How to earn a 5 nights stay at Marriott for Rs 1180 only

My idea of a vacation includes not just scenic locations but also the best hotels that my pocket can afford. Oh yes – I don’t like paying for the exorbitant rack rates though. Is there a way to have my cake and eat it too. I found out that there is, providing I was willing to act a bit crazy.

Don’t you want to make your hard earned money sweat as hard as you do during your workouts? Wouldn’t you enjoy the feeling of extracting the most bang for your buck? If you do and are cool enough to act apart from the crowd, then read on.

Travel Hacking is not for everyone. Applying for dozens of credit cards is not for the fainthearted. It will feel weird. It is just a piece of plastic though at the end of the day. If you are smart though, you can use your Midas touch to turn this plastic into something spectacular.

Warning: If you can’t handle CREDIT – stop reading now. I am not promoting indiscriminate use of credit to buy stuff you cant afford. You have to pay off your bills every month and keep your spending withing your affordability.

For the rest of my CREDIT Warriors, allow me to give you the 30 second version of my strategy here:

  • Apply for 3 American Express credit cards (2 of them are FREE)
  • Apply for 6 add-on cards on those 3 cards (all of them are FREE)
  • Move 18k/month from your current household spending to those 3 cards (9k/6k/3k) for the next 12 months

WHAM: You will have 50,000+ Membership Reward Points – that can fund your luxury vacation with a 4-5 nights stay all paid for.

Applying through these special links below will give your NIL joining fees on 2 cards and a whole bunch of bonus points. Click on these special links below to apply for these 3 credit cards:

American Express Membership Rewards Credit Card

American Express Gold Card

American Express Platinum Travel Credit Card

Now everything below is for the NERDS who want to dive into the full details

This is basically a simple credit card strategy and all I need you to do to concentrate your existing household spends on the cards I tell you to. So without further ado let’s dive right into the nitty gritties of this strategy

We are going to use Membership Rewards (MR) which is the American Express rewards currency as the foundation to earn all our benefits from this strategy.

Step 1 – Apply for 3 American Express Credit Cards

You need to apply for the following credit cards

  1. American express Membership Rewards Credit Card
    • What you Pay: The usual first year joining fee is INR 1,000 plus taxes – but the First year Fee is WAIVED if you apply through this this link : Click here and scroll down to the American Express Membership Rewards Credit Card
  2. American Express Gold Card
    • What you pay: The first year fee is INR 1,000 plus taxes. There is no waiver on the joining fee here – but if you apply through the link I provide, you will get access to additional bonus MR points: Click here and scroll down to the American Express Gold Card
  3. American Express Platinum Travel Credit Card
    • What you pay: The usual first year ioining fee for this card is INR 3,500 plus taxes – but the First year Fee is WAIVED if you apply through this this link : Click here to apply.

The application process is very simple and you can apply for all 3 cards in less than 30 minutes online.

Step 2: Apply for Supplementary Cards for all the 3 cards above. [Time Sensitive]

As of now Amex is running a limited promotion where it is offering generous MR points as rewards just for applying for complimentary supplementary or add-on cards. The current offer is valid till 30th September 2019. So do make full use of this. It is possible to apply for a supplementary card – along with your primary application itself. Make sure you take note of this. What you need to do is given below

  1. American Express Membership Rewards Credit Card: Apply for two complimentary supplementary cards for your family members and earn 1,000 MR points per card.
  2. American Express Gold Card – Apply for two complimentary supplementary cards for your family members and earn 1,000 MR points per card.
  3. American Express Platinum Travel card  – Apply for two complimentary supplementary cards and earn 2,000 MR points per card.

Just applying for these cards will give you a headstart with 8,000 MR points:

Step 3 – Get Smart with your Spending

In this step, I will lay down the bare minimum you need to spend to extract value from these cards. Ofcourse if you have additional spending to move to these cards, it will only increase your earn rate.

American Express Membership Rewards Credit Card:

  • Base Earnings Rate: This card provides you an earn rate of 1 MR point per Rs.50 spent (there are some exclusions for fuel and utilities)
  • Milestone Spend 1: You will get 2,000 MR points on spending INR 5,000 with first 90 days of the card.
  • Milestone Spend 2: You will get an additional 2,000 MR points for achieving a cumulative spend of INR 25,000 within the first 90 days of your card.
  • Monthly Bonus: The key benefit of this card is that you are entitled to a further 1,000 MR Points per month for using your card 4 times per month for a transaction of INR 1,000 or above. This allows you to garner 12,000 bonus MR points in a year.
  • Standing Instruction Bonus: You will also earn an additional 1,000 Bonus Membership Reward Points for the first Standing Instruction registered within 5 months of Card membership

To sum up – if you end up spending the bare minimum of INR 61,000 (which is INR 25,000 in the first 3 months and thereafter INR 4,000 every month in the next 9 months, you would earn a minimum amount of 18,220 MR points  (1,220+2,000+2,000+12,000+1,000) from this card.

American Express Gold card:

  • Base Earnings Rate: This card provides you an earn rate of 1 MR point per Rs.50 spent (there are some exclusions for fuel and utilities)
  • Milestone Spend 1: You will get 2,000 MR points on spending INR 5,000 with first 90 days of the card.
  • Milestone Spend 2: You will get an additional 4,000 MR points on using the Card 3 times within the first 60 days of Card membership, upon Payment of annual fee and cumulative spends of INR 2,000 within 60 days of card issuance.
  • Monthly Bonus: Like the Amex Membership Rewards Card, the Gold card also gives you bonus 1,000 MR Points per month for using your card 6 times per month for a transaction of INR 1,000 or above. This allows you to garner 12,000 bonus MR points in a year.
  • Standing Instruction Bonus: You will also earn an additional 1,000 Bonus Membership Reward Points for the first Standing Instruction registered within 5 months of Card membership

Summary: If you end up spending the bare minimum of INR 72,000 (which is 6k per month) you would earn a minimum amount of 20,440 MR points (1,440+2,000+4,000+12,000+1,000) from this card.

American Express Platinum Travel Card: This is a mid-tier Travel benefit card. This card has a lot of travel privileges to be earned if you can spend spend 4 lakhs or more. But for this strategy – we are only looking to spend a bare minimum amount. Ofcourse as I said earlier the more you spend you can reap the full benefits from this card.

  • Base Earnings Rate: This card provides you an earn rate of 1 MR point per Rs.50 spent (there are some exclusions for fuel and utilities)
  • Milestone Spend 1: You will get 2,000 MR points on spending INR 5,000 with first 60 days of the card issuance.
  • Milestone Spend 2: Spend 1.9 lakhs in a year and get travel vouchers worth INR 7700
  • Milestone Spend 3: Spend 4 lakhs in a year and get a Taj voucher worth 10k

Just doing the INR 5000 expense will get you 2100 MR points.

On the whole, with the supplementary cards and a basic spend of INR 138,000(61000+72,000+5,000) across these 3 cards  – you will reach a grand total of 48,760 MR points. This by itself is sufficient for wonderful travel benefits with Marriott as I will shortly explain. If you are able to spend another INR 67,000 INR though, across any of these cards – you will reach a grand total of 50,000 MR points.

If I were to make this even simpler, just look to spend 9k/6k/3k per month on the three cards in that order(Membership Rewards Card/ Gold Card/ Platinum travel card). These will easily get you over the 50k mark.

Lets see what kind of magic we can work at Marriott with 50,000 MR points

Memberships Rewards Transfer Partner: Marriott.

Amex has a host of Airline and Hotel Reward partners and you can do a lot with these points – but we are focusing on Marriott here.

Marriott Bonvoy is a reward partner at 1:1 ratio with Amex. Thus you can exchange your 50,000 MR points for 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. These points can you can get anywhere between 2 to 5 nights at a Marriott property at India or Overseas.

  1. Category 1 hotels in the Marriott Chain are available for a redemption of 7500 points per night. These include properties such as Fairfield, Aloft and Four Points by Sheraton
  2. Courtyard Marriott properties are generally either Category 2 or Category 3 and you can redeem an award night at either 12500 points or 17500 points
  3. Le Meredien, Renaissance and ITC are generally available at 17500 points to 35000.
  4. Premium properties like the JW Marriott are generally at a higher redemption point of 35000 per night depending on the locations.

Ofcouse the redemption points will go up when we look at properties overseas. Please see below some Indian hotel options in the Marriott chain:

With this strategy you are most likely to get maximum value with Category 1 or 2 hotels

FIFTH NIGHT FREE:

One supercool and not very well known feature is that Marriott awards a fifth night free even on award points redemptions.

So if you book a 5 night stay at let’s say Courtyard Marriott – Gurugram which generally retails for around INR 12,000++ per night, 50,000 bonvoy points would get you 5 nights at this property. So basically you will derive INR 60,000 worth of value for 50k Marriott points. The redemption rate also includes taxes – so you don’t pay a dime for the room.

If you are able to follow my advice to the letter, you will find an additional INR 60,000 for your next vacation.

CONCLUSION

I know all of the above information looks too much to digest. The detailed numbers may seem overwhelming. But as I said before, you just need to be a bit crazy and patient and willing to make your hard earned money sweat enough and squeeze every last ounce of value.

Think ahead to enjoying a luxurious buffet breakfast at a beautiful property for a full week with family and then realise you didn’t pay a dime for it except a few minutes of diligent action each month?

I like to travel in style and not having to pay through my nose for it is just the icing on the cake. How about you?

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