An often overlooked way to earn Marriott points is the Marriott Moments program. Many were be familiar with the SPG Moments program, which let you bid in auctions for unique experiences. Its reincarnation is entirely different but can offer some incredible earning opportunities.
Marriott Moments allows you to buy travel experiences ranging from simple museum tickets to all-inclusive multi-week tours while earning 10 Marriott points per dollar spent, or 12 if using one of the Amex Starwood Preferred Guest or Chase Marriott credit cards. (More info)
It is not necessary to be staying at a Marriott property to take advantage of the 10x points per dollar spent; the only requirement is that you have a Marriott or SPG account where the points can be credited.
What Are These ‘Moments’?
There are thousands of options available through Marriott Moments, in over 180 countries. The tours themselves are booked via Place Pass, which is a company that pulls together all sorts of experiences for sale in one place, much like TripAdvisor. The most common offerings are half-day and full-day guided tours at hot destinations. Museum tickets and skip-the-line passes are available through Marriott Moments, also.
On the more expensive side are all-inclusive multi-day and even multi-week tours, like a 16-day tour of Ancient Egypt and Jordan I came across while looking for day-trips to Petra. At $2379, that tour has the potential to net 23,790 Marriott Points, or 28,548 Marriott Points if you use one of the cars.
Why 16 Points if purchased on Marriott or SPG Card?
There is a lot of confusion and misinformation out there, saying you will earn 16 Marriott Points if using your co-branded credit card, but that is just not true. The transaction posts as a purchase at Place Pass and not Marriott, so the “all other purchases” earning rate applies. Marriott also states you that the transaction will post as Place Pass, but never clarifies specifically what the co-branded earning category is for these purchases.
My credit card statement provided a clear and definitive answer: they are standard purchases, not Marriott purchases.
Do Tours and Tickets Cost More Through Marriott Moments?
From my personal experience, yes and no. I recently tested the program by purchasing a ticket for a canal boat cruise in Amsterdam. The one hour cruise on Lover’s cost $19 through Marriott, while the walk up price was €16 ($18.82). So for an 18¢ premium, I earned 190 points.
While I was on the boat, I noticed a few other people had bought their tickets from one of the generic tour selling vendors at a price of €18.25 per person, which works out to about $21.47 in USD, over 10% more than I paid. I also noticed when comparing tours to Petra on Marriott Moments to TripAdvisor, the Marriott price for the same tours were about 5% cheaper. However, I can’t confirm that these were the same tour operators.
A conservative valuation of Marriott points is about 0.7¢ per point. Earning 10 points per dollar is effectively a seven-percent rebate on general purchases, or 8.4-percent per dollar if using a co-brand credit card.
Receiving 7-percent or more from purchases rivals the 3 point-per-dollar travel earnings on cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve. So why not double down! If we value Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 2¢, the total effective rebate we get through these purchases is 16 percent.
Whenever searching for tours or activities, I’d say it’s definitely worth checking out the Marriott Moments portal to see if the experience you want is available through them. Earning 10 or more points per dollar is a fantastic earn rate for almost any transaction, the fact that its more difficult to earn Marriott Points through channels other than hotel stays make Moments that much more valuable.