Because of my meticulous nature, I have been tracking my MR account on an Excel spreadsheet for the last several years. While I know I do not represent all MR members with my travel habits, I thought I would share how I earned my last million points.
Beginning on 10/25/2009 and through 06/30/2011, I have earned 1,003,102 points. This represents 613 calendar days or 87.6 weeks. During this period I earned 61 Visa bonus nights and had 302 actual nights and 83 stays as follows:
SHs: 6,141 Properties: 435,793 or 43.4% ***
MegaBonus: 205,000 or 20.4%
Misc. Points: 66,400 or 6.6%^^^
Visa: 295,909 or 29.5%
*** I always take the market gift rather than the 200 arrival points. Had I taken the points, I would have an additional 10,000 points earned during this period. (About a third of the time I end up with both the market gift AND the arrival points, so this is an estimate.)
^^^ Miscellaneous points are from several sources but primarily as an “apology” from a property for some type of inconvenience or complaint. For example, I once complained about a terribly slow internet and was given 1K points.
Now you've got me interested. I may have to start doing the same thing...
I wish the account summary on the website went back farther than a year. Have you been able to take advantage of all those points? I did a quick comparison and it looks like I'm about 430k earned but 475k spent since July '10.
I've earned over 3.5m points over the course of 20 years on the road, and made lifetime Platinum in the process (in addition to lifetime on American Airlines). This came at a great expense family wise.
At the start of the recession my clients wanted to save money by cutting out travel expenses, thus I've been working from home ever since. It took a good six months to get used to the idea of being constantly home (that is, decompress) but now that I'm into my daily routine I like it better than being constantly on the road.
I also started tracking my points through a spreadsheet and noticed the same thing as you do, that is, the megabonuses and the Visa branded Marriott card to make a huge difference. During the past year, from October 2010 till now, I've collected approximatelly 465,000 points and 145 paid nights plus 40 credit card nights, which is roughly the same pace that you collected a million points in almost two years.
One thing about the branded card is that my company makes me use my private credit card to purchase everything from plane tickets to hotel nights, etc, that is, they do no offer me a corporate credit card, which means that I generate a high volume of credit card purchases, which if you play your cards right, translates to a lot of points. However, I've had to make some changes in which credit cards I use. I recently started using a United branded Visa card since I noticed that in some cases, I'm better off using this card than the Marriott branded visa card:
a. For air travel, the United card gives you 3 miles for every dollar spent at United, while Marriott only gives you two points for every air dollar spent.
b. For car rentals, I use the Marriott card since I get two points for every dollar spent, while the United card only offers one.
c. For gas purchases, I use the United card since I get two points for every dollar while the Marriot card only offers one.
Of course 100k Marriott points does not equate to 100 United points, but in my experience of using points and miles, I've found out that for a nice vacation, need to shell out roughly 70k to 100k airline points and around 200k Marriott points.