Marriott and SPG have now merged, and thankfully, airline transfer bonuses of up to 25% remain a key feature of the new Marriott loyalty program.
Marriott points also remain one of the few hotel point currencies available from credit card spend in New Zealand.
A savvy points collector can therefore achieve significant savings in points redemptions compared to redemptions made with more common frequent flyer programs like Air New Zealand Airpoints, Qantas, and Velocity.
This guide explains how you can earn Marriott points, lists the varying airline transfer partners, and explores some key redemption sweet spots.
Featured photo is the Four Points by Sheraton Auckland.
How to earn points with Marriott
Note that the Membership Rewards online portal still shows the partner as ‘Starwood’ and the currency as ‘Starpoints’ though for all intents and purposes, the points are now treated the same amongst the entire Marriott group.
Choose your airline program
One benefit of Marriott is the ability to transfer to airline programs which are otherwise unavailable for direct earn opportunities via credit card spend in New Zealand.
Here is a full list of airline partners:
|Frequent Flyer Programs||Exchange Ratio - Marriott Points : Airline Miles|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||3:1|
|Air China Phoenix Miles||3:1|
|Air France/KLM Flying Blue||3:1|
|Air New Zealand Airpoints||200:1|
|Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan||3:1|
|ANA Mileage Club||3:1|
|American Airlines AAdvantage||3:1|
|Asiana Airlines Asiana Club||3:1|
|British Airways Executive Club||3:1|
|China Eastern Airlines Eastern Miles||3:1|
|China Southern Airlines Sky Pearl Club||3:1|
|Copa Airlines ConnectMiles||3:1|
|Frontier Airlines EarlyReturns||3:1|
|Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles||3:1|
|Japan Airlines JAL Mileage Bank||3:1|
|Jet Airways JetPrivilege||3:1|
|Korean Air SKYPASS||3:1|
|LATAM Airlines LATAMPASS||3:1|
|Lufthansa Miles & More||3:1|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||3:1|
|Qatar Privilege Club||3:1|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||3:1|
|South African Airways Voyager||3:1|
|Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards||3:1|
|TAP Air Portugal||3:1|
|Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles||3:1|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||3:1|
|Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer||3:1|
Transferring the points
The benefit of using Marriott is a 15,000-point bonus for every 60,000 points you transfer to a qualifying airline program—that’s an extra 25%!
This means that if you have 60,000 Marriott points (or 60,000 Amex Membership Rewards points) burning a hole in your wallet, when you transfer, Marriott will chuck in an extra 15,000. This will give you a total of 25,000 frequent flyer points (for most partners).
The 15,000-point bonus (the equivalent of 5,000 frequent flyer points) is an ongoing component of the Marriott program, so it is always there for you to exercise. However, you do need to transfer a full 60,000 points per transaction (not 30,000 + 30,000) in order to qualify for the bonus.
Members can transfer up to 240,000 Starpoints within a 24-hour period. If you want to transfer more points, you can do this over multiple days and the bonus will still apply for every increment of 60,000 Marriott points transferred.
So many partners!
But… isn’t this a lot more points than under SPG?!
It looks like it – but 60,000 points with Marriott is the equivalent of the old 20,000 Starpoints with SPG, and the 15,000 points bonus is the equivalent of the 5,000 point SPG transfer bonus. Existing Starpoint balances were multiplied by 3x when the programs were brought together, so members didn’t ‘lose’ any value as part of the merger.
Further, the transfer rate from American Express Membership Rewards dropped from 3 MRP : 1 Starpoint, to 1 MRP : 1 Marriott point.
So in effect, the points currency maintains the same value that it did before.
1. 60,000 Marriott points to fly Qantas A330 Business Class between Auckland the East or West Coast of Australia one-way
This excellent flight with a lie-flat seat and delicious food would usually set you back 36,000 Qantas Points to the East Coast, or 50,000 Qantas Points on seasonal flights to Perth, but through American Airlines’ program only costs you 25,000 AAdvantage miles.
Just transfer 60,000 Starpoints over to AA, and you’ll pick up a 5,000-point bonus, all ready for your award booking!
2. 150,000 Marriott points for a Cathay Pacific Business Class flight to the US/Canada one-way, via Hong Kong
You could use 85,000 Asia Miles to book this flight – the equivalent of 170,000 Membership Rewards points – or you could transfer 150,000 Marriott points to Alaska Airlines, giving you a 30,000-point bonus (10,000 miles) that would cover the 60,000 Mileage Plan miles needed to make the Transpacific trek in style!
150,000 Marriott points for a Business Class flight from New Zealand to the US/Canada with a free Hong Kong stopover is a steal!
Plus, that price includes a free stopover in Hong Kong (yay, pork buns), and the ability to fly into any airport serviced by Cathay Pacific in North America.
3. 105,000 Marriott points to fly Qantas from Auckland to Tokyo via Sydney one-way
Keen to visit Tokyo? You could fly all the way to Japan with Qantas in their A330 Business Class for only 105,000 Marriott points.
Transferring 105,000 Marriott points to AAdvantage plus the 15,000-point bonus (5,000 miles) gives you the 40,000 AA miles needed for this flight.
The same redemption through Asia Miles would cost 70,000 miles, or the equivalent of 140,000 Membership Rewards points.
4. 75,000 Marriott points to fly Cathay Pacific Business Class to Hong Kong one-way
With Cathay Pacific flying direct to Hong Kong from Auckland at least daily, and also to Christchurch over the summer, there are more opportunities than ever to experience Asia’s World City.
This redemption would cost 65,000 points through Asia Miles – the equivalent of 130,000 Membership Rewards points – but by transferring just 75,000 Marriott points to Alaska Mileage Plan, you’ll get the 5,000-point bonus, giving you the required 30,000 miles needed to book this flight!
This is one of my favourite redemptions!
I love that Marriott have continued Starwood’s legacy of providing points bonuses on transfers. Their program means you don’t have to worry about trying to earn the miles directly with the relevant airline.
Once you have a balance of Marriott points, there are significant benefits in transferring them out to any of the over 40 partner airline programs.
If you transfer wisely and pick up the 25% point bonus on the way through, there are plenty of options for premium class airline travel almost anywhere in the world!
You will sometimes receive significantly more value out of your American Express Membership Rewards points through Marriott than by transferring to airline partners directly – particularly for some of the sweet spots above.