As I wrote about a few days ago, Marriott still
doesn’t know isn’t telling us how they are going to map unattached travel package certificates to the new award chart. They say we will know on August 18th (when the official merge of the Marriott and Starwood loyalty programs happen), so of course they know what will happen with just a few days left, but they are pretty tight lipped about it.
With these travel packages, you are redeeming your points for a 7-night certificate plus a specific number of miles (which depends on the travel package purchased). So let’s say you purchase a 7-Nights at a category 1-5 + 132,000/120,000 mile package (with United packages you’ll earn slightly more miles), for 270,000 miles. After you redeem your points for the travel package, if you later decide you cannot use the 7-night certificate, Marriott will reimburse you 45,000 Marriott points (but you need to be proactive and call them, they won’t manually reimburse you the points if it just goes unused!). The miles will already be in your airline’s loyalty program, so those miles are still yours. That means you are really redeeming 225,000 Marriott points (270,000 initial points – 45,000 reimbursed points) for 132,000/120,000 miles.
This can actually still be a great redemption option even though you aren’t getting the 7-night stay certificate. Although, I do encourage you to use the certificate as that will get you the maximum value possible! Now, let’s say you value Marriott points at about .9 cents per point and United miles at 1.7 cents per point. Of course your valuation will be different depending on how you use your points, and if you prefer to redeem for first/business class seats, then you’ll value your airline miles significantly more. This then makes the 225,000 Marriott points worth $2,025 (225,000 Marriott points x .9 cents per point) and the 132,000 United miles worth $2,244 (132,000 United miles x 1.7 cents per point). Or if you prefer Alaska Airlines, for example, even though you’ll only end up with 120,000 Alaska Airlines miles, they have a much higher valuation at about 2 cents per point – worth $2,400 (120,000 Alaska Airlines miles x 2 cents per point).
Of course we still do not know how they will go about reimbursing points if you decide NOT to use the 7-night stay certificate, based on this post on FlyerTalk (HT: Dan’s Deals) they stated that you’ll still be able to “cancel and get points back at a reduced amount” post August 18th. Of course they failed to mention what that reduced amount will be, but if I had to guess, I’d say they would keep it at the same 45,000 points. This is a fare value, so I do not believe they would give more or less points.
So with all the math above, if you still prefer airline miles over Marriott points, redeeming for the travel packages still might be a great option for you! Or, if you already redeemed (or planning to redeem) for a travel package with a favorable category mapping and it just doesn’t work out how you hoped for, you at least know that you are still getting a good value in the points received.
So what will you do? Will you be redeeming your points for a travel package? Which category hotel and for what airline?