Why Marriott Travel Packages are getting worse – but we don’t know by how much

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Yesterday we looked at the changes to hotel award categories for the new combined Marriott Rewards / Starwood Preferred Guest programme, starting in August.

In summary, it nets off.  Taken across all 7,000 hotels, the average number of points required for a free night remains virtually the same.  There is a slight rebasing towards the higher end, with lower end hotels going down and the rest more likely to be going up, but this is not across the board.

You can find out more in my article here.

The other major change revealed on Thursday was new pricing for Marriott Travel Packages.

You can see the details on the Marriott / SPG transition website here.

What is a Marriott Travel Package?

Historically Marriott Travel Packages have been the best way to redeem your Marriott Rewards points – with one caveat.   You need to be happy spending seven nights in the same hotel.  If you’re not the sort of person who would ever spend a week in a Marriott / SPG hotel then there is nothing to see here.

You are redeeming a large pile of points for seven nights of hotel credit (which must be booked in one block, at the same hotel, so availability issues may arise) and a chunk of airline miles.  You get the airline miles immediately but have a year to do the hotel stay.

The miles do not need to be redeemed for a flight linked to the hotel stay.  If you redeem for a low category package you can upgrade to a higher category package later by paying the extra points.

This is the new JW Marriott Maldives, opening in January and the sort of hotel where you might want to spend seven nights:

JW Marriott Maldives

How things are if you redeem TODAY:

At present, Travel Packages are quite complex.  There are three redemption charts (I am ignoring the one which is exclusive to United Airlines and is more generous than these two).  This is the one covering Avios and Virgin Flying Club:

Marriott Travel Packages chart

and this is the one covering other airlines.  The key ones for HFP readers are probably Miles & More, Flying Blue, Emirates Skywards, Etihad Guest and Singapore Airlines Krisflyer:

Marriott Travel Packages chart

Here is the current redemption chart:

Marriott Rewards reward chart

You can do the maths easily to see why Travel Packages are a good deal.  However, remember that Marriott Rewards offers ‘five nights for four’ so you should multiple the figures above by six and not seven for comparison.

So …..

7 nights in a Category 9 hotel on its own = 45k x 6 = 270,000 points

As an Avios or Virgin Atlantic Travel Package:

7 nights in a Category 9 hotel PLUS 50,000 miles = 320,000 points

7 nights in a Category 9 hotel PLUS 120,000 miles = 390,000 points

Given that the cost of the hotel is fixed, you are getting 1 Avios or Virgin mile per additional Marriott Rewards point on top of the hotel price when you redeem.

It is a little less generous if you redeem for an airline scheme in the 2nd table, such as Lufthansa Miles and More.  You are getting 85,000 miles for the additional 120,000 Marriott Rewards points (1.4 points per mile) if you take the most expensive Category 9 package.

How things are if you redeem from August:

These are the two key charts.  As you can see, Travel Packages have been massively simplified:

There are no longer two airline charts.  All airlines transfer at the same rate.

There are no longer four mileage options.  It is reduced to 50,000 miles and 100,000 miles.

Marriott Travel Packages new chart 2018

You need to compare this with the new reward chart from August:

Marriott Rewards new redemption chart 2018

Let’s do the same maths but with a Category 8 hotel using ‘standard’ pricing:

So …..

7 nights in a Category 8 hotel on its own = 85k x 6 = 510,000 points

As a Travel Package:

7 nights in a Category 8 hotel PLUS 50,000 miles = 675,000 points

7 nights in a Category 8 hotel PLUS 100,000 miles = 750,000 points

Looking at the 50,000 mile package, you are spending an extra 165,000 points to get 50,000 miles.  This is terrible – the conversion rate is more than 3 Marriott points per mile.

The 100,000 miles package is a bit better but still far worse than you currently get.  You are spending 240,000 additional Marriott points to get 100,000 miles – so 2.4 points per mile.

Since I value a Marriott point at 0.5p, it makes little sense to buy a Travel Package to redeem on a ‘standard’ date.  You would be paying between 1.2p and 1.5p per mile.

However ….

What is NOT clear is whether the new Travel Package pricing allows you to redeem on ‘peak’ nights or not.  IF it does AND if you wanted to stay on a ‘peak’ night, the maths improves.  Back to our Category 8 example:

7 PEAK nights in a Category 8 hotel on its own = 100k x 6 = 600,000 points

As a Travel Package:

7 PEAK nights in a Category 8 hotel PLUS 50,000 miles = 675,000 points

7 PEAK nights in a Category 8 hotel PLUS 100,000 miles = 750,000 points

This is A LOT better.  For both packages, you are trading 1.5 Marriott points per mile for the additional payment.

This is STILL WORSE than you are getting today (1 point per mile) but I would consider it acceptable.  If I thought I would get 0.5p per Marriott point on a hotel redemption then I am ‘paying’ 0.75p per airline mile and I would happily do that.

You could actually be (almost) no worse off ….

It is even better if you are transferring to an airline scheme which was previously on Table 2 – Miles & More, Flying Blue, Emirates, Etihad, Krisflyer etc.

With a Travel Package today for Table 2, you are spending (assuming you take the 85,000 miles option) 120,000 extra Marriott points to get 85,000 airline miles.  This works out at 1.41 Marriott points per mile.

Using my peak date calculations above, you will be trading 1.5 Marriott points per mile going forward.  That is virtually the same as you get now.

If you redeem a Travel Package to use at a hotel on a Peak date (assuming this is possible) and you transfer to an airline currently in Table 2, you will see virtually no devaluation.  To be fair, this won’t apply to most HFP readers who would look to transfer to Avios or Virgin Atlantic who are in Table 1 where you will see a devaluation.

And before you ask ….

We do not know how existing Travel Packages will map across to the new reward chart.  If you buy a Category 7 package today, we don’t know if it will still be valid up to Category 7 after August.

It is VERY unlikely, given that a Cat 7 is 35,000 points today and will be 60,000 points from August, that direct 1:1 mapping will be allowed.

Conclusion

Travel Packages will not be as good value as they were from August.  This is clear.

However, it is not necessarily a disaster.  For a start, if we assume that we can use them on peak dates, the value looks better.  No hotels have yet published their peak dates, however, and they will vary by property.

More importantly, you can now redeem a Travel Package to stay at the ex-Starwood hotels – and, with no disrespect to Marriott, Starwood has far more hotels where you may actually want to spend seven nights in a row.  On that basis, this is a win since a new redemption option is now available to you.

You can find out more on the Marriott / SPG transition website here.

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

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Comments

  1. Roger says:

    Are the prices (in number of Marriott points) guaranteed to remain the same until August or can Marriott change them anytime now?

  2. Chelseafi says:

    Do we know what will happen about family members in same household merging points from Aug? Do we need to move across now, the only thing is we also have membership points & I don’t really want to transfer to SPG until we know a little more about bookings for 2019, any thoughts? Thanks

    • Roger says:

      +1

    • Genghis says:

      I’m continually transferring points from my wife to me via SPG so the points are where they should be by Aug

      • xcalx says:

        Are you waiting till August with the new price structure. I am ready to pull the trigger for the existing deal but trying to wait a little longer to see if AA or Alaskan have a boost.

        • How often do the other airlines do a boost? I have been waiting too….

        • Roger says:

          Next AA likely only in 4th Quarter now, based on past history, IIRC.
          I waited for the last one (in may?) but Travel Package was excluded.
          I think both AA and AS are good deal even at 120K miles, given that is being chopped by 20K miles in a months time or so.

        • Genghis says:

          I’ve decided not to act now.
          1) It was a struggle previously to find a Marriott we wanted to spend 7 nights in (and 270k Marriotts for 120k avios – non-bonus – isn’t that great if you don’t want to use the hotel
          2) We don’t know what is going to happen with certificates that haven’t been used. @New Card mentioned that they’d seen mention of a 1-5 will simply get 45k Marriott points back in new scheme. As I responded to that, I’m not willing to pay net 225k Marriott points for 120k avios (avios are much easier to collect)
          3) That leaves me just waiting until Aug. I’m hoping there’s be availability for 2018 at least at one particular place and I hope 2019 availability will open up in the period Aug-Dec so can get some “bargains”.
          Anyone have any thoughts on this rationale?

        • Jimbon says:

          Agree, hold off buying travel packages atm, there’s too many unknowns. Should get some bargains with the 60k come August, also worried a TP might be too inflexible needing 7 night stay, and I’ll miss the bargains

        • @Genghis

          2) I canot see that 45k refund happening, cat 5 maps to new cat 4 at 25k ppn so I don’t see what the issue would be simply converting them to cat 1-4 certificates.

      • Stu_N says:

        @Genghis – same here, safer to have points in one account.

        Someone commented on Wednesday’s post that you can move >50k Marriott points over if you need them for a booking via the call centre but takes a bit of persuasion , and they have never been charged the $10 fee to do this.

        • ankomonkey says:

          I agree with @BJ, 30 June 2018 at 13:52. I believe unattached hotel certificates will move to an “upto XX points/night” based on what the old category has generally mapped to in points. The complication is with the peak/off-peak rates.

          I’m almost certainly going to redeem one more cat1-5 TP before August. I want to use it at a new cat4 next August. My main risk is if the current ease to extend beyond a year is not maintained. The extra miles will help me get to the destination in J. If it all falls through then it’ll be 7 nights at Marriott Skegness Resort & Spa in February.

    • ATM you can move 50k Marriott points to anybody each year, they do not have to be in same household like SPG.

      • Jason says:

        If it’s to complete a booking they will move as many as you want

      • Mark2 says:

        I have not had any limit on transferring out; in my experience the limit applies to receipt, although it does not apply if the transfer completes the points necessary to pay for a booking.
        In that case they are applied automatically and the booking becomes paid.

  3. Jonny says:

    Surely the new travel packages have to allow for peak redemptions? If not, you’d be better off simply redeeming for the hotel and airline separately.

    Eg category 8 example, 7 nights standard = 510k points; 50k avios separately = 120k points (I think…), total = 630k points, so less than the travel package. Works out exactly the same (750k either way) for 100k avios package. So there literally would be no benefit in purchasing a Category 8 package if it excludes peak redemptions.

    You’d get a very small benefit at cat 7 and below for 100k avios, but again lose out at 50k avios versus redeeming separately.

    So it must include peak dates.

    • Given the substantial devaluation, my guess is that TP will be valid on any date. However, I expect those of us holding cat 1-5 will only be able to redeem them for cat 1-4 from August when cat 4 points will become equivalent to cat 5 now.

    • I agree, but it is not written anywhere.

  4. I bought a category 8 travel package last year but actually want to stay in a category 7 hotel in the next few months. We know you can pay more points to go from category 8 to category 9 to get a new travel package, but can you actually get a REFUND of points if you ask to go from Category 8 to 7?

    • I don’t believe so no. That’s why it’s always recommended to book the 1-5 cat package and then upgrade at time of booking if needed.

      It’s worth a try though, ask nicely when you’re booking

    • Matthew says:

      Last time I upgraded from cat 1-5 to cat 9 they said I could call to downgrade if I needed to and receive a partital refund so you might be able to!

    • Not sure why you bought cat 8, most buy 1-5 and upgrade them if needed with extra points. Given this is possible it seems a refund should also be possible but I’ve never heard about it. Suggest you just call the London office and ask, I’ve found them to be very competent and helpful.

    • Charlie says:

      You can ‘downgrade’ a TP certificate and you will get a refund in points of the difference between the categories. Must call the Rewards department though and not the Reservations team (who will try to help and not be able to as they don’t have the same system).

      • Alex W says:

        Interesting. Leads to the question if I bought a top tier package for 540k now, but used it at Cat 1-4 next year, how would they calculate the refund? Using the new chart the price difference would be 750 – 330 = a refund of 420k points. That would be the deal of the century!

  5. xcalx says:

    OT (no bits)
    Anyone have a link to Amex plat page to sign up for partners.

    Thanks

  6. STu_N says:

    I am looking at RC Hong Kong for next spring for a straight redemption. (Sorry, just catching up on yesterday’s posts)
    – currently 70k points per night
    – will be Cat 8 next year so 70/ 85/ 100k
    – BUT is this going to benefit from the 60k cap after August?

    There’s currently availability on the dates I want – should I book now and try to cancel and rebook in Aug? Am pooling points at the moment so will have them v soon.

  7. Alex W says:

    Rob, “If you redeem a Travel Package to use at a hotel on a Peak date and you transfer to an airline currently in Table 2, you will see virtually no devaluation”

    I don’t see how you have come to that conclusion. Doing a like for like comparison (or as close to one as possible), take the Top Tier hotel category and 50,000 miles in Table 2. The price has gone up from 490k to 675k points – a 38% increase!

    This may, to use your phrase, “net off” compared to the overall devaluation for top tier properties, but it is still a huge devaluation compared to the current price of the TPs.

    • Because the hotels in the top tier are NOT the hotels in the current top tier. It is all The Ritz-Carlton and the top Starwood hotels. The chart I showed for Travel Packages at the moment does NOT include The Ritz-Carlton tiers for example which sit on top of that chart.

      In general most of the current 45k Marriott hotels (top category) are going up 5k, that’s it.

      • Alex W says:

        I’m not sure I understand. The current TP chart has tier 1-3 and tier 4-5. As I understand it, these ARE Ritz Carlton properties.

        Are you saying there will be a new chart, not shown in the article, for RC properties? Confused…

        I take the point that you can’t currently use a TP for Starwood properties. But for RC it still seems a huge devaluation.

        • Yes, the tiers are RC but the standard reward list I posted only goes to Cat 8.

        • Alex W says:

          I didn’t think there would be anything higher than Cat 8 in the new programme?

          • Cat 8 does not correspond to Cat 8 in the old scheme. For example a 45k Marriott (current top price) is Cat 9 now. Most of those hotels will be 50k / Cat 6 now.

        • I have just read the articles on the marriott Starwood merge in August. I have a few questions if anybody is able to assist?
          Earning points – after August will you still be able to earn points with starwood and transfer to marriott at the 3:1 ratio? I presume not. I collect points on my starwood Amex so how would the points translate to the new scheme?
          Do you know what the status of the Starwood Amex will be going forward? Will current card holders still be able to refer and obtain points? I have previously cancelled the card and then reapplied for the bonus points.
          Would you still be able to transfer gold amex points to starwood and at what ratio?
          What are peak and off peak dates in 2019? We have a child so would be using points during school holidays
          I have 390,000 points in my Marriott account that i was planning on exchanging for domes of elounda and 120,000 avios. Do you think this is a good idea or should I bank it for the august to December deals that would be available?

          Many Thanks

          • Amex continues (for a while, I doubt long term) – earns 3 per £1 after August. We assume Amex MR transfers continue and we assume it will be 2:3 based on the current SPG rate.

            Peak and off-peak dates will be set by city or by country, not globally, and are not published yet.

            Domes seems to have zero’d out availability until its redemption price goes up to Cat 8 in August unfortunately. You definitely want to book now as the price increases hugely from August.

  8. Andrew-a says:

    SPG related advice please.
    I was going to get my OH to refer me from her platinum to gold next week but as I have just booked 4 nights in The Swan @ Disney Orlando for next May I was wondering if it would be better value to take out an SPG card and use the points (12000) for a free night, saving $341? I already have SPG gold status through the platinum card and don’t need the Avios for next year as flights already booked.
    Thanks in advance

    • Note that the Disney hotels are going up sharply in August, see the new table, so if you get the SPG card you need to do it quickly so the sign-up bonus goes across during July and you can get the booking in.

      • Andrew-a says:

        Thanks Rob.
        That being the case I would be as well using my OH’s MRP’s for 3 nights stay and paying for the 4th with cash. If I did this would I get a 5th night free or does it have to be all reward nights for that?
        Thanks

    • Mark2 says:

      Seems as broad as it is long: Gold signup is 22,000 + 2,000 spend =24,000 > 12,000 SPG.
      Now that Gold is credit you cannot get a companion credit card or upgrade to Plat, although you might get 3,000 for supplementary.

      • Andrew-a says:

        Thanks Mark.
        Just thought it would be easier spending £1k to get the points quickly

      • I didn’t get the 3,000 recently so best not to expect it.

  9. Rachael says:

    As I posted the other day..I think the costs have gone up substantially. Cat 7 Marriott vaction club in Marbella Oct half term or Summer will now cost me 200K more and I will receive 20K less miles for a travel package.

    • Mark2 says:

      It varies greatly. My booking in October in Boston is dropping from 40,000 to 35,000 so hope to save 40,000 when new rates available.

    • Marriott Vacation Club is a bit separate though. Apart from Domes, only a handful of the 7000 hotels have gone up sharply and some of those are excusable eg the fully renovated St Regis Rome. The excellent Paris hotel I used this week has gone down.

      • Roger says:

        Both Marriott in Singapore have gone up from 40K per night to 50K per night.

        However you have Westin and W in Singapore at the same price. Pricing does not make any sense to me anymore.

      • Rachael says:

        Probably but look at the hotel you stayed in NY recently..Essex house. That is more now isn’t it? We were going to do 5 days there 2019 with a 5 day cert and hopefully we still will ???? I haven’t looked at Venice yet so who knows how shockingly expensive that will be !????

  10. Tilly71 says:

    OT:
    How are generally people finding using the amex platinum upgrade link from gold recently?
    Is everyone getting the bonus for spending 1k?

    • Andrew-a says:

      Hi
      Yes my wife got it around 3 weeks ago

      • Rob MC says:

        Is that with the new gold credit card or the original charge card?

        • Andrew-a says:

          Original charge card

        • Simon says:

          Datapoint: the Gold CC supp card online application page (via your Amex account) is finally working after weeks of it not. Supp card for my missus approved and now arrived. NOTE: unlike old charge card, NO bonus MR points received for this and it was my first supp card on my (new-ish) Gold CC.

        • Alex W says:

          +1 I didn’t get any bonus MRs for the supp 🙁

      • Tilly71 says:

        Just to confirm, you didn’t receive an mex promotional email inviting you to upgrade to Platinum from the gold charge card, you just clicked on the link found from here and the web?

        • Andrew-a says:

          Hi.
          Yes, I copied and pasted one of the links on here and applied on behalf of my wife. It was around 6 weeks ago, then we hit the 1K spend and the 20k points posted after that. Going to refer me to get another 18k points then cancel.

        • Darren says:

          +1 from a charge card a couple of months ago, bonus posted no problem.

    • Tilly71 says:

      Gold charge card.

  11. Rob what will happen to my Starwood Cat 4 Certificate in August? Will it be devalued or will I be able to use it for any of the NEW Cat 4 in Marriott/SPG?

    • New Card says:

      I’m sure I read this becomes redeemable for any hotel up to 25k points in the new program.

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