-issued American Express Membership Rewards has been set at 1:1.2: for every 1,000 MR points transferred, you’d receive 1,200 Marriott Bonvoy points.

With a temporary 25% bonus throughout the month of September, this transfer ratio has been bumped up to an effective 2:3 ratio: 1,000 MR points will earn you 1,500 Marriott Bonvoy points.

The transfer ratio is hard-coded into the American Express online dashboard for the month of September:

Transfers to Marriott Bonvoy typically take two business days to complete. The name and address should match between your Amex MR and Marriott Bonvoy accounts, although keep in mind that Marriott Bonvoy members can send up to 100,000 points per calendar year to another member, and can receive up to 500,000 points per calendar year cumulatively from other members.

Effectively, this represents a return to the more favourable historical transfer ratio between Amex MR and SPG. Prior to 2018, Amex MR points could be transferred to SPG at a ratio of 2:1, and since the equivalency was set at 1 SPG Starpoint = 3 Marriott Bonvoy points when the two programs merged, we’re now getting a small taste of the “good old days” with the 2:3 temporary transfer ratio in place.

Is It a Good Deal to Transfer Amex MR to Marriott Bonvoy?

Converting Amex MR points into Marriott Bonvoy points represents one of the many potential valuable uses, although the value proposition isn’t necessarily the strongest for regular MR points.

That’s because regular MR points can be transferred to airline frequent flyer programs as well (notably Aeroplan or British Airways Avios at a 1:1 ratio), which typically provide better value when redeemed for flights in premium cabins, compared to the average hotel redemption via Marriott Bonvoy. If you’ve already got enough points to cover your flights, though, then transferring to Marriott Bonvoy would certainly be a compelling next-best use case.

However, the most attractive opportunity here is to use your Amex MR Select points, earned from either the Cobalt Card or the Business Edge Card, to convert into Marriott Bonvoy at the elevated 2:3 ratio. That’s because MR Select points cannot be transferred to airlines, and their typical best-case usage is to transfer to Marriott Bonvoy in the first place. Now that the transfer ratio has received a boost, the value of MR Select points has been temporarily elevated as well.

The Amex Cobalt Card is most well-known for its ability to earn 5 MR Select points per dollar spent on food and drinks, including dining, groceries, and food delivery.

With the 25% transfer bonus in place, you can effectively earn 7.5 Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar spent on all purchases in the food and drinks category; since I’d value Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.9 cents per point (CAD), that’s equivalent to a spectacular 6.75% return on your spending, or easily more than that if you redeem your Bonvoy points wisely at a high value.

If you don’t currently hold the Cobalt Card, then you can apply now and benefit from the 5x earning rate in conjunction with the month-long 25% transfer bonus; however, you wouldn’t receive the full signup bonus in time, because the Cobalt Card delivers its bonuses on a monthly basis.

On the other hand, the Amex Business Edge Card might be a better choice to apply for if you’d like to give your Marriott Bonvoy points balance a boost.

As the “base” signup bonus, the Business Edge Card gives you 40,000 MR Select points upon spending $5,000 in the first three months, so if you can complete the minimum spending before September ends, then you’d have at least 46,000 MR Select points (taking into account the additional bonus of 1,000 MR Select points for each of the first 12 months that you spend $3,000) – which would convert into 69,000 Marriott Bonvoy points under the 25% transfer bonus.

That’s an outstanding chunk of Bonvoy points for a single credit card, outstripping even the American Express Marriott Bonvoy Card and American Express Marriott Bonvoy Business Card themselves!

Given the fact that a transfer to Marriott Bonvoy is one of the strongest possible uses of MR Select points, the 25% transfer bonus means that there’s been no better time than the present to maximize your spending on the Cobalt Card and sign up for the Business Edge Card if you don’t have it already.

Don’t Forget: Transferring Marriott Bonvoy to Airline Partners

We must also consider the possibility of transferring Marriott Bonvoy points to their 40+ airline partners at the optimal ratio of 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points = 25,000 airline miles.

With the elevated 2:3 transfer ratio from Amex MR, this opens up many more doors in terms of using your Canadian-issued Amex MR points to access a far greater range of frequent flyer programs than usual.

Given that the optimal transfer ratio takes effect in chunks of 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, the best practice will be to transfer Amex MR points in chunks of 40,000 points. This gives us the following ratio for the month of September:

40,000 Amex MR (Select) points = 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points = 25,000 airline miles

You can review this post for a list of excellent award chart sweet spots that you can “access” with Marriott Bonvoy points, but in general, almost every frequent flyer program worth its salt is a partner of Marriott’s – and can therefore be accessed at an effective ratio of 8:5, as seen above.

As before, MR Select points will be the most compelling transfer candidate if you have any to spare, but even if you’re sitting on regular MR points, the effective transfer ratio of 8:5 is still worth considering if you have your eye on any of the award chart sweet spots out there that might usually be harder to access.

Want to fly ANA First Class round-trip for 120,000 Virgin Atlantic miles? That’ll only be 200,000 Amex MR points, which is lower than both the 210,000 Aeroplan miles under the current program and the 220,000 Aeroplan points under the new program.

Want to book an ANA round-the-world award for 125,000 ANA Mileage Club miles in business class, with eight stopovers and four open-jaws? Same price.

Conclusion

American Express has launched a very exciting 25% transfer bonus from Amex MR to Marriott Bonvoy, which will surely entice many of us to convert our MR points over to the world’s largest hotel loyalty program.

Not only will there be excellent value in redeeming for free hotel nights, but Marriott Bonvoy’s 40+ airline transfer partners also greatly expand the possibilities for redeeming MR and MR Select points towards amazing flight experiences as well.

I’m sure we’ll all be putting in every effort to maximize the 5x multiplier on our Cobalt Cards this month, and if you haven’t signed up for a Business Edge Card yet, there’s no better time than the present!

Top Offers

American Express Business Edge Card

Up to 52,000 Membership Rewards Select points
40,000 MR Select points upon spending $5,000 in the first three months +
1,000 MR Select points upon spending $3,000 per month, in the first 12 months

  • 3x points on office supplies, electronics, rides & gas, and eats & drinks
  • Transfer points at a 1:1.5 ratio to Marriott Bonvoy (for September 2020)
  • $99 annual fee
Signup bonus
Up to 52,000 MR Select points
Annual fee
$99
28 Comments
  1. Avatar
    CR

    Any predictions on whether this transfer bonus will occur again? 🙂

  2. Avatar
    marcel beauregard

    Hello,
    I just call Amex to transfer my points to Bonvoy . They told me that I needed an invitation from Amex in order to transfer those points and It will take 5 days al least .We are now Sept 28 and I am a bit surprised about that invitation . Anyone had that invitation ? I thought I could do it in a day with a simple phone call . Any more information from anyone would be greatly appreciate .

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Hi Marcel,

      You can transfer the points online. Go onto your Amex online dashboard, click “View & Redeem Points”, then go to “Travel” in the top-left corner and select “Frequent Travel Participants”. From there, you can choose Marriott Bonvoy, enter your Marriott Bonvoy number, and transfer the points right away.

  3. Avatar
    The Reverend

    I transferred the bulk of my MR-S points to Marriott about two weeks ago. Son of a…….anyone tried to get them to give the bonus retroactively if they moved points within a certain window before the promotion?

  4. Avatar
    Ben L

    Any DP on if we can earn 5x MR-S points on the Cobalt at restaurants outside Canada?

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Yes, eats and drinks outside Canada also earn 5x MR Select points, as long as the merchant is correctly coded as a restaurant.

  5. Avatar
    J

    Hey Ricky, could you clarify your assessment about signing up for the Cobalt vs Business Edge card? In the case of the Cobalt, you say that the signup bonus wouldn’t post before the end of the month but it would in the case of the Business Edge?

    1. Avatar
      Eric

      Hey J

      As Ricky has mentioned, MR-Select points will be best suited for this promotion since regular MR will be better suited to transferring to airline partners. If you don’t hold either the Cobalt or the Edge card right now and want to take advantage of this transfer bonus AND would like to sign up for one of these cards, the Edge would win. That’s because the cobalt gives you a bonus on a monthly basis. If you get your bonus for the first month on the cobalt card, you would have between 3000-5000 MR-Select points to transfer. However, if you were to meet the MSR for the Edge card, then you would have at least 45000 MR-Select points to transfer to Marriott Bonvoy. But in order for you to take advantage of this promotion, you would have to apply for the card and spend $5000 before September 27th (because it may take a while for the SUB to post).

      Hope that clarified Ricky’s point.

      1. Avatar
        J

        Hey Eric, thanks for your response!

        Yes, that’s what I understood from the post, my question is WHEN the points are posted. My understanding is that with most cards, the bonus is posted after the first statement, which in this case would be in October if I’m applying now and therefore the promotion would be expired. No?

        1. Avatar
          J

          Ok, great news! Thanks to both of you for your help 🙂

        2. Ricky
          Ricky

          Eric is exactly right (thanks Eric!)

          With any MR or MR Select cards, the points usually post as soon as the minimum spending threshold is met, giving any new applicants for the Business Edge a (tight) window to benefit from this 25% transfer bonus.

        3. Avatar
          Eric

          Oh I see your point. I know with the big issuers like TD/RBC the SUB does get posted after the first statement. Ricky can confirm this but from my experience, the SUB for AMEX tends to get posted right away or really soon (1 or 2 days) after the transaction that goes over the MSR posts.

  6. Avatar
    Jun

    Hi Eric,

    Thank you so much for your thoughts! You are right. I will be visiting Korea.

    I have never thought about Alaska Airlines before, but as I took a look at it, it looks far better than Aeroplan.

    As you suggested, I will be transferring MR-select points to Bonvoy then Alaska since I have the Cobalt card.

    Thanks again, Eric!

    1. Avatar
      Eric

      You’re welcome Jun.

      I would recommend you transfer from bonvoy points to Alaska only after you find availability for the flight you want, so you’re not left with a lot of Alaska points that you can’t use. Alaska also will be joining oneworld so their partnership with Korean Air may likely end. You can still fly Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong /JAL to Japan (stopover) then onwards to ICN but there are a lot of uncertainty with the Alaska program that it might not be worth it to transfer to Alaska just yet. Nevertheless, this is arguably going to be the best opportunity you will have to transfer your MR-S from Cobalt so it would be in your best interest to transfer these points during this promotion and think about which partner to transfer from Bonvoy after!

  7. Avatar
    Farnorthtrader

    Interesting situation. We have 200K select points. Convert them to 300K Bonvoy or 150K real membership rewards points? Tough call!

    1. Avatar
      Eric

      By real MR points are you talking about transferring them to the US?
      Ricky can confirm but I believe MR-S to US MR door has been shut…

      1. Avatar
        farnorthtrader

        yes, this is what i was referring to. Has this option been closed Ricky?

        1. Ricky
          Ricky

          I can’t confirm it ever existed. 😉 But yes, I’ve heard that those who have attempted it recently have been unsuccessful.

  8. Avatar
    Rick

    Perfect timing on everything I have done with my MR-S so far, all began with discovering Ricky’s blogs and YouTube! I applied for the cobalt card via Ricky’s link in February. With Amex extending MSR deadline from 3 months to 6 months. Spending $500 each month not only got me the bonus 2,500 MR-S each month, but I was also able to meet the $3,000 MSR to get the bonus 10,000 MR-S last month without extra effort. And now is this bonus conversion. Thanks Ricky!

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Love it, glad everything worked out!

  9. Avatar
    John Bucher

    It never fails. I just transferred a potful of MR Select points on Sunday!

  10. Avatar
    Sean

    If I am sitting on a banked stash of MR Select credits from my Cobalt, I assume this is the moment to move them all over to Bonvoy, correct? I’ve been waiting for the right moment. Can’t imagine a better one.

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      I’d agree with that assessment.

  11. Avatar
    Jun Cho

    Hi Ricky,

    Thank you for your post!

    What do you think is the best way to make the most out of MR points?
    I am planning to visit my country next year, so I need an Aeroplan point.

    1. The Fixed Points Travel Program from AMEX
    2. MR point -> Marriott -> Aeroplan

    I was going to go with option #1, but just saw your post and It looks like a good deal.

    Please share your thoughts!

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Eric covered most of the main points in his response here and above. I’d just add that if you’re able to earn enough Aeroplan miles before November 8, then booking through the current Aeroplan program for your trip next year may still be the most straightforward option in terms of a balance between a good price point and finding ample award availability.

    2. Avatar
      Eric

      Hey Jun
      If you want flexibility the fixed points travel program would be a good choice, but if you want outsized value (business-class first class) transferring them to Aeroplan would be better.
      You can directly transfer your points from MR to Aeroplan instead of through the Marriott route unless you’re talking about MR-Select points you earn from Cobalt and Edge cards.
      That being said, based on your name, I’m expecting you’re visiting Korea. When the new program launches in November, Aeroplan would not be the best option to fly to ICN, because ICN falls in at least zone 2 no matter where you fly from. I would consider transferring the points to Alaska instead of Aeroplan (if you are taking the Marriott route).

  12. Avatar
    bingo

    For those getting new AMEX cards, I’d be very careful. It seems AMEX is still shutting down accounts, and there’s very little in the way of a pattern.

    Some people have lost a lot of points, so think carefully before applying.

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      These are wise words, enterprising men quote ‘em.

      Any activity with Amex these days should be accompanied by a fair bit of ongoing spending to stay onside of whatever profitability assessments are at play.

Ricky

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