Marriott reveals start date for dynamic pricing; redemption rates increasing by up to 50%

Feb 25, 2022

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As we learned in October, big changes are coming starting next month to the Marriott Bonvoy program. Members will soon have to bid farewell to award charts and say hello to dynamic pricing — or, as Marriott is calling it, Flexible Point Redemptions.

While we knew this was coming, there were many unknowns, such as the exact date for the switchover and which properties would start pricing outside of current off-peak and peak bands first.

Well, we finally have more details, and there’s a lot to unpack.

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In This Post

Changes are still over a month away

Let’s start with the better parts of the news.

The switch to dynamic pricing will not happen until toward the end of next month, March 29, 2022, to be exact. Marriott shared, “members will see the flexible points redemption rates take effect gradually over March 29 and 30.”

Until then, the current pricing system remains in place. This gives members over a month to lock in future award nights at the current award chart rates.

Sheraton Denver Downtown
Sheraton Denver Downtown. (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

The other bit of positive news is that most hotels will stay within their current peak and off-peak pricing bands for the rest of the year. What will change is that the points prices will fluctuate within those ranges.

Related: Why I’m not so nervous about Marriott’s upcoming switch to dynamic award pricing

Marriott explained that nightly redemption rates would move more closely with hotel rates and availability, but not exactly. In other words, a property could theoretically charge its maximum rate every night the rest of the year, though that shouldn’t happen in practice. “There are and will continue to be established criteria run by the program that do/will determine redemption rates,” a Marriott spokesperson told us.

It was also announced that members will be able to combine Free Night Awards with up to 15,000 points by the end of April. This means a 35,000-point certificate can be combined with up to 15,000 Bonvoy points to book a 50,000 point per night property. The hotel group had announced this change alongside the move to dynamic pricing, but no exact timeline was set.

200 hotels are getting much more expensive

Here comes the bad news.

West Hollywood EDITION. (Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)

From the beginning, we knew that around 97% of Marriott’s properties would effectively remain in one of the program’s eight categories for the remainder of 2022, with prices fluctuating within the current off-peak to peak ranges. However, the big concern was what would happen to the remaining 3% of hotels.

Unfortunately, this 3% of properties will price outside the current bands. And while that doesn’t sound like a lot of hotels, it comes out to over 200 properties, some of which you may have on your personal wish list.

Today, Marriott has announced that list of hotels (PDF link), and unfortunately, it includes many TPG favorites.

Minimum and maximum pricing will increase between 5,000 to 30,000 points per night at these properties, which can be quite significant on peak dates. Within that group, about 30 properties could rise above the previous Category 8 peak pricing bounds. Redemptions at Marriott’s most aspirational properties will now top out at a whopping 120,000 points per night.

Related: Beware of the impending Marriott potential devaluation

As expected, many aspirational properties — where it’s currently possible to get outsize value from your points — are on the list. That said, some lower-category hotels are hurting from these changes as well. For instance, the pricing bands for the Category 1 Four Points by Sheraton Jiaxing will increase by up to 5,000 points. That equates to a 50% increase for this hotel.

While you should scan the whole list, here are some of the most notable property changes in the U.S.:

Al Maha Dubai
Al Maha Dubai. (Photo by Ethan Steinberg/The Points Guy)

And international property changes:

In a statement to TPG, Marriott shared, “For stays in 2023, we are focusing on ensuring even our most aspirational properties offer a mix of great rates during the year. Changes in rates for stays in 2023 above or below the high low range for stays in 2022 are planned to be incremental.” In practice, this will remain to be seen.

Bottom line

Overall, these changes are a major blow for Bonvoy members who like to use points for aspirational stays.

Historically, one of the merits of the Marriott Bonvoy program has been predicting what an award night cost. While members had to worry about peak pricing, there was still a set maximum rate you to rely on. This will no longer be the case in 2023, and next month’s changes could make many reader favorites a lot more expensive as their minimum and maximum rates climb and become more varied.

On the other hand, we’re at least glad to finally know when the switch will happen and which properties will price outside of current bands. This notice gives Marriott Bonvoy members time to redeem their points for upcoming stays at the current award chart levels. If plans change or prices go down under dynamic pricing, members can cancel their reservations for a refund.

But again, our biggest concern is what will happen in 2023 when all Marriott properties can price outside of current bands. We could see other Marriott properties get much more variable with their award pricing and skyrocket award prices on a whim. Only time will tell, but these changes should give us a good idea of what to expect.

Featured photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy.

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