Hunting Down The Marriott Hotels Getting More Expensive To Potentially Maximize Travel Certificates

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Related Marriott Travel Packages posts:

The most exciting arbitrage opportunity in the Marriott/Starwood merger are the travel packages. We know that buying a travel package next month will be significantly more expensive than it is now. We know that Marriott is refusing to say what will happen with current packages. We can presume that they won’t burn goodwill by continuing to sell current travel packages and then pulling a fast one on everyone holding a 7 night hotel certificate.

There are endless theories as to what will happen with these. I’m up to at least 5 as of my most recent post.

My gut feeling was that they would turn these into hotel certificates for the new program, but Starwood’s representative on Flyertalk wrote that members should make every effort to attach certificates to a hotel before the programs merge in order to maximize their value or else they will be cancelled and refunded to “equivalent points” (Click to enlarge):

The base assumption of option 2 as is implied by Starwood Lurker is that if you don’t have your certificates attached to a hotel reservation, you will receive a refund of all points except for 120K Marriott points and your hotel certificates will be cancelled. That’s an amazing outcome, but it won’t help you if your goal is to stay in a hotel going up in category.

Option 5 would allow for a refund based on the points that would be required by an equivalent hotel in the merged program, which could be even more lucrative.

But let’s assume option 2 will win out. Let’s say you want to spend your 7 nights in a hotel like a S. Regis in Aspen, Bal Harbour, Bali, Bora Bora, Florence, Kauai, Maldives, Mallorca, New York, Osaka, Puerto Rico, or Rome. Those hotels will cost just 60K per night or 48K points per night on a 5 night stay if you book them between August-January. (You can also book now and get the rate adjusted). If you spent 540K points for a Tier 4-5 certificate now you would get a refund of 420K points with option 2. That’s more than the 360K points that it would cost for 6 nights in these hotels!

But if you want to book those stays starting next February they will cost between 70K-100K points per night. You can’t use travel certificates now to book SPG hotels. But you can attach certificates now to a hotel, including hotels that are getting more expensive. That will save the certificates from being cancelled and refunded into points with the merger. What will happen to the certificate after that point? That’s anyone’s guess, but it may just retain the higher value.

Here are Marriott’s top miles+nights travel packages for 7 nights in a hotel and United miles. With these you can get up to 132K miles and it’s always worth getting the 132K miles package if you can afford it. Prices are in Marriott points (divide by 3 for the price in Starpoints):

Here is the current SPG chart (with pricing in Marriott points to make things comparable), the current Marriott chart, the new chart coming in August, and the new chart coming next February.

Previous Starwood ChartPrevious Previous Marriott ChartAugust 2018 Combined ChartFebruary 2019 Combined Chart
Category 16,000 (Weekends)
9,000 (Weekdays)
7,5007,5005,000 off-peak
7,500 standard
10,000 peak
Category 29,000 (Weekends)
12,000 (Weekdays)
10,00012,50010,000 off-peak
12,500 standard
15,000 peak
Category 321,00015,00017,50015,000 off-peak
17,500 standard
20,000 peak
Category 430,00020,00025,00020,000 off-peak
25,000 standard
30,000 peak
Category 536,000 off-peak
48,000 peak
25,00035,00030,000 off-peak
35,000 standard
40,000 peak
Category 660,000 off-peak
75,000 peak
30,00050,00040,000 off-peak
50,000 standard
60,000 peak
Category 790,000 off-peak
105,000 peak
35,00060,00050,000 off-peak
60,000 standard
70,000 peak
Category 8-40,000-70,000 off-peak
85,000 standard
100,000 peak
Category 9-45,000--
Ritz Tier 1-30,000--
Ritz Tier 2-40,000--
Ritz Tier 3-50,000--
Ritz Tier 4-60,000--
Ritz Tier 5-70,000--

Here are some hotel ideas to potentially maximize your certificates (View the full combined award chart here)

  • If you have a category 1-5 certificate you could book the Calgary Airport Marriott. That hotel is currently a category 5 hotel costing 25K points and will be a category 5 in the new program costing 35K points. Other hotels like this include Eugenia de Montijo Autograph Collection, JW Marriott Hotel New Delhi Aerocity, Marriott’s Villas at Doral, Paragraph Resort & Spa Shekvetili Autograph Collection, and the Residence Inn Temecula Murrieta
  • If you have a category 6 certificate you could book the Marriott’s Club Son Antem. That hotel is currently a category 6 hotel costing 30K points and will be a category 6 in the new program costing 50K points. No other Marriott category 6 hotel will remain a category 6 hotel.
  • If you have a category 7 certificate you could downgrade to the category 6 option or book the Fairfield Inn & Suites Virgin Zion National Park. That hotel is currently a category 7 hotel costing 35K points and will be a category 6 in the new program costing 50K points. Other hotels like this include Marriott Vacation Club Pulse San Diego, Marriott’s Cypress Harbour Villas, Marriott’s Fairway Villas, Marriott’s Imperial Palms Villas, Marriott’s Marbella Beach Resort, Marriott’s Royal Palms, Marriott’s Sabal Palms, Marriott’s St. Kitts Beach Club, and SpringHill Suites Springdale Zion National Park.
  • If you have a category 8 certificate you could book the Marriott’s Newport Coast Villas. That hotels is currently a category 8 hotel costing 40K points and will be a category 7 in the new program costing 60K points. Other hotels like this include Marriott’s Kauai Lagoons, Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club, and Marriott’s Waikoloa Ocean Club.
  • If you have a category 9 certificate you could book the Domes of Elounda, Autograph Collection. That hotel is currently a category 9 hotel costing 45K points and will be a category 8 in the new program costing 60K points in August and 85K points in February. No other Marriott category 9 hotel will become a category 8 hotel.
  • If you have a tier 1-3 certificate you could downgrade to the category 9 option or you could book The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto. That hotel is currently a tier 3 hotel costing 50K points and will be a category 7 in the new program costing 60K points.  Other hotels like this include The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah Al Hamra Beach UAE, The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah Al Wadi Desert UAE, and the The Ritz-Carlton Osaka.
  • If you have a tier 4-5 certificate you could downgrade to the category 9 option or you could book The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park. That hotel is currently a tier 5 hotel costing 70K points and will be a category 8 in the new program costing 60K points in August and 85K points in February. Other hotels like this include Miami Beach EDITION, The Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbour, The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch, The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto, The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe, The Ritz-Carlton Naples, The Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas, and The Ritz-Carlton Tokyo.

Let’s be realistic here. Just because you book a hotel that’s getting more expensive doesn’t mean that the certificate will retain the higher category. Maximizing the potential may very well be limited just for the hotel that you lock in. Then again we have no idea what will happen, so this is a decent strategy to try to maximize your certificate.

For example if you spend 540K Marriott points (180K SPG points) for a tier 4-5 certificate and 132K United miles, and Marriott decides to go with option 2, you would get a refund of 420K points. If you lock in a tier 5 hotel then you will keep that certificate. We have no idea what will happen if you detach the certificate from the hotel after the program merger is complete, but it’s entirely plausible that the certificate will be valid at any hotel systemwide. Next February that would mean the hotel certificate could be worth 510K points (top-tier hotel on standard dates) or even 600K points (top-tier hotel on peak dates)!

It’s yet another potential scenario to ponder in the Marriott travel package saga.

Short on Starpoints/Marriott points?

  • You must call Marriott at 800-321-7396 if you want to book a miles+nights travel package. They can’t be booked online.
  • The miles will post within a few days of the transfer, regardless of when or if you use the 7 night certificate. You may also be able to pay to expedite the mileage posting.
  • The 7 night electronic hotel certificate expires in 1 year, though Marriott currently will extend them for 1 additional year if you contact them.
  • You don’t need to choose the hotel at the time of a nights+miles redemption.
  • The certificate must be used at one property for 7 consecutive nights.
  • You can have the certificate issued in anyone’s name.
  • You can currently upgrade your hotel certificate by paying the difference in points later on.

Will you buy a travel package before they are devalued next month?

Related Marriott-SPG merger posts:

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36 Comments On "Hunting Down The Marriott Hotels Getting More Expensive To Potentially Maximize Travel Certificates"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.


Im holding a few 1-3 RC packages and want to secure the Prince Du Gualle in Paris which is a starwood hotel and probably a category up. So I can call Marriott and attach a certificate to the Starwood Prince De Gualle?


Villas at Doral currently requires the addition of 2 upgrade certs per night on award stays as all rooms are 2 bedroom villas. I can’t get an answer from Marriott as to whether it will still require these upgrades once moved up to costing 35,000.


Dan, you mentioned the Domes of Elounda Autograph property. This is actually the property I’ve been looking to use a certificate at. Problem is I’m looking at a trip in the summer of 2019. On their website it seems you can’t currently book anything ($ or rewards bookings) after this summer season. I believe it’s because it is a seasonal property and they only open bookings in the late winter/early spring for the upcoming season. If that’s the case, any idea how to work around that? If I’m not able to book until February 2019 it will cost 85k per night, as opposed to 45k now or 60k in August-Jan. Thanks for any advice!


Thanks Dan!!! I bought the cat 8 cert for 360,000. If option 2 wont happen what can I expect as the next option?


SPG is having technical difficulties transferring points online to household members. I had to call in and they took the instruction over the phone and said up to 5 biz days for completion. Both accounts have been open 30 days and it’s been 15+ days since SPG points were purchased (Inknow the rules from reading here)

I hope they transfer soon so I can move to Marriott and get another travel package.


I got the tier 1-3 certificate and want to use it after February in the st. Regis Bal Harbour. How do you recommend going about that? What would be the process?
Thank you.


Starwood Lurker says “Other floater certificates”, but doesn’t say “ALL other floater certificates”… Is there any chance that the travel package certificates don’t get converted to points, or is it completely clear at this point? I don’t think i can do 7 straight nights in the same hotel.

Yossi Fisch

I hope someone can answer this, I have 330k Marriot points. I can’t make now any plans and book for a future vacation, what’s my best option to do now, I’m willing to take some risk as well.


If you are OK with staying somewhere for 7 nights and can use the miles, get a Travel Package. Attaching the certificate to a reservation for c stay you are planning on going seems the least risky move. If that’s NOT where you eventually will end up staying buy you are attaching the hotel certificate, that’s the second least risky. The third most risky is leaving the hotel certificate unattached to any hotel stay. If you simply sat on your MRPs, they WILL BE DEVALUED come August.


Dan- just to confirm, I believe one of your suggestions was to attach currently to a hotel which is a higher category than it will be after aug…thats my current situtation with residence inn surfside going down from 6 to 5. I wasnt sure why thats a good thing to do though- what potential benefit is there to booking now other than obviously making sure room not sold out


What’s confusing me is this. Will the 5 nights 16K SPG points per night reservations for the Maldives for example be valid for dates past whatever you can book come February. In other words, according to this new chart (if it doesn’t change) I can make a Maldives reservation in 2020 for 16K SPG points per night too?


Any idea if the category certificates(non floater) will have their date reset when they are reissued with new category? I have couple ritz 1-4 certs from chase card that are about month to expire and waiting it out to see if they reset the date or atleast open up more choices, specifically spg properties.


mine main q is will you be able to cancel your booking after the merge, and what will you get back?


So with a cat 6 cert what would be my best strategy. if i book a reservation for june 2019 but have no intention of going to, if after the merger and everything settles down do u think i can cancel it and get the cert back or a bumped points refund. if not what would be in your opinion the nicest cat 6 anywhere to go to. i am not really limited to locations , but if i have to use it want it at a great place. thanks much

Deal Guy

Dan, can you please advise or make a post to describe what to do if you want to use a certificate for a “SPG” hotel?
I understand you answered above that you can’t currently use it for a spg hotel.
So can I just issue a 7 day certificate now, and then attach it to a spg hotel after the merger in August?
Please advise best options for those who have an eye to use these for Spg hotels.


I got the tier 1-3 certificate and want to use it after February in the st. Regis Bal Harbour. How do you recommend going about that? What would be the process?
Thank you. Can someone help


Dan, if you purchase a tier 4-5 certificate but end up wanting to downgrade, say to a category 8, how does that work? Do you get some sort of point refund, or does it only work on a tier 4-5 hotel?

David B

Worth adding: The hotel has to have points availability to use the certificate, so you may not be able to use it for a given hotel at peak times. Right?


I think the answer is yes. The hotel must have available rooms when redeeming with points. Having a certificate doesn’t mean you are guaranteed to be able to book.


I think Dan deserve a Pulitzer Prize for his in depth and broad journalistic coverage of the SPG-Marriott Merger!


Can’t book at club antem.. At least system wouldn’t let you with points. That’s what has me thinking it would be something unfavorable


I am not clear on the following: Attaching a travel package to a hotel is NOT the same as reserving a specific time? Please help me.


Dan – If I want to use the 7 night certificate at the Atlantis when it goes down in points since it will be a category 5 – will that work? Thanks


I need help with a Tokyo hotel recommendation for May 2019.

I am sitting on a category 1-5 certificate. I am close to having 30k points in my account, I can buy 7000 MR points to make it. I believe I can trade in 30,000 more Marriott points and get a category 6 certificate instead of 1-5, right?

Please advise, location is not as important (using trains/metro is fine)… I am looking for a great hotel experience on my first Asian trip. I looked up the rates for my dates in late May:

Cat 5
Courtyard Ginza (says sold out)
Courtyard Tokyo Station (says sold out) – this one was my favorite location
Moxy Toyko ($118) – reviews say it is in the “red light district”

Cat 6 [I would have to buy 7000 MR points, then call and trade in 30k more points]
Sheraton Miyako ($182)
Tokyo Marriott ($188)
Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay ($202)
The Westin Tokyo ($237)
The Prince Gallery Sakura Tower ($471)

I am leaning towards the Category 6, perhaps the Sheraton Tokyo Bay since we will be spending 3 out of 7 days at Disney. It is really too bad they don’t let me in the lounge for free anymore with the SPG Business card – that would have been amazing.


Hi Dan,
I called SPG to book a 5 night at Le Meridien in Bora Bora sometimes in July 2019. Of course nothing is available but the rep said it will cost 280K SPG points. But if I transfer 110K SPG pts to Marriott, I end up with 330K and that will be sufficient to buy a cat 7 package that will be valid to book at Le Meridien? Also base rate is for a room for 3. With 2 kids I need to upgrade to a bigger bungalow/villa. Can it be paid with points? Thanks.


I want to use my tier 1-3 for the Ritz Maldives….Should I use my tier 1-3 certificate now to book a Ritz (for example Hertzlia Israel) so it doesn’t get “cancelled”….and then after August call in to change the hotel to the Maldives??


few questions on the N&F program:
1. Do I have to book a United flight when I issue the program or do I just get the miles into the account?
2. Can I use two rooms for 3-4 nights (equaling the 7 nights) or 1 room for up to 7 nights?
3. When booking the hotel, does there have to be availability only on points or so long as there are paid rooms available, the cert would work?
4. How soon after purchasing the package can I use the hotel cert?