Marriott Rewards Whacks Members Again With Big Increase in Reward Prices

Most hotel programs assign individual hotels to ‘categories’ with a fixed number of points required to redeem the hotels in each category. And chains more or less adjust the hotels assigned to each category once a year.

Starwood announced their hotel reward category changes several days ago. About the same number of hotels are getting more expensive as are getting less expensive, with increases concentrated in the U.S.

Hyatt announced their changes in December with more hotels going down in price than going up.

(Hilton of course no longer makes announcements about annual changes, they just post changes to a web page throughout the year. This is in the name of ‘transparency’. Hilton is also an anomaly in that there are huge point ranges for several of the categories, which makes category assignments almost meaningful for those hotels.)

Marriott has posted a .pdf of hotels that are changing reward category. These changes go into effect March 20.

About a third of hotels are going up or down in price. The changes are skewed 3-1 in favor of increases. As a result, more than a quarter of all Marriott hotels will cost more points to redeem.

This has been a long term trend for Marriott.

It’s really quite shocking to see increases of this magnitude again. This isn’t just a one year phenomenon.

Download the .pdf. It isn’t categorized well and it isn’t sortable. But if there’s a property you’re interested in, do a find for it. If it’s going to be getting more expensive in a month, make a reservation now at the lower price.

(HT: One Mile at a Time)

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. […] Marriott Rewards Whacks Members Again With Big Increase in Reward Prices by View From The Wing. I think Marriott got a little jealous about all the negative attention the Delta & Southwest devaluations have been getting and decided to join the party. I’ve got a bunch of Marriott points from the Chase Ritz Carlton 140k offer, so I better get booking before the March 20th deadline. […]

Comments

  1. Don’t forget, this also includes the Ritz Carlton Tiers with a lot of increases, a ton into the Tier 5 category.

  2. FML – Good thing I am getting rid of my marriott points and moved to SPG. It’s next to impossible to get a free night for anything affordable now

  3. Considering transferring Marriott points to AA miles at this point, with the bonus its 140k to 50k AA. With this deval it doesn’t seem too shabby.

  4. Finally made the move from Marriott a few years ago. I know that Hilton honors deservedly gets a lot of grief on these forums, but really pound for pound, Marriott rewards program has fallen farther, in my humble opinion.

    I burned through a pretty big stockpile a Marriott points over the last couple years and these latest devaluation doesn’t bother me. That’s what comes with having currently less than 3000 points in your Marriott rewards account and no plans on staying at Marriott’s.

  5. MOXY Milan Malpensa Intl Airport will be category 1. Good reviews, attached to the terminal, with train access to the city.

  6. This really hurts when they keep moving desirable properties up to CAT5 from CAT4, which basically devalues the Megabonus free night certificates that are usually only good for CAT1-4.

  7. @Erik– Some of the more recent Megabonus certificates were up to Cat 5, as is the Chase Visa renewal free night. HOWEVER, whereas 2 years ago it basically became impossible to redeem Cat 5 certificates for city center properties, it has gotten to the point where even large city airport properties are now Cat 6-7 (look at LAX).

  8. This is a horrible trend. I have already moved most of my business to Hyatt, Radisson and (eeek) IHG. But I still remained platinum with Marriott (yes, I live in hotels :-(.

    Several hotels we were planning on have moved up. How can hotels that charge 80-120 euro per night be Cat 6 is beyond me.

    Marriott is becoming to look more and more like Hilton.

  9. So I took a ‘positive’ approach and read the ‘going down’ list to find gems that are now a better value. Nothing. I consider point redemption to be meant for family trips…so nicer hotels, it’s suppose to be a perk of living in a hotel for a living….

    sad….real sad…

  10. I’ll be cancelling my Marriott Chase Visa as the up to cat 5 renewal certificate is getting hard to use. Even the Marriott Downtown Oakland is cat 6 now.

  11. Well the Sochi Marriott Krasnaya Polyana Ski Resort is moving down a notch. Must still be waiting for door knobs or something.

  12. When will the Marriott kool-aid drinkers realize how weak the program is. Then again maybe they are happy dropping 50k points on a springhill suites

  13. Erik, don’t forget the credit card, which comes with a Cat 4 free night. I’m going to cancel my Marriott card and tell Chase that a Cat 4 night is useless after all the devaluations.

  14. Since I am annually gifted Marriott Gold Status as a result of my lifetime UA 1K status, I have a strong incentive to try to like the Marriott program. Getting breakfast and lounge access is a pretty good incentive. Prior to that reciprocity, I pretty much ignored Marriott. It’s a shame that I will largely revert to that approach. Marriott’s loyalty program seems designed for frequent travelers who don’t pay much attention to what they’re actually receiving for their loyalty.

  15. Glad I burned my MR stash last year. MR is still better than HHonors (nice properties, fewer points for Cat 7-8-9) but Hyatt and SPG provide better elite benefits.

    Definitely the year to cancel the Chase MR card. I was considering an Chase RC card but maybe not anymore.

  16. I’m 300 points short of a Marriott 30k reservation I’d like to make before the devaluation. Any bright ideas to make up the deficit?

  17. I have been accumulating MR points for years, so I can take my dream vacation and it just keeps getting harder. That’s not right. Don’t we have legal recourse?

  18. Every single Marriott in Austin is going up! I guess Marriott mgt thinks they can gut the program bec the economy is strong enough that they don’t need loyalty. Let’s take our business to B&B locations or Hyatt/SPG/IHG/Radisson.

  19. @Jon, Sammy Eppel et al, who see this as the proverbial falling of the sky over at Marriott Rewards, let me recycle for you here the following piece of wisdom that I dispensed gratis elsewhere.

    Beware what you wish for. What you have with Marriott that you’ll lose for sure with Hyatt or SPG is Marriott’s large “footprint”. In addition, if your beef is that Marriott has “devalued” their points, think again because before you can use points, you must first earn them. You won’t do well there with Hyatt or SPG because their room rates for revenue stays, from which you earn redeemable points, generally tend to be higher than Marriott’s. And, while Hyatt and Marriott offer about the same value in terms of how much you need to spend to get enough points for a free night, SPG’s spend per free night is, BY FAR, the worst of any program, especially at the high-end properties that you seem to be interested in.

    Like I said, beware what you wish for. From where I am standing, you are doing just fine with Marriott Rewards. All that happened was a minor reshuffling of hotel categories. Marriott’s large footprint ensures that there would remain plenty of properties where you usually travel that would still offer you good redemption value. Hyatt’s and SPG’s small footprints do not offer that luxury, which is why bloggers, like this one, who are into Hyatt and/or SPG think that the annual ritual of reshuffling hotel categories is a big deal. Yawn… it should not be if you are with Marriott or Hilton. The grass is plenty green where you are standing right now!

  20. @DCS you have no idea what you’re talking about on the earn side for US members, you earn better with SPG (Amex) and Hyatt (Chase Sapphire Preferred) via credit card than with Marriott for sure.

  21. @Gary – You know very well that I know what I am talking about. I have done the modeling as have you.
    Mine, which supports what I said above, is publicly available here: https://milepoint.com/forums/threads/exploring-spg-point-values-by-hotel-category.114263/#post-2551672 . You can provide a link to yours.

    Folks who earn most of their points from credit cards would definitely be better off with Hyatt or SPG, especially if they do not care to do aspirational stays, because their redemption rates in “raw” points are relatively low compared to the other major programs. However, the most points that can be earned in this business by regular folks is, by far, through spend on revenue stays. The best CC in earning points from general spend is Club Carlson’s @ 5 points/$. But a Club Carlson elite who is set up to maximize their earnings from stays and pay for them with the co-branded CC would earn 45 points/$. That is 9 times more than from general CC spend.

    In your view, how much CC spend would a SPG (AMEX) or Hyatt (Chase Sapphire) member need to do to afford a night at PH Paris-Vendome?

    Q.E.D

  22. So I wonder — if I reserve a Marriott using points now, but don’t pay the points (via eCertificate) til _after_ the Mar 20 increase, is the old rate locked in anyway?

  23. Actually, this increase in Cat for Marriotts kind of makes an alternate payment method more feasible: eg for Courtyard King Kamehameha Kona (now Cat 6, going to Cat 7), a week that now cost 180K would cost 210K. Instead of paying with MR points, why not pay with cash ($1400 or so for a week incl tax), and then cash in that much Chase Ultimate rewards points (140K in this case). So if you don’t have the required # of MR points, it would cost fewer points to do a transfer from your Chase UR account (140K vs 180K).

    Anyone see why this wouldn’t work?

  24. What I find the most amusing (NOT!) is since the Editions were already a 9 instead of creating a new level(10)they move them over to a Ritz Carlton level. Pretty soon all the hotel will be moved over to RZ1 or higher..lol

  25. I’ve been Hilton Diamond and IHG Royal Ambassador for years. Last year Tokyo Hilton said they would ding me for 60,000 points for no show. I did cancel, but they can’t find it. Yesterday I discovered that they actually dinged me for 200,000 miles! Looks like I’m a lifer at IHG from now on. Goodbye, Hilton.

  26. @David – ?

    If you have a case, then just to make it and have your 200,000 “miles” refunded. To say goodbye to Hilton for something that could just as easily have happened at IHG or PC or Hyatt seems ridiculous to me.

    What will you do if something similar, which was quite likely a mistake, happens at IHG? Would you leave them and vow to become a lifer at Hilton… LOL 😉

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