Aside from redeeming Marriott Bonvoy points for hotel stays, it’s also possible to convert hotel points into airline miles in 40 different airline loyalty programs.
The standard transfer ratio is 3 points = 1 mile, and with most programs, you’ll get a bonus of 5,000 miles for transferring 60,000 points.
Sometimes, converting points into miles can be helpful to top up your account before making a booking. However, this feature can also be useful in unlocking sweet spots in airline programs that are otherwise difficult to access.
1. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
On both sides of the border, but especially in Canada, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is arguably one of the more valuable loyalty programs on paper, and yet one of the most difficult currencies to rack up in large quantities.
In Canada, there aren’t any co-branded credit cards that earn Alaska miles directly, which leaves converting Marriott Bonvoy points or earning points through flying as the only options.
In the United States, the Bank of America offers Alaska Airlines co-branded credit cards; however, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan isn’t a partner with any other transferable points currencies.
While the program has seen some recent devaluations, there’s still plenty of value to be found, including Japan Airlines business class from the West Coast to Tokyo for 60,000 miles.
You’d need to transfer a total of 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to your Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan account for this flight: 60,000 points = 25,000 miles twice (with the bonus of 5,000 miles), and then 30,000 points = 10,000 miles at the standard 3:1 ratio.
Alternatively, you could look for pockets of the lowest pricing available for Starlux Airlines business class between Los Angeles and Taipei for 75,000 Alaska miles, which is equivalent to 180,000 Bonvoy points.
Award pricing for Cathay Pacific business class and Cathay Pacific First Class remains at 50,000 Alaska miles or 70,000 Alaska miles, respectively. However, it’s worth noting that availability with Cathay Pacific is extremely rare these days.
If you’ve lined up a worthwhile redemption, transferring Bonvoy points to Alaska miles can be a great way to top up your balance or to earn enough points outright for an aspirational flight.
2. American Airlines AAdvantage
In a similar vein, American Airlines AAdvantage is another program with a number of great sweet spots that’s relatively difficult to access.
In Canada, RBC Avion points transfer over at a 1:0.7 ratio, and in the United States, you can access the program by way of Citi or Barclays co-branded credit cards.
Aside from crediting revenue flights to your AAdvantage account, converting Marriott Bonvoy points is one of the only other viable options to meaningfully access sweet spots, including Qatar Airways Qsuites, Etihad Airways business class, and Etihad Airways First Class.
It’s worth noting that you won’t get a bonus 5,000 miles upon transferring 60,000 Bonvoy points to AAdvantage. Rather, no matter how many points you transfer, you’ll get the standard 3:1 transfer ratio.
Some of the best redemptions available with American Airlines AAdvantage include:
- 60,000 AAdvantage miles from North America to Japan on Japan Airlines business class (equivalent to 180,000 Bonvoy points)
- 80,000 AAdvantage miles from North America to Japan on Japan Airlines First Class (equivalent to 240,000 Bonvoy points)
- 70,000 AAdvantage miles from North America to Africa on Qatar Airways Qsuites (equivalent to 210,000 Bonvoy points)
- 62,500 AAdvantage miles from Europe to the Middle East on Etihad Airways First Class (equivalent to 187,500 Bonvoy points)
- 112,500 AAdvantage miles from North America to the Indian Subcontinent on Etihad Airways First Class (equivalent to 337,500 Bonvoy points)
One of the best parts of the AAdvantage program is that there aren’t any hefty fuel surcharges associated with most bookings. As long as you can find some availability, you can enjoy some of the best airline products in the skies, including the Etihad Airways First Class Apartment, for just pennies on the dollar.
Furthermore, AAdvantage is a unique program in that you can put award space on hold for five calendar days while you wait for your points transfers to arrive.
This means that you can grab an award seat and initiate a transfer from Marriott Bonvoy, without having to worry about the seat disappearing in the interim.
3. Korean Air SKYPASS
Aside from a few US-issued co-branded credit cards, Marriott Bonvoy transfers represent the only way to earn miles effectively in the Korean Air SKYPASS program.
SKYPASS members have exclusive access to the airline’s own Korean Air First Class product.
The mileage costs are very reasonable, starting at only 80,000 SKYPASS miles (equivalent to 195,000 Bonvoy points) between North America and North Asia (i.e., Japan, Korea, and China) on off-peak dates.
In addition, Korean Air SKYPASS is also known for offering favourable redemptions between continental North America and Hawaii on Delta, requiring only 25,000 SKYPASS miles (equivalent to 60,000 Bonvoy points) for a round-trip flight out to the islands, with a stopover somewhere along the way.
4. Asiana Club
Another Korean frequent flyer program that might be worth your attention is Asiana Club, which boasts quite a few redemption sweet spots, most notably on Etihad Airways First Class and Lufthansa First Class.
In North America, the only meaningful way to earn points is to convert Marriott Bonvoy points, since the program isn’t a partner with any other transferable points currencies.
It costs only 40,000 Asiana Club miles (equivalent to 105,000 Bonvoy points) to redeem for a flight on Etihad Airways First Class Apartments from Abu Dhabi to London, which is one of the lowest mileage rates in any program out there.
In addition, Asiana Club also offers favourable redemption rates for Lufthansa First Class, with only 50,000 miles (equivalent to 120,000 Bonvoy points) required for North America–Europe.
However, you’re on the hook for a hefty amount of fuel surcharges, which aren’t levied when booking the product with, say, Aeroplan points or Avianca LifeMiles. Expect to pay around $1,000 (CAD) eastbound and around $500 (CAD) westbound.
5. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
If ANA First Class is on your aspirational hit-list, then you’ll no doubt want to familiarize yourself with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, which offers the best award pricing for ANA First Class and ANA business class.
It’s worth noting that unlike other programs on this list, Flying Club is a transfer partner with American Express US Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and Capital One Miles. Therefore, you may wish to convert Bonvoy points to top up your account, if you otherwise have access to this program.
Despite a recent devaluation, you can book a one-way flight in ANA First Class for 72,500 Virgin Points from the Western US to Japan, or 85,000 Virgin Points from the Eastern United States to Japan. This is equivalent to 187,500 or 210,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, respectively.
The same logic applies to ANA business class, which would cost 45,000 Virgin Points for a one-way booking from Western North America to Japan, or 47,500 Virgin Points from the Eastern United States to Japan. This is equivalent to 120,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for either.
That’s a pretty incredible value proposition, especially if you’re able find award availability for the airline’s flagship “The Room” business class or “The Suite” First Class products.
6. Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
One sweet spot found in Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles is for Air Canada and United flights within North America, and in particular for travel to Hawaii.
You can redeem just 20,000 Turkish miles round-trip from anywhere in continental North America to Hawaii, which is a steep discount compared to the 45,000+ miles that most major programs would charge.
These savings add up quickly if you’re travelling to Hawaii as a larger group, perhaps a family of four, which would cost a total of 80,000 Turkish miles for the round-trip flights.
That’s equivalent to just 195,000 Marriott Bonvoy points at the optimal ratio, and there’s definitely an argument to be made that it’s a better value to use those Bonvoy points for flights than to redeem directly for a Hawaii hotel, which have astronomical prices in points these days.
The caveat here is that the Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles website is notoriously clunky, and it may well take a few calls to the contact centre to secure even a relatively simple one-stop booking from the mainland to Hawaii.
Keep in mind that Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles is also a transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Rewards, Capital One Miles, and Bilt Rewards in the United States.
7. The Usual Suspects: Topping Up Aeroplan, Avios, Asia Miles, etc.
We’ve so far discussed transferring Marriott Bonvoy points to airlines programs that are otherwise somewhat challenging to earn miles in.
However, there are other occasions in which it makes sense to use Bonvoy points to top up your balance in the more accessible programs, such as Aeroplan, British Airways Executive Club, or Cathay Pacific Asia Miles.
For example, suppose you have 170,000 Aeroplan points in your account, and you’d like to book round-trip flights in United Polaris business class for two between Vancouver and French Polynesia via San Francisco.
In total, you’d need 220,000 Aeroplan points for this itinerary, which costs 55,000 Aeroplan points per person per direction.
If you happened to have 120,000 Marriott Bonvoy points available, you could convert them into 50,000 Aeroplan points, and then complete your aspirational redemption.
Prior to making a transfer such as this, just be sure to consider any other options you have available for topping up your account.
The ability to transfer points to 40 frequent flyer partners is one of the key features that sets Marriott Bonvoy apart from other hotel points programs. In this article, we’ve outlined a few of the best sweet spots that you can unlock across those 40+ partner programs.
Many of these sweet spots are geared towards more aspirational travel in business class and First Class, while others, such as Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles, can benefit the economy traveller as well.
Either way, transferring points to the airline partners can offer some great value from the Marriott Bonvoy program, especially since it allows members to diversify away from the continuous devaluations on the hotel side.