Between September 1 and September 30, 2021, you’ll receive an extra 30% bonus when you transfer your MR points to Marriott Bonvoy, resulting in an effective transfer ratio of 1 Amex MR point = 1.56 Marriott Bonvoy points!
This is an exciting opportunity to make excellent use of your MR points to book hotels, 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.
30% Transfer Bonus to Marriott Bonvoy
With a temporary 30% bonus throughout the month of September, this transfer ratio has been bumped up to an effective 1:1.56 ratio: 1,000 MR points will earn you 1,560 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 the best transfer ratio we’ve ever seen between Amex MR and the Marriott loyalty program – even taking into account the pre-merger days when Amex MR points could be transferred to SPG Starpoints at a 2:1 ratio.
Since the equivalency was set at 1 SPG Starpoint = 3 Marriott Bonvoy points when the two programs merged, the old transfer ratio was effectively a 2:3 ratio in today’s Marriott Bonvoy terms – and the current 30% bonus is even better than that.
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 even with the 30% transfer bonus in play, it may not necessarily be the best use of MR points.
That’s because 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.
In terms of the best credit card to use for maximizing this promotion, the Amex Cobalt Card is most well-known for its ability to earn 5 MR points per dollar spent on food and drinks, including dining, groceries, and food delivery.
With the 30% transfer bonus in place, you can effectively earn 7.8 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 7.02% 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 30% 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, a high-impact card like the American Express Business Platinum Card might be a better choice to apply for if you’d like to give your Marriott Bonvoy points balance a significant boost.
As a welcome bonus, the Business Platinum Card gives you 100,000 MR points upon spending $10,000 in the first three months.
If you can complete the minimum spending before September ends, then you’d have at least 112,500 MR points (taking into account the points you earn from meeting the minimum spend) – which would convert into 175,500 Marriott Bonvoy points under the 30% transfer bonus!
Again, though, you’ll want to carefully consider the value proposition between the hotel side (with Marriott Bonvoy) and the airline side (with Aeroplan and Avios).
You can extract much higher value from your points by booking premium flights than hotels, but you probably need to book both when you embark on a trip.
It therefore really boils down to individual preferences as to whether to allocate some points for hotels in addition to flights or to save everything for the air travel side.
Don’t Forget: Transferring Marriott Bonvoy to Airline Partners
The good news? Even if you’re intent on redeeming your MR points for high-value flights, a Bonvoy transfer with the 30% bonus in play could still be the optimal strategy.
That’s because you can transfer 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 1:1.56 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.
Remember that the optimal transfer ratio takes effect in chunks of 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. This gives us the following ratio for the month of September:
38,470 Amex MR points = 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points = 25,000 airline miles
Almost every frequent flyer program worth its salt is a partner of Marriott’s – and can therefore be accessed at an effective ratio of 38,470 MR points = 25,000 miles, as seen above.
As before, MR points will be the most compelling transfer candidate if you have any to spare, but even if you’re sitting on regular MR points, this very favourable effective transfer ratio 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, for example? That’ll only be 192,350 Amex MR points, which is a good chunk lower than the 220,000 points you’d need through Aeroplan.
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.
Also: 30% Transfer Bonus to Hilton Honors
It’s also worth noting that there’s also a parallel 30% transfer bonus from Amex MR points to Hilton Honors for the month of September. The standard transfer ratio is 1:1, so under the 30% bonus, you’ll get an effective transfer ratio of 1:1.3.
However, it’s almost never a good idea to transfer your MR points to Hilton Honors, because they lose a lot of value along the process.
We’d value Hilton Honors points at 0.6 cents per point (CAD), so if you were to transfer 1,000 MR points and earn 1,300 Hilton Honors points, they’d be worth about $7.80. But those 1,000 MR points would’ve been worth at least $10 in the first place, so you’re actually losing value by initiating this transfer.
Instead, a far better way to rack up Hilton points would be to sign up for the US-issued Amex Hilton credit cards and collect their welcome bonuses, while saving your hard-earned Amex MR points for more valuable uses – such as the current 30% transfer bonus to Marriott Bonvoy.
Others may decide to keep their MR points for the purposes of flight redemptions – for them, the 30% transfer bonus on the hotel side would be merely a nice backup option this month.
If you fall in the latter camp, keep in mind that 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 points towards amazing flight experiences as well.