Marriott Bonvoy offers members the opportunity to earn and redeem points at 8,000 properties and 30+ brands globally.
While Bonvoy points are one of the easiest hotel currencies to earn in Canada and the US, you might still find yourself a bit short on points for an upcoming stay.
In such cases, Marriott Bonvoy offers the option for you to pay for the stay with a combination of Bonvoy points and cash through the Cash + Points feature.
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What Is Marriott Bonvoy Cash + Points?
Marriott Bonvoy’s Cash + Points feature is an option for you to pay with a combination of points and cash.
In fact, you don’t have to be short of points to be offered this option, as you may consider it if you’re trying to ration your points for future redemptions.
There are actually two versions of Marriott Bonvoy’s Cash + Points feature: the default Cash + Points option, and the build-your-own Cash + Points option.
The default Cash + Points option lets you pay for a stay based on a pre-set number of points and amount of cash determined by the program.
Usually, the option given is to pay half with points and half with cash.
Meanwhile, the build-your-own Cash + Points option only works on multiple-night bookings. This option allows you to customize which nights you want to cover entirely with cash, and which nights you want to pay entirely with points.
When making a Cash + Points booking, make sure to select “Use Points/Awards” on the website, or “Use Points” on the app, as you won’t otherwise be shown these options.
If you want to build your own Cash + Points combo, you’ll have to toggle the “Use Cash + Points” option on the website. The box lets you choose the nights for which you want to redeem points, and the nights for which you want to pay with cash.
There are a few things to keep in mind with Cash + Points bookings.
Importantly, not all properties offer the Cash + Points feature. If it’s available for your stay, you should be able to see it during the booking process, as long as you include points in your search criteria.
With all Cash + Points bookings, you’re still on the hook for applicable taxes and fees on the cash component of the stay, unlike points-only bookings.
Furthermore, the “Stay for 5, Pay for 4” benefit that you’d normally get with a points-only booking is voided with build-your-own Cash + Points bookings, as long as:
- You’re not paying for at least four nights with points
- You’re paying for the cheapest night (in points) during the stay with cash
Is Marriott Bonvoy Cash + Points a Good Deal?
While redeeming for stays entirely with points is almost always preferable, the Marriott Bonvoy Cash + Points feature might still make sense in certain situations. However, whether or not it’s actually a good deal depends on a number of factors, such as the cost of the stay in cash and points, and your Bonvoy points balance.
To get a better idea of whether Cash + Points is a good deal, let’s take a look at some real-life examples.
Before we dive in, you might want to set a base value for your Marriott Bonvoy points to help you evaluate what’s a good deal or not. For this guide, we’ll use our valuation of Bonvoy points at 0.8 cent per point (CAD) or 0.6 cent per point (USD).
Le Méridien Maldives is one of the most affordable options among Marriott properties in the Maldives.
In this example, four nights in a One-Bedroom Beach Villa costs 166,400 points on a PointSavers rate. With the default Cash + Points option, the price is $1,800 (USD) plus 104,000 points.
Doing the math, you’ll spend $1,800 (USD) to cover your shortfall of 62,400 points. In this case, you’re effectively “buying” the points for 2.9 cents per point (USD), and you’re not really getting a good deal at all.
By comparison, if you were to buy 63,000 Bonvoy points from Marriott directly, it’ll only cost you $787 (USD) – and you’ll likely even pay less by buying points during a frequent buy points promotion.
On the other hand, if you choose to build your own Cash + Points combination, you can pay for each night for 41,600 points or $441–466 (USD) in cash.
This means that for the nights you’re paying with cash, you’re effectively paying 1 cent per point (USD). You’ll do a lot better going this route than the default Cash + Points option above.
Still, this isn’t necessarily the best option, since you can usually buy Marriott points at a discount during a sale. For instance, on a 35% bonus promotion, you can buy Bonvoy points for 0.93 cents per point (USD).
More importantly, 1 cent per point (USD) is more than our Bonvoy points valuation of 0.6 cent per point (USD).
Speaking purely from a value perspective, this isn’t necessarily a great deal; however, if you’re short on points for an aspirational stay, then you’re at least getting a better deal by customizing your payment instead of sticking with the pre-determined values.
Meanwhile, for a stay at the Lexington Hotel, Autograph Collection in New York, a two-night stay might cost 141,000 points.
The hotel might also allow you to pay for the two nights with Cash + Points as follows:
Choosing to pay for the cheaper night in cash, you’ll pay 71,000 points plus $430 (USD). Thus, you’re paying $430 (USD) to cover your deficit of 70,000 points, or 0.6 cents per point (USD).
As it turns out, that’s equal to our valuation of 0.6 cents per point (USD), so you’re actually getting a pretty good deal if you go for the Cash + Points option in this scenario.
Let’s look at one last example, where the Cash + Points feature works out to be a great deal.
A three-night stay at the Delta Montreal can be booked for 137,000 Bonvoy points.
You could choose to make a default Cash + Points redemption for $346 (CAD) and 68,500 Bonvoy points. With this option, you’re effectively paying $346 (CAD) for 68,500 points or 0.5 cents per point (CAD).
This results in an even better deal than both of the above examples, since you’re effectively buying points at 0.5 cents per point (CAD), which is quite a bit lower than our valuation of 0.8 cents per point (CAD).
It’s also worth noting that even during a promotion, you typically can’t buy points at a price this low.
Crunch the Numbers
Given the examples above, a fair answer to whether or not Cash + Points is a good deal is that it really depends – there are certainly times when it makes sense, and other times when it doesn’t.
Again, there are many factors to consider here, such as the cost of the stay in cash and points, and your balance of Bonvoy points. Further adding to the considerations are how much you value Bonvoy points, and the cost of buying Bonvoy points as an alternative.
There’s also the opportunity cost of the valuable “Stay for 5, Pay for 4” feature of the Marriott Bonvoy program, which you’re less likely to take advantage of with a Cash + Points booking.
However, Marriott Bonvoy points aren’t an infinite resource, and with the program’s dynamic pricing, there might be times when you’re simply short on points – especially if you’re looking at the most aspirational properties in the world.
In these cases, it can be worthwhile to crunch the numbers to see if you’re getting a good deal, or if you’d be better off topping up your balance another way.
Marriott Bonvoy’s Cash + Points option is a feature to consider if you find yourself short on points for an upcoming stay, or if you simply wish to ration your points for next time. As illustrated by the examples above, there are times when it makes sense, and times when it doesn’t.
The best way to approach it, to put it simply, is to run the numbers each time. Consider how much the stay costs in cash and points, your valuation of Bonvoy points, and the cost of buying Bonvoy points (often with a promotion) as an alternative.
Also consider that with a Cash + Points booking, you’re less likely to take advantage of “Stay for 5, Pay for 4” offer on points-only bookings, and you’d have to pay applicable taxes and fees on the cash component.
If you’re lucky, you’ll wind up getting a good or even great deal, and you’ll have more points to use for future stays.