Marriott has released this years list of hotels slated to change from their award category and it isn’t pretty. It was a relief to see that there are no new categories, contrary to the reported rumors running around last week. However this has amounted to a devaluation of the Marriott program anyway.
Marriott’s portfolio consists of over 3,900 hotels worldwide of which 1,082 of these hotels will be shifted into a new category effective April 8th. Of the hotels changing, a whopping 78% are increasing by one category leaving only 22% of the hotels going down a category.
The ability to earn a free night after 2 paid stays via Marriott’s Mega Bonus promotions have added a lot of value to paid stays in the past. However, these category 1-4 certificates are going to feel this change as 123 hotels are going up from a category 4 to a category 5 putting them out of reach for using Mega Bonus certificates. On the flip side 28 hotels will drop from a 5 to a 4.
The annual category 1-5 free night that comes at renewal for holding the Marriott Rewards Premier credit card also just became less valuable as well. Only 2 properties are being lowered from a 6 to a 5 while 208 properties are moving up to a 6 from their current level. At this point I really do not see the value in keeping the Marriott card past the 1st free year and paying the $85 annual fee. Chase/Marriott really need to make a change to the annual free night as it has become worth less and less every year. The annual free night at any IHG property for a $49 annual fee is a far better deal as is the 40,000 annual bonus points from Club Carlson.
Take a look at the list and your travel plans. Keep in mind that you can make reservations as far out as 50 weeks ahead. But don’t procrastinate because must book your stays by the end of the day on April 7th to make award bookings at the old rates.
So what are your thoughts on the changes? Are you planning on burning points or free night certificates before the change? Are you staying loyal to Marriott?