Marriott has announced that their latest devaluation will happen on March 29. As expected, the change to “flexible point redemption”. . .Marriott-speak for dynamic pricing. . .will mean that the value of Bonvoy points will continue to plummet. Here’s what it means for clients that are holding Bonvoy points and certificates:
- On March 29, 200 hotels will be more expensive for point redemptions (here’s the complete list: https://help.marriott.com/s/article/Article-33764). This list includes the cream of the Marriott crop as well as some of their more basic Fairfield, Courtyard and Springhill Suites properties.
- 37 hotels are increasing by 5,000 points per night; 60 hotels are moving up by 10,000 points; 79 hotels are increasing by 20,000 points; and 44 hotels are going to cost 30,000 more points per night. Some of these increases are in the range of 30, 40 and 50%.
- Starting March 29, it will become very difficult to find a decent property to book using any existing (or future) 35k Marriott certificates.
And this is just the start. Marriott has said that they’re limiting their increases to a very small number of properties for now. That’s true, but if you look at their list, you’ll see that nearly all of the best hotels are on it. Starting next year, I believe we’ll see similar increases across the board at the rest of their 8,000+ hotels.
Here’s what I recommend for our Marriott clients: Book now, before March 29, if you have travel plans that include any hotel on the list. This is particularly true if you are holding free night certificates of any “denomination”, which can range from 35k per night to 85k. Those certificates have to be booked for a stay prior to their expiration date, and there are a multitude of certificates set to expire on June 30. Don’t expect that date to be extended.
If you have a Marriott co-branded credit card (Amex and Chase both offer them) that gives you a free night certificate each year as an offset to its annual fee, you should reevaluate whether to continue with that card. Going forward, it will be difficult and frustrating to find a desirable hotel that will accept that certificate for a free night, even when Marriott’s “top-up” program begins in April. Remember that you can still transfer points from both the Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards programs to Marriott if you decide to stay at one of their (much more expensive) hotels in the future.
For all of us veterans of the Marriott Rewards loyalty program, this is such disappointing news. Take action before the latest devaluation on March 29.