Brace yourselves Marriott points’ loyalists. Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse with Marriott’s new-ish Bonvoy loyalty program, the company has announced its annual hotel category changes, effective March 4, 2020. And it’s pretty shocking—over 1,500 of the 7,200 properties in Marriott’s portfolio of 30-plus unique brands will increase in award category, effectively increasing the points cost of reward nights.
It has been over a year since loyalty programs Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and SPG were integrated, and we’ve seen nothing but changes for the worse since. Recall that in 2019 Marriott introduced an eighth category with a standard redemption rate of 85,000 points, shifted numerous properties to higher, pricier categories, and introduced off-peak and peak pricing (up to 100,000 points!). Then, in early February 2020, Marriott Bonvoy added a number of new capacity controls on award stays. Now, it’s a countdown to March 4, when 22% of Marriott properties grow pricier for points redemption.
As a reminder, the official redemption Marriott Bonvoy award chart, implemented in 2019, (below) will not be changing. Rather, it’s the categories under which hotels fall that will be changing for so many properties.
On the bright side, about 500 properties (7%) will go down by one category. Unfortunately, most of these are not the properties we covet, like top-tier locations of St. Regis, The Ritz-Carlton, Autograph Collection, and Luxury Collection properties. Also, we still have until March 4 to book all soon-to-be pricier properties at their current redemption rates. Our advice: Take a look at the category changes here, spend those points now (before the change goes into effect), and consider saying Bon Voyage to the Bonvoy program in favor of another hotel loyalty program like Hyatt’s or Hilton’s.