Here’s a deal that could be interesting for those who planned on staying in Marriott hotels and also planned on paying in cash instead of points—which often makes sense since Marriott Points are variable-value points that you need to use well to maximize. And for those who usually make flexible bookings. This 20% discount on gift cards (or 25% bonus if you prefer the math the other way) can be a good deal if you have the cash flow right now.
Aside from the thousands of points you earn by getting the cards, many of you often stay in Marriott hotels even for stays paid in cash to earn a lot more points (unlike with flights, it’s actually still possible to earn a lot of hotel points by traveling and not just with credit cards).
So getting a 20% discount for future stays is very good… much better than paying full price anyway. Unlike with flights, there aren’t deals on hotels very often.
And for those who want a discount of more than 20%, Marriott will be having a sale on points purchases soon; we’ll cover that separately. Subscribe now for free to never miss any content:
Sign up for our travel rewards newsletter
The Marriott gift card deal
Here are the details:
- from now to May 17
- 20% discount / 25% bonus
- gift cards don’t expire
- can’t be used for “pre-paid” rates (see below)
- codes as a Marriott purchase for card category bonuses
- gift cards are in USD but can be used in any country
Here’s an example of the math:
- you buy a US$100 gift card, but it costs you just US$80 (a 20% discount)
- you pay US$80, but you get a US$100 gift card (a 25% bonus)
It’s a pretty good deal in many cases, especially since the gift cards do not expire. For many of you, it makes a lot of sense to take advantage of this deal. Especially if you normally book the “regular” refundable rates, not prepaid non-flexible rates.
You can take advantage of the deal on the Marriott gift card sale page.
Gift cards can be used in almost all Marriott hotels: in 28 hotel brands that add up to over 7,000 hotels worldwide. The only minor exclusion is that some ultra-luxury brands don’t accept gift cards (Bulgari, Design Hotels, Homes & Villas, and Ritz-Carlton Destination Club).
Pre-paid rates excluded
The only major caveat is that the gift card cannot be used for pre-paid rates (or “advance purchase” rates).
What does this mean?
If you’ve booked hotels with the hotel directly, you’ll already have noticed that there are almost always two available prices when you book:
- a lower “pre-paid” rate that you pay upfront online, which is a booking that cannot be changed
- a higher regular rate that you pay once you’re at the hotel, which is a booking that can be changed for free
The gift cards won’t apply to pre-paid rates, so if you normally take advantage of these because you want the lower price and your travel plans never change, this is not a good deal for you. Not at all.
But if you normally book the flexible “regular” rates to be able to change, then this gift card deal is great. It’s the exact same as paying with your credit card, just 20% cheaper.
With almost all Canadian cards, you’ll pay a foreign transaction fee (the “FX fee”) because the gift card is in USD… but you’d also pay that anyway when booking with the hotel directly without the gift cards. Like on all foreign currency purchases.
The only difference is that the conversion rate that the gift card uses is often worse than the actual conversion rate. It’s especially negative if you use them for a hotel that is not in USD, since you’ll be hit by the conversion rate when using the gift card. That said, even if the conversion rate is bad, you are still getting a 20% saving to absorb it.
And this extra conversion won’t apply if you book a hotel in USD. The United States is a very popular destination for us Canadians, and probably will be once again when things get back to normal, at least for many people. The US is also a great place to use cash instead of points, since Marriott points are often worth so much more when used in international destinations, particularly in countries with Marriott Category 1 hotel.
One last consideration is that the Canadian dollar is not particularly strong right now… if you believe it will get a lot better by the time you need to travel, then the 20% discount might not be worth it.
Card category bonus
The purchase will code as a Marriott purchase on your credit card, meaning that if you have the Marriott Bonvoy Card, you’ll get the category bonus multiplier: you’ll earn 5X Marriott Points per Canadian dollar, just like you would if you would pay the hotel with the card directly.
A US$500 gift card purchase will cost you C$700 and earn you 3,500 Marriott points, which is about half of what you need for a free night in a Marriott Category 1 hotel. Despite the aforementioned FX fee, using the Marriott Card for Marriott purchases is a no-brainer: the 5X more than makes up for the FX fee.
If you don’t have the Marriott Bonvoy Card (you really should—it’s arguably the best card in Canada), use a card that either has no foreign transaction fee (there aren’t many in Canada), or one that has a category bonus for travel expenses (gift cards code as Marriott purchases meaning it codes as travel for other cards).
Pros and cons
Next week, we’ll cover whether hotels (or flights) will be more expensive or less expensive in the future (it’s not as obvious as many seem to think it is), but no matter your opinion, getting a 20% discount is great in both case:
- If hotels become cheaper, it’ll just be even cheaper for you; it changes nothing
- If hotels become more expensive, it’ll lessen the blow since you’ll have saved 20%
Of course, you need to be in a financial position to “prepay” a hotel purchase now for future travel (we’ll also soon cover when travel is most likely to resume). If that’s your case and you can prepay, getting a 25% return on your money in a few months is a rate that just can’t be beaten in these current times.
Who Should Buy Marriott Gift Cards
To summarize, here’s who should take advantage of this Marriott gift card deal:
- those who were going to spend money on Marriott hotels anyway in the future
- those who usually avoid pre-paid rates that cannot be changed
- those who have the cash flow to have money tied up in travel right now
- those who believe the Canadian dollar won’t go significantly up
Want to learn more about getting free hotels with Marriott Points?
Sign up for our travel rewards newsletter
Marriott’s gift card deal is very good for those who have the cash flow and were going to spend the money anyway (on regular rates, not pre-paid rates). Hotel deals are rare, unlike flight deals, so a 20% discount is a pretty great promo.
Have any questions about the Marriott program? Ask us in the comments below.
Explore awesome destinations: travel inspiration
Learn pro tricks: travel tips
Discover free travel: travel rewards
Featured image: Moxy Bandung Marriott Category 1 hotel (photo credit: Marriott website)
Advertiser Disclosure: In the interest of transparency, Flytrippers may receive a commission on links featured in this post, at no cost to you. Thank you for using our links to support us for free, we appreciate it! You allow us to keep finding the best travel deals for free and to keep offering interesting content for free. Since we care deeply about our mission to help travelers and our reputation and credibility prevail over everything, we will NEVER recommend a product or service that we do not believe in or that we do not use ourselves, and we will never give any third-party any control whatsoever on our content. For more information on our advertiser disclosure, click here.