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Many people, myself included, are finding themselves with a number of top-tier status with different hotel loyalty programs. Given the pandemic, most major hotels groups reduced the requirements for earning status. Even with just one stay, you’re often able to get some pretty worthwhile elite status.

If you’ve ended up with Titanium Elite or Ambassador Elite status with Marriott, you should be aware that there are some special benefits you’re entitled to. 

Some of the most frequently overlooked benefits come from the Marriott Bonvoy and United MileagePlus Preferred Partnership called “RewardsPlus.” 

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of the RewardsPlus program, and highlight some of the key features that you may be overlooking.

How to Join RewardsPlus

Before beginning, you’ll need to actually register for RewardsPlus. To do this, you’ll need to have both a United and a Marriott login account. Then, navigate to the RewardsPlus page and follow the prompts to sign up.

General Overview of RewardsPlus

There are a lot of great benefits to the RewardsPlus program. Although there are some benefits reserved for Marriott Titanium and Ambassador Elites and United Premier Gold members, everyone can (and should) take advantage of the partnership.

RewardsPlus provides benefits for members of both loyalty programs whereby United members can earn benefits with Marriott, and Marriott members can earn benefits with United. 

Earn United Miles When Booking a Marriott Hotel

Earn United Miles When Booking a Marriott Hotel

There are a few benefits of the RewardsPlus program that are available to everyone regardless of your status level with either Marriott or United. The first one we’re going to highlight is the ability to earn United Miles when booking Marriott hotels.

If you’ve booked a flight with United, and you also book a Marriott stay within 90 days of your United trip you’ll earn some bonus United miles. Be sure you book your United flight first, as you’ll need to go through the RewardsPlus link to book your hotel stay to be eligible for the extra United miles.

Marriott Elites, don’t fear. This redirects you to the Marriott site so you’re booking directly and will earn all relevant Marriott Bonvoy points plus you’ll receive all the benefits associated with your elite status.

Of course, you should double check cash back portals before booking this way, as you’ll be unable to stack with the RewardsPlus program and a cash back portal. Occasionally, we’ll see up to 10% cash back through sites like Rakuten for Marriott bookings. 

Receive Reciprocal Elite Status Benefits

Another advantage of the RewardsPlus program is the ability to earn reciprocal elite status.

Marriott Titanium and Ambassador Elites

Marriott Titanium and Ambassador Elites can earn United Premier Silver status thanks to the RewardsPlus program. This is United’s lowest status after being just a basic member, but does come with some entry level benefits. 

United Premier Silver members are eligible for the following benefits:

  • Premier Upgrades
  • Complimentary Economy Plus and check-in for you and one companion
  • One complimentary checked bag
  • Earn 7X miles on every flight

To take advantage of earning United Premier Silver thanks to your Marriott status, simply register and link your accounts.

United Premier Gold and Above

If, instead of Marriott elite status, you hold United Premier Gold status or higher, then you can match to Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status using the RewardsPlus program.

Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite members are eligible for the following benefits:

  • Late check out
  • 25% bonus points on stays
  • Enhanced room upgrades

Signing up for Marriott Gold Elite status is easy for United Premier Gold members. Simply sign up to take advantage of your new Marriott Gold Elite status.

Transfer United Miles to Marriott Bonvoy Points

An additional benefit of the United and Marriott Preferred Partnership is the ability to transfer United miles to Marriott Bonvoy. Points transfer 1:1, so you’ll get one Marriott Bonvoy point for every 1X United mile you transfer.

Generally, this won’t be an advisable move unless you have more United miles than you know what to do with. Marriott hotels can cost up to 100,000 points per night, but that same number of United miles can get you a lot more. However, if you’re just shy of a few Marriott Bonvoy points to book an award night, transferring United miles can make sense.

Transfer Marriott Bonvoy Points to United Miles

Naturally, you can transfer both ways. In addition to transferring United Miles to Marriott Bonvoy Points, you can also transfer Marriott Bonvoy Points to United. The transfer isn’t 1:1, but instead follows the typical Marriott transfer amount.

You can transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to more than 40 airline programs. The typical transfer rate is 3:1, meaning for every 3X Marriott Bonvoy points you transfer, you’ll receive 1X airline mile. When you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, you’ll get a bonus of 5,000 airline miles. Doing the math, this translates to 25,000 airline miles when you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.

Thanks to Marriott and United’s Preferred Partnership, you’ll receive 10% more United miles when you transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to United. This only applies to the base number of points, and not the 5,000 bonus points. 

With the bonus, it works out to a 3:1.1 transfer ratio. Again, this doesn’t apply to the 5,000 mile bonus. If you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to United, you’ll earn 27,000 United miles. That’s 22,000 from the standard transfer rate, plus the 5,000 point bonus. That’s almost a 2:1 rate, not quite but close.

Similar to transferring United to Marriott, this may not really be worthwhile unless you’re trying to top off your account. If you need United miles, you may be better off transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards 1:1.

Book a Marriott Hotel and Points Package

Another benefit not exclusive to the Preferred Partnership is the ability to book a hotel and points package through Marriott. A hotel and points package grants you a seven-night certificate for a stay at given hotel categories, plus miles with an airline partner. Standard packages can be purchased with either 50,000 airline miles or 100,000 airline miles.

A benefit of the United and Marriott Preferred Partnership is that if you choose United as your airline partner of choice for a hotel and points package, you’ll receive 10% more United miles. This means you’ll receive either 55,000 or 110,000 United Miles.

The number of Marriott Bonvoy points you’ll be required to redeem depends on the category of hotel that you choose.

7 Nights and 55,000 United Miles7 Nights and 110,000 United Miles
Category 1-4255,000330,000
Category 5315,000390,000
Category 6435,000510,000
Category 7495,000570,000
Category 8675,000750,000

This is obviously a lot of points required. Is it really worth it? Like so many things in points and miles, it depends.

To help evaluate this, let’s consider the cost of an award night at each category. All hotel categories have off-peak, standard, and peak pricing.

A Category 1 Marriott hotel costs 5,000 points per night during off-peak rates, 7,500 points per night for standard nights and 10,000 points on peak nights.

Remember, when you redeem Marriott points for five nights, you get the fifth night free. If you were booking seven nights, you’d only pay for six nights in total. 

If all six nights were off peak nights, you’d need 30,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. For a 55,000-point package, that leaves 225,000 Marriott Bonvoy points that you’re paying for those 55,000 points, or 300,000 points for 110,000 United miles. That translates to a transfer ratio of 4.09:1 Marriott to United for the 55,000-mile package or 2.72:1 for the 110,000-mile package.

Remember, you can earn 27,000 United miles when transferring 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to United. That’s a 2.22:1 Marriott to United transfer ratio. 

What does this mean? It means if you would use more points to book the package than you would if you transferred the points separately, so the package isn’t worth it.

Rather than drown you with words for each category, we’ve put together a chart for each hotel category, based on off-peak pricing, and summarized it in the table below. We’ve based it on off-peak pricing because it guarantees the highest transfer ratio. So if it is worth it at off-peak pricing, it will also be worth it at standard or peak pricing.

55,000-Mile Package 110,000-Mile Package
Marriott Transfer Ratio2.22:12.22:1
Category 14.09:12.72:1
Category 23.54:12.45:1
Category 33:12.18:1
Category 42.45:11.90:1
Category 52.45:11.90:1
Category 63.54:12.45:1
Category 73.54:12.45:1
Category 84.64:13:1

Looking at this, the only categories where it will always make sense to choose a flight and hotel package rather than booking and transferring separately is if you’re booking a Category 3, 4 or 5 package with the 110,000-mile package. 

Final Thoughts

There’s definitely some value to be found in the Marriott Bonvoy and United MileagePlus Preferred Partnership program. The ability to earn reciprocal status, and earn miles and points on hotel stays and points is a great bonus of this program.

The ability to transfer points between the two is relatively weak. You generally wouldn’t want to do it to book an entire flight or your complete hotel stay, but if you’re just trying to top off your account it is a good option.

Although redeeming your Marriott Bonvoy points for a hotel and air package with United MileagePlus as the airline partner will earn you more points than with any other airline partner, most of the time it just isn’t worth it.

At the end of the day, I’m always glad to get some complimentary extra value out of hotel and airline partnerships. That’s why I’m glad for the opportunity, even if not every perk of the Marriott and United Preferred Partnership is worth it.