EXCLUSIVE: Marriott Rewards Rolling Out Changes to the Program

Multiple sources who asked not to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak about the matter are telling me that Marriott Rewards will be rolling out four new features to their program.

  1. Cash and Points awards There will be a fixed redemption chart, the way that Starwood has, that discounts the number of points required for a standard room redemption. In other words they’ll offer ‘real’ cash and points, not what they currently call cash and points (“combining redemption nights and cash nights” in one reservation).

  2. Points sharing with no requirement that points are shared only with immediate family. It will cost $10 for base members and silvers, and will be free for Gold and Platinum members.

  3. Points Advance is something Marriott actually already offers now, but it will become a published benefit. You’ll be able to book awards that you don’t have enough points for, as long as you have the points prior to your stay.

  4. Reward nights will count towards elite status. Elite credit on redemptions that count towards status.

Marriott Seattle Airport Atrium

There’s nothing here that’s revolutionary but all should be incremental improvements to Marriott Rewards. Starwood, Hilton, and IHG already count reward stays towards elite status. Marriott joining in leaves Hyatt as the only major program where reward nights don’t count (although Hyatt’s cash and points redemptions do, just not their traditional all points hotel redemptions).

Cash and points, similarly, is something that all other major chains offer. Marriott is the last one to the party, but — depending on the specifics of the chart, what the points discount is and how much cash is required to get it — it’s something that’s a better deal than regular awards most of the time and Marriott’s competitors. So if they stick to that formula it’ll be a winner.

SkyCity Marriott, Hong Kong Airport

I believe hotel managers are being briefed soon on these changes, so I’d expect an announcement in the near future. I imagine these changes should be in place for the 2016 program year.

Will these new benefits be useful to you?

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. At 52 nights so far toward renewing my platinum status the 10 or so nights I’ve spent in rewards nights would put me a lot closer to 75. If it gets close at the end of the year I may have to argue this point.

  2. IHG reward nights count as stay credit? Also, IHG doesn’t really have a cash and points, it allows you to buy up to 10,000 points for $70 and is actually an award night redemption

  3. Gary, it’s worth pointing out that Marriott will deduct points from your lifetime totals if you transfer them to another member (and also of you use them to renew status).

  4. @Alex IHG’s reward nights count towards status (http://www.ihg.com/hotels/us/en/reservation/rewardnights — “IHG® Rewards will combine your Reward Nights with your Qualifying Nights toward Elite status qualification, bringing you closer to attaining Elite status while enjoying your stay using your points.” and they let you combine cash with fewer points towards an award although it isn’t a separate more restrictive inventory. I’m not sure how that ISN’T cash and points, in some ways it is BETTER than what the other chains offer as cash and points since it is always available.

  5. Hopefully this puts more pressure on Hyatt to finally count award stays towards elite status. They can’t stay the only hold out forever. I’ll likely switch my loyalty to Hyatt, from Starwood, if they finally do.

  6. Now they need to improve the credit card benefits, a cat 1-5 cert is basically unusable these days if you live in a non-flyover state and probably even if you do. The cards non Marriot spend earn rate is pathetic as well.

  7. Now if they would just let you redeem your MR VISA free night for something higher than a Cat 5. You’re lucky to find something that does more than cover the annual fee.

  8. Good changes, but the Category 1-5 issue has made me recently cancel my Marriott Visa, and I cashed in nearly all my points, too, after all the constant devaluations each of the last 3 years. Trying for more SPG, Hyatt and Hilton stays. I do wish Hyatt would offer 5th night free.

  9. @Spgbus would be interesting to know. As I’m sure you know based on your name, not only do SPG award nights could towards lifetime status, but so do the nights credits from the SPG Amex, which is awesome. If you’re after lifetime status with them and you have the personal and business cards you’re essentially getting 10 nights per year at $19 per night. If you keep both for 10 years you’re 20% of the way to lifetime Gold just for paying your annual fee.

  10. It is time to stop making Residence Inn stays worth half the points. Especially with how lame happy hour is these days.

  11. My problem is there is no way to earn Marriott points via a credit card that is remotely justifiable. The point redemptions are usually not more than a penny each, so I would never spend Ultimate Rewards on them.

  12. I tend to become apprehensive when a loyalty program introduces new “benefits” because many times what comes next are devaluation to points, but Marriott has already done that a lot in recent years. However, this past year they did lower the rankings of some locations which were quite overvalued.

  13. I was told that if you have not used your points accumulated or earned any points in a year that you would lose all accumulated points as of January 2016. Is this still possible? I have updated my profile as asked and I am hoping NOT to lose points I accumulated, as I want to use them in 2016. My account # is 861617538. Can you please tell my what will happen and when or if I am NOT going to lose the points I have.

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