Marriott Launches New Rewards Network Implementation With Temporary Earnings Boost

Marriott announced a new program to earn points for dining at select restaurants called Eat Around Town.

  • Signup bonus: Spend $30 within 30 days of joining (by January 15, 2020) for 1000 bonus points. This is weak compared to the usual signup offers with Rewards Network airline partners.

  • Limited-time earn: Through November 11 earn 8 Marriott points per dollar at participating restaurants.

  • Regular earn: Effective November 12 Silver elite members and above earn 6 points per dollar, while general members earn 4 points per dollar. I see elite member earn as comparable to roughly 3 airline miles per dollar in other partner programs which is standard. General member earn is weak.

Rewards Network is the company that provides branded mileage-earning dining programs in conjunction with major frequent flyer programs like United MileagePlus, American AAdvantage, and Delta Skymiles.

I’ll always call them iDine, their former name, and the predecessor to that was Transmedia — the old program where you paid to sign up and had a membership card which you needed to present at restaurants for a cash discount.

When I first started earning with them in the mid-1990s, United’s program was only open to their elite frequent flyers and you earned at least 10 miles per dollar plus bonuses (against a more generous award chart than we have today).

I used to rack up miles by choosing to schedule reimbursable business meals at participating restaurants, and steering groups of friends towards those restaurants — where everyone would kick in cash and I’d earn miles for the total bill that I’d put on my credit card.

Sadly the program became a whole lot less valuable July 1, 2005. But it’s still better than a hole in the head, as my grandfather used to say.

You can join multiple different mileage dining programs, just link different credit cards. Unfortunately I rarely see restaurants in the program I want to eat at anymore. I register cards just in case I happen to go to one, but at reduced levels of earn and without compelling participating dine options I never let it drive my eating choices the way I once did.

Rewards Network has seemed to me mostly in the business of lending money to trouble restaurants and exorbitant rates. Expect to find troubled spots in the program, places that aren’t attractive business on their own. From what I’ve heard volume in these programs is lower than you’d expect. Still, more points is better than fewer points and more programs in which to earn points is a positive development too.

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, 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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  1. Hmm.

    The trade off seems to be, for Bonvoy elites, 6 Bonvoy points or 3 miles on most participating airlines, including Alaska, which I value the most.

    I suppose some folks have a particularized preference for Bonvoy points over airline miles, and they will appreciate the opportunity to earn more. As for me, I am passing.

  2. Always willing to sign up for 1,000 extra points, but at this earn level (and I’m lifetime Platinum) I won’t be motivated to steer dinner their way. Their own parsimony freed me of iDine some years ago, and I’ve eaten better and more healthfully ever since, despite missing the miles.

  3. Oh, and besides steadily shrinking earn rates, Rewards Network also had a problem actually CREDITING real dines to your account, so there was always some follow up required, month after month, if you really embraced the program. Slack plan: Inconvenience your Heaviest Users. Not a winning strategy.

  4. Agree the points value these days is minimal, but Rewards Network does offer a relatively easy way to keep points in otherwise-dormant accounts from expiring.

  5. swag nailed it. I use the dining programs to keep points active in my children’s FF accounts (as they only fly a few times a year and the airline varies depending on destination and fares). Otherwise fairly useless given the dearth of decent dining options.

  6. I recall the good old days of these programs too. I was an oddball America West flyer, and I recall earning 15 miles per dollar at some restaurants, including a coffee shop that we ate at no less than twice a week for a few years. That really put some miles in the old account.

  7. I prefer Bonvoy points to Hilton and maybe IHG, so I just tried to sign up, but the sign-up-button goes only to the Log In for existing members!

  8. Eureka! It just dawned on me that it wanted my Marriott Bonvoy Username & Password, not new separate ones as other RN sites make us choose! I’m now in!

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