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Just How Mega Is Marriott's Winter MegaBonus?

Hard on the heels of Starwood's new promotion for 2010, we have news that Marriott will reprise (for the umpteenth time) its MegaBonus offer, this time for stays between February 1 and April 30, 2010.

There is, it should be noted, a MegaBonus offer currently in place, for stays between September 15, 2009, and January 15, 2010. So the new offer will kick in about two weeks after the old one ends.

The new version of the offer is identical to the current one: 2,500 bonus points for the second and subsequent stays, up to a maximum of 25,000 bonus points. Unlike the current offer, however, the new one does not require that qualifying stays be charged to a Visa card.

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Deal or No Deal

As always with Marriott's MegaBonus offers, your mileage may vary. When you log in on the Marriott Rewards website, you will be presented with the details of the offer as it applies to you, which may vary somewhat from the generic version of the bonus described here. (Marriott targets different versions of the offer to program members with different travel profiles.)

At most Marriott family hotels, members earn 10 points per dollar spent. So if you spend $125 per night, a two-night stay would earn 2,500 points. The basic MegaBonus offer would double that.

As a quick point of comparison, the aforementioned Starwood promotion also awards double points—but for the first and second night, where the Marriott offer doesn't award any bonus at all until the second stay. The Starwood offer awards triple points for the third night, and quadruple points for the fourth and subsequent nights. Plus there's no cap on the number of points that can be earned with the promotion.

So, at least for the non-personalized version of the MegaBonus offer—which is what the average Rewards member is likely to receive—the Starwood bonus is likely to be more generous both for travelers with a single stay and for those who stay three or more nights as well. Of course, the calculation will change for those who receive a personalized offer with better terms.

Marriott's website advises that registration must be completed by March 31, and that Rewards members can begin registering on December 18. However, the promised registration page would not display for me. If you encounter a similar glitch, you might have to call Marriott's customer service line (888-236-2427) to find out what variant of the MegaBonus offer you have been chosen to receive.

Then, compare it to Starwood's promotion to see which offer is mo' mega, bonus-wise.

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