An update to the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program is quickly approaching.
On March 4, 2020, Marriott will be shifting hundreds of their properties in their category based program. The change is not surprising, as Marriott historically makes adjustments once a year to its loyalty program.
However, some changes are more drastic than others, and this update seems to be more significant. A large portion of Marriott’s hotels will require more points for free nights, meaning that your Marriott Bonvoy points are now worth a bit less.
Marriott Bonvoy Changes
Marriott Bonvoy became the new rewards program for Marriott properties in 2019. This followed Marriott’s 2016 acquisition of Starwood Hotels, and there have been many changes that resulted in waves of disappointment from loyal Marriott customers ever since. The phrase "bonvoyed" was coined to describe the frustration of some Marriott customers in regards to hotel experience and consistent devaluation. This upcoming change looks to be one that could shift a number of loyal customers away from the legacy hotel brand.
The changes, effective March 4, 2020, include the following:
- 2,185 hotels (~30% of all Marriott properties) are changing categories
- 499 hotels (7%) are moving down a category level
- 1,686 hotels (23%) are moving up a category level
This means that more hotels are going to cost more points — leading to points being worth less.
These devaluations also affect Marriott Bonvoy credit card benefits. Marriott Bonvoy credit cards — like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card, Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card and Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card — come with an annual free night certificate, redeemable at hotels that fall at or below a specific point threshold.
Marriott Cards with free night certificates
Free night benefit details
|Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card||Receive 1 free night award every year on your card anniversary. The award can be used for an award room equal to or less than 35,000 points.|
|Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card||Receive 1 free night award every year on your card anniversary. The award can be used for an award room equal to or less than 50,000 points.|
|Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card||Receive 1 free night award every year on your card anniversary. The award can be used for an award room equal to or less than 35,000 points.|
Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.
With many hotels shuffling up the tiers, free night certificates will be less valuable, as fewer hotels will fall under the thresholds.
Of the hotels moving categories, 216 hotels are moving from Category 5 to 6 — whereas only 15 hotels are moving from Category 6 to 5. In short, Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card and Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card holders will have 201 fewer hotels to use their free night certificates at.
On the bright side, the points chart will not see any adjustments. The majority of Marriott hotels will fall under the same point range in 2020:
Marriott Bonvoy Points Chart
How Do the Marriott Changes Affect Point Value?
Because there are far more hotels increasing the numbers of points needed for redemption, the update will drive down the value of Marriott points.
Prior to the changes, travel reward experts valued Marriott Bonvoy points were around 0.8 cents per point. However, these changes will likely bring that value down closer to 0.7 or 0.6 cents per point.
How do you know if an award booking is worth it?
Marriott Bonvoy points are generally valued around 0.8 cents per point — if an award night with Marriott Bonvoy is worth at least 0.8 cents per point, then it’s worth booking. To calculate the value of Marriott Bonvoy points, use this simple equation:
Cash price (minus any taxes and fees that you would have to pay with an award booking) / Number of points needed for stay = Point value for that specific redemption
Are Marriott Bonvoy Points Still Worth It?
Yes, Marriott Bonvoy points are still worth it, although whether you choose to stick with Marriott Bonvoy may depend on the type of hotel you prefer.
The changes specifically affect those who enjoy staying in Marriott’s mid-tier properties. If you primarily stay in Category 4 to 6 hotels, be sure to check if your properties in mind are impacted by these changes. If you enjoy budget travel in Categories 1 or 2, or ultra luxury travel in Categories 7 or 8 — these changes won’t have as much impact.
However, the update may cause some to leave Marriott Bonvoy and search for more valuable rewards elsewhere. If that is the case for you, consider the World of Hyatt program along with World of Hyatt Credit Card. Hyatt elite status is highly coveted, and Hyatt points are extremely valuable.