Guides Here’s what you should know before transferring Marriott points to airline miles
Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.
What makes the Marriott Bonvoy program more valuable than many other hotel programs isn’t just the sheer number of properties you can now book using points but also the wide variety of airline partners to which you can transfer points. Bonvoy members have a whopping 40+ airline transfer partners to choose from, giving you valuable flexibility for your points.
In addition, many offer solid transfer ratios. All but three partners have a 3:1 point-to-mile transfer ratio, plus a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 points transferred from the new program, effectively making the ratio 2.4:1.
The only airlines with worse ratios are JetBlue and Air New Zealand. These carriers have transfer ratios of 6:1 and 200:1, respectively. Meanwhile, the RewardsPlus partnership allows you to transfer Marriott points to United at a 3:1.1 ratio.
But how long do these transfers actually take? Let’s find out.
Mariott Bonvoy transfer times
Hotel point transfers to airlines are generally known to take longer than some other transferable currencies, like American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou Rewards. So we here wanted to find out just how long it actually takes to move Marriott Rewards points to all partners. To do so, we routinely transfer 3,000 points to each of Marriott’s partners and track the time it takes for them to show up.
Your experiences may vary, but here’s what we found:
|Aegean Airlines||3 days|
|Aer Lingus||3 days|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||4 days|
|Air France/KLM||3 days|
|Air New Zealand||<24 hours|
|All Nippon Airways (ANA)||4 days|
|British Airways||3 days|
|Cathay Pacific / Asia Miles||5 days|
|Frontier Airlines||~6 weeks
|Japan Airlines (JAL)||48 hours|
|JetBlue Airways||<24 hours|
|LATAM (Multiplus)||ERROR MESSAGE (see below)|
|Qantas Airways||<48 hours|
|Qatar Airways||3 days|
|Saudia Airlines||5 days|
|TAP Portugal||STILL WAITING|
|Turkish Airlines||3 days|
|Virgin Atlantic||<48 hours|
|Virgin Australia||24 hours|
|Vueling Club||5 days|
*Effective June 2, 2020, most Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus awards redemptions have been suspended, including all flight redemptions. We don’t recommend transferring your points to Thai at this time.
Note that the times listed above represent our personal experience and shouldn’t be taken as hard and fast rules. However, others have reported similar timelines when transferring points from Marriott Bonvoy. Your own transfers may be faster or slower, but you can use these times as guidelines when planning your trips.
Unlike the major transferrable points programs, none of the Marriott transfers were instant. To make matters worse, just 14 of them were completed within 48 hours. Some points didn’t post until a month or even later. This is a long time to wait, especially if you’re booking a last-minute ticket or trying to snag coveted award space in a premium cabin.
One interesting note regarding Frontier miles: These posted after roughly six weeks. However, the post date was the day after the transfer was initiated, even though they didn’t actually arrive in the account until six weeks later. The six-week timeline is bad enough, but since Frontier miles expire after six months of inactivity, we now only have four and a half months to use them.
However, these delays pale in comparison to the following…
We’ve tried to transfer points to TAP Portugal three separate times and still haven’t received any miles. Given the delays, we reached out to Marriott to inquire about this discrepancy, since the program’s terms and conditions provide a window of “approximately six weeks” for the miles to arrive. Here’s the statement provided to :
“For transfers not posting in a timely manner, we did send the data you cited to our airline partners as usual and are working with them to learn why this is happening.”
I personally would stay away from transferring to TAP Portugal until the issue is resolved.
In addition to the above, there was an airline that registered “transfer errors,” meaning the TPG team was not able to successfully move points Our valid, active account for LATAM (Multiplus) received the following error:
We’ve confirmed that LATAM is indeed still a transfer partner, and Marriott provided us with the following statement about the issues we encountered:
“This is the first time it has come to our attention, thank you, and we are working with those airline partners to understand why it is happening and what corrective actions need to be taken.“
It’s also worth noting that our first transfers to British Airways and South African Airways all resulted in receiving more miles than we expected (2000 and 3500, respectively). However, both carriers posted the correct number when we tried it a second time.
Finally, note that transfers to AeroMexico appear to be at a 3:1 ratio on Marriott’s website, but we actually received 1,610 Club Premier points for the 3,000 Marriott points we transferred. Since AeroMexico effectively uses the metric system for its currency (kilometers instead of miles), this actually makes sense since 1 mile = ~1.61 km.
Before transferring Marriott Bonvoy points
The greatest risk when transferring points is that award availability can change while you’re waiting for points to show up in your account. Transfers are irreversible, so in the worst-case scenario, you’ll be stuck with thousands of points in a program you have little use for beyond your originally intended award ticket or hotel night. Here are a few tips for how to avoid that situation:
1. Put your award reservation on hold before transferring
Not all programs allow you to put award tickets on hold, but those that do, make things much easier. For example, Singapore KrisFlyer allows you to hold an award reservation so long as you have 50% of the necessary miles in your account.
2. Choose flights that have more than one available award seat
This is helpful in case someone snags your award seats before your miles show up. Use tools like ExpertFlyer (which is owned by TPG’s parent company, Red Ventures) to determine how many award seats are available on a flight. You can also do a single search for three or four passengers — that way, you can determine precisely how many seats are available.
3. Select uncommon routes
You can improve your chances of finding award space by choosing routes less popular routes or ones originating from non-hubs. Those often have better award availability. One example is a transatlantic flight from Raleigh-Durham to London on American Airlines. For a transpacific flight, check out ANA’s flight from San Jose to Tokyo-Narita.
4. Let availability determine your destination
If your original itinerary is no longer an option because availability has dried up and you have some flexibility, one solution is to choose your destination based on which awards are still bookable. If you want to fly six people in business to Hawaii for Christmas, I’d keep in mind the difficulty of that task and search for other destinations with availability — perhaps finding a diamond in the rough.
If your original flights have disappeared, don’t panic. Keep in mind that award availability changes frequently and can increase dramatically as you get closer to your departure date. Check regularly and be ready to act quickly when seats do open up.
Can you transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to someone else’s account?
According to Marriott’s website, for most airline partners, the name on your Marriott Bonvoy account must match the name on the airline frequent flyer program to successfully transfer points. In other words, you typically can’t transfer Marriott points directly to someone else’s frequent flyer account. However, there’s a workaround.
Marriott allows point transfers between Bonvoy accounts. So, if you want to transfer your points to someone else’s frequent flyer account, transfer the points to their Bonvoy account first and then they could request the transfer to the airline. The process is fairly straightforward, but there are a few restrictions to be aware of:
- You don’t need to be related to the person you’re transferring with, nor do you need to share an address. You can transfer points to anyone’s Marriott account, as long as both accounts have been open and in good standing for 30 days (with qualifying activity) or 90 days (without qualifying activity).
- Each member can transfer up to 100,000 points per calendar year and receive up to 500,000 points per calendar year.
- You can only move points in 1,000-point increments.
- You must call Marriott member support at 801-468-4000 to initiate a transfer.
Is there a fee for transferring Marriott Bonvoy points?
There is no fee for transferring Marriott points. That said, like any award booking, you’ll still be responsible for any taxes and fees tacked on by the airline when redeeming your miles.