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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.
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.
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.
Know before you go.
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