Amidst a series of recent devaluations, Marriott Bonvoy points have always held a baseline value. No matter how many points per night a hotel requires, you can always transfer Bonvoy to airline miles at a fixed ratio of 3:1, with a bonus of 5,000 airline miles thrown in if you transfer at least 60,000 points.
Marriott Bonvoy is ending the 5,000-mile airline bonus whenever you transfer at least 60,000 points for three airlines: American Airlines AAdvantage, Avianca LifeMiles, and Delta SkyMiles.
Marriott Ends 5,000-Mile Transfer Bonus for Select Airlines
On top of the regular transfer ratio of 3:1, Marriott usually throws in a 5,000 mile bonus if you transfer at least 60,000 points, making the optimal transfer ratio 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points = 25,000 airline miles. Effectively, that brings the transfer ratio to 2.4:1 if you transfer in chunks of 60,000 points.
As of October 31, 2022, Marriott Bonvoy will no longer be providing a transfer bonus of 5,000 airline miles for mileage transfers to American Airlines AAdvantage, Avianca LifeMiles, and Delta SkyMiles.
This makes effective transfer ratio 3:1 at all times to American Airlines AAdvantage, Avianca LifeMiles, and Delta Skymiles, which is a clear devaluation of the program if you’ve been meaning to convert Bonvoy points to one of these three airline programs.
Marriott appears to have communicated this change to select members via email yesterday, and only to those who have made transfers to the affected frequent flyer programs in the past.
There’s no landing page explaining these changes and the page on the Marriott website about transferring points to frequent flyer miles makes no mention of these changes.
Death by a Thousand Cuts
This 5,000-mile transfer bonus has stuck around as long as the old Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) days, and this is the first time that Marriott Bonvoy is devaluing this feature since the merger took place in 2018. This sets a bad precedent going forward, as we’re now led to think about which other frequent flyer programs’ conversion bonuses may be at risk.
As mentioned earlier, we’ve long considered Marriott Bonvoy points to have a stable baseline value despite continuous year-over-year devaluations in hotel redemption prices. That’s because no matter how much the cost increases to book hotel nights, we can always transfer points to airline frequent flyer programs at a somewhat respectable value.
In this respect, Marriott’s removal of the transfer bonus from select airlines follows the trend of their multi-year long-term trend of “death by a thousand cuts” in terms of devaluing the loyalty program.
In financial terms, the three programs of American AAdvantage, Avianca LifeMiles, and Delta SkyMiles were likely costing Marriott the most to supply. It’s also possible the frequent flyer program wants Marriott to discourage these transfers to possibly increase their mileage sales or other forms of revenue.
Of the three major US airlines, United MileagePlus is the only frequent flyer program not impacted, keeping in mind too that Marriott and United also have a special partnership in place that gives you a 10% bonus when converting hotel points to United.
The Best Ways to Earn Affected Airline Miles
Thankfully, this round of Marriott’s devaluations is fairly minor in the grand scheme of things, as all three affected loyalty programs are more easily earned through other means.
The best way to earn American Airlines AAdvantage miles is by way of RBC Avion, which transfers to AAdvantage at a ratio of 1 Avion = 0.7 AAdvantage miles. However, American Airlines AAdvantage has no other bank transfer program (even in their native US), which makes Marriott Bonvoy’s removal of the transfer bonus more painful.
To earn Delta SkyMiles, Canadian-issued America Express Membership Rewards points can be converted at a ratio of 1:0.75, while Amex US MR points can be converted at a 1:1 ratio.
Avianca LifeMiles are comparatively the easiest to earn, and can be transferred from three of the major US bank programs – Amex US MR, Citi ThankYou, and Capital One – at a 1:1 ratio, often with transfer bonuses in play. Plus, the program routinely allows you to buy miles for as low as 1.2 cents per mile (USD).
Marriott Bonvoy will be removing the 5,000-mile transfer bonus for mileage transfers to American Airlines AAdvantage, Avianca LifeMiles, and Delta SkyMiles as of October 31, 2022.
If you planned to transfer your Marriott Bonvoy points to any of these three programs, it’s best to take advantage before October 31 to get the optimal transfer ratio of 2.4:1 as long as you transfer in increments of 60,000 points.
Long-term, Marriott Bonvoy’s baseline value is now shakier than ever before, and this development sets a poor precedent as we move into 2023 when hotel redemptions are going fully dynamic.