We’re seeing some movement, as expected, from brands and loyalty programs generating cash now by offering deals to customers.
Aeroplan sold miles for as little as one cent which is amazing. Marriott now has offers beginning and starting soon that will offer better than normal deals to customers who are willing to pay now.
First is an offer of gift cards at a discount. Gift cards usually sell to merchants for less than face value, and you can often buy them at a discount on the secondary market, but when you can buy them directly from a brand you have less to worry about in terms of fraud or technical glitches.
Second Marriott is offering points with the biggest bonus we’ve seen – you are prepaying for stays, effectively, at a discount here as well. And while gift cards can’t be used at Marriott’s homesharing service they’re offering a discount on those bookings as well, for two days only.
20% oFF Gift Cards Can Be A Great Deal
Marriott is selling U.S. dollar electronic gift cards valid on hotel stays throughout the world at a 20% discount through Sunday, May 17. You’re allowed to buy up to $5000 per person per credit card per day which isn’t much of a limit considering two people using separate credit cards could buy $70,000 worth of Marriott gift cards under this offer.
There are 5 denominations:
- $50 gift card for $40
- $100 gift card for $80
$250 gift card for $200
- $500 gift card for $400
- $1,000 gift card for $800
There are a couple of reasons this makes good sense for Marriott loyalists.
- The chain, which doesn’t own the vast majority of hotel properties, isn’t going away. They don’t have mortgage payments to make on empty hotels (though in some cases may have payments to hotel owners for missing minimum revenue targets).
- The gift cards do not expire.
There are a couple of caveats. Gift cards are only valid on charges you pay at the hotel, so prepaid hotel rates don’t really work here. If you’re someone who typically purchases prepaid hotels, then you’d be giving up that associated discount to pay for room rate via gift card (of course you could still pay for most on-property charges). And gift cards aren’t delivered instantly, they do fraud checks and only promise delivery within 1-7 business days.
Gift cards are accepted globally at most Marriott brands, but aren’t valid at Marriott Homes and Villas, Design Hotels (which aren’t really Marriott..), Bulgari Hotels (which do not participate in Marriott Bonvoy), or Ritz-Carlton Residences (timeshares).
Lowest Price On Purchased Points Ever
May 18 through June 30 Marriott will be offering a 60% bonus on purchased points, which is up from the best previous deal I’m aware of (50% bonus). This translates in a cost per point of $0.0078.
Prior to the latest round of hotel category changes I valued Marriott points at 7/10ths of a cent apiece. I would probably now value these points around $0.0065 each.
It’s possible to get more value out of these points than Marriott will be charging, especially if you need to top off for a specific award (though with peak season pricing dates changing monthly this can be a moving target) and for some of the chain’s most expensive and least expensive hotels. If you’re redeeming for properties in the middle though you aren’t likely to get much more value out of these points than what you pay for them, and you’re effectively prepaying through a points purchase.
Flash Sale 10% Off Home Rentals
On May 18 and 19 Marriott will offer 10% off of Homes and Villas by Marriott stays. This isn’t a huge discount, but homesharing stays may be faster to pick up than hotel bookings, though even hotels have logged four consecutive weeks of increased bookings.
Many of you will consider driving to another town and staying in a rented home before flying somewhere and staying at a hotel, despite ramped up cleaning processes for hotels and for airlines too.