Marriott rate changes announced for 2013: OUCH!

As if we need another reminder that hoarding points en masse is a bad idea, Marriott announced changes to their redemption charts this week. Perhaps the only good news is that customers will have three months to get bookings in under the old rates. The bad news is much, much more pervasive. The company is adding another award category at the top of the charts and more than a third of the properties will see an increase in redemption costs. I’m not so sure that OUCH does justice to the level of pain these changes will bring about.

The points required per night are not changing for the bottom 8 tiers; the new category 9 will require 45,000 points per night.


Not such a big deal if they don’t move all the hotels up a level. But 36% are moving up, compared to 1% moving down. I can only find one hotel (Renaissance Barcelona) which moves up two levels rather than just one. And only 13 properties appear to be moving in to the new Category 9 level. Still, the overall numbers are a bit disheartening:

  • 8 to 9 – 13
  • 7 to 8 – 32
  • 6 to 7 – 55
  • 5 to 7 – 1
  • 5 to 6 – 190
  • 4 to 5 – 370
  • 3 to 4 – 401
  • 2 to 3 – 184
  • 1 to 2 – 43

The big pain points will be the number of hotels no longer in the Category 1-4 range for MegaBonus redemption or in the Category 1-5 range for redemption with the cert earnt for carrying the credit card. The 370 properties jumping out of MegaBonus redemption really hurts.

I’m not inherently opposed to award rates increasing. It is a necessary evil as the costs of the underlying product increase. At the same time, it sucks when it happens, and these increases don’t leave a lot of opportunities for anyone to win a part of the changes. I’m very happy I don’t have a stockpile of Marriott points to worry about dumping.

It is also somewhat interesting that this change comes just a couple months after the improvements to the lifetime status options with Marriott. Clearly they know they have to appeal to customers in some ways, though this move definitely isn’t one of them.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. The majors are all increasing their redemption costs. Obviously they think they need to, so things must be good.
    Those looking for deals will need to reassess their loyalty, but I suspect Marriott isn’t worried or cares until people stop staying there.

  2. I’m planning on redeeming the rest of the points I have coming, and then forgetting about Marriott Rewards. Their devaluations are pretty brisk, and every time I find a hotel where I could redeem my cat 4 or cat 5 certificates, the category goes up.

  3. “I’m not inherently opposed to award rates increasing. It is a necessary evil as the costs of the underlying product increase”

    Sorry, but that logic doesn’t work. Points were earned based on what the product did cost at the time, so if you want to inflate the redemption levels, you have to also apply commensurate inflation to the point balances.

    1. The logic works fine, Phil. Unless, of course, you are under the impression that once earnt the points must retain their exact value in perpetuity. Points do not earn interest sitting in your account. There have been one or maybe two situations in the past 10 years where FF points have increased in value. And many, many more where they have not. If you’re hoarding them for retirement with the assumption that you’ll be able to redeem like you could in the past you’re delusional.

  4. If they change the megabonus to allow CAT 1 – 5 redemptions, that would be customer friendly…

    If they keep it at 1 – 4, then yes, this is a fairly significant devaluation to the program.

    Did Ritz change as well in conjunction with this?

  5. A number of Ritz properties changed classes as well, all up fromwhat I saw. Not all changed but several did. The full list of changes is at the link above. It is a EC page PDF with all the details.

  6. I saw that most of the London and Paris properties will move to Cat 9. Funny thing is they put Country hall Marriott and Grosvenor House JW Marriott in the same bucket when there is a huge difference between them. The JW is close to a Ritz, the County Hall is just a good Marriott.

    I strongly suspect the Megabonus will be updated to Cat 1-5.

  7. @Phil:

    I agree with your logic. But that should be applied to the dollars in my bank account, as well!
    Those dollars were earned according to the value of my labor at the time! Marriott is not worse than the Federal Reserve… 🙂

  8. I’m somewhat disappointed by the number of properties which have made consecutive year category jumps. I suspect they may loose a few customers. It’s not like 10-15 years ago, Hyatt and Starwood have significantly improved their footprints.

  9. I have been looking to add another hotel program. Glad I didn’t pick Marriot! Club Carlson looks like a winner with their new credit card and bonus structure.

  10. Every last Cat4 property I used certificates for, is now a Cat5. MegaBonus program is now worthless. Majority of 4->5 are meritless inflation (devaluation) like Salinas Residence Inn (CA), or Residence Inn Gainesville I-75(GA). Glad I burned off all my certs at the El Segundo Residence Inn during a Christmas family trip. Wish I had found time to hit the Courtyard Maui again this year, oh well!

  11. @ Seth: Calling your readers delusional may not be the best way to increase blog readership… 🙂

    Even if it’s true.

  12. I’m glad i went for the cat5 megabonus, so at least there will be some to chose from. But also couple of hotels go up from 5 to 6…

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