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Marriott Rewards has historically offered Wi-Fi as a complimentary service only to its Gold and Platinum Elites, but starting January 15, 2015, the hotel loyalty program will offer free in-room Wi-Fi to all Marriott Rewards members who book directly through Marriott booking channels. Gold and Platinum Elite members will continue to receive free enhanced Wi-Fi where available, which enables faster download speeds and a stronger signal for streaming movies and other media.
Marriott booking channels include marriott.com and ritzcarlton.com, the Marriott and Ritz-Carlton mobile apps, the phone number 1-800 MARRIOTT, and Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels. Free Wi-Fi takes effect for all qualified stays occurring on or after January, 15, 2015, and only affects Wi-Fi offered in guest rooms – Wi-Fi in meeting rooms will be charged separately. In order to take advantage of the benefit, your Rewards number must be included on your reservation either before or during your stay.
While this new free Wi-Fi program will be offered globally at 3,800 properties, some Marriott-branded hotel will not be participating, including new Autograph Collection member Atlantis Paradise Island and the entire Protea brand; see the full list of non-participants here. Also, several Marriott brands already offer free Wi-Fi to all their guests, including EDITION, Courtyard, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites, Fairfield Inn & Suites, TownePlace Suites, Marriott Vacation Club and Moxy Hotels.
If free-enhanced Wi-Fi is a priority for you, you can boost your elite status with the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card, which offers 15 elite credits each year, and an additional elite credit for every $3,000 in spending. This card currently has a sign-up bonus of 50,000 points when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months, and comes with a free night in a category 1-4 property upon approval, plus an additional free night in a category 1-5 location every year on your account anniversary. In my most recent monthly valuations of points and miles, I list Marriott Rewards at 0.7 cents apiece, so I value the sign-up bonus for this card at $490 even without the free night certificate.
I think this new policy of free Wi-Fi for all loyalty program members is a step in the right direction for such a popular global brand. In the travel industry’s monkey-see, monkey-do landscape, I hope that other large U.S.-based hotel brands, such as Hyatt and Starwood, will soon follow suit.
Do you think free Wi-Fi should be offered as a loyalty-program benefit, or should it be available to all hotel guests? With some great bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card has a lot going for it. The card offers 4x points at US restaurants, at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com. It is currently offering a welcome bonus of 35,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.
With some great bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card has a lot going for it. The card offers 4x points at US restaurants, at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com. It is currently offering a welcome bonus of 35,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.