Marriott’s New Program Drives Down Costs: Platinum Check-in Amenity Reduction

When Hyatt launched their new loyalty program it was all about lower costs for hotel owners. They eliminated the check-in amenity, turndown service for top tier elites, eliminated compensation when club lounges are closed, and restricted the number of people eligible for breakfast to name just a few of the cost saving changes.

Now Marriott’s program is also about cost savings for hotels. CEO Arne Sorenson touted this in the chain’s earnings call earlier this year, noting that “loyalty rates have been reduced [to hotels] already twice and they will be reduced a third time” and several changes are helping the chain drive down those costs.

Marriott Boca Raton

The new loyalty program launching August 1 devalues existing Marriott points balances. And we now know another way that program costs are going to go down.

There’s an extensive chart showing Platinum welcome amenities at each hotel brand. And as @HH_Cash notes it’s a one-third devaluation for Starwood Platinums.

Sheraton, Westin, St. Regis, W, Le Meridien and other legacy full service Starwood chains will award 1000 points in the new program to Platinums as a check-in amenity option. Currently they award 500 Starwood points, worth 1500 Marriott points. That’s 500 fewer Marriott points in the new program or one-third less.

Sheraton Macao

Limited service chains currently award 250 Starpoints, worth 750 Marriott points. Going forward they’ll be offering 500 Marriott points, also a one-third reduction.

Small changes add up to big cost savings across all Platinum guests at a hotel (who don’t choose another amenity option, such as continental breakfast when no club lounge is available) across the entire year.

There are tradeoffs in any program. Starwood members lose strong points-earning on their co-brand credit card. They gain more properties with elite recognition like suite upgrades. But the program is clearly being very careful with its economics and is looking to spend less and charge hotels less. Remember that to a management company like Marriott property owners are their customers and guests are the product.

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. Yes, Starwood benefits are being reduced, but remember they were soliciting suitors. So whoever acquired the company, benefits, most likely, would have been reduced.

  2. Gary – I’m currently Marriott Gold. I won’t requalify. In August, it converts to Platinum Elite. Do I get suite upgrades when my membership converts? If so, can they be used at Ritz Carlton’s? Thanks!

  3. Let’s not forget, though, that SPG earnings were equivalent to 6 points per dollar at Marriott’s. It’s now being bumped to 10 points per dollar. As long as your hotel is $125 or higher, that offsets the reduction of welcome bonus. It’s even more so if you stay more than one night. I still see this as a net positive.

  4. I have 900,000 Marriott points. I’ll be lifetime platinum premier. I don’t care about Marriott moving forward. I’m leaning more toward independent hotels especially in Europe, where Marriott is weak. In England, for example, there are great “country house” hotels as well as brands like Mercure that are basically comparable to Marriott, Westin or Sheraton. I’ll use my points as necessary, look at independent hotels and also consider booking packages through American Express and others that provide free internet, late checkout and breakfast (in Europe almost every hotel is free breakfast).

  5. Is this the new chart? If so, why is breakfast committed at legacy Marriott, JW Marriott and Renaissance hotels but included at legacy Marriott, JW Marriott and Renaissance resort-designated hotels? Makes no sense. Also, it’s disappointing that there is no meaningful difference in benefits or amenities between platinum, platinum premier and platinum premier ambassador. To 99% of hotels, all levels of platinum are one and the same.

  6. Let’s face it. It may be cost savings for the hotels to reduce loyalty benefits but at some point you can decide not to continue to be loyal.

  7. I, too, probably won’t requalify for my SPG Gold status before August 1, and so — what’s the point? I’m half-tempted to shift my SPG points to an airline, and make Hilton my major “chain-of-choice,” rather than the new Marriott…

    Also, Gary, since my SPG Amex is losing its place as a good “everyday” card, why keep it — other than for the length of the account and its impact on my FICO score? And since I have the “old” Chase Marriott card, is it better to a) keep it and close the Amex; b) keep the Amex and close the Chase; c) close both and upgrade to the new Chase Marriott; or d) some combination of the above?

  8. Not much of a reduction to original Marriott members who likely did not stay much at these brands before — even after the ability to earn points in SPG, as we were pretty confident that we should generally stay with Marriott properties until the merger had been completed.

    Thus, for those who never really frequented the SPG side of things, or but rarely, this is not a devaluation at all.

  9. 1) Marriott hotels may be weak in Europe but SPG hotels are strong…ie lots of hotels.

    2) Very curious as to why these changes took effect 8/1 not 1/1/19

  10. But if you have a lounge access, wouldn’t that also entails breakfast? So basically you can ask for points and have your breakfast at the lounge, no?

  11. So when the lounges are closed, as is often the case on weekends, then no free breakfast for Platinum members at Marriott properties. Sounds like Platinum members are about to get screwed.

  12. Venessa, No if the lounge is closed or there isn’t one you + 1 get breakfast in the restaurant you need to check this table out, Gary has only posted half the story. This is on top of the welcome gift choice that’s shown on the table posted.

    The benefits are actually getting better for Marriott members 1000 vs 500 points currently at Marriott legacy brands.

  13. As always, we can vote with our feet. Which is what I will do. I will miss being a permanent Gold by about 50,000 point come August 1. Over 1,000 nights and just shy of the 1.6 million points needed. No, I am not angry!!!

  14. LewPatrick: I’m with you. 2018 will likely be my last Plat year. AirBNB and independent hotels will get more of my spend.

  15. As noise from the fringe – I am a lifetime gold, was soon lifetime platinum, I am going to look for a different loyalty chain… back to Hilton, or maybe just book at other hotels or airbnb. Marriott has down graded not just the benefits but the actual hotels themselves. Last trip to Hawaii, the RH was a real downgrade with service and “new” Marriott management noticeable and not in a good way. Their hotels have always been a few steps down and recent trips to W and Westin in LA and NY you could see the hotel was not clean, less staff, indifferent management and staff.Oh well, on the bright side, I can look to more unique hotels out of the system. It was great while it lasted. So long SPG!

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