If you’re planning an event, do it at a Marriott for the absolute best rewards. We, at Point Savvy, are currently in the process of helping plan my sister-in-law’s Connecticut wedding by maximizing points so as to offer her and her husband-to-be a variety of options for a free honeymoon that they will remember.
We decided on the Stamford Marriott Hotel in Connecticut, the bride’s hometown. Because we wanted the couple to get the most points bang for their bucks, we immediately had her sign up for the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card. We also had her husband-to-be do the same.
They each earned a sign-up bonus of 80,000 bonus points once they spent $3,000 in the first three months – which was easy to do after purchasing a wedding dress ($1500,) paying for a hair and makeup stylist for the big day ($800,) flowers ($2500,) limousines ($600,) and rental formal wear ($600.)
They each received 7,500 bonus points for adding each other to their accounts as authorized users to the account, and making a single purchase in any amount.
Marriott incredibly gives you 5 points for every $1 you spend with the card at Marriott locations, regardless of whether you’re having an event at one of its hotels. But, if you do choose to have your event at Marriott, you get an additional 3 points for every $1 on the reception up to 50,000 points – whether you’re going for a formal sit-down dinner or a casual brunch buffet. To get all these bonus reception points, you’d need to spend $16,666, which can easily be racked up with the 100-person reception at $166 a head.
By the time the big day arrives next month, our bride will have spent roughly $30,000 with her Marriott Rewards Premiere Credit Card. We know that this seems like a lot, but it’s actually very much in line with the national average when it comes to weddings. Here is a breakdown of the major expenses that most families incur when throwing a wedding in the U.S. today according to costofwedding.com.
With the 5 points for every $1 spent at Marriott, the additional 3 points for every $1 spent on the Marriott reception, and 1 point for $1 spent everywhere else, our young couple will have a whopping total of 322,500 Marriott Rewards points for a honeymoon inclusive of spending and bonus rewards points on their cards. We recommend transferring 50,000 of the groom’s points to the bride’s Marriott Rewards account (the maximum allowed in a calendar year) for easier booking a flexibility.
Using Marriott Rewards for a free honeymoon.
We at Point Savvy did what we do best – we maximized points for the best value vacation options with the least out-of-pocket expense.
First, here are simple rules to consider when turning rewards points into travel:
- Always have an out-of-pocket budget in mind when planning. In my sister-in-law and her husband’s case, they were willing to spend an additional $750 on hotels or flights if necessary.
- Know what kind of vacation you want to have. Whether you want to hang on a beach for a week and just relax or take a more active vacation, it’s up to you to know what you want. Our young couple was open to all kinds of options, but really liked the idea of potentially heading to Europe.
- Have an understanding of your flexibility. If you can only travel the last week of September, know that your options for flights and hotel availability may be limited. Once again, we had some flexibility in this case as our couple was open to an up to 10-day vacation anytime in the next six months.
With all these considerations in mind, plus the added flexibility of our easy-going young couple, we came up with three dream honeymoon options.
1. FREE Costa Rican Escape
By cashing in 290,000 Marriott Rewards points for a flight and Category 8 hotel stay for 7 nights we found a great deal through Southwest Airlines and Marriott. Our couple can choose a direct flight from BWI – LIR and a 7 day stay at the Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort. In a luxury escape offering the splendors of Costa Rica, with breathtaking views, beautiful accommodations and fabulous golf – perfect for a beach escape. In addition, by cashing in 60,000 extra points they can extend their stay to 9 days without any out-of-pocket expense.
2. A FREE 10 Days in Paris
One of the best ways to utilize Marriott Rewards Points is to redeem for a Marriott Rewards Vacation. By leveraging United Airlines Mileage Plus relationship with Marriott, and cashing in 270,000 rewards points our couple can fly directly out of New York to Paris where they will stay at the Category 5 Courtyard Paris Saint Denis. Located in the dynamic area of Carrefour Pleyel, near La Plaine – Stade de France and the Cite du Cinema, the Courtyard Paris Saint Denis is one of the best 4-star hotels in the area, minutes away from Paris downtown and from Saint-Ouen. As with the Costa Rican trip, our couple can cash in additional points to make it a 10-day honeymoon.
3. An Exotic Egyptian Ritz-Carlton Honeymoon
A more upscale and exotic getaway for a steal, points can be used towards a Ritz-Carlton stay with free airfare. Our couple could redeem 120,000 for a five-night stay (with a fifth night free Marriott Reward) at the Nile Ritz-Carlton in Cairo. They would be able to then choose to convert the balance of their points to the United Airlines Mileage Plus program in order to fly free from New York to Cairo. Set in the heart of downtown, between the iconic Nile River and Tahrir Square, The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo is a modern luxury hotel with a storied past. The hotel hosted the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Frank Sinatra, and offers an upscale elegance that you come to expect from a Ritz-Carlton.
We are excited to hear which of these options my sister-in-law chooses, and can’t wait to help her book the FREE Marriott Vacation that is best for her.
Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card
- Earn 80,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
- Plus, earn 7,500 bonus points when you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening.
- Enjoy 1 Free Night Stay at a Category 1-5 location every year after your account anniversary date!
- Earn unlimited Marriott Rewards points and get free stays faster
- Earn 5 points per $1 spent at participating Marriott locations & 2 points per $1 spent on airline tickets purchased directly with the airlines, at car rental agencies & restaurants
- Earn 1 point per $1 spent everywhere else
- The fastest way to earn Marriott Rewards Elite Status. Receive 15 Elite Credits guaranteeing Silver Elite Status or better. Plus, Earn 1 Elite Credit for every $3,000 spent on purchases
- All for an $85 Annual Fee