Amex points redemption at Marriott Bonvoy
Amex points redemption at Marriott Bonvoy

My First Amex Points Redemption – $20 For 5 Nights in New York

No, it’s not a clickbait title. Everyone who knows me personally knows how much I’m into credit cards and points. When I’m out with friends, I often agree to pay all the bills saying “I need points, you don’t need anything” I don’t have any fancy cards, but I have a couple of Amex cards on which I tend to spend the most to accrue Amex reward points and transfer them out. 

In this post, I’m going to share my experience of my first Amex points redemption and how I spent just $20 for a 5-day stay in New York – one of the world’s costliest cities. 

The Plan – Redeeming Amex Reward Points

It was around August when my visit to KubeCon in Chicago was confirmed, and the flights were booked a few months later. I started exploring options for staying both in Chicago and New York. In Chicago, I spent a couple of nights at Hi Chicago Hostel followed by 4 nights at Palmer House Hilton. The hostel was booked by me while the hotel was part of the scholarship that I had won. This leg of the trip was sorted.

When I started exploring places to stay in New York, the prices were high. Any decent hotel in Manhattan or surrounding hotels would cost about $400 per night, which would mean more than Rs 1.5 lakh just for the stay. I knew I had to explore other options. Hi New York hostel was one option. However, since I was coming in from La Guardia at almost midnight, I was sceptical about the cab situation, especially after I was scammed by Lyft at JFK.

I knew I had about 3 months and a handful of Amex reward points in the kitty that I could use. And since I was anyways getting the New York Subway 7 Day Unlimited Pass, any place that’s within walking distance from the hotel was just fine. And that’s when the search began for a decent hotel that wasn’t too far from Manhattan. 

Marriott Bonvoy To The Rescue

Most large hotels and airlines have their own loyalty program that is free to join. For the unaware, Marriott Bonvoy is one of the transfer partners for Amex. And that too at 1:1 which is the best in my opinion. (For Eg: 50,000 amex rewards points when transferred to Marriott would be 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points!)

Being a food blogger in Hyderabad, I had already opened a Marriott Bonvoy account a few years ago. After forgetting the password and resetting it, it worked. So I had an active account, which means I could transfer points from Amex to Marriott now and use them to book my stays in New York.

Amex Points Redemption - Marriott Bonvoy

I started looking at various Marriott properties in and around New York. Sorted the options by the lowest price first and I could find stays at Residence Inn, Sheraton etc. for as low as 60,000 points for a 5-day stay. This was a STEAL deal! However, most of these places were quite far from Manhattan, and I would take a lot of time to travel. So I started moving closer to the city and came across a few properties in Queens that fit the bill.

Residence Inn by Marriott in Queens was about 109,000 points. The 21-street Queensbridge subway station was at 5 min walking distance. A subway from here to Manhattan would take around 20-25 mins which was perfect. So I closed in on this property and started executing my plan to accrue points.

Execution

The execution plan was simple, spend on things that I usually do and move any expenses not on the Amex cards that I have. I have two Amex credit cards – Amex MRCC and Amex Gold Charge. I maximised my Amex reward points by buying vouchers for Amazon, BigBasket etc. and started redeeming them. Plus I was hitting the monthly milestones on both these cards, so was getting those extra points as well. 

Maximize Reward Points with Amex MRCC and Gold Charge Card
Maximize Reward Points with Amex MRCC and Gold Charge Card

During one of these months closer to my visit, Marriott announced 30% additional points on transfers on all transfers above 2000 points. I quickly did the math and transferred a huge chunk there, around 50,000 points. During this time I also had 4 referrals that helped me get there faster, so that took my points tally to just over 110,000 and this was it, I had got all the points required to redeem them and stay for FREE (almost) in New York for 5 days.

Redeeming Amex points at Marriott Bonvoy - $20 for 5 nights.

The booking process was simple, I had already searched and added the place to my favourites in the Marriott Bonvoy app. I just checked the dates, chose pay by points and I had to pay some taxes that came around $20-$25 which was perfect. Further, I learnt one thing I cannot book a room using points in Residence Inn properties for more than 5 days.

The booking confirmation was almost instant. Now my only worry was what happens at the hotel. Since this was my first ever redemption, that too in an alien country, I was sceptical of how things would turn out. 

However, I reached my hotel close to midnight and someone was manning the reception. The hotel wasn’t located near a busy street so it was kind of eerie at that time. Nonetheless, they had my booking (huge sigh of relief!)

My Best Credit Card Redemption? I guess so!

Firsts are always special, and being my international trip, that too to the US, couldn’t have asked for a better way to utilise my credit card points. These points helped me save a huge amount of money for the duration I wanted to stay. And I hadn’t done any extra spending to get to the milestone and accrue the points. 

I think with Amex, best is to accrue points and transfer to Marriott Bonvoy at 1:1 and enjoy luxurious stays across the world. At this point when I compare Marriott and Accor when it comes to points redemption and earnings, I felt Marriott Bonvoy to be better. 

Anyway, that’s about my first Amex points redemption and I’ll remember it for a long long time. I’ll talk more about the room I stayed at in Residence Inn by Marriott in the next blog post. Until then, let me know what you think about this redemption. Full marks or could have been better? Let me know in the comments below, tweet to me at @Atulmaharaj, DM @Atulmaharaj on Instagram or Get In Touch.

About Atulmaharaj

A seasoned blogger and a content marketer for close to a decade now. I write about Food, Technology, Lifestyle, Travel, and Finance related posts. Blogging brings me joy and the best part is I get to read and e-meet so many amazing bloggers! PS: I'm also the founder for Socialmaharaj.com :) Favorite Quote: "Traveling is like reading a book, one who hasn't traveled, hasn't turned a page.

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