Why a 40% Bonus Still Isn’t Good Enough When Converting American Express Membership Rewards to Marriott

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US members of American Express Membership Rewards can take advantage of a 40% bonus when converting to Marriott Bonvoy. The promotion will run until June 15th, 2021. You must log into your Membership Rewards account to see the offer.

Why 40% Isn’t High Enough to Be Tempting

Marriott Bonvoy is a relatively new partner of American Express (taking over from Starwood Preferred Guest). You can normally convert 1,000 MR points and receive 1,000 Marriott points. With this bonus you would convert 1,000 MR points –> 1,400 Marriott points.

At the moment, you can buy Marriott points for 0.83 cents each. This puts an upper limit on how you should value a Marriott point. Unless you have reached your annual limit for buying points, you can always just go buy them, saving your MR points for a more lucrative use…

When you receive 1.4 Marriott points in exchange for 1 Membership Rewards point, you would be receiving 1.16 cents per MR point in value.

Airline Transfer Partners

There are many ways of spending your Membership Rewards points, but the best options tend to be conversions to airline miles. Here’s the current list of travel partners…

I’m not an expert on every single one of these partners, but I do know that:

  • You receive roughly 1.3 cents in value from JetBlue points
  • Virgin Atlantic miles are worth 1.3-1.4 cents (and can be worth much much more when redeeming in ANA First Class to Japan)
  • Avios – British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus – can easily be worth 1.4 cents or more
  • ANA, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and Singapore Krisflyer miles are all worth well in excess of 1.5 cents

All of the above ignores the fact that conversion bonuses to airline programs also come around occasionally.

But if cents per point calculations make your eyes glaze over, you could simply dream of a First Class seat on your preferred airline…

ANA First Class – photo courtesy of ANA

The Bottom Line

Of course a 40% conversion bonus is better than nothing, especially if you have tons of airline miles already, and don’t want to spend money on your hotel stays (or buying points for awards).

But in terms of pure value, 40% simply isn’t good enough.

What do you use your American Express Membership Rewards points for? Let us know in the comments section…

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