A recurring question in the milesopedia Facebook group: does it make sense to transfer Select Membership Rewards from the American Express Cobalt™ Card to Marriott Bonvoy, or should we use them as credit against hotel/airbnb purchases?
Reminder of the Cobalt card features
The American Express Cobalt™ Card is my favourite credit card in my wallet because it allows me to:
- earn 5 Membership Rewards at grocery stores, restaurant-bars, convenience stores (think gift cards)
- transfer points to Marriott Bonvoy (but not to airline programs such as Aeroplan… unless you deal through Marriott Bonvoy!)
- apply points directly to travel purchases made on the card… like Airbnb!
And it offers an excellent welcome bonus that can amount to $600 in the first year by spending in the 5 points/$ categories
In short, it is surely the best travel hacker credit card in Canada.
Transferring Select Membership Rewards to Marriott Bonvoy
American Express Membership Rewards can be transferred to Marriott Bonvoy at a 1:1.2 (or 5:6 if you prefer) rate.
This means that:
- 10,000 Membership Rewards = 12,000 Marriott Bonvoy points
- 50,000 Membership Rewards = 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points
Here is the Marriott Bonvoy rate chart for a free night’s stay, with the number of Membership Rewards required.
|Category||Marriott Points||Membership Rewards points|
But what is particularly interesting with Marriott Bonvoy, is when you stay 5 nights for the price of 4! It means you’re saving almost 20% in points on the whole stay.
So here is the Marriott Bonvoy rate chart for 5 nights in a hotel, with the number of Membership Rewards required.
|Category||Marriott points – 5 nights||Membership Rewards – 5 nights|
Using points for a travel credit
American Express Membership Rewards can also be used as travel credits at the rate of 1,000 points = $10.
This means that:
- 10,000 Membership Rewards = $100
- 50,000 Membership Rewards = $500
The big advantage of this solution is that Membership Rewards points can be applied to any type of travel purchase:
- airplane tickets,
- car rental,
- and even airbnb!
Now that we know more about the two possibilities, let’s see in which case it becomes interesting:
- transfer Select Membership Rewards to Marriott Bonvoy points
- or redeem them as travel credits
Transferring or redeeming for credit: a difficult choice!
It will be up to you to calculate if it’s best to transfer towards Marriott Bonvoy or to redeem them for credit.
To help you, here are 2 tables which more detailed than the previous ones, to which I added the value of the points if they were used as a travel credit. This will allow you to easily determine the best solution FOR YOU!
There are several things to consider:
- the price of your hotel room including all taxes in Canadian dollars
- savings on 5 hotel nights with the advantage of the fifth night free
- promotions available, if your stay is paid in cash rather than points
- alternative accommodation solutions (after all, there is more than Marriott! Your Membership Rewards can be applied to all hotels and even airbnb rentals)
For 1 night in a Marriott Bonvoy hotel:
|Category||Marriott Bonvoy points||Membership Rewards points||Travel credit|
So, let’s take the example of a night in a category 4 hotel. You would need 25,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, which you could get by transferring 20,833 Membership Rewards.
Since these 20,833 Membership Rewards have a value of $208.33 if used as travel credits, your stay at this hotel – OR any alternative accommodation that suits you – would have to cost more than $208.33!
For 5 nights in a Marriott Bonvoy hotel:
|Category||Points Marriott Bonvoy – 5 nights||Membership Rewards – 5 nights||Travel credit|
So let’s take the example of 5 nights in a category 4 hotel. You would need 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, which you could get by transferring 83,333 Membership Rewards.
Since these 83,333 Membership Rewards have a value of $833.33 if used as travel credits, your stay at this hotel – OR at any alternative accommodation that suits you – would have to cost more than $833.33!
Being a travel hacker means knowing how to calculate to avoid making mistakes by transferring points unnecessarily… or by not taking advantage of the flexibility offered by them by booking the accommodation that suits YOU!