“It’s the usual death by a 1,000 cuts effectively devaluing everyone’s stash of points by 20-25% by unless your vacation goal is a FI in Buffalo alongside the NYS Thruway”, posted FlyerTalk member joshua362 pertaining to the hotel category tier changes announced yesterday for award redemptions in the Marriott Rewards frequent guest loyalty program. “At least they haven’t cut an arm or leg off cleanly like Hilton where I’ll never stay there again on that principal. But Marriott can’t be far behind as they keeping giving away / minting / challenging elites. Something will have to give in 2015.”
Despite rumors of the emergence of a Category 10 tier, there are still nine tiers of categories of hotels in the Marriott Rewards frequent guest loyalty program — and the statistics of the hotel category tier changes are as follows:
- 73 percent of hotel properties remain unchanged
- 66 percent of hotel properties will remain in Categories 1 through 4
- 27 percent of the hotel properties are changing; and of these hotel properties, 22 percent are decreasing by one category and 78 percent are increasing by one category
Those statistics are of no solace to FlyerTalk members such as yul lite, who posted that “I sure hope that the certificates also move up from Cat 1-4/5 to Cat 1-6. All my go to Cat 5 properties are gone. Every one.”
However, FlyerTalk member ssafro1 claims that the changes “Doesn’t look too terrible and 5th night is still free, so I am not too upset. I usually just use the Cat 5 for work travel (bill what the nightly rate would have been anyway) and just call it an extra $xx in my pocket. That, plus the 5x Marriott points makes it well worth its annual fee (which I have gotten waived two years in a row anyway).”
Generally agreeing with ssafro1, “Pretty typical and expected devaluation,” posted FlyerTalk member valor155. Nothing to earth-shattering or surprising after my quick read. At least happy that there are no major changes.”
Apparently thinking more nefarious motives, joshua362 supposes that “I can hear the laughing at MI from here. Lets float out some devasting crazy rumors, deny them publicly so the sting of the annual 25% point category creep is lessened. Even came out with the usual spin. Useless if most of the these 73% properties are the one night stay on the side of the Interstate kind or the M-F suburban office park variety.”
There are other factors in play as well. “The certificate issue is significant”, posted FlyerTalk member swag. “Both the megabonus and the credit card certs are quickly devaluing. MR really needs to raise the categories on these, or at least let you buy up a category for 5K points. I look at 4 out of 5 of the Cat 5’s in New Orleans going up, and really doubt I’ll keep the Visa.”
All redemption reservations booked on or before April 7, 2014 — for stays beginning April 8, 2014 — will be honored at the point price booked. Additionally, you may book redemption reservations up to 50 weeks in advance of your stay, even before having the required Marriott Rewards frequent guest loyalty program points in your account. For example, on April 1, 2014 you may book your redemption stay as far out as March 15, 2015. You can also use Cash + Points to book your redemption stay.
All 23 pages of the official list of hotel category tier changes in the Marriott Rewards frequent guest loyalty program for 2014 are found here.
As I have said repeatedly in the past, perceived devaluations are all a matter of perspective — unless, of course, you are a member of Wyndham Rewards, where there seems to be a unanimous disdain for that frequent guest loyalty program. FlyerTalk member swag seems to agree: “But in the end, we don’t evaluate this just by the metrics. We each look at how we personally have redeemed and will redeem. If your regular hotel goes up, that isn’t offset by category drops at hotels in countries you’ll never visit.”
For me — although I am still a member — the Marriott Rewards frequent guest loyalty program is less useful than ever as a result of the latest hotel category tier changes.