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Marriott Bonvoy launches dynamic reward pricing on 29th March – some hotels to hit 130,000 points

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Marriott Bonvoy has confirmed that dynamic reward pricing – or ‘Flexible Point Redemptions’ as it calls it – will begin on 29th March.

From this date, the current off-peak, standard and peak redemption rates will be scrapped.

There is no change to how you can earn Marriott Bonvoy points.

The new pricing system will see redemption rates aligning more closely with cash rates and availability.

The ‘availability’ aspect is worth noting. Whilst I am simplifying hugely, when you redeem a Marriott Bonvoy reward night at present, the hotel receives:

  • a nominal sum, around $25 to $150 depending on brand, if the hotel is under 95% full, or
  • the standard cash rate if the hotel is 95%+ full

These rules mean that ‘dynamic pricing’ needs to reflect availability as well as cash rates, because:

  • a $1,000 room at St Regis New York may only cost Bonvoy $150 if the hotel is below 95% full
  • a $200 room at Courtyard Heathrow may cost Bonvoy $200 if the hotel is 95% full

In this scenario, it makes sense to make the points cost of a St Regis New York redemption attractive and the Courtyard Heathrow redemption less attractive, in a way which is not related to the room rate.

Sheraton Grand Dubai exterior

How will Flexible Point Redemptions work?

Like a boiling frog, Marriott is bringing in the changes slowly to soften you up.

For stays in 2022, virtually all hotels will remain within their current peak and off-peak limits. This means, for the most luxurious hotels, pricing will vary from 70,000 points (the current Category 8 off-peak price) to 100,000 points (the current peak price). For the cheapest hotels, the price will be between 5,000 points (the current Category 1 off-peak price) and 10,000 points (the current peak price).

200 hotels will see their maximum price increase – you can see the list here. For some hotels (you can probably name most of them without opening the PDF), the maximum price cap will rise to 130,000 points per night. 40 hotels will have a cap higher than the current 100,000 points.

For stays in 2023, all bets are off. With IHG Rewards now charging over 100,000 points for Holiday Inn Express hotels on peak nights (it was only a few years ago that InterContinental hotels were capped at 30,000 points per night), who knows where Marriott Bonvoy will end up? Will we see St Regis New York, as an example of a $1,000+ per night hotel, break the 250,000 point barrier?

All we know is that:

“Changes in rates for stays in 2023 above or below the high low range for stays in 2022 are planned to be incremental.”

Is dynamic pricing wrecking the ‘promise’ of hotel loyalty schemes?

Pre covid, I went out to Washington to meet Chris Nassetta, Hilton’s CEO, and the Hilton Honors team.

Nassetta was obsessed by building up Hilton’s luxury portfolio, and we later saw the launch of the LXR brand and the rapid growth of Curio Collection. He wasn’t doing this because luxury hotels make the most money – his bread and butter is the Hampton brand – but because they encouraged loyalty via Hilton Honors. People were happy to throw a lot of nights at his mid-tier brands if it got them – and their family – the occasional luxury treat.

Hilton isn’t alone in this thinking. IHG bought Six Senses and Regent for the same reason.

None of this makes sense if dynamic pricing is in force. If you’re getting 0.5p per Marriott point wherever you redeem, there is no point building up your balance. You might as well cash out your points as quickly as you earn them. The problem for Marriott is that there is no incentive to keep coming back to their hotels if you are thinking like that.

(Hilton worked this out. Hilton Honors has the best of both worlds – dynamic pricing means that rewards are cheap when cash rates are cheap, but caps remain so you know that you will never pay more than a certain points price for a particular hotel.)

Luxury redemptions should be proportionately better value than mid-market redemptions, or there is no incentive to keep pushing stays towards a brand. The airlines have got this right, with Business Class flights costing 2-3 times the miles of an Economy flight, despite costing 5+ times as much for cash.

You can see the US credit card tail wagging the redemption dog here. Let’s assume St Regis New York goes to 200,000 Bonvoy points per night. This would require $20,000 of ex-VAT spend (converted to Sterling, £20,000 of spend including VAT) to get just one free night. Very few Bonvoy members will achieve this, and even those that do are unlikely to blow 200,000 of their hard earned points on a one night stay.

On the other hand, over in the US you can pick up 100,000 Bonvoy points as the sign-up bonus on a $95 credit card. You can see where the dilution is coming from.

Fixed value redemptions also risk sending people to online travel agencies, which incurs a hefty commission payment. If a Marriott Bonvoy point is worth 0.5p, then – ignoring the desire to earn status benefits and any special ‘member’ pricing – you’d get a better return booking via Hotels.com and getting 10% of your spend back in Hotels.com Rewards credit.

Conclusion

You should, with no exceptions, lock in any planned Marriott Bonvoy redemptions before 29th March.

Book each night separately unless you are taking advantage of ‘book five nights, get the cheapest free’. If you don’t, and you later need to chop a night off your stay, it will reprice.

There is no downside. If the hotel you have booked goes down in price after 29th March, you can just cancel your existing booking and rebook.

This PDF (click) shows you the 200 properties which will increase by up to 30,000 points from their current minimum and maximum price on 29th March.

PS. There is an update on when you will be able to boost Marriott Bonvoy free night certificates.

‘Late April’ is now the date from which you will be able to top up a free night certificate (worth 25,000 or 40,000 points, depending on where you got it from) with up to 15,000 points from your Bonvoy account. This will allow you to book more attractive hotels.


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

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

You can apply here.

American Express Marriott Bonvoy credit card

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

20,000 bonus points 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.

The Platinum Card has doubled its sign-up bonus to 60,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert to 90,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, if you apply by 1st June 2022.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER) and an unbeatable set of travel 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 (69)

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

  • AW says:

    I see no point in earning hotel points now. The return is just ridiculously small. Far better to use Hotels.com for a guaranteed and quick 10% back which can be used far more widely.

    Status is generally next to worthless too unless you’re the very top tier. If the points redemptions are so expensive then working towards top status seems pointless.

    I will be directing my spend into Avios I think.

    • Jeff77 says:

      You can also spend avios in Sainos and Argos etc too so it’s win win!

    • PJJ says:

      Everybody mentions hotels.com but what about Rocketmiles if you are looking at independant hotels.
      Convert them to Heathrow Rewards and then on to BAEC, Virgin, Singapore, Emirates, Lufthansa or 3 others

    • HAM76 says:

      One drawback of hotels.com is that reward bookings are not flexible. While you do get back any cash you paid for the room (if you booked a flexible rate), you do not get back the voucher if you cancel.

  • Paul J says:

    I would love to block off now my trip to Accra, Ghana at Christmas and lock in current redemption prices but for some reason they have not yet opened up availability beyond September. Any thoughts on when Marriott are likely to open up Reward nights for Christmas ?

    • Rob says:

      In theory you can book a year ahead – I was looking at other hotels where you could do this.

  • Mikeact says:

    ‘Like a boiling frog’….new one on me !

  • JandeW says:

    For casual earners like myself, this will pretty much be the end of Marriott loyalty.

  • Jonathan says:

    One major advantage Marriott has being able to transfer the points over to airlines where UK Amex MR transfers are unavailable, it’s a shame that the very best return is 0.94 miles per Marriott point, but that’s still good

  • memesweeper says:

    I have status with Marriott and will continue to credit to them and prioritise them for stays against other hotels (all else being equal), at least for this year. I really like the chain and the status recognition is consistent and useful.

    But if the points devalue sufficiently — and we won’t know for a year I guess — even I’d have to look elsewhere.

    • Rob says:

      You need to separate points and status. I will ensure I requalify for Titanium because I value the benefits irrespective of the points.

      • YC says:

        But the benefits are most valuable when you are on a leisure stay/luxury hotels. The times when you redeem and have status is the real sweet spot. If you are paying cash, the virtuoso benefits will get you 80% there (just unlikely to get suite upgrades). 2023 might be the year I have little elite status and have burnt majority of my points and move towards the best hotels that fit my needs irrespective of brand

        • Rob says:

          Totally agree that Virtuoso etc does the job. I mean …. IHG’s luxury agent programme throws in free breakfast which no-one gets with IHG status.

  • Chris H says:

    The last sections talks about “top up a free night certificate”, Can anyone explain this for me? What it is, and if anyone with 15,000 points can get it?
    A second question: Is the price in points based on historical availability, or availability at the time of booking. In other words, am I much more likely to get the lower rate a year in advance than a few weeks before, or will the rates be the same?

    • Olly says:

      It’s what you get for spending £25k on the Bonvoy Amex

      • Chris H says:

        So what is the “top up for 15000 points”?

        • Chris H says:

          Or does it mean if you already have a certificate worth 25000 points, you can use your existing 15000 points to make it worth 40000? In other words, it is only useful for someone who already has a certificate!

  • Mr(s) Entitled says:

    As Rib eludes, Head for Points is about to launch a dating service so that singles can double up to take advantage of offers applicable to couples. The new venture will be called, Head for Points.

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

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