I know, I know. If you love travel even just a little bit, you’re saying, “Ed, is this a trick question?” “Marriott is selling gift cards for 20% off. Of course we’re buying.” I think it’s a legitimate question. Before you bit my head off, let’s cover the basics.
Marriott Is Selling Gift Cards For 20% Off
Marriott announced this deal a few days ago and I’ve just been swamped, but really wanted to write about it. It’s pretty straightforward.
This matches the best deal I’ve ever seen offered on Marriott gift cards. It’s the same deal offered during Daily Getaways. More on that in a bit. It’s also important to note that Marriott, like most hotel companies, has really flexible cancellation policies right now. You can go so far as to book a prepaid rate and still cancel for a full refund within 24 hours of arrival (currently until the end of June, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see this extended.
Should You Buy Discounted Marriott Gift Cards?
I’m honestly a bit torn. This is really widely available right now, which does give me a small bit of pause. For perspective, Marriott made a grand total of $262,500 in gift cards available during last year’s Daily Getaways. I have it recorded on my post from last year. They sold out in a heartbeat. Here, the daily limit is $5,000. That means someone could buy $35,000 in gift cards. One person could buy more than 10% of what they made available for Daily Getaways. Translation: Marriott is really hoping you buy.
Before you purchase (especially if you’re considering a big purchase) consider how long it will be before you use the gift card funds. Remember that prices may be severely depressed for quite some time. Holding onto a gift card in your desk drawer won’t earn you any interest on that money. You’re unlikely to earn a 20% return on cash anywhere in the next 6 months (if you know a guaranteed way, let me know) so the 20% discount is still likely very profitable if you know you can travel and burn up whatever gift cards. But, there is some price associated with parking cash in gift cards.
And, if you’re a business traveler, consider that Marriott may try to earn your business back with lucrative promotions involving lots of bonus points. The more points you have, the less you need to buy discounted gift cards.
I hesitate to use words like “always” and “never”, especially after seeing things like negative interest rates during the Great Recession and people willing to give away a barrel of oil for free a few weeks ago. However, I think it’s also worth noting that I can’t really conceive of any scenario where Marriott disappears as a company.That means buying a Marriott gift card likely carries little risk.
The Final Two Pennies
If you’re not a business traveler who anticipates getting back on the road this year, then these gift cards are probably a great way to save money on your next vacation. I’d caution you about investing too deeply in this. Even though I’ve made a run at the Daily Getaways deals in the past, I’m not sure how much I’ll be buying here. I can save money on business travel, but it’s only worth it to me for travel I anticipate this year.
I do believe there are likely to be similar deals from other travel companies, possibly even better. Marriott isn’t my first choice for hotel brands, that’s Hyatt. If Marriott is your first choice, you probably want to consider a purchase here. If they’re not, just think carefully about how you’ll use the gift cards before plunking down cash in an economy with some serious headwinds. Awful hard to buy groceries for your family with a Marriott gift card.
Are you buying Marriott gift cards?
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