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Buy Marriott Gift Cards for 15% Off!

As part of Cyber Monday, Marriott has brought back their popular gift card sale event for another round, this time offering a 15% discount today and tomorrow until 11:59pm Eastern Time on Tuesday, December 1.

We saw a 20% gift card sale earlier this year in May, so this one isn’t quite as good as last time around, but a 15% discount on Marriott hotel stays for the end of the year and going into next year is still very much worth jumping onboard. 

15% Off Marriott Gift Cards

During the promotion period, you can buy Marriott gift cards, denominated in US dollars, at a 10% discount directly from the Marriott website. The gift cards are available in the following denominations:

  • US$50 gift card for US$42.50

  • US$100 gift card for US$85

  • US$250 gift card for US$212.50

  • US$500 gift card for US$425

  • US$1,000 gift card for US$850

These gift cards do not expire, so they’re potentially useful for as much future travel as you’d anticipate, subject to a maximum limit of US$5,000 worth of gift cards per person per credit card per day. As the promotion runs for two days, that means that each individual can buy up to US$10,000 worth of gift cards under the promotion, which should give you plenty of latitude for covering any upcoming hotel stays.

Note that the promotion is only valid on online purchases of electronic gift cards, rather than in-person purchases from any Marriott hotel that sells physical gift cards. 

Moreover, they can only be used to settle bills for room rates and incidental charges at the end of a stay, so cannot be applied towards prepaid hotel rates; furthermore, Bulgari, Design Hotels, Homes & Villas by Marriott International, and The Ritz-Carlton Destination Club are four Marriott brands that do not accept gift cards as a payment method.

Should You Buy Marriott Gift Cards at 15% Off?

Marriott is the world’s largest hotel chain with a notable presence in the vast majority of destinations around the world, and I’m sure that many Canadian travellers are bound to frequent their properties at some point. Indeed, in Miles & Points circles, Marriott has been far and away the most popular choice for Canadians because of their popular Amex Bonvoy co-branded credit cards.

If you can see yourself staying with Marriott in the near future, then this is a fantastic opportunity to score a 15% discount on your stay, so I imagine many of us will be interested in making a sizeable purchase.

In many cases, getting a 15% discount on the cash rate can be a better deal than redeeming Marriott Bonvoy points, which helps you save your points for more valuable redemptions in the future. It’s one of the key considerations when deciding whether to pay cash or points for an upcoming trip.

Indeed, these days I aim for a target valuation of 0.9cpp (CAD) or 0.6cpp (USD) against the cash rate when I redeem points. With a 15% discount on the cash rate in play, I’d instead be aiming for a value that’s higher by 15% – thus, 1.04cpp (CAD) or 0.7cpp (USD) – when considering a points redemption.

Even though it’s clearly in the best interest of anyone who might stay with Marriott to make a gift card purchase, the question remains as to what amount of gift cards would make for a wise purchase. I’ll share some of my own reasoning in deciding how much in gift cards I’ll be buying.

My average annual spending figures with Marriott over the past few years have fallen in the range of US$3,000 to US$5,000 (leaving me hopelessly off-course from the top-tier Ambassador Elite status, unfortunately). I also generally shy away from prepaid rates, opting for the flexible rate on most of my trips even if it’s slightly more expensive.

While I’d love to buy enough gift cards to cover a whole year’s worth of hotel stays at 15% off, I think it’s also important to heavily discount that amount thanks to the overall uncertainty surrounding many of my trips. After all, there’s always a fair chance that I may not end up being able to take some of the trips that I’ve planned at the moment.

Therefore, I’ll probably end up purchasing roughly US$1,000 to US$1,500 worth of gift cards, for an out-of-pocket spending of US800 to US$1,200. I’d be pretty happy with the savings there (especially when considering the favourable return when buying with the right credit card, as we’ll discuss below), while also avoiding putting up too much upfront cash at this time of uncertainty.

I’d also note that, sometimes, these Marriott gift card purchases do not go through successfully due to a mysterious issue when verifying the transaction, and given that this is a two-day promotion, it’s quite possible that the promotion will be over by then, leaving you with no recourse.

(Indeed, this happened to me when Marriott offered 20% off gift cards back in May, and I didn’t end up being able to purchase quite as many discounted gift cards as I would’ve liked.)

Therefore, I’d recommend breaking up your purchase amount into several smaller purchases, and perhaps erring on the side of purchasing a little more than you think you might need, just in case some of the transactions do not go through successfully. 

This way, you increase your odds of actually being able to benefit from this promotion, instead of being thwarted by mysterious verification issues on the gift card processor’s end. And if all of the transactions do in fact process smoothly, then you’ll simply have a little extra Marriott money to spend at a 15% discount going forward.

Which Credit Card Should You Use to Buy Points?

Marriott gift cards purchased at 15% off will count as a direct Marriott purchase, which codes under the travel category. This opens up some opportunities for additional savings by making your purchase with the right credit card.

If you recently signed up for one of the smoking-hot welcome offers on the Amex US Bonvoy cards, then those cards would be a great choice for making your purchase. Since the gift card purchases are denominated in USD, both the Amex US Bonvoy Brilliant or the Amex US Bonvoy Business would maximize your return while also avoiding any foreign transaction fees.

Moreover, both of these cards would earn you 6 Bonvoy points per USD spent on the purchase; if we value those points at 0.6cpp (USD) each, then that translates into an additional 3.6% savings.

Furthermore, by using the Bonvoy Brilliant, the purchase would count towards the card’s US$300 annual Marriott credit as well. Even if a Bonvoy Brilliant cardholder didn’t intend to purchase any gift cards for future stays, they’d do well to buy US$400 worth of gift cards for US$340, thus scoring them an extra US$60’s worth of Marriott credit compared to if they had simply redeemed the card’s US$300 annual credit directly at a future date.

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If you don’t have any US credit cards on hand, then a Canadian-issued Amex Bonvoy card, like the Amex Bonvoy Card or the Amex Bonvoy Business Card, might be an appealing option as well. You’d normally earn 5 Bonvoy points per CAD spent, which translates into around 6.5 Bonvoy points per USD spent at the current exchange rates.

In addition, currently the personal Bonvoy card is offering 10x points on Marriott purchases until January 3, 2021, up to a maximum of 25,000 bonus points. Purchasing gift cards would be a fantastic way to combine both promotions for an optimal return.

You’d need to purchase US$3,860 worth of Marriott gift cards, which corresponds to $5,000 (CAD) worth of spending, which would in turn qualify for the elevated 10x points earning rate and max out the 25,000 bonus points in one fell swoop.

Given a 0.9cpp (CAD) valuation of Bonvoy points, you’d be earning an effective 9% return on this spend, which would then be offset by Amex Bonvoy Card’s 2.5% foreign transaction fee for a net return of 6.5%. Stacking this on top of the 15% discount from the gift cards, it’s a 21.5% total discount on up to $5,000 (CAD) worth of Marriott hotels!

Besides the Amex Bonvoy cards, another good choice for making your purchase might be the HSBC World Elite Mastercard, which offers 6 HSBC Rewards points per dollar spent on travel purchases, and wouldn’t levy any foreign transaction fees for this purchase either.

Ongoing: Buy Marriott Bonvoy Points with a 50% Bonus

Concurrently, Marriott is also selling Bonvoy points with a 50% bonus until December 22, 2020.

That’s equivalent to a value of 0.833cpp (USD) when buying Bonvoy points, which I don’t personally find worthwhile given that my valuation of Bonvoy points is lower at 0.6cpp (USD).

Moreover, these purchases would be customarily processed through Points.com rather than through Marriott directly, which means that the above-mentioned credit card optimizations aren’t available ether.

Nevertheless, there’s still value to be extracted here if you have a plan to top-up your Bonvoy account and redeem points for exceptionally high value, such as a stay at a high-end property like the Maldives or the Al Maha Desert Resort Dubai.

If you’re interested in purchasing Marriott Bonvoy points with a 50% bonus, then consider using this link to make your purchase, which helps to support the website. 

Conclusion

Marriott is offering a 15% sale on gift cards until tomorrow, which is a great opportunity of those of us who are planning some upcoming trips in the future to get a blanket discount on our upcoming hotel stays.

If you stay frequently with Marriott, generally book flexible hotel rates, and don’t mind dropping a bit of cash right now in exchange for cheaper hotels in the future, then this is certainly a tempting opportunity, especially if you put your purchase on the Amex US Bonvoy Brilliant, the Amex Bonvoy Card, or one of the other Marriott Bonvoy credit cards.

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28 Comments
  1. Kevin K

    Just a quick note that the Canadian AMEX Business Marriott Bonvoy card in addition to the personal card also qualifies for 10 points for every $1 CAD spent.

  2. Terry Zhang

    Hey Ricky, I was wondering how come your Marriott CAD evaluation (0.9 cpp) is 50% more than your Marriott USD evaluation (0.6 cpp), I’ve always assumed the USD evaluation should just be a straight $USD conversation, then this case shouldn’t the USD evaluation be 0.9 cpp/1.30 = 0.69 cpp? Love to get your thoughts, cheers

  3. JZ

    Hey Ricky do you know if I can pay using a gift card and credit card? I have a AMEX offer for $50 credit for spending $200 so I was thinking I’ll pay the remaining balace with a marriot gift card. Thanks!

  4. happyland YYZ

    Not sure if this will trigger the $300 credit on the US Bonvoy card. T&Cs of the Bonvoy Brilliant state that “Online purchases of Marriott branded gift cards and purchases at Homes & Villas by Marriott International home share properties do not qualify as eligible purchases for this benefit.”

  5. CR

    Would this 15% off e-gc promo trigger the spend $200, earn $50 promo on the Cobalt card?

  6. Dmitri

    I have a Marriott offer “spend $200 get $50 back” on Canadian PP. Would purchase of Marriott e-gift card will trigger the credit?

  7. PrincessOfPoints

    Long shot that may only apply to a few people. If you have any if the US Amex delta cards, there is currently an offer to spend 250US at Marriott and get back $75. In September there was a similar offer to spend 200 and get back 50. It doesn’t work for gift cards bought online but it works if you go in person to a Marriott and purchase a gift card. I successfully did this for both promotions. Other US Amex cards may have the offer too.

  8. Christopher Ardalan

    Would this qualify under the current Chase Ritz Carlton promotion of 10x on Marriott purchase?

    1. Ben

      Yes, I checked the t&c for the offer, as I also his the Ritz card; And does includes purchases of Marriott gift cards.

  9. Leah

    Worth it for Australia Marriott stays. As they charge a credit card fee of 2-3%!

  10. Jason

    I made the mistake by accidentally clicking on the wrong eGiftcard without the banner. Customer service mentioned a lot of people have made this same mistake. That means you can’t set your amount you want to purchase but have to buy the predenominated ones. If you do not have a USD credit card, I got hit with exchange rate when I had to ask them to cancel my initial order so FYI. I used CAD Amex Bonvoy card. I plan to use this card not in the US so I’ll see how much I end up actually saving but I know it won’t be 20%. Better than nothing.

  11. BC

    Can gift cards be used to pay for the seaplane transfers and upgrade costs at the St. Regis Maldives?

    1. Ricky

      Yes, as these are charged to your final room bill and settled upon checkout.

      1. mkhan056

        I don’t think that’s the case at all properties. I think I saw a recent dp on Flyertalk that said all charges except Seaplane could be offset by Marriott GC at StR Vommuli.

  12. Santiago

    Can we use the $200 Travel credit in Personal Amex Platinum for this purchase?

    1. Ricky

      I don’t believe so, as that travel purchase needs to be made via Amex Travel Services.

  13. DM

    Ricky,

    A couple of questions –

    1. Do stays booked with gift cards (especially these) accumulate Bonvoy points at the regular rate (i.e. 10x + whatever elite status bonus one is entitled to)? I know these stays will count towards elite night count, but was curious on points part.

    2. I also read that from next week (and until June 30, 2020) Marriott will offer 60% bonus on purchased Bonvoy points, effectively making the purchase at 0.78USD per Bonvoy point. Would you recommend opting for that promotion rather than the Gift card one? For USD1,400, we are looking at USD 1,750 GC vs. 180,000 Bonvoy points (or 75,000 miles in almost any valuable FF airline program, including Alaska! – that can essentially get a very generous first class flight!)? While I know Bonvoy loyalists can get a great value out of 20% discount GC, I feel that points redemption with Bonvoy (despite their regular devaluation), almost always get more than USD 0.1 per Bonvoy point. In that sense, buying points gives me both flexibility to use wherever I want to use it (hotel/flights), great value during this promotion, while also earning elite nights (if I chose to redeem on hotel stays).

    Curious to know everyone’s thoughts!

    1. Ricky

      The method of payment doesn’t affect the points earned, so you should still earn Bonvoy points as normal.

      I’ve addressed the 60% bonus on points purchases at the end of this post. I don’t think it’s quite as good a deal, since the general value in Bonvoy points has deteriorated significantly in recent years. It would only be a better deal if you’re mainly looking for high-value stays at luxury properties, where the points rate is a higher-than-20% discount compared to the cash price.

    2. DM

      Sorry, I obviously got my currency denomination wrong here. The purchase promotion will effectively cost you 0.78 (US) cent per Bonvoy. Also, the Bonvoy points usually yield 1 US (cent) per point redemption value!

  14. Robert

    Can these be used against any currency in which the hotel is booked in?

    1. Ricky

      Yes, but see my reply to Mehrdad’s comment below. Individual hotels may impose an arbitrary premium when converting from the local currency to USD, which would cost you more than if you simply paid with a No FX Fee credit card in the local currency.

      1. Frank M

        That has not been my experience. I have used Bonvoy gift cards (in $US) at non-US$ properties and it always swipes at the current exchange rate almost exactly. I don’t believe local hotels have any control over this transaction. Obviously as a Canadian buying in US$ imposes a level of risk/reward (depending on the value of the US$), I have never encountered a "premium" set by any hotel.

  15. Jane

    Also not a bad way to start meeting the MSR on a new Amex Personal Platinum.

  16. les dorgo

    What about using the AMEX USA plat for 5X points and transferring them to Canada.

    1. Ricky

      Come to think of it, the Amex US Green Card should earn 3x US MR points, which would convert to 4.2 Canadian MR points (higher than the Platinum Card).

      You only get to make this transfer once per year, however, so it’s debatable if that incremental gain is worthwhile.

    2. Ricky

      The Amex US Platinum doesn’t give 5x on general travel, only airfare and prepaid hotels.

  17. Mehrdad

    Considering the arbitrary exchange premium that each hotel has, would you recommend this promo if my hotel stays are not at a hotel billed in USD?

    1. Ricky

      Good point, as the exchange premium can often be a few percentage points, which eats into your 20% savings. I’d recommend thinking carefully about which hotel stays you’re likely to make (remember that some overseas hotels still bill in USD) and buy gift cards with the expectation of getting 20% off any USD-denominated hotel stays, and potentially 15–20% off hotel stays in other countries.

Ricky Zhang

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