TPG special analysis: What impact did Marriott’s changes really have on the value of Bonvoy points?
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Well, it finally happened: Marriott switched to dynamic pricing late last month.
Gone are the days of predictable award prices with the program. The hotel giant removed award charts from its website, and the price of award nights may now vary from night to night.
Thankfully, Marriott opted to keep 97% of hotels within their previous off-peak to peak pricing bands through the end of the year. But the 3% of hotels that now price outside of these bands can be significantly more expensive.
In some cases, this can be 30,000 more points per night compared to the previous award chart prices. And as you’d expect, many of the hotels that are now pricing outside of bands are aspirational redemptions, including many Ritz-Carlton, Edition and JW Marriott properties around the globe.
But how significantly does Marriott’s dynamic pricing affect the value of your points?
Marriott didn’t provide a detailed breakdown for a large share of its 8,000-plus hotels. While a few examples were provided, we wanted to conduct our own analysis on a cross-section of the portfolio we believe represents a wide range of properties across the 30 Marriott brands in countries around the world.
This includes the 20 most redeemed Marriott properties in the world, 11 TPG favorites and 22 properties in other destinations open for American tourists at varying price points — giving you a realistic look at how much value you’ll get from your points and miles at this moment in time.
Here, we’ll break down the data and show you how much your points are worth in different regions and at different price points, and then give you an overall value for your Marriott Bonvoy points.
But first, let’s look at our methodology.
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We started our quest to value Marriott Bonvoy points by selecting properties to search for both after-tax cash and award rates.
As discussed, 20 of the properties searched here are straight from Marriott’s list of its most popular properties for points redemption worldwide. This includes many well-known Marriott properties, like the Wailea Beach Resort in Maui and the Walt Disney World Swan in Orlando. Then, we added in a few staff favorites, like the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa and The Bodrum Edition.
But it’s not all luxury hotels. To round out the list, we also added some modest properties like the Moxy Paris Bastille, SpringHill Suites Springdale Zion National Park and the Courtyard Agra in India. Much to our surprise, many budget-friendly hotels were on Marriott’s list of most redeemed properties, too.
Once we had a list of properties, we pulled cash and award rates for all available dates in May, June, November, December, and January to find points value during some of the most high-demand travel times. This meant over 150 dates were searched for each property — more than 15,000 data points in all.
By no means is this a comprehensive analysis, but it gives us a first taste of the impact of dynamic pricing. Pulling this relatively broad range of dates also helps us find an average value for different seasons.
We used this data to calculate an “average” award rate for each individual property we priced out. And from there, we calculated the overall average value for each region, type of hotel and season. We also calculated an overall value of Marriott Bonvoy points, which we will share with you later in the article.
Again, this methodology doesn’t capture all dates and properties, but it does help us calculate the initial impact of Marriott dynamic pricing — and find a rough value of Marriott Bonvoy points.
US mainland hotels and resorts
Starting at home, we searched 20 hotels in the continental U.S., spanning a number of states and cities.
Here’s a look at the properties we searched and their average cents-per-point redemption values:
- JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona — 1.08 cents per point.
- The West Hollywood Edition in Hollywood, California — 0.58 cents per point.
- The Westin Denver International Airport in Denver — 0.66 cents per point.
- Sheraton Sand Key Resort in Clearwater, Florida — 0.67 cents per point.
- Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Kissimmee, Florida — 1.05 cents per point.
- JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort in Marco Island, Florida — 0.64 cents per point.
- Moxy South Beach in Miami Beach, Florida — 0.61 cents per point.
- Walt Disney World Swan in Orlando — 0.62 cents per point.
- Orlando World Center Marriott in Orlando — 0.82 cents per point.
- Courtyard Atlanta Downtown in Atlanta — 1.06 cents per point
- Residence Inn Oak Brook in Oak Brook, Illinois — 1.24 cents per point.
- New York Marriott Marquis in New York City — 0.82 cents per point.
- Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel in New York City — 0.66 cents per point.
- JW Marriott Essex House New York in New York City – 0.66 cents per point.
- The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Autograph Collection in Las Vegas — 0.42 cents per point.
- TownPlace Suites Portland Beaverton in Beaverton, Oregon — 1.03 cents per point
- Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville — 0.73 cents per point.
- SpringHill Suites Springdale Zion National Park in Springdale, Utah – 0.75 cents per point.
- Sheraton Grand Seattle in Seattle — 0.48 cents per point.
- Fairfield Inn & Suites Tulsa Downtown Arts District in Tulsa, Oklahoma — 0.92 cents per point.
- Fairfield Inn & Suites Chicago Downtown/Magnificent Mile in Chicago — 0.69 cents per point.
- Le Meridien Dallas, The Stoneleigh in Dallas — 0.97 cents per point.
- Four Points by Sheraton Anaheim in Anaheim, California — 0.52 cents per point.
Overall, our average value for U.S. properties is 0.77 cents per point, slightly under our current valuation of 0.8 cents for Marriott Bonvoy points. That said, there are some standout values here. For example, the JW Marriott Camelback and Gaylord Palms Resort can get you just over 1 cent per point in value, which is solid for Marriott redemptions.
On the flip side, you may want to avoid using your Marriott Bonvoy points in Orlando, as both the Walt Disney World Swan and Orlando World Center will get you under the average valuation. Of course, this might not be the case for all dates, but it’s worth keeping in mind.
Hawaiian hotels and resorts
We also searched for four properties in Hawaii, including:
- Wailea Beach Resort Marriott on Maui — 1.18 cents per point.
- The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach on Oahu — 0.73 cents per point.
- Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa on Oahu — 0.78 cents per point.
- Residence Inn Oahu Kapolei on Oahu — 0.62 cents per point.
While not as broad of a set of data, you’ll get an average of 0.82 cents per point when redeeming for hotels in Hawaii. This is slightly higher than our current Marriott valuation and shows that you can get a solid value when redeeming Marriott points in Hawaii.
It can be hard to find availability at these properties during peak travel times, so you’ll want to start planning your trip well in advance.
High-end international resorts
One popular way to redeem Marriot points is on high-end resorts abroad. These redemptions have historically provided outsize redemption value and thus were some of the hotels we feared would be significantly affected by dynamic pricing. Here’s what we found:
- Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino in Palm Beach, Aruba — 1.01 cents per point.
- Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino in Oranjestad, Aruba — 0.92 cents per point.
- The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman on Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands — 0.89 cents per point.
- Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay in Nadi, Fiji — 0.51 cents per point.
- The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort in the Maldives — 1.8 cents per point.
- Bodrum Edition in Bodrum, Turkey — 0.79 cents per point.
- Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa in Dubai — 1.2 cents per point.
This shows that you can still get excellent value from your Marriott points at high-end resorts abroad, with these properties getting an average of 1.01 cents per point in value. But like Hawaii, you might run into trouble actually finding award space at some of these properties during peak seasons.
If you want to get really granular and see the average redemption values for all resorts we tested — including resorts in the mainland U.S. and Hawaii — we end up with an average of 0.92 cents per point redeemed, further showing that resorts are a great way to get value from your Marriott points in a post-dynamic pricing world.
Marriott has a large footprint in Europe, with most major cities having at least one property. We pulled pricing for 11 European hotels, and here’s what we found.
- Moxy Vienna Airport in Vienna — 1.20 cents per point.
- Courtyard Brno in Brno, Czech Republic — 1.24 cents per point.
- Moxy Paris Bastille in Paris — 0.41 cents per point.
- Residence Inn Frankfurt in Frankfurt — 0.87 cents per point.
- St. Regis Rome in Rome — 1.21 cents per point.
- W Amsterdam in Amsterdam — 0.81 cents per point.
- AC Hotel Krakow in Krakow, Poland — 0.45 cents per point.
- Bodrum Edition in Bodrum, Turkey — 0.79 cents per point
- London Marriott Hotel County Hall in London — 0.61 cents per point.
- London Edition in London — 1.15 cents per point.
- Madrid Edition in Madrid — 0.94 cents per point.
Based on our sample searches, you can expect to get 0.88 cents per point in value. This is a relatively small data set, but we made an effort to include a mix of high-end and mid-tier Marriotts to give a leveled average value.
Moving our focus to Asia, we searched prices for eight hotels in Asia. This limited subset is in large part because most of the region is still closed to American tourists. Like Europe, we searched for a mixture of high-end and mid-tier hotels.
- Courtyard Agra in Agra, India — 0.85 cents per point.
- Element Bali Ubud in Bali, Indonesia — 0.78 cents per point.
- The St. Regis Bali in Bali, Indonesia — 1.0 cents per point
- The Westin Tokyo in Tokyo — 0.47 cents per point.
- Courtyard Iloilo in Iloilo, Philippines — 0.89 cents per point.
- The Westin Singapore in Singapore — 1.17 cents per point.
- Aloft Bangkok Sukhumvit 11 in Bangkok — 0.62 cents per point.
- W Koh Samui in Surat Thani, Thailand — 0.67 cents per point.
While these eight hotels can’t provide a comprehensive figure for the precise valuation of all hotels throughout Asia, our Asia hotel searches revealed an average of 0.81 cents per point in value. This figure is roughly on par with our current valuation of Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.8 cents per point.
How much are Marriott Bonvoy points worth in 2022?
So … when all 15,000-plus of these individual data points are combined, how much are your Marriott points worth?
When we average all properties together, we’re left with an average value of 0.84 cents per point.
This is actually higher than our previous valuation of 0.8 cents per point. And it shows that, based on these 50-plus properties, there’s still value to be had.
That said, it’s important to note that many properties fall below this average. Specifically, mid-tier properties in Europe and some high-end properties in the U.S. had lower average values than the overall average.
Further, there are more changes on the horizon for Marriott in January 2023. So while our initial test shows a slightly higher valuation, we are putting a big asterisk next to it and will continue to run more tests in the coming months.
It’s important to note there was a wide range in the values we found. For example, the top European property had a three times higher value than the lowest.
In addition, there are still sweet spots in the Bonvoy program. Based on our tests, luxury resorts are showing a better-than-average return in many cases. And while some of these might not be as good of a deal as they were in the pre-dynamic era, they still represent a chance to get solid value from your points.
But remember, our testing isn’t the be-all and end-all. We couldn’t test every date across every property. Your best bet is to search for those properties at which you want to redeem your points — and if you have flexibility in your travel dates or destinations, you’ll have a greater chance of finding a good redemption.
For example, look for high-end properties during low seasons or book weekday nights instead of weekend nights if your schedule allows.
Regardless, one thing is for sure: Marriott award pricing is now more variable than in the past, and we don’t know the extent to which this will change even further when pricing bands go away entirely next year.
Losing a published award chart can make it more challenging to plan toward a specific redemption goal, and there was fear that Marriott’s shift to dynamic pricing would represent a significant devaluation. Per our data, that fear has not been realized at this time, as on average, we saw a value of 0.84 cents per point across the 15,000-plus data points we analyzed. This is similar to our previous valuation of 0.8 cents apiece.
Of course, this sample doesn’t mean that Marriott points are unchanged. Dynamic pricing means that award rates across the Marriott portfolio can vary from night to night. And while just 3% of participating properties can price outside of the old categories as of now, all Marriott locations will have this possibility in 2023.
Only time will tell whether that next development will further affect the value of Marriott points.
Featured photo by Kyle Olsen/The Points Guy.
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