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Marriott Rewards devalues again via category creep

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Marriott Rewards has announced that the annual re(de)valuation of its reward categories will happen on 8th April.

Marriott undertook a brutal shake-up of its programme last year, with the introduction of a new Category 9 costing 45,000 points per night.  At the time, only 14 hotels were in Category 9 – that will now jump to 30.

In total, over 800 hotels rise a category and only 200 fall.  Many of the 200 are in places that would not be top of your tourist list at the moment, such as Egypt.

Back in 2010, just 22 hotels globally were in Category 7.  Now that number has gone up by over 1,000% to 257!

Similarly, the number of Category 6 properties rose from 154 to 352.  At the other end of the scale, the number of cheap Category 1 hotels fell from 288 to 189 over the same four year period.

If you participate in the Marriott MegaBonus promotions, which offer a free night certificate for completing two stays, you have been particularly hard hit.

These certificates are usually valid at Category 1-4 hotels only.  In 2012, 82% of Marriott properties globally were Category 1-4.  That has now fallen to 66%.

If you are currently planning a Marriott redemption, you should aim to book before April 8th to lock in the old rates.  The link in the first paragraph contains a chart listing the hotels which are moving around.

Is this all down to the improving economy?

It is tempting to put these continuing devaluations among hotel programmes down to the improving economy.  However, the simple truth is that room rates and occupancy levels are still not back to 2007 levels, and in 2007 room redemptions were far cheaper across all chains.

Part of the inflation is points inflation, primarily down to crazy credit card sign-up bonuses in the US.  (The 10,000 points offered on the UK Marriott credit card won’t cause any global ripples, I promise you!)  There is also, I think, a tipping point in many schemes where the number of unredeemed points in circulation is out of line with rooms available.

Marriott, of course, has not done anything as drastic / crazy as Hilton did last year, when they doubled the price of some high-end redemptions.  As the numbers here show, though, you can still achieve aggressive devaluations by semi-stealth.

For my money, the current ‘soft spot’ across the industry is IHG Rewards Club and the 50,000 point cap on InterContinental redemptions.  It already looks generous compared to, say, the 35,000 points required for a Holiday Inn Express in London.  Let’s see what 2014 brings.

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (October 2022)

There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year.

EDIT: Until 8th November 2022, the sign-up bonus on the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card is doubled to 40,000 points!

You can apply here.

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

40,000 bonus points (SPECIAL OFFER) and 15 elite night credits Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points by converting American Express Membership Rewards points at the rate of 2:3.

Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold status for as long as they hold the card?  It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER), £200 travel credit and unbeatable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points indirectly:

and for small business owners:

The conversion rate from American Express to Marriott Bonvoy points is 2:3.

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which can be used to earn Marriott Bonvoy points

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

Comments (4)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Phil says:

    Liverpool up to a category 7 is a joke.

    AC Hotel in Malaga was a great redemption at category 4, now up to category 5.

    Also very nice Florida options in South Beach and Marco Island up to cat 9,

    Not many of the decreases appeal.

    A lesson to all that you should spend and not hoard points.

  • Czechoslovakia says:

    Agree, now is the time to spend those points. Although, I very much appreciate the Marriott Mega Bonus. It has allowed me to earn many free nights in many nice (expensive) Marriott group hotels just for staying at the lowly Courtyard Marriott Prague airport. Several times now just checked in whilst passing on my way to the Lufthansa desk. 🙂

  • Maximum Power says:

    I had 3 1-4 category free certifcates to use and I couldnt use them anywhere so I let 2 expire because it would have cost me money to go places to use them. However Newcastle Metro going from a 5 – 4 should let me use my last one up!

    • Phil says:

      Yes, agree then need to reflect the points hike and start issuing category 1-6 free nights, otherwise UK member cannot spend them!

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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