Update: The devaluations in this post go into effect tomorrow! Be sure to take advantage of current standard award pricing by making reservations today!
Originally posted on 8/15:
We’ve long known that Marriott planned on introducing peak and off-peak award pricing. But while in the past peak nights have been disclosed in advance, peak pricing will now be dynamic and peak dates won’t be published. You’ll have to search for dates to see which dates are peak, off-peak, or standard.
Once per month, Marriott’s algorithm will examine pricing and change the peak and off-peak dates at each hotel.
The reason that hotel points have been lucrative is that you can redeem an award when rates are a fortune for a low amount of points. While this system isn’t fully dynamic as updates only happen monthly and there is still an award chart, the ability for peak dates to change dynamically is not a good thing for the value of a program’s points. It’s a great thing for Marriott themselves as they reimburse hotels at significantly higher rates when a hotel is nearly full for any given night. This means Marriott can discourage redemptions on dates that are filling up.
Luckily the updates will only happen monthly. For now.
Peak and off-peak pricing go into effect on 9/14. Reservations made before then will be locked in with the current rates. If rates go to off-peak you can always cancel and rebook, assuming the cancellation rules allow for it. If the rates go to peak you won’t need to pay the higher rate.
As peak and off-peak dates will change dynamically, you’ll want to periodically check on all of your standard and peak point reservations going forward to see if they have dropped in price.
Originally Marriott said that hotels would have about an equal amount of peak and off-peak dates, while most dates would be standard. Marriott is now saying that this will be true overall across their portfolio, but individual hotels may have more peak than off-peak dates.
Marriott will also update their cash+points pricing.
In the award chart below that will be effective 9/14, I combine the new pricing together with cash+points pricing and PointSavers pricing with discounts on rotating hotels.
I also calculate the value of each level of cash+points according to the effective price you are paying in cpp (cents per point) to save Marriott points. I value Marriott points at about 0.7 cents each, so there are just a couple instances where it will be a good value to use cash+points.
A category 6 peak night gives a great value with cash+points as it saves you 30,000 points for $190, which is a cost of just 0.63 cents per point (1.89 cents per Starpoint if you still think like I do). A category 1 off-peak night is a terrible value with cash+points as it saves you 3,500 points for $55, which is a cost of 1.57 cents per point (4.71 cents per Starpoint).
|Hotel Category||New Award Chart||New Cash + Points Chart..............||New Pointsavers Chart|
|Category 1||5,000 off-peak|
|$55+1,500 (1.57 cpp) off-peak|
$55+3,500 (1.38 cpp) standard
$55+4,500 (1 cpp) peak
|Category 2||10,000 off-peak|
|$65+4,000 (1.08 cpp) off-peak|
$65+6,000 (1 cpp) standard
$65+7,000 (0.81 cpp) peak
|Category 3||15,000 off-peak|
|$80+6,000 (0.89 cpp) off-peak|
$80+8,500 (0.89 cpp) standard
$80+9,500 (0.76 cpp) peak
|Category 4||20,000 off-peak|
|$105+8,000 (0.88 cpp) off-peak|
$105+12,000 (0.8 cpp)
$105+15,000 (0.7 cpp) peak
|Category 5||30,000 off-peak|
|$140+13,500 (0.85 cpp) off-peak|
$140+17,000 (0.78 cpp)
$140+21,000 (0.74 cpp) peak
|Category 6||40,000 off-peak|
|$190+19,000 (0.9 cpp) off-peak|
$190+25,000 (0.76 cpp)
$190+30,000 (0.63 cpp) peak
|Category 7||50,000 off-peak|
|$250+25,000 (1 cpp) off-peak|
$250+30,000 (0.83 cpp)
$250+40,000 (0.83 cpp) peak
|Category 8||70,000 off-peak|
|$440+27,500 (1.04 cpp) off-peak|
$440+42,500 (1.04 cpp)
$440+57,500 (1.04 cpp) peak
Credit card anniversary nights will be valid on nights up to 35K or 50K points each, they aren’t tied to any specific category.
In other news, Marriott’s Points Advance feature will be #Bonvoyed.
Currently you can lock in a hotel at the current rate even if you don’t have enough points. Starting on 9/14 you will only be able to lock in a room, but the rate will be whatever it is when you have enough points to redeem for an award certificate at the hotel.
That means you can still lock in a hotel at the standard award level now and pay the current rates even if it goes to peak, but you’ll need to find an agent that will able to do that, which can be a maddening experience with Marriott.
But as of 9/14 you won’t be able to lock in rates anymore, which will remove much of the program’s value. You can still lock in an base room for points, but the rate will be whatever it is when you’re ready to redeem points for the room.
Also, effective 9/14 you can only have 3 points advance bookings at a time.
5th night free awards will also be #Bonvoyed on 9/14 as their name changes to “Stay for 5, pay for 4.” If you redeem for a 5 night stay that includes different point levels, you will get the lowest point level night for free. With SPG you saved the price of every 5th night, but under this scheme you will only save the rate of the least expensive night.
With these changes, you may find the most value in the program in the ability to transfer 60K points into 25K-27K miles with dozens of airlines. Luckily, that transfer ratio remains a strong hedge against devaluation with hotel redemptions.