Marriott Rewards Devaluation: New Top-Tier Category and Other Changes

by on February 13, 2013 · 22 comments

in Marriott

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The first quarter is when most hotel chains announce category changes- when they analyze how many points each hotel in their portfolio should charge for an award chart. However, this year hotels are going a step further and actually restructuring their award charts, like Starwood’s recent Cash & Points revaluation.

Marriott also just sent emails to members announcing that beginning May 16, there will be a new top-tier category – Category 9 – which will cost members 45,000 points per night. Plus, at least one third of all Marriott properties will be jumping up by at least one category. Sadly, hardly any will be dropping a level, meaning that Marriott points in general just got a lot less valuable.

Category 9

The new Category 9 – will initially include just the following hotels:

  • Boston Marriott Long Wharf
  • Le Merigot, A JW Marriott Beach Hotel & Spa, Santa Monica
  • London Marriott Hotel County Hall
  • London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square
  • Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel
  • London Marriott Hotel Park Lane
  • JW Marriott Essex House
  • New York Marriott Marquis
  • Paris Marriott Hotel Champs-Elysees
  • St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel
  • Renaissance New York Hotel Times Square
  • Renaissance Paris Vendome Hotel
  • Renaissance Paris Arc de Triomphe Hotel

Redemption levels for the original 8 categories will remain the same, as follows:

Marriott's award level categories.

Marriott’s award level categories.

Category Changes

However, as you’ll see from the full list of changes here, there are hundreds of hotels that are jumping up categories while just a few are having their categories lowered. In fact, only 1% of hotels are dropping a category while a whopping 36% are being elevated by at least one category. Marriott also points out: 73% of properties remain in its lower-run 1-4 Categories. Small comfort.

The bottom line is: Marriott redemptions are going to get more expensive.

If you already have a Marriott redemption in mind and have collected the necessary points for it (or are close), you’d be wise to take a look at the revised category list in case the hotel or resort you’re thinking of is being upped a category and make your reservation now if possible rather than waiting until the redemption level goes up after May 16.

So which hotel chain is the most lucrative? Excluding credit cards and elite status, it takes the following base spend to achieve a top tier award night:
-$3,333 for a free night at a top-tier Hilton (50,000 points at 15 points earned per dollar spent)
-$4,400 for Hyatt (22,000 points at 5 points earned per dollar spent)
-$4,500 at Marriott (45,000 points at 10 points per dollar spent)
-$5,000 at Priority Club (50,000 points at 10 points per dollar spent)
-$15,000 for a Starwood Category 7 property (30,000 points at 2 points per dollar spent)

Clearly, there is more to a hotel program than just top tier redemptions and credit cards and elite status make earning free nights much easier, but still- Marriott is in the middle of the pack as far as base earning.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Mark

    I don’t think everyone should exclude Carlson anymore. With others continually being de-valued their program and promotions are getting better. Excluding promotions it takes 50,000 to get a top Radisson Blu. I stayed at some great Blu’s in Europe. Granted there are not as many available but a base earning of 20X not including a standard 1,000 per online booking a 50,000 award can be had for less thank $2,500 in hotel spend. Pair that with their co-branded card and you really have huge potential. So Club Carlson comes in probably $1,000 cheaper than even the least expensive which is Hilton.

  • Andrew

    You don’t get 15 points per dollar at Marriott as a non elite. Just 10 points per dollar

  • Cityman333

    why to stay in the Marriot first place, there are other more economical hotels. I use many websites such as expedia and to find good deals.
    Good luck in your search…

  • rick b

    I was about to say too, with a free night you get through their CC, that’s either 25k/night or 33k/night at a top tier hotel, for 2-3 day stays.

    It’s 30x earning on stays with their cards, which could easily get up to 50x+ during promotions.

  • Andrew

    Why stay in the Marriott? Haha, lol. You would stay in the Marriott because they have a number of great hotels ans resorts throughout the world. Great hotels for business and extended stays at Courtyards, SpringHill, Residence Inn. Ability to earn points for free nights, descent service.
    One thin I really like; let’s aay I encounter issues during my stay and the manager decides to “comp my room. Well if you used a 3rd party side such as Expedia, Orbitz,etc the manager is unable to comp the room as Orbitz, Expedia already paid the hotel for your stay.
    Also, any hotel who does business with 3rd parties will treat you different at check-in. E.g when the agent is checking you in they are more inclined to give someone an upgrade who paid $199 directly to them compared to a 3rd parry site who takes 15-25 off what the customer pays.
    Judging from your post you sound like a guy who goes where the cheapest rooms are and not overly concerned with the quality of hotel as the rate you pay or 3rd party sites are usually the same as on the actual hotel site itself

  • Grant Thomas

    I thought Hyatt was only 3 points per dollar:

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  • Uofm_boxer2k1

    I’ve begun staying (almost) exclusively at Club Carlson hotels. While they aren’t quite as easy to find both the value of their points and the speed at which they’re earned are far better than the other chains.

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  • Matt

    The fact that the Boston Marriott Long Wharf, arguably one of the least exciting hotels in Boston, is considered one of Marriott’s top-tier properties should be an indication of how unexciting Marriott’s brands are.

  • DoneWithHilton

    and……this means that Carlson will be devalued in about a year. It is basically the chains offer tons of points/bonuses for a while then when everyone has a bunch they drop the hammer and devalue the program. Shady business.

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  • Dave

    I can’t imagine equating anything in the Club Carlson line to a Ritz, St. Regis, Intercontinental or Waldorff Astoria property though. For those who use their stays for mid-range hotels it would be good … but for those who stay 20 nights at some Courtyard or Holiday Inn Express so they can get 1 night at the Ritz on vacation … Carlson wouldn’t work.

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  • Cate Duffy

    I’m frustrated with their upgrading categories that eat up all my points. The free night we get with our Visa is worthless as no Marriott has availability for rewards customers the night we want to go away. Also notice how they’ve been offering 50000 free points for their Visa for years even though those points don’t go as far any more with their increasing category levels. Finally, why do prices go down during weekdays and during the off season, yet the number of points for a room never fluctuate during these same periods?

  • Traveler 1970

    As a Platinum Elite Marriott Rewards member for over 10 years I’m disappointed in some of the recent changes made to the Rewards program. Marriott re-categorized their hotels from Category 1-7 to 1-9. However, they kept the certificates that a member earns for loyalty at the same category 4 or 5 level. In Chicago where I live, these hotels have not been updated or improved and have often deteriorated. I called to question this and was told that when enough people use a certificate for a hotel stay, Marriott Corporate office raises that hotels category level. Now all the Marriott brand hotels in downtown Chicago are now Category 6 or above which precludes ever using a certificate in the city. I asked if it would be possible to use the value of a Category 5 (25,000 points) Certificate and adding points with it to stay in one of the Chicago hotels and was told it is not possible. Since Marriott has raised their hotel categories, it would be appropriate to also raise the certificate category values. That would be good customer relations and show Marriott still values customers for their loyalty. Next year they won’t get my Freddie vote and my loyalty may be directed to Hyatt in the future.

  • rudy

    This hanky panky of devaluating points is just a well disguised method of stealing from people.. I am dropping my Marriott Chase Cards and changing over to Capitol one whereby I will have cash rewards that cannot be devalued.

  • Rudy Vacek

    And they though that we are all stupid and they could get away with it.

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