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Earlier this month, Marriott announced a new Cash + Points option for award redemptions. Unlike Starwood’s Cash & Points option, which is one of my favorite value redemptions, and which allows you to redeem for free nights using a discounted amount of points and a set price based on the hotel category, Marriott’s option will simply let Marriott Rewards Members combine both paid nights and point redemption nights in the same reservation of two or more nights rather than having to book each portion separately. So really, it’s not a new redemption method, it’s just a streamlining process.
Not the most exciting news, but at least it makes it easier to book stays where you want to use both points and cash. For instance if you wanted to spend a week somewhere and had only enough points for four nights, you’d still get your fifth night free and then could pay for the final two nights with cash. Or pay for the first two nights if that’s cheaper. However, if you use corporate, government, AAA or other discount rates, it can still be cheaper to book the paid nights separately so you can lower the rate
Here’s step-by-step instructions on how to book a Cash + Points redemption, and then we’ll look at a scenario where this might make sense.
1. To use Cash + Points: First, check “Use Marriott Rewards points” in your hotel search box.
2. When the reservation form opens select your room type/points for your stay of two nights or more. Then check the “Use Cash + Points” box.
3. This will open a calendar for you to: Select your cash nights and your points (redemption) nights, try different combinations to find the best rate combinations, after you’ve entered your own selection.
To test out the feature I looked into a booking in Scottsdale, Arizona. I was able to find rooms available for point redemptions at the Marriott Scottsdale and booked a room for 7 nights starting on Sunday, November 4. I had a few different options:
1. I could do an all-out redemption of 150,000 Marriott Rewards points – 6 nights at 25,000 points each and then a free night (my fifth night free).
2. I could use Cash + Points to pay 100,000 points for the first four nights, get the fifth night free, then pay cash for the last two nights at a rate of $259 each.
3. I switched my cash nights to the first two since the rate then was just $179 a night and I’d end up using 100,000 points plus $358 in cash instead of $518 in cash, saving me $160.
I think the interface is a little bit clunky- I wish the rates were more transparent, instead of having to click on the “Cash rate” radio dial to see them. I also wish it gave more flexibility to compare different discounted rates so I hope Marriott adds that flexibility in the future. Overall, nothing really earth shattering here, but I hope this puts pressure on Hyatt to join the club and add a Cash & Points redemption option!