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Update: Marriott has confirmed that you’ll be able to book Cash + Points awards beginning March 24, 2016.

A few days ago, Marriott teased upcoming changes to its Marriott Rewards program, with a promise to provide more details this week. One of the “new benefits,” Points Advance, has actually been around for awhile now. The other three changes, however, are actually new.

Marriott's Fab Four program changes.
Marriott’s Fab Four program changes.

As I mentioned last week, these are all positive changes — you can see the four outlined in the screenshot above. Really, the only addition that required a further explanation is the program’s new Cash + Points redemptions, which let you use a mix of cash and points to cover single or multi-night redemption stays.

As you can see in the chart below, the cash and points amounts increase depending on the hotel category (or tier in the case of Ritz-Carlton). However, the increase isn’t proportionate to the full points redemption amount. In other words, the amount you’ll “pay” for each point varies depending on the category.

New cash and points redemptions for Marriott and Ritz-Carlton.
New cash and points redemptions for Marriott and Ritz-Carlton.

With a Category 5 hotel, you’ll need to redeem 25,000 points OR 14,000 points + $65. That means you’re offsetting the difference of 11,000 points by paying $65, which works out to just 0.59 cents per point. TPG values Marriott Rewards points at 0.7 cents each, so you’ll end up ahead here. With a Category 9 hotel, meanwhile, you’ll need to redeem 45,000 points OR 28,000 points + $220, so you’re essentially “buying” those 17,000 points at 1.29 cents each, which is a really bad deal.

Of course, other programs already offer cash and points redemptions, so ultimately Marriott is playing catch-up here. Still, in some cases it can be worthwhile, so it’ll be nice to have the option when it kicks in early next year.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
16.49% - 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Balance Transfer
5.00%
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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