Great Idea!! It would be nice to cash in points for gift cards to our favorite restaurants. We can cash in points for gift cards to places like Home Depot or Best Buy, Restaurants is a logical addition.
BTW, there is an option to exchange points for dining certificates for restaurants in Marriott Hotels. I have done this in the past and it used to be a 4 course meal for 2 includiing non-alcoholic drinks, tax, and tip. Now it has been downgraded to a 3 course meal. (I tried kangaroo on one of those certificates - interesting.)
An interesting idea for sure, though in practice I'm not sure how it would play out value wise.
I use a diners club card for all of my travel (work card). I have their points program and typically I just convert the points to MR points at the end of the year. The exchange rate isnt great but certainly not nearly as bad as some others. For example, 1250dcp = 1500mrp, where starwood 1250dcp = 750swp. I have noticed some real sweetheart deals too, 1250dcp =3300 best western points.
In the US I dont stay at Best Westerns generally speaking, however in the UK, they are simply amazing properties in some places and the thought of converting to them is there for a family vacation outside of the Marriott range of properties.
When I look at how Diners converts to other programs, gift cards being one of them, the value proposition just is not there. 50k points for a $50 card in some cases. Remember, Diners does not do promotional points, its $1 = 1pt. So $50,000 spent = $50 gift card .... doesnt seem fair huh?
I guess my point is while it would be a great option, the MR points would probably have a fairly limited "cash" value outside of the Marriott enterprise. Certainly less so if you factor in all the "promotional" points that are earned that do not tie to a dollar figure. Would be interesting to see how it shakes out.