5,000 Points or a 25% Discount? Which to Choose with Marriott’s Best Rate Guarantee Policy

Marriott Bonvoy is widely considered to have the most consumer-friendly Best Rate Guarantee policy, which is why many travel hackers such as yours truly put substantial effort into finding BRG opportunities to claim from Marriott.

Marriott’s version of a Best Rate Guarantee policy offers an attractive incentive. You can choose between:

  • 5,000 points
  • a 25% discount on the lower, matched room rate

But which one should you choose?

Step 1 – How Much is 5,000 Points Worth?

If we are choosing between 5,000 points and a discount, we are effectively “buying” 5,000 points. So we should compare against the cost of buying points from Marriott. The price can vary slightly – and the current promotion is worse than normal – but the 50% bonus is regular enough to use as the basis of this analysis. The price per point during a 50% bonus is 0.83 cents.

So… 5,000 points = $41.50.

Step 2 – Calculating the Added Value of Paying a Higher Room Rate

Let’s look at a simple example where your matched rate is $150 and you must pay 10.6% in taxes, bringing your total cost to $166. You would have the choice of:

  • 5,000 points worth $41.50
  • A 25% discount worth $41.50, bringing your total after-tax cost down to $124.50 for the room

These options might appear equivalent, especially if you are indifferent between earning more points and receiving a discount. (as long as your valuation metrics are met)

But… a higher room rate means that you will earn MORE points. On the $150 room rate you could earn:

  • 10 base points –> 1,500 points
  • 5 Platinum tier bonus points –> 750 points
  • 6 co-branded credit card points –> 900 points
  • for a total of 3,150 points

If you discount that $150 room by 25%, your rate would become $112.50, meaning that you could earn:

  • 10 base points –> 1,125 points
  • 5 Platinum tier bonus points –> 563 points
  • 6 co-branded credit card points –> 675 points
  • for a total of 2,363 points

What Does This Mean?

In my example above, if you choose to decline the discount in favor of 5,000 points, you could also earn an extra 787 points, simply because you are paying a higher room rate (and that’s before any double or triple point promotions)

This means that you would actually be earning 5,787 “extra” points by declining the 25% discount.  At our 0.83 cent value, that works out to $48.

As anybody familiar with Microsoft Excel will know, you cannot allow a “circular argument”, where two calculations depend on each other. So here’s where we stop the loop with an easy rule-of-thumb…

If the 25% discount works out to $50 or more, choose the discount…  If a 25% discount works out to less than $50, choose the points…

Adjust as appropriate if Marriott is offering a double or triple point promotion or you have Titanium status or better, as you would be even more incentivised to pay a higher room rate and earn even more points.

How Do I Find These Amazing Best Rate Guarantee Opportunities?

With some practice, you can regularly find lower rates on competing OTAs, especially if you are flexible on dates or which hotel in a given city you will stay at. I like to start my searching on Google Hotels, which lets me compare rates against all sorts of OTAs.

The Bottom Line

You can read up on Marriott’s Best Rate Guarantee policy by clicking here.

But the next time you are filling in Marriott’s Best Rate Guarantee claim form, remember the $50 rule when choosing between points and a discount…

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