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Marriott introduced its Eat Around Town dining program in the latter half of 2019 but, since then, it hasn’t really done very much to promote the program or to incentivize its use. Now, however, that’s just changed with Marriott’s unveiling of a nice bonus for new joiners.
Important To Know
- The program is currently limited to US residents
- The program is currently limited to participating locations in the US
- If you attempt to access the Eat Around Town website from outside of the US you’ll receive an error message – a VPN solves that issue
How Eat Around Town Works
Eat Around Town is based upon the same Rewards Network model as the dining programs offered by the likes of United and American and, because of this, the program comes with a limitation that I’ll discuss in a moment.
- Register for Eat Around Town via this link using your Marriott Bonvoy credentials
- Add one or more of your credit card numbers to your new Eat Around Town account
- Marriott Bonvoy Elites (Silver and higher) will earn 6 Bonvoy Points per dollar on spending at participating eateries when they pay with a credit card registered to the Eat Around Town program (non-elites will earn 4 points/dollar).
- Participating eateries can be found on the Eat Around Town website (you can search by location).
As I’ve already mentioned, a number of other loyalty programs also use the Rewards Network for their dining programs and you cannot have one credit card registered to more than one Rewards Network dining program.
What this means is that if you have credit cards already associated with, for example, United’s or American’s dining programs you’ll have to use a different card (or cards) with your Eat Around Town account.
The New Welcome Offer
Join Eat Around Town, register at least one credit or debit card, and you can earn up to 6,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points during your first 60 days (in addition to the standard points you will earn for every dollar spent at participating restaurants, bars, and clubs).
- 1,000 bonus points the first time you spend $30 or more
- 2,000 bonus points the second time you spend $30 or more
- 3,000 bonus points the third time you spend $30 or more
Diners are required to complete an online review within 30 days of each restaurant visit to earn bonus points, and members must remain opted-in to Eat Around Town emails.
I value Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.6 cents each so there’s a welcome bonus worth up to $36 on offer here. That may not sound like much, but 6,000 points can be useful and if you were going to dine at a participating eatery anyway, why not collect some easy free Bonvoy points?
The standard earnings on offer by Eat Around Town are 4 or 6 points per dollar which by my valuation, represents a return of between 2.4% and 3.6% (on top of whatever your credit card will also give you) and that’s not particularly great.
My AAdvantage Dining account offers me 3 miles/dollar that I spend at participating locations (the same locations that Eat Around Town offers) and I can boost those earnings to 5 miles/dollar after I complete 11 eligible transactions though AAdvantage Dining in a calendar year.
That’s a return of between 3.6% and 5.2% on every dollar spent…and that’s with my low valuation of AAdvantage Miles (1.2 cents each).
MileagePlus Dining offers a similar number of points per dollar (to AAdvantage Dining) so with United miles worth more than AAdvantage miles, this program’s returns are even better.
What this all means is that while I may be tempted to join the Eat Around Town program just to lock-in the 6,000 bonus points, I wouldn’t use it as my primary dining program going forward – the potential earnings elsewhere are better.
Having said that, with Marriott Bonvoy Points expiring after 24 months of inactivity (outside of a pandemic), the Eat Around Town program could be a useful way for infrequent Marriott guests to keep their Bonvoy balances alive – it will just take a single transaction at an Eat Around Town participating location (with a credit card associated with the program) to reset the clock on their accounts.
Use The Right Credit Card
When choosing a credit card to add to the Eat About Town program, make sure you choose one that gives you solid earnings for spending in the dining category. E.g:
- Amex Gold Card (review) – 4 points/dollar (my value: 6.0% return)
- Chase Sapphire Reserve Card – 3 points/dollar (my value: 4.5% return)
- Chase Sapphire Preferred (review) – 2 points/dollar (my value: 3.0% return)
- Amex Green Card – 3 points/dollar (my value: 4.5% return)
- Citi Prestige Card – 5 points/dollar (my value: 7.5% return)
Marriott’s Eat Around Town program is now offering new joiners a welcome bonus of up to 6,000 Bonvoy Points for spending $30 at participating eateries on three separate occasions in the 60 days from the day they join the program. The welcome bonus probably isn’t enough of a reason for anyone to go out of their way to dine at one or more participating locations, but if you dine at a participating location anyway, the points on offer represent a nice free bonus.