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When does it make sense to transfer Marriott points to airlines?

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Typically, you’ll get the most value from hotel points when you redeem them for hotel stays. But Marriott Bonvoy has 38 airline transfer partners that can also provide good value.

If you want to maximize your Marriott redemptions, you might wonder when transferring Marriott points to airline partners makes sense. So, let’s take a closer look at this question.

Why transfer Marriott points to airlines

a young person makes a phone call while holding a credit card
Calculating Marriott points. MIXMEDIA/GETTY IMAGES

There are many reasons you might prefer to transfer Marriott points to airlines instead of redeeming them for hotel stays.

For example, many Marriott stays cost more points now that Marriott has removed its award categories. You’ll find some high-end former Category 8 hotels pricing over 100,000 points per night. So, you might prefer to transfer Marriott points to airlines if doing so will let you get more value from your Marriott points.

You might also need to earn more rewards with one of Marriott’s transfer partners. Whether you need to top-up your account or earn a difficult-to-earn mileage currency, transferring Marriott points to your airline loyalty account could help boost your mileage account balance.

Of course, if you transfer Marriott points to airline partners, you won’t have these points to redeem for Marriott stays. But this might not be a concern if you earn a significant amount of Marriott points through stays or spending on cobranded Marriott Bonvoy credit cards.

Related: How to redeem points with the Marriott Bonvoy program

Marriott Bonvoy airline partners

United Polaris seats facing forward
40,000 Asiana miles can get you to Europe in United’s Polaris business class. KYLE OLSEN/THE POINTS GUY

Marriott has an impressive list of 38 partner airline loyalty programs. You can transfer your Marriott points to familiar programs like United MileagePlus and Delta SkyMiles. But doing so usually won’t provide good value unless you’re topping off your account balance to get to a specific redemption.

However, you’ll also find some hidden gems on the list of Marriott’s airline partners. In particular, you’ll find some airline miles that are difficult to earn yet extremely valuable. With some of these partners, you may find award flights for a fraction of the miles required by more well-known programs.

With most airline partners, 3 Marriott points will convert to 1 airline mile. The exceptions that convert at different rates are Air New Zealand AirPoint (200:1 ratio) and United MileagePlus (3:1.1 ratio).

Marriott gives 5,000 bonus airline miles for every 60,000 Marriott points you transfer to most airline partners. However, transfers to American Airlines AAdvantage, Avianca LifeMiles, Delta SkyMiles and Korean Air SkyPass aren’t eligible for the 5,000-mile bonus.

Now, to help you determine when it could make sense to transfer Marriott points to airlines, let’s consider a few of the best airline award chart sweet spots you could book through Marriott’s transfer partners. In particular, we’ll focus on programs that don’t partner with other major transferable currencies.

Lufthansa first class to South Africa with Aegean miles

Lufthansa First Class Boeing 747-8 Frankfurt Newark
First-class travel on Lufthansa. ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

You can redeem 75,000 Aegean miles to fly one-way from North America to South Africa in Lufthansa first class when there’s award space.

You’ll still need to pay about $800 in taxes and fees. But 75,000 Aegean miles is a fraction of how many miles you’d need with Air Canada Aeroplan or United MileagePlus to book this award.

If you can’t find first class award space, you could redeem 55,000 Aegean miles to fly one-way in business class. This option is also available on Swiss, which is also a member of Star Alliance.

JFK to JNB in business class
Business-class e-ticket from Aegean. E-TICKET.AEGEANAIR.COM

If you find first-class award space, you’d need to transfer 180,000 Marriott Bonvoy points — which TPG’s valuations value at about $1,512 — to Aegean to get 75,000 miles.

Business class, on the other hand, requires 135,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, worth about $1,134 at TPG’s valuations. Transfers from Marriott Bonvoy to Aegean will likely take about three days.

Related: Booking Lufthansa first class to South Africa with Aegean miles

Emirates business class to Dubai with JAL Mileage Bank miles

Although Emirates isn’t in the Oneworld alliance, you can redeem Japan Airlines (JAL) Mileage Bank miles for award flights on Emirates.

One of the sweet spots in the JAL Mileage Bank program is the ability to book a round-trip Emirates business-class award with a total trip distance of between 12,001 and 14,000 miles for 110,000 miles.

This means you can book a round-trip Emirates business-class award from New York to Dubai for 110,000 miles (plus taxes and fees). Of course, you have to find business-class award space (which can be difficult) and Emirates fuel surcharges are currently very high.

It’s important to note that if you book a one-way flight to Dubai — which would fall between 6,001 and 8,000 miles — you’d need to redeem 80,000 JAL miles.

JFK to DXB Emirates business class
One-way Emirates receipt, New York to Dubai. JAL.CO.JP

Consequently, it’s in your interest to book this award as a round-trip. After all, a round-trip business class award would only require 30,000 more JAL miles than a one-way business class award on this route.

You could transfer 270,000 Marriott Bonvoy points — which TPG’s valuations value at about $2,268 — to JAL Mileage Bank to get 110,000 miles. The transfer will likely take about 48 hours.

Related: The best programs for booking Emirates awards

Transatlantic Star Alliance business class with Asiana Club miles

If you feel comfortable leveraging Asiana Club and don’t mind calling to book most awards, Asiana’s Star Alliance flight award redemption table has some good deals.

For example, you can travel from North America (excluding Hawaii and Mexico) to Europe for 40,000 miles each way in business class on Star Alliance airlines if you can find discounted award availability. Asiana Club passes on fuel surcharges, so taxes and fees vary significantly depending on the operating carrier and route.

You could transfer 105,000 Marriott Bonvoy points — which TPG’s valuations value at about $882 — to Asiana Club to get 40,000 miles. The transfer will likely take about four days.

Related:  The best ways to travel to Europe using points and miles

Other ways to redeem Marriott points

A concert with lots of colorful lights
You can shop for entertainment with Marriott points. HALLE NEWMAN/THE POINTS GUY

You’ll usually get the most value from your Marriott points when you redeem them for Marriott stays or transfer to airline programs for high-value redemptions. But if you want to redeem your Marriott points for something else, you have several options.

You could use your points for gift cards and merchandise through Marriott Shopping. But you’ll get a very low redemption value when doing so. For example, this $100 Apple gift card costs 30,000 points. TPG’s valuations value 30,000 Marriott points at about $252, so you’ll almost certainly want to avoid this redemption.

Buying an Apple gift card with Marriott points
Buying a gift card with points may not give the best value. SHOP-WITH-POINTS.MARRIOTT.COM

You could also use your points for non-stay activities like sports events and concerts through Marriott Bonvoy Moments. Here’s one example:

Marriott Bonvoy Moments Marc Anthony
You can buy tickets to this Marc Anthony concert with Marriott points. MOMENTS.MARRIOTTBONVOY.COM

You could redeem 75,000 points to see Marc Anthony at the Marriott Bonvoy Luxury Suite in Madison Square Graden. TPG’s valuations value 75,000 Marriott points at about $630 — which could be a good value for some Marc Anthony fans.

Related: Redeem for sports events, concerts and more through Marriott Bonvoy Moments

Bottom line

There’s no easy answer to when or whether you should transfer Marriott points to airlines. However, you can sometimes unlock less-expensive award flights when you leverage Marriott’s airline transfer partners.

So, check award rates with Marriott’s airline transfer partners and crunch the numbers next time you’re ready to book a long-haul award flight. You might get a great deal by converting Marriott points to airline miles.