This week’s Deal Dispatch alerts you to a coming devaluation of your Marriott and Starwood hotel rewards points. After my recent report of InterContinental hotels changing award levels and hotel categories, now Marriott and Starwood are doing the same. If you have plans to stay using reward points, you should read and make your bookings before prices go up by up to 400%
Marriott: Out of their more than 4,400 hotels, this year about 800 are changing categories and the number of points required for one free night, or 18%. That’s more than IHG did earlier this year, but less than Marriott did in the last few years. Unfortunately, 560 of them are going up in price and 240 are going down in price, making it a mostly negative change. You can still book at the old prices until March 24th, so I recommend to look at the full list (here) to see if any of your plans are impacted and book quickly if prices are going up. The only good change to the Marriott rewards program is the new feature to book prices for points & cash: If you don’t have enough points, you can pay for parts of the room in cash!
Starwood: The next set of changes comes from Starwood Hotels for their SPG Rewards Program. About 20% of their hotels see changes, with 168 going up and 112 going down. Some of the changes are multiple categories, making hotels significantly more expensive. You only have till March 1st to book at the old prices and can find the complete list here to see the impact on your travel plans!
Of the three program changes, I’d consider InterContinental to be the worst as it includes the addition of two new categories at the top end, making the overall program more expensive. Marriott is next with a large number of increases, leaving fewer and fewer hotels in the affordable categories. Starwood’s changes were the least drastic, although the acquisition by Marriott is likely to bring more changes to that program in the future.
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