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Marriott has launched a new promotion in which it’s offering customers a 20% discount on e-gift card purchases made through 17 May 2020. For frequent visitors to Marriott portfolio properties this could be a good time to lock in some savings for future travel and, as you’ll see in the details of this promotion, there’s a good incentive for Marriott Bonvoy co-branded credit card holders to participate too.
Marriott’s Gift Card Sale
Here’s what you need to know:
- Sale runs through 17 May 2020.
- The 20% discount is valid only on the following e-gift card denominations:
- Per Marriott, Marriott co-branded gift cards will earn bonus points on these gift card purchases.
- Up to $5,000 in gift cards may be purchased per person per credit card per day.
- Marriott e-gift cards do not expire.
- Gift cards cannot be used to pay for a deposit or for an advance purchase rate.
- The following brands in the Marriott portfolio do not accept Marriott GiftCards:
- Bvlgari Hotels and Resorts
- Design Hotels
- Homes & Villas by Marriott International
- The Ritz-Carlton Destination Club
- The Ritz-Carlton Residences.
- e-gift card orders are delivered within 1-7 business days due to order verification.
Let’s be very clear here: This sale is Marriott’s way of bringing in much-needed cash at a time where most hotels are running empty…but this shouldn’t matter.
Marriott is highly unlikely to be facing financial ruin any time soon and with these e-gift cards not expiring, there’s little downside to a frequent Marriott visitor who chooses to load up with a few gift cards in this promotion. The cards offer a discount and if you visit Marriott properties often enough the cards will get used pretty quickly.
Having said that, there are a few things to keep in mind before buying e-gift cards in this sale:
These gift cards cannot be used for advance purchase rates so can only be used to settle bills after a stay has taken place (i.e. upon checkout) and that excludes them from being used on the cheapest rates on offer in some geographical areas.
Also, these gift cards are all issued in US Dollars so, although there’s no issue with using them abroad, be aware that the exchange rate you’ll get when checking out may not be as favorable as the exchange rate you would get if you were using a US credit card. If you search the forums, you’ll find that some people report getting exchange rates as good as those offered by the credit card companies while others report a poor exchange rate being used. Your mileage may vary (as they say).
The really good news here is that Marriott has said that all transactions made using Marriott Bonvoy co-branded credit cards (e.g. Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® credit card) will earn points as if the card was being used to pay for a regular Marriott stay so, in most cases, that means earning 6 Bonvoy Points/dollar. What isn’t clear is if this means that the purchases will code as “hotel/travel” purchases and therefore trigger bonuses on all credit cards which offer extra points for hotel spending (e.g. Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card), or if Marriott has somehow coded its systems to only offer bonuses to co-branded credit cards.
Knowing how poor Marriott IT can be, I find the latter unlikely but, just to be sure, I’ve just ordered three $50 gift cards using these three credit cards:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card
- Citi Premier® Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
These transactions should help confirm a number of things:
- If Chase travel cards will earn bonus points for Marriott e-gift card purchases (I would earn 3 points/dollar from my Chase Sapphire Reserve card)
- If Citi travel cards will earn bonus points for Marriott e-gift card purchases (I would earn 3 points/dollar from my Citi Premier credit card)
- If the purchase of Marriott e-gift cards will trigger the $300 Marriott statement credit that comes as a benefit of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card from American Express.
Update 14 May 2020: Marriott e-gift card purchases are tracking as travel purchases on Chase and Citi cards and are triggering the statement credit on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card (link)
If you visit Marriott properties with any frequency this is undoubtedly a good deal. You don’t have to buy more than $50 in gift cards to get the 20% discount and even if all you do is book prepaid rates (which the gift cards cannot be used for), you can still use your gift card(s) to pay for any incidentals you change to your room (drinks, food, tours, etc…) when you check out…just be careful of the exchange rate when using them abroad.
I’m going to wait and see how my various credit card transactions code before I buy any more Marriott e-gift cards (I think I’d prefer to earn Ultimate Rewards Points over Bonvoy points if that turns out to be an option) but I’ll definitely be making another purchase before this offer ends.
Will any readers be buying gift cards in this sale?