Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Is there any link between Marriott Bonvoy peak and off-peak dates and the hotel cash price?

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When Marriott Bonvoy first announced that it was introducing peak and off-peak pricing, we all assumed that it would look something like the peak and off-peak chart used for British Airways Avios redemptions.  (The 2020 Avios peak and off-peak calendar is here.)

We thought we would see whole months, or at least chunks of weeks, marked as either peak, off-peak or standard.  We were wrong.

What has actually happened is that hotels jump between peak, standard and off-peak reward pricing from day to day.

We touched on this on Sunday in Anika’s review of Marriott Canary Wharf but I wanted to look at it in more detail.  Marriott Canary Wharf is a good example because, as a Central London hotel, there are substantial swings in the cash price from day to day depending on how many events are going on in the city.

Here is the Bonvoy redemption pricing for October 2019 (click to enlarge):

Marriott Bonvoy peak and off-peak chart

Of the 31 days in October, there is redemption availability on 24 of them:

1 night is ‘peak’ at 40,000 Bonvoy points

16 nights are ‘standard’ at 35,000 Bonvoy points

7 nights are ‘off-peak’ at 30,000 Bonvoy points

The distribution is random.  Sundays are most likely to be off-peak, but not always.  The only peak night is a Saturday which is usually low yield.

Let’s compare this to cash pricing though:

Marriott Bonvoy peak and off peak chart

Cash prices go from £105 to a whopping £586.

When you look at the cash prices versus the points prices.

The one ‘peak’ night at 40,000 points is selling for just £177!

The seven ‘off peak’ nights at 30,000 points are selling for (in date order) £361, £161, £228, £105, £262, £216 and £220

The 24 ‘standard’ nights at 35,000 points are selling between £121 and £586

Put another way …..

The average price of an ‘off peak’ night is £221, but 1/3rd of the ‘Standard’ nights are priced at £224 or less.

What can we draw from this?  Marriott Bonvoy, at least on this example, has not moved to a purely revenue-based redemption model.  It is NOT as simple as saying ‘this hotel charges peak points when cash rates are above £xxx and off-peak points when cash rates are below £yyy’.

Is this good or bad?  Is it actually better for members that the allocation is fairly random?  I’m honestly not sure.   The more random it is, the more chance of being able to get ‘outsized’ value on a redemption, but it also means that there will be more occasions when points look like bad value.

In reality, we need to give Bonvoy a bit of time to bed down the peak and off-peak methodology.  For now, though, you need to take extra care to compare points rates and cash rates when planning a redemption to ensure you are getting good value.

Marriott Bonvoy peak and off-peak dates analysed

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points via UK credit cards

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

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, Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade and Melia Rewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here.

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

Comments (166)

  • Tom1 says:

    Has anyone seen an example of a day being switched from off/standard/peak (potentially as reservations increase/decrease) ?
    Or once they are designated, do they remain that category for ever?

    • Rob says:

      Changes monthly apparently. This means that you should recheck all peak or standard bookings regularly.

      • Shoestring says:

        then isn’t it as simple a case as somebody keying in off-peak/ standard/ peak redemption pricing once a month, in advance – static pricing

        whereas cash pricing is dynamic and responds to demand by increasing?

        so there will definitely be arbitrage opportunities

        • Russ says:

          Wouldn’t surprise me if the changes ends up being a daily event given customers can cancel a fully flex reservations 48 hours prior to arrival. It’s all getting too labor intensive for the average punter.

          • Lady London says:

            I agree. If customers can’t understand the rules then they won’t bother to look.
            And they definitely won’t commit to making stays for earning Marriott points, if they can’t be sure what the award room they want till cost.

            “Own goal”, Marriott.

            Even Hilton does better than this.

  • Craig says:

    OT: Amex offer of BuyaGift stacks with the GEM discount code, not sure if the code works for everything but managed 3 courses and a glass of wine at Prezzo for £16 valid for 10 months. The other site that we don’t mention was also used but will probably get declined because of the code. Not my favourite restaurant but a good location where I live and convenient when we go to the cinema.

  • pablo says:

    Does anyone know if the UK public sector is still bookable with Marriott? There used to be a dedicated website (www.marriott.co.uk/specials/government-rate-hotels/default.mi) but it is no longer working. The government rates on the main Marriott booking page appear to be for US military or US federal employees.

  • Dave says:

    Any sign of the much promised Marriott credit card ? Or even the Hilton one?!

  • Michael C says:

    OT one less place taking Amex: our local university no longer accepts it for paying fees, whereas it had done up to now. When asked, the finance department said “80% of Amex transactions this Sept.. caused problems, so we’ve stopped using it definitively”.

    Pity, that was a good part of our 2-4-1!

    • Mike says:

      A suggestion would be to pay via Billhop

      • Shoestring says:

        Paid for a 144Hz refresh monitor on Amex—> Laptops Direct yesterday, even though they don’t visibly offer Amex as a payment option

    • Genghis says:

      Depends how the mechanics of payment work. Just put it in the machine? Many places say they don’t take Amex but have the capability.

      • Craig says:

        Like in my local, when asked if they take Amex they said no, palmed the contactless over and it went through without issue.

    • Andrew says:

      I rather suspect they haven’t switched off the merchant facility yet.

      Universities have been getting burnt by Credit Card companies though. Whilst they don’t see themselves as a service industry, students (and parents) are using chargeback when they are in dispute with the colleges and universities over the quality of teaching, course or service.

      I’ve used it myself when a short course proved most unsatisfactory. The relevant University was utterly furious…

    • Anna says:

      I thought the current wisdom was to pay for everything with student loans as it’s possible that these will end up never being fully repaid, or at least deferred for many years?

      • Genghis says:

        Depends how much you think your kid is going to make.

        • Rob says:

          Unless your children are set on a career of poorly paid public service (my brother’s daughter wants to join the police after university and is already a cadet so that is a reasonable bet) I don’t think people see it like that even though it is logical given the loan rules. I made a profit going to University in the late 80’s (full grant, no loans, no course fees, sandwich course, Erasmus grant for a half-year abroad) and I’d like my kids to walk out debt free purely for the psychological benefit.

    • Benilyn says:

      Does Oxford take it?

      • Genghis says:

        In my day it was colleges that collected fees (on behalf of the university) and battels.

        • Liam says:

          My college only accepted cheques until something like 2010. They introduced an online payment portal towards the end of my time there but I was never likely to use anything other than my debit card to pay through that, at that age.

          • Lady London says:

            I did my MBA with someone that delayed payment for the course for 9 months and made a profit on the FX. That was the plan I was told about at the beginning of the course, and it worked. When paid it cost them far less in dollars to pay the bill in euros.

  • NigelthePensioner says:

    Could it not be that a there are a set number of rooms on any given night, available for redemptions, and as they are booked, so the points required increase, in 3 incremental steps? Supply and demand.

    • Lady London says:

      + 1. I think they are pricing awards based on the number of rooms already booked for that night, and not the price they sold them at.

      Whatever, I think Marriott is on a hiding to nothing with this new scheme. People just won’t book Marriott rooms if they’ve no idea what a redemption is going to cost. The only people who might stay interested are those who for some reason book a lot of Marriott rooms anyway. The rest of us are going to feel confused and as though nothing really is being offered to choose Marriott and will book elsewhere.

  • Shoestring says:

    O/T Ministers are likely to have to choose among options including hikes to air passenger duty, new levies on frequent flyers and changes to air taxation relative to rail and road in order to limit burgeoning demand for cheap flights in the next few years.
    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/sep/24/frequent-flyers-could-face-extra-tax-under-plans-to-cut-emissions

    • Nick_C says:

      They should simply tax aviation fuel. It would then apply to freight and not just passengers, and give a further fiscal incentive to use less fuel and create fewer emissions. Of course, this would only work if done on an EU/EEA wide basis.

      Although arguably there is no need to raise any additional funding. The money raised by APD could more than offset the CO2 emissions from aviation if it was hypothecated.

      • Lady London says:

        Is aviation fuel not taxed then?
        Wow, That would be an inflationary kicker into the economy.

        • RussellH says:

          There has never been tax on aviation fuel. International treaties in the 1930s – IIRC – agreed to ban them, to support a new, “fledgling” industry.
          🙂

          Which is why we have the cludge of taxes that do exist.
          I believe that some EU countries do now charge VAT on internal fares, but cannot on international ones.
          All transport fares in the UK a zero-rated for VAT, meaning that airlines, rail companies etc can reclaim VAT on their overheads.
          It is different elsewhaere in the EU.

      • Lady London says:

        Does “hypothecated” mean “the government uses the tax they justified on the basis of something, for what they said they would spend it on?” IIRC green stuff was one of the reasons the government used for justifying APD in the first place. And now we have the highest aviation taxes in the world (already).

        Tired of seeing green stuff justifying everything when It’s a load of poppycock and funds are not, ever, “hypothecated” for what the government says, including pensions.

        It’s all just another excuse for a rip-off.

        • ken says:

          USA has taxes on aviation fuel at federal & state level.

          It seems guaranteed that flying taxes will be ratcheted up one way or another over next decade.
          They are ludicrously under taxed at the moment.
          The EU already allow bilateral taxation although no one has taken it up yet

        • Roy says:

          Hypothecated taxes don’t really exist in the UK. The idea is that revenue from a hypothecated tax goes into a separate pot from general taxation, which can only be spend on the specific thing(s) that the associated legislation specifies.

    • Colin MacKinnon says:

      Supply of cheap flights has just dried up a little!

      So demand will burgeon!!

    • Anna says:

      How do other countries manage and yet not even charge APD to anything like the same level as the UK? Our governments seem to see everything as an opportunity to fleece what they themselves call “hard-working families”.

      • Shoestring says:

        it’s perfect taxation similar to petrol/ diesel – no way to avoid it and collected by somebody else

        red diesel and veg oil excluded 🙂 (my truck would happily run on veg oil though I don’t fancy smelling like a chippy as I badass it around)

        plucking feathers from geese & all that

      • RussellH says:

        In many ways, this is a very low tax country – particularly income tax. And VAT is levied on a far lower range of goods here than in orther western European countries, where VAT is levied at 5%-7% rate on things like food, local public transport, books, newspapers.
        Their health systems are not paid for out of general taxation either – ours is.
        IIRC, when Gordon Brown introduced APD it was marketed as a green tax, specifically designed to put people off flying, because of the serious pollution effects of air transport. When it did not have the desired effect, later governments saw it as a cash cow so that they could reduce income tax.

        • Lady London says:

          that excuse about putting people off flying was always a load of old cods. The government always knew that demand for flying is relatively inelastic.

          • Ken says:

            Someone should tell Ryanair and EasyJet that demand for flying is inelastic.
            Couldn’t be further from the truth.

    • Charlieface says:

      It’s a bad idea to tax international flights via fuel, because airlines will carry extra fuel from other countries.

      • Rob says:

        We have a winner. Nothing is less environmentally friendly than a plane burning fuel purely so that it can carry unnecessary fuel for the way back.

      • Craig says:

        Between 2 and 4 percent per hour of the extra carried will end up in the atmosphere. Airlines already do it when there is a large disparity in pricing.

      • Nick_C says:

        Well the maximum landing weight is significantly less than the maximum take off weight. Carryine excessive fuel could work on short haul, but if all the EEA countries agreed to implement the same level of tax that would take care of perhaps 90% of European flights. We could impose APD on flights that leave without buying fuel. Or impose a landing tax based on the landing weight of the aircraft.

        Long haul would not be a problem. Aircraft simply don’t have the capacity to carry enough fuel for a return trip.

        • Memesweeper says:

          All the EEA countries are discussing it! And I hope they hurry up and do it. Other neighbours will follow. I’m sure the ME3 will try and stock up at home and avoid it, but it will materially increase flight costs in line with environmental impact.

          APD needs to rise too. I’d scrap the short/long haul distinction myself and try and eliminate really cheap flights from the marketplace entirely.

  • Louise says:

    OT, currently in Orlando with Thomas Cook, our repatriation flight is now going back to Manchester and not Gatwick, which is not ideal for us as travelling with a newborn and 2 year old. I’m awaiting CAA response on getting us on a Gatwick flight instead. Spoke to Amex(not
    Brighton) who we originally paid with and they have said all we can do with them is request chargeback on original package cost. Haven’t gone to my travel insurance yet to ask them

    • Shoestring says:

      was it an Amex *credit* card or chargeback? If credit, then S75 pertains and the credit card co would (in law) have to pay for you to get from Manchester to Gatwick

      • Louise says:

        BA PP card

      • jc says:

        The repatriation will already include free transfer from Manchester to Gatwick. I assume OP’s issue is that they want to fly there directly with the child, instead of including a ground transfer.

    • Nick_C says:

      On the news yesterday, people were being flown into Manchester and then taken by bus to Newcastle. Don’t think you can choose which rescue flight you will be put on, but they will get you home.

      • roberto says:

        When Monarch went pop there were chartered coaches laid on at Gatwick redistributing passengers back to their original airports/towns

    • Craig says:

      I’m not sure how this stacks with repatriation, onward transport from Manchester to Gatwick will be provided by the CAA via the ATOL scheme. If you plan to do something different I would make sure you have prior approval from CC/Insurance.

      • Freddy says:

        There doesn’t appear to be a solid answer on s.75 when atol are getting people back to their original destination albeit via coach!

        Saying that, the use of s.75 consequential losses doesn’t seem to be getting much press even for future travel plans. I think alot of people think it’s just the original purchase cost they will get back.

        • Shoestring says:

          it’s very clear – if you have S75 protection, you still have a duty to mitigate/ minimise costs to your credit card co provided that is reasonable

          so if there’s going to be a free coach but you have to wait 4 hrs for some reason, just sort out your own transport & claim it back

    • Louise says:

      We have ended up using Virgin miles and booking our own flight back. Can’t do a 4-5 hr coach journey with a 5 month and 2 year old after the 9 hour flight