Reader Question: Are Marriott Travel Packages Still Worth It & Should I Buy Points?

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Today we have a Reader Question about Marriott Bonvoy Travel Packages, a popular product bundle of a 7 night certificate plus a fix amount of miles to be deposited in the frequent flyer program of your choice.

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Travel packages used to be extremely lucrative in the past but have been repriced in the summer of 2018 at which point they lost about 25% of it’s value based on price alone but they can still make sense if the intention is to travel for a full week.

The readers question was:

… We’re looking at a one week trip in spring of 2021 and the Autograph Collection hotel is a category four with Bonvoy. Should I book a travel package instead of individual award nights? I have 220,000 points at the moment and might have to buy some points for this. …

There are two parts to our readers concern so lets look at the travel packages.

You can access Marriott’s page for Travel Packages here.

Marriott has a partnership with United called Rewards Plus which offers a 10% bonus on all miles transferred:

Redemptions made under this chart will receive 55,000 United Miles for the small and 110,000 Miles for the large package.

For all other airlines there is the regular chart:

The minimum amount of Marriott Bonvoy points needed for the smallest package is

  • 255,000 in hotel category 1-4 with 50,000 miles (+5000 miles for United via Rewards Plus)
  • 330,000 in hotel category 1-4 with 100,000 miles (+10,000 miles for United via Rewards Plus)

Higher categories can be redeemed in steps per single category but 1-4 are the same and the price doesn’t change. Naturally this means you get the best value out of it when you redeem for a Category 4 hotel that has a rather high average daily rate.

As mentioned before it’s good when you intend to stay a full week.

This is the current Marriott Award Chart:

Since Marriott Bonvoy now has Peak / Off Peak you can argue that travel packages can either be more or less valuable compared to single points redemptions. They are valued by category only which means even if the hotel switches to peak you can still use the certificate even though it would require 5,000 points per night more. At the same time you also lose in value if you end up redeeming in off peak season.

Let’s use the best value (peak) here and consider you do a straight points redemption:

  • 7 Nights x 30,000 = 210,000 minus one night for 5th night free benefit = 180,000 points

Under this calculation you would buy 50,000 airline miles for 75,000 Marriott points. And that’s the best scenario by maxing out category and value of the certificate.

The benefit of a travel package goes out the window as soon as the values drop like going down just one category:

  • 7 Nights x 17,500 = 122,500 minus one night for 5th night free benefit = 105,000 points

In this case you’d just about break even as 150,000 points extra would just net you 50,000 airline miles.As soon as you deviate from the maximum possible value it gets less and less attractive, even towards a loss.

At the same time you can always transfer 60,000 points to 25,000 miles including the 5,000 miles bonus for 60k bulk transfers.

There are a few important things to consider with Travel Packages:

  • They are not available online – you have to call in to redeem!
  • The hotel award certificate is valid for 12 months but can be extended by another 12 months at least once by contacting Marriott Rewards customer service
  • They are perfect for those that wish to stay 7 nights at the same hotel. However, the nights can’t be split and shorter stays will forfeit the excess nights.
  • If all the nights are not available as awards, you can have paid nights in between. You need to contact Marriott Rewards customer service for this.
  • Redeem for these when airlines are offering bonus points for hotel points conversions (at least United and American Airlines tend to do this yearly -read the small print as last time Travel Package redemptions were excluded from the AA conversion bonus).
  • Due to Marriott Rewards and United Airlines MileagePlus RewardsPlus partnership, you get 10% bonus when crediting the airline part to MileagePlus.
  • You can later up your Travel Package to a higher category one by paying the difference in points. Always redeem at the category 1-4 level if not sure where you are going to use it.
  • Remember that you can purchase 50,000 Marriott Rewards points every calendar year. You can use those to top up your account for a Travel Package redemption.

Conclusion

To answer the readers question here: Travel packages nowadays have very limited use and I’d probably refrain from redeeming any unless an opportunity presents itself at that given time and the numbers make sense. I rather lose a few airline miles but keep my flexibility with the hotel nights. The packages used to be great in the past, not so much anymore.

In the readers case and given the currently limited scope of using travel packages efficiently I would refrain from buying points for this purpose. Especially considering how much rates have crashed at the moment and I wouldn’t expect them to recover much in 2021.

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