Marriott Increasing Points Prices at Over 500 Hotels on March 24, Book Now!

Marriott Rewards hotel category changes going into effect March 24. You can redeem hotels that are going up in price now for stays after March 24 and pay the current lower price.

  • 560 hotels are going up a category (6% of those are outside the US)
  • 237 hotels are going down a category (36% of those are outside the US)

They aren’t changing the structure of the program, or taking away benefits (such as they are). Rather it’s the time of year where they shift hotels from one redemption category to another. And consistently year after year Marriott moves more hotels to higher, more expensive redemption categories than to lower, less expensive categories.

That means it takes more points to redeem for free nights, points are worth less, and free night certificates that are capped at category 4 or 5 redemption are worth less too because there are fewer hotels at which they can be used.

Marriott makes the point that ‘only’ 18% of hotels are changing category, and that 6 in 10 hotels are category 4 or lower.

Consistently, year-after-year, though more hotels move to higher categories and so it takes more points to redeem for fre nights. Here’s what that’s looked like for the five years from 2011 through 2015.

In 2013 an unhappy Marriott Rewards member even wrote a song about it (to the tune of Les Miserables “Master of the House”).

Now in 2016 Marriott is again moving substantially more hotels up in category than down in category. With Marriott buying Starwood that’s not the way to instill confidence in members.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I closed my Marriott credit card and stopped participating in their free nights promotions 2 or 3 years ago, because the only hotels in cat 5 or below are only good for mattress runs. Even Fairfield Inns have crept up to cat 6 & 7. These are motels that compete with Motel 6 or Days Inn for the trucker business. Unfortunately, with the absorption of SPG we will be left with two large chains, Marriott and Hilton, who have stripped away all value, or smaller chains like Hyatt who lag behind in the race to the bottom, but have too small of a footprint to be our main hotel chain.

  2. Sam +1. I am weary of playing the “hurry and book your flight, hotel before the latest never-ending devaluation.” Fairfields at class 6/7….what a joke.

    Maybe complete travel free-agency, along with a good cash back credit card is the answer.

  3. The Marriott Rewards team is absolutely terrible. You should only have to do one large devaluation every 3-5 years. If not, your either a) incompetent, b) greedy, c) unwilling to tweak the program to keep points at current levels or d) all of the above.

  4. As loyal SPG member, this gives me even less hope. I was going to sign up for the Marriott card this week and have now changed my mind!

  5. I recently got another Marriot card, but strictly for the 80K point sign up bonus. My only spend on it was the min required for those bonus points. I can’t imagine who actually puts any substantial spend on the card. It takes roughly the same $ spend for one night at the London Park Lane as it does for an AA Saver Business TATL flight. Seriously?

    Even before this latest decimation, renewing the card had no appeal for me. My last renewal “free night” certificate a few years ago went unused, as there was no qualifying property I wanted to stay in, even for free. I rarely do aspirational stays, I mainly just look for decent places to sleep. This now puts some of those ‘I don’t care to stay there’ properties up in categories 7 or even 8.

    Had to laugh though when I saw that the Cairo JW, which probably runs around 5% occupancy on a good night, is moving up a level.

  6. We ALL should complain to CHASE Bank that their Marriott credit cards (personal, business) is worth lot less. Chase should have a say since they bought Marriott points at a certain value and that value is much less..

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