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Update 01/01/2021: The cashback and bonus points offers in this post have expired.
When brands offer multiple promotions, stacking opportunities arise to accomplish goals we may not have considered. This is why we offer a weekly thread in our Facebook Group Award Travel 101 called #StackIt.
If you’re not familiar with stacking, it’s a process similar to extreme couponing where you place one offer on top of another to maximize your return. Here's how I'm going to stack Marriott promotions to earn bonus Marriott points, higher elite status, a Free Night Award, and even United elite status.
Current Marriott Promotions
There are several ongoing Marriott promotions available to Bonvoy members and American Express cardmembers:
This promotion ended on 12/31/2020. Keep an eye on your Amex Offers for new deals to include in your stacking strategy.
(Expired) Earn 10X Bonvoy total points using the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, and the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card:
This promotion ended on 10/31/2020. Keep an eye on your Amex Offers for new deals to include in your stacking strategy.
(Expired) Earn 2,500 bonus points for each stay, plus a 5,000-point bonus for completing three stays:
This promotion ended on 11/10/2020. Keep an eye on your Amex Offers for new deals to include in your stacking strategy.
(Update: No longer available) Match your existing hotel elite status to Marriott. After matching your status, you can earn Bonvoy elite status through February 2022 by completing as few as 5 nights within 90 days of registering.
The first two of these promotions are for American Express Marriott co-branded credit cardmembers. If you're not a cardmember yet, you're not going to be able to stack these promotions as effectively.
Is it Worth Doing a Mattress Run?
Stacking these promotions may make it worth your time and effort to complete 3-4 stays at a Marriott property. That's especially true if you are close to hitting that next status tier and you value said status.
You may even want to consider a mattress run—which is where you stay at a hotel purely for the points and elite earnings. But, you'll need to evaluate whether this challenge is worth the price. Part of what you’d need to consider is where you currently stand.
Perhaps you're a Gold Elite member who could utilize Platinum Elite status. By upgrading your elite status, you'll receive free breakfast benefits, guaranteed 4 p.m. checkout, and room upgrades (even into suites). Plus, you'll get an Annual Choice Benefit such as suite upgrade certificates or gifting elite status.
Or perhaps you already have earned Platinum Elite status. After all, that's easier than ever now that you can get 30 Elite Night Credits through holding both personal and business Bonvoy cards. Plus, as part of its COVID-19 relief efforts, Marriott gifted elite status members Elite Night Credits based on elite status earned in 2019:
If you're close to reaching Titanium Elite, it could be worth chasing that next level of elite status. After all, Titanium Elite members earn even more bonus points, United Premier Silver Elite status, and an additional Annual Choice Benefit—including a Free Night Certificate or more suite upgrade certificates.
That's where I'm at now. With just four more elite nights, I'll hit Titanium Elite status and unlock these benefits. The question is: Is it worth the cost?
Doing the Math
Everyone's situation is individual. But here's what I found when I ran the numbers for myself.
I searched for two inexpensive properties near me so I could maximize the number of bonus points I could earn. Why two properties? Marriott defines a “stay” as “consecutive nights spent at the same hotel, regardless of check-in/checkout activity.” So, you won't earn bonus points from booking back-to-back one-night stays at the same property.
Thankfully for my situation, the cheapest two properties near me were next door to each other. The first was a Fairfield Inn and the other was a TownePlace Suites.
The other consideration: I wanted my total cost to come in as close to $250 as possible for the four nights. That would unlock $75 cashback through Amex Offers and keep my out-of-pocket cost as low as possible. Here's what I was able to put together:
After factoring in credit card earnings, elite status earnings, and bonus points, I'll earn a total of 20,555 Marriott Bonvoy points from these four one-night stays.
These four nights cost a total of $280.87 after taxes. After the $75 Amex Offer, the total out of my pocket would be $205.87. That’s a pretty solid deal at just over $51 per night. Also, that's effectively like purchasing points at 1 cent each while earning additional benefits of elite status.
Note that it wouldn't make sense to complete these stays for the points alone. Members have the option to buy Marriott points for 0.83 cents each through October 22, 2020. And you can purchase 21,000 points for $175. That's over $30 cheaper—and a lot less hassle—than completing these four one-night stays.
How Marriott Elites Earn Points
Besides the elite perks, another aspect to consider is earning more points at a higher elite status tier. Each Marriott Bonvoy elite tier earns a few more points than the previous one. Bonvoy members will earn at the following rates at most Marriott properties:
- Member — 10 points per dollar, before taxes and fees
- Silver — 11X
- Gold — 12.5X
- Platinum — 15X
- Titanium — 17.5X
Stays at three extended-stay brands—Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, and Element—only earn half as many points. That's why I only earned 473-503 base points on my second and fourth stays vs. 885 points on my first and third stays.
Stacking Without Mattress Running
In this case, it makes sense for me to mattress run to earn Titanium Elite status. But, it's even better if you're able to stack these promotions for actual stays.
For example, AwardWallet's JT Genter's wife Katie currently has 45 Elite Night Credits. She has Bonvoy Gold Elite status through The Platinum Card® from American Express — which got her a 13-night boost from Marriott as part of the pandemic relief efforts. Factoring in 30 nights through holding personal and business Bonvoy cards plus a two-night stay earlier this year, she found herself just 5 Elite Night Credits from Platinum Elite status.
In her case, she's planning to book short stays at three separate properties on an upcoming trip. By doing so, she can collect the 5 additional nights needed to earn Platinum Elite status while maximizing bonus points. Even better, she used the Marriott elite status match to get Platinum Elite status for these stays. That boosts her earnings and benefits for these three stays.
Stacking promotions isn't going to make sense for everyone's situation. Unless you’re a road warrior, stacking these offers and mattress running for nights isn’t the best or least expensive way to pick up Elite Night Credits.
You could also take advantage of the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card sign-up offer of 3 Free Nights after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening + 10X total points per $1 spent on up to $2,500 in combined purchases at gas stations, restaurants, and grocery stores within 6 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card!
Are you inspired to consider stacking Marriott promotions?
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