5 Free Marriott Nights Worth 250,000 Points Is Too Big A Bonus, How Can Chase Even Make That Work?

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Chase was very aggressive coming out of the Great Recession, offering big bonuses to acquire good customers. And it’s no surprise to see them returning to that playbook. They have come out with attractive offers on several of their cards. My recommendation is to consider these while they’re still available.

However the Marriott Bonvoy BoundlessTM Credit Card has an especially interesting new offer: 5 free nights after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. These nights are each valid for redemptions worth up to 50,000 points, or 250,000 points total.

At my last published points valuation 250,000 points are worth $1500 (many readers argue I undervalue Marriott points because of their usefulness transferring to airlines, but since these certificates don’t offer that option let’s go with my lower value).

How can Chase do that? Their elevated offers for this card are often ‘just’ 100,000 points.

  • Chase has a deal to lease Visa’s network. So marginal charges don’t cost them as much to run, and they recoup cardmember acquisition costs faster than other issuers.

  • Free nights expire after a year, while points can be pooled in an account and extended. There may be some people who let certificates expire (breakage) and that reduces the average cost across cardmembers.

  • Some people use them at lower value. The nights are capped at 50,000 points apiece, but you can now add points to top off for a more expensive stay. You may use them on a less expensive stay, especially to ensure you use them before they expire, so the real cost for some cardmember stays may be lower. But with the introduction of the top-off option this year that seems less true than it did in 2020 which is the only time Chase made this offer before.


Le Meridien Chiang Rai

What it comes down to is Chase’s lower marginal costs, combined with a bet than some consumers won’t take advantage of the full value of the certificates, the certificates cost less than equivalent points would. But this is still a very expensive proposition to offer and those that do make the most of it can reap really outsized value as a result.

Marriott Bonvoy BoundlessTM Credit Card

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of advertisers Citibank, Chase, American Express, Barclays, Capital One or any other advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.

Comments

  1. Have you received from Marriott, or see any other official confirmations, that these certificates can indeed be “topped off”? There is some verbiage in the terms and conditions that indicates that they can’t be, but it may just be the standard terms and conditions that preceded the “top off” ability.

  2. I’d still rather have points. Unless you have that special trip planned it’s more than likely that you won’t get full value for them… plus as mentioned, they have a shelf life where the points don’t.

  3. Not to mention the upcoming deval when they ditch the upper cap on award costs.

  4. I stayed at a Marriott in Cleveland 20k a night last year – they gave me a folio with the actual rates paid by Marriott = 40$ – so at most the hotels get 100$ a night if that for a 50k cert
    Marriott likely sells the certs to Chase at a lower rate than regular points
    Points may be sold at 0.4 to 0.5c to Chase
    Certificates likely sold at 0.2-0.3c each at most to Chase = Max loss 100-150 a night if the certs used at max value
    So a 100k offer may cost chase 400$
    I suspect the 5 nights offer cost chase at most 500$

  5. Is there any play here for those of us who already have a Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card?

  6. Gary, the main flow in your calculations is that you are suing “value” of free nights/Marriott point from a perspective of a consumer. The actual cost to Marriott and Chase could be as low as half of that or even lower. I just completed a free night stay at a beach Marriott property for 40k point free night. This stay was billed to Marriott as $123.74 (I happened to see the paperwork) and the hotel was at high weekend rates and full occupancy. In this case Marriott reimburses the hotel at a rate of just $0.0031/point. If I proportionally increase this reimbursement rate from 40 to 50k, the reimbursable cost will be $154.68. and 5 nights of those will be $773.40. Now, not all the hotels nights will be redeemed when the hotels are at full occupancy and some nights will not be redeemed at all. To give you an example, I have a colleague who has 3 free Hilton night between him and his wife and he has no plans to redeem those before the nights expire by the end of this summer.

  7. I would much rather have points.. With points, you can take your time, they don’t really expire, and you can make a much better redemption, For example, I just stayed 5 nights in Rome for 280,000 points, 5th night was free which is another thing you don’t get with certificates.. I used the points when I wanted to and saved them until the time was right. With certificates, they expire in just 1 year. I see a lot of people on the FlyerTalk Marriott forum now trying to call Marriott before June 30 because their certificates will expire, only for Marriott to tell them they will not extend them. I’m sure that’s what Marriott’s counting on. That you won’t be able to use them in time or you’ll have to rush at the last minute and make a redemption worth less than the points value of the certificates at some run of the mill hotel. You can’t save certificates like points. I saved for a few years and built up until I could make an aspirational redemption. You’ll never be able to do that with certificates and it’s probably want Marriott prefers.

  8. Reason number 4: The bonus eligibility requirements are so convoluted and confusing that you need an advanced degree to figure them out, and most people in this game who know how to get the most effective value out of these certificates and not let them expire are either (a) already disqualified by these absurd rules that cross over two different issuers or (b) are over 5/24.

  9. And don’t forget Marriott limiting certificate usage for popular dates and locations. I had five certificates from the last similar offer. Often the hotels I wanted to use them on had no free nights available while still accepting cash bookings. Actually had one expire before I could use it. Tried to use it in Galveston Tx and could not find a hotel that I could use it on ( they were under 50k) but not accepting free nights. …never again.

  10. @ Gary — I would rather not do business with Marriott (or Hertz). I would take 250k transferable points and immediately transfer them, but no way am I staying at a hotel where I can’t uograde or use the Club lounge.. This offer is equivalent to being given a bunch of airline miles only redeemable in economy class.

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