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Marriott quietly suspends category changes at mainland China hotels

March 13, 2020
3 min read
Marriott quietly suspends category changes at mainland China hotels
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The rapid spread of a novel coronavirus that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan has caused demand for travel to evaporate at an unprecedented rate. Airlines have canceled flights and grounded hundreds of planes worldwide, and travel providers are grappling with ways to keep their loyal customers coming back in these difficult times.

Related: Visit this page for TPG’s full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

One popular strategy so far has been for airlines and hotel chains to extend the elite status of customers who might not be able to travel as much this year, but Marriott Bonvoy has gone one step farther with a decision that will benefit all members, regardless of elite status. Marriott's annual category changes were scheduled to go into effect on March 4, 2020, and this year was an especially brutal change with a whopping 22% of Marriott's global portfolio moving up a category.

It now appears that Marriott has suspended category increases for properties in mainland China, though hotels that were slated to move down a category are now bookable at these cheaper prices.

One property that I had my eye on was the St. Regis Sanya Yalong Bay resort in Hainan, a stunning hotel that was supposed to move up from Category 6 to Category 7 on March 4. When you search for hotels in Hainan on the Marriott website, you'll see the St. Regis is still listed as a Category 6 hotel. The property is currently available at off-peak rates, meaning you can book a free night here for only 40,000 points instead of the 50,000 that would be required for a standard award.

Related: Maximizing Marriott Bonvoy points

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The same is true at the W Xi'an, a vibrant and psychedelic hotel that might be the most extreme iteration of the W brand I've ever stayed at. The property was supposed to move up to Category 5 during the recent round of category changes, but it's still bookable as a Category 4 hotel:

The category changes weren't suspended entirely though, as properties in China that were slated to move down a category are now bookable at these cheaper rates. The Westin Xi'an was a solid hotel with a decent location, and I loved using my Marriott Suite Night Awards here to upgrade to a three-bedroom duplex suite. The hotel was a Category 4 when I stayed there last summer, but as of March 4 it dropped as scheduled to a Category 3.

Related: How to choose the best Marriott credit card for you

Bottom line

The coronavirus has reshaped the travel landscape, and it will take a long time for demand to recover to previous highs. In the meantime, it's nice to see companies doing what they can to take care of their loyal customers with low prices and attractive deals.

Featured image by Photo courtesy of JW Marriott Shanghai

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

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Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
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Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
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  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023