Marriott unveils four genuine improvements to Marriott Rewards

Marriott was due to announce a number of improvements – genuine improvements – to Marriott Rewards yesterday.  I say ‘due to’ because we were told the announcement was coming but, as at 10pm last night, it had not yet been made.

The changes are clearly designed to close a few of the gaps which have opened up between the Marriott programme and its major competitors.

The pre-announcement was entitled ‘the fab four’.  Here are the outline details – there may be some additional small print in the official announcement:

Marriott Fab Four

Book rewards without having the points available

Rather cheekily, this is not a new benefit.  You have always been able to do this with Marriott but it has been kept relatively low key.  Not any more.

You can book a Marriott Rewards room redemption irrespective of how many points you have.  All that matters is that, on check in day, your account has enough points in it.

I have always thought that this was a smart move by Marriott.  Once you have locked in your redemption, you will obviously need to ensure you make some Marriott bookings to generate the points.  Instead of using Marriott Rewards to reward your previous business, the company is using it to persuade you to give it more of your future business.

It turns the usual mantra on its head.  It is not ‘do the stays and you may – or may not – be able to get the reward you want later’.  It is ‘you can lock in your reward now, just make sure you give us enough business to cover it before you go’.  Clever.

Point sharing

You have always been able to merge points with your partner at the point of redemption.  This required a phone call and you could only move the bare minimum required to reach the redemption requested.

Starting immediately, you can move up to 50,000 points per year into the account of a friend or family member.   There is no charge for Gold or higher Marriott Rewards members.  Silver and base level members must pay a flat fee of $10.

This is an industry leading move.  IHG lets you transfer to anyone but charges $5 per 1,000.  Hilton also charges.  SPG allows free transfers but only to people who share your address.

This may make the Marriott credit card more attractive – when it is again available for new applications in the UK – as you and your partner could both apply and then combine the bonus.

Redemption stay credit

When you stay on points, it counts as a night towards elite status requalification.  This puts Marriott back in line with its competitors.

‘Cash and Points’ redemptions available

This is new for Marriott but is common with other programmes.  It will not be available until 2016, presumably because it requires all of the hotels to adjust their availability.

There are two types of ‘cash and points’ deals in the industry:

The IHG (and indeed British Airways) model – all redemption rooms can be booked as ‘cash and points’ with the programme selling you up to 50% of the points needed at a preferential rate

The Hilton, Hyatt and Starwood approach – ‘cash and points’ becomes a separate reward category to 100% points with different availability.  It is usually restricted to off peak nights.  The upside is that the cash element is nominal, making ‘cash and points’ a more attractive deal than an ‘all points’ redemption.

It remains to be seen which way Marriott Rewards will go.  This is all positive news, however, and Marriott should be congratulated on it.  If only they had more exciting hotels …..

(Want to earn more hotel points?  To see our complete list of promotions from the major chains, click here to visit our ‘Hotel Promos’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. You can also make pending reservations with SPG without having points. They can give you one week if you don’t have enough points and you can extend for another week. (Just say you are waiting for your Amex points to arrive into the account, don’t say you are waiting for a stay credit to be posted)

  2. Maybe a coincidence but at the same time I got my HfP email digest of this article, I also got a surprise email from Marriott telling me I had qualified for Gold Elite status.

    Which was news to me as I am 13 nights short of Gold Elite and had given up hope of making the required nights by the end of the year. Recently I asked for a Status match, based on my newly acquired IHG Spire status, but was denied.

    Now, randomly, I have Gold Elite status (room upgrades and executive lounge access) till February 2017.

    No complaints…

    • Update – MIstake on my part.

      Its a Gold Elite taster for three months, with the proviso that is I stay 6 times between now and end of Jan (Unlikely), I get Gold Elite for the following 12 months.

      I have one trip planned for January to California, where I normally stay at a Marriott Courtyard. I am wondering whether instead or booking one stay for 6 nights, I book 6 one night stays. Obviously with the hassle of checking in and out each night. Anyone know if this will work?

  3. Good article thanks Rob, Once you reach status Marriott look after you well and this can only help reach status.

    on the 6 stays if there is another marriott hotel nearby what will work is checking in out of each one, ie 3 stays in each marriott hotel every other day. This worked for me.

  4. I can see what you mean about Marriott hotels, but the Renaissance brand seems to be okay – the one in Hamburg is great.

  5. Sussex Bantam says:

    I’m in a Residence Inn in Worcester, NH now and it is very pleasant indeed. Big room with own kitchenette, free breakfast, decent gym…the only downside is it is in Worcester, NH…