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.
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.
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.