Rewards Points Battle: Marriott vs. Bonwi

Marriott Starwood hotel brands

Marriott Starwood hotel brands

After a merger between Starwood and Marriott, this behemoth of a company now has either 29 or 30 different brands (apparently even they can’t keep track of these different hotel names). You can now earn points at a staggering 6,700 hotels in 127 countries.

With Bonwi Rewards you can earn points at any hotel brand and redeem them for any hotel. But where can you get to a free night faster? Let’s take a look at which rewards program will reward you more quickly.

How the Marriott Program Works

As with most of these big brand programs, the earning part of the equation in this loyalty program is relatively straightforward. You’ll earn 10 points per US$1 spent on the hotel charge itself at most properties (minus taxes), plus the same for eligible hotel charges like your bar tabs or restaurant bills. You earn 5 points per dollar at lower-priced brands Element, Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites hotels.

With this system, if you pay $250 per night for your JW Marriott hotel for two nights and charge $200 of other services, you would earn 7,000 points total for that two-night stay. Or 3,500 points at what they consider a lesser brand in the portfolio.

JW Marriott Hotel Cusco
JW Marriott El Convento in Cusco, Peru

Earning Free Nights With Marriott Rewards

Where it gets tricky is on the redemption side.  There are currently 7 tiers of redemption at Marriott Rewards, which may go to 8 in 2019, but to be fair that’s fewer than there were before the merger. In theory these start at 7,500, though in my experience, spotting a hotel available at that level is like spotting a rare species of bird in the wild. The rest range from 12,500 to 60,000, roughly based on brand and price. So at the bottom level you’ll probably get a Residence Inn, at the top level you have a shot at a Luxury Collection or Ritz Carlton property.

There are also several tiers of elite status in this combined Starwood Marriott program and while the choices have expanded, the numbers have gone up. The top tiers now require a crazy 75 and 100 stays per year in Marriott branded properties. Anyone earning that many hotel stays is not seeing their family very much. That top level is nearly 1/3 of all available nights you can spend in a bed the entire year! Thankfully you only need 10 stays for Silver Elite and 25 for Gold. When you hit those levels you start earning an additional one or two points per dollar respectively and get a few perks like later checkout when available.

In that two-night JW Marriott Cusco example before, the 7,500 points you earned won’t get you very far. You probably need about 5 stays like that to get a free night at this JW Marriott or an equivalently priced ($237) property.

Marriott Rewards redemption level

The combined Marriott Rewards program is mostly an improvement, especially considering the wider breadth of properties available now, but how does being loyal there stack up to no loyalty at Bonwi?

How the Bonwi Program Works

With Bonwi.com, it’s less straightforward on the earnings side, but that’s because the points you earn are variable. You will often earn far more than 10 points per dollar. You could earn enough for a free stay after just two or three nights. See how it works here.

There’s also upside on the redemption part since you will often find redemption levels that are far more generous than with traditional branded loyalty programs. So it takes fewer stays to earn points, then fewer points for a free night. Let’s say you regularly have to go to Houston on business, but you’re thinking about going to Peru on vacation. How would that play out with Bonwi?

Earning Reward Points for Your City Hotel Stays

Pulling up a random week in Houston, Texas, we find that some of the highest-earning hotels are actually Marriott ones, so we can do an apples to apples comparison. In the screenshot example below, a two-night stay would earn you from 16,171 to 20,311 points.

earning more hotel reward points with Bonwi in Houston

Based on the price of those stays, if you booked them direct with Marriott, you would only earn 4,820 to 7,840 points in their rewards program (not counting food and drink charges that could bump it up).

What if our budget is lower? Other options are the Houston Marriott North, earning 8,371 points for a mere $135 rate (that would get you 2,700 points with Marriott) or a SpringHill Suites by Marriott at the airport. That would earn you 7,789 Bonwi points for a $131 rate (that would get you 2,620 at Marriott). Check your own business travel city here.

Redeeming Points With Bonwi

On the redemption side, you’re also far better off with the non-loyalty Bonwi Rewards points. When we head down to Cusco for our Peru vacation, here’s a sampling of what’s available to us.:

JW Marriott El Convento – 24,200 per night
Sonesta Hotel Cusco – 10,430 per night
Casa Andina San Blas – 7,875 per night
WakaPunku Boutique Hotel – 6,184 per night

So first of all, you need 11,000 fewer points to book that JW Marriott than you would with Marriott, even though we earned far more by booking our Marriott property through Bonwi in Houston. Next, with Marriott you only have two choices in Cusco, whereas with Bonwi you have more than 100 choices. Some of the smaller B&B type places go for 5,000 points or less.

vacation in Cusco Peru with reward points

In this example, just one two-night business trip to Houston would earn you enough points for a two-night stay at many hotels in Cusco. Earn from a few other business trips and you could upgrade to that JW Marriott easily. In this example, six domestic business travel trips in the USA could probably pay for six nights in Peru between Lima, Cusco, and the Sacred Valley. Do this a few more times or stay more than two nights on your biz trips and you’ve got enough points to pay for airline tickets too—at the simple redemption level of one point = US 1 cent.

Once again, it’s no contest. Bonwi Rewards is going to earn you freebies far faster than Marriott Rewards.

Book your next hotel stay here and start earning more.

Johnny Ward Gets a Deal Using Bonwi in Oslo

Photo by Erik Odiin on Unsplash

Travel blogger Johnny Ward of One Step 4ward blog is back for more Bonwi, this time to redeem his loyalty points. Last we heard from Johnny, he told us,

“My total booking was about $600, and I got $200 back in points – 33% credit, unreal.”

Those points, they do add up. For Johnny’s trip to Oslo, where prices run high, his Bonwi points helped him out with a hotel for $3.82. Did that sink in?

Johnny Ward got a hotel in Oslo for $3.82. Click to Tweet

“I had used Bonwi to book hotels cheaper than Booking.com, Expedia etc in both Lombok and Komodo, Indonesia, as well as in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Thankfully, through booking with Bonwi, those bookings hadn’t just saved me money, they had also accrued me 13,000 points to use through the Bonwi platform. Brilliant.”

Here were some of his options for redemption:

Pretty nice, eh?

Read Johnny’s full story here, and check out his pics from the trip. Brilliant!

UponArriving Names Bonwi #1 Best, Most Popular of 2018

We are way too excited (and humbled) to keep up the suspense. Thank You to Daniel Gillaspia for the honor of the top spot as Best Hotel Booking Site for 2018!!!

Deep breath. OMG OMG OMG!!! UponArriving.com has named Bonwi as #1 on the list of The 15 Best (and Most Popular) Hotel Booking Sites [2018] . Here’s what Dan said about Bonwi:

Bonwi is a standout OTA for one very special reason. It offers ridiculously high returns on… Click to Tweet

Dan also does a nice job calling out our sometimes slower search speed, too. Truth is, it’s seconds – less than 15 on a really exciting deal-packed day. It takes those extra 7-10 seconds on top of the other, lesser OTAs because we are pulling in Every Single Deal out there. Just for you.

“You’re not going to beat the best deals on Bonwi even if you have top-tier Platinum status with another hotel loyalty program.”

That’s why we’re Number One!

Now, if you’re new to the world of online travel booking site, deals, incentives, points, rewards, loyalty and redemption, Dan’s article is a go-to read. Yes, we also love it because we’re Number One, but it’s a comprehensive and definitive guide to who’s who, what’s what, all the choices out there and how you benefit from the major deals sites. Read the full story here.

 

 

What You Can Get for 10,000 Points on Bonwi

cash in Bonwi points for flights

cash in Bonwi points for flights

When you sign up for Bonwi for the first time, you get 1,500 points automatically. Right there that’s worth $15 because for 10,000 you can get a $100 gift card to one of your favorite merchants, like Amazon, Best Buy, or Target. What’s on your list right now?

If you start with 1,500 and just make one or two hotel bookings, you’ll probably get to 10,000 points by maximizing the options on Bonwi.

After that, we mentioned that one thing you can do with 10,000 points: cash it in for a gift card. Besides retailers, there are also some food outlets. Need to fund a kid’s birthday party? You can cash in for a hundred bucks from Papa John’s or Dunkin Donuts. Need to take your mom out to dinner? Cash in points for Olive Garden or Cheesecake factory.

You can also use your 10,000 points to rent a car. When I pulled up summer days in Orlando, I found rental cars for as little as 2,150  a day. If you need some room for a family though, you could splurge and get two days of a sport utility vehicle or a minivan for less that 10,000 points over two days.

rent a car with points

Or you can use those points to get a hotel instead. Maybe you want to take your honey on a weekend getaway to the big city, to the beach, or to a town a couple hours away. Or maybe you need a night at an airport hotel in the hub city so you can catch an early flight in the morning. Maybe you need one night at a hotel before a cruise.

What can you get with 10,000 points? I searched weekend nights in the high season for vacations in late June and found plenty: the Atlanta Hilton, a downtown hotel in Nashville, a few motels near the cruise port in Ft. Lauderdale, a few chain hotels in Denver, Hawthorne Suites and Home2Suites in Salt Lake City.

You can also cash Bonwi Rewards in for an airline ticket, with 10,000 points being equal to $100. Maybe $100 won’t go very far in the airline world, but it’s enough for a one-way ticket on some routes. You could fly on Southwest or Delta, for example, one way from Atlanta to New Orleans, and still have some  left over.

Bonwi Rewards points cash in for flights

It’s true that 10,000 points won’t get you very far with the loyalty programs of Hilton or IHG and with Hotels.com you would need to book hotels 10 times to get one free night in return. With Bonwi it’s a different story though and you can do a lot with 10K.

Book your next hotel here and really get something back.

How to Rack Up Points for Free Hotel Stays or Flights

free stay at luxury hotel

luxury free hotel stay with Bonwi

Are you getting a big rebate every time you stay at a hotel? Are you turning every few nights that you pay to stay into a free hotel night or flight down the road?

Traditionally it took a lot of stays to make that happen. The only people earning enough points to get rewarded were the road warrior salespeople on the road each week or those who were putting lots of expenses on a hotel credit card. After 10, 20, sometimes 25 stays (or spending $25,000 on their card) they finally had enough points for a mini vacation with that spouse they kept leaving at home.

Now there’s a way to make those freebies happen much faster. If you book through Bonwi instead of the big-name online agencies or the hotels themselves, the rewards add up three or four times faster. A free hotel night or even a flight can happen after just a few nights you’ve paid for yourself. This video shows you how it works:

In that video I run down how much I earned for one specific two-night stay—enough to get a hotel night elsewhere for free. You’ll also see some real point earning rundowns of what you’d get from staying at hotels in Las Vegas,, Atlanta, and Dallas. In the scenario we picked, you would easily earn enough for a few nights in a European capital city during a vacation or for a domestic plane ticket in the USA.

If you are staying at a different Marriott every week and you’ve gotten to a high elite status in their loyalty program, then you may already be getting big benefits from staying loyal. For the rest of us though, the loyalty seems to help the conglomerate corporation more than it’s helping us. With Bonwi bookings, you could stay at four different hotel chains on four different occasions and still probably get to a reward night much faster than the loyalist.

Remember, there are no blackout dates on your bookings: if the hotel, airline, or rental car company has inventory available, you’re in. What you see on the screen is what’s available. No surprises. No gotchas.

Get 1,500 points just for signing up if you’re not already a member. See how it works here.