Huge Devaluation – Marriott Announces 2018 Category Changes

Following on from SPG’s 2018 category changes, Marriott have announced theirs and it’s a shocker. More than four times as many properties are moving up a category than are moving down.

JW Marriott Washington DC

JW Marriott Washington DC, increasing from category 8 to category 9

You can find the full list of changes here, but be warned – it’s not pretty. 1,082 properties are moving up a category while only 247 properties are moving down.

There is a silver lining of sorts in that there are no properties moving up more than one category, but it still represents a huge devaluation of the Marriott Rewards scheme.

It also represents a devaluation of the Chase Marriott Rewards credit cards. Both the personal and business versions come with a free night certificate for a category 1-5 hotel every year when you renew your card. With these changes there’ll be 392 79 fewer properties where you can use your free night certificates. That’s because 620 124 category 5 properties are moving up and only 228 45 category 6 properties are moving down.

Edit: tinytavosa in the comments has put together a list of the properties moving from category 5 to 6.

These changes also mean that the number of properties available in Marriott’s Category 1-5 Hotel + Air packages will reduce. If you’ve had your eye on a category 6, 7 or 8 Hotel + Air package, check the list in case the property you want to stay at is moving up a category level and will therefore require more points. If you’re planning on booking one of those packages, you might want to do so before March 6, 2018.

Marriott are thankfully giving four weeks notice of these changes, so make your reservations by March 5, 2018 if you want to stay at a property that’s moving up a category. Stays don’t have to be completed by March 5, 2018, just booked by that date.

Following Marriott’s takeover of SPG, it seems strange that they’d make minor changes to the SPG categories this year but gut their own scheme. I’m guessing they’re trying to keep SPG loyalists on board while integrating the loyalty schemes and hoping their own loyalists don’t notice (or care?)

Question

What are your thoughts about this devaluation? Are you likely to move your loyalty away from Marriott due to these changes? Let us know in the comments below.

About Stephen Pepper

Stephen Pepper is on a 5 year, 50 state road trip with his wife Shae and their dog Truffles. Finding opportunities to earn miles and points is one of the ways they can afford to do this, so he'll try to help you do the same for your own travels.

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  1. A large number of Florida properties are moving down so that’s worth looking at if you want a family beach vacation using a package.

  2. Hotel points are a sucker’s bet. They’re just keeping you all on a treadmill, folks. Always running and grasping, but never achieving. They move your cheese at will.

  3. Why do you say the number of properties available under Marriott’s Hotel + Air packages will reduce? Don’t they have packages for all categories? Some packages might cost more points of course, but the same hotels should still be available as before.

  4. The only thing good that’s ever happened in the Marriott program is the merger with SPG. Once that’s integrated, Marriott will again be nearly worthless.

    • Sorry, I thought I’d clarified that in the post, but it looks like I’d only included that info in the post about the SPG category change. I’ve updated this post to specify what Nick’s explained below.

    • LOL, why would you want to go to Phu Quoc, and waste points on a JW at that? There’s nothing interesting on that island, and you can get a posh no-brand hotel for under $50. SE ASia is the worst place to waste any hotel currency.

      • Have you been to Bangkok and compared the point burn rate to New York City? I’ll take the executive lounges breakfast and drinks at night plus a full-time trainer in the gym at a 50% savings compared to the Marquis any day

        • I agree. I stayed at the JWM in Bangkok a few years back, and it was fantastic. The breakfast buffet alone puts anything in the US to shame. All at a steep discount compared to anything state-side. Try to stay in U.S. properties for the same points feels like we’re the third world country.

  5. Going to cancel the Marriott card. Hard enough to find good cat 5 properties as it is. Now it becomes even harder. Wish Marriott would take a cue from Hyatt and at least allow the free night in big cities or other desirable destinations. Doesn’t have to be a free night at any category. But 1 – 6 would be immensely more beneficial than 1 – 5.

  6. LOL! Cat 7-8 for COURTYARDS. I receive e-mails and snail mail weekly to apply for the Marriott CC. Given the abysmal value of Marriott points and the not so wonderful journey of staying at a Fairfield Inn out in the sticks to redeem the night certificate I’ll take my 3k spend elsewhere.

  7. Can you book the Hotel + Air package hotel without the required points in your account? Meaning if I don’t have the extra points for a Cat 6 or 7 hotel, can you deposit points later?

  8. Makes me feel better about using Rocketmiles for my hotels – forgo the Marriott points, and get more valuable Alaska miles (along with UR points using CSR) instead. Will maintain Gold status with annual spend on SPG AMEX (until they change that…) which is all I can hit anyway (do not stay enough to earn platinum on basis of number of nights even with Marriott credit card bonuses).

    Yes, there are limitations to using something like Rocketmiles, but when you can find good point value on a refundable stay, it typically pencils out in your favor

  9. Ugh ugh ugh. One of the reasons I’ve never gotten the Marriott CC is that I have no use for their category 1-5 certificate, because the only thing you get is courtyards off highways and airport hotels. This makes the matter even worse.

    Perhaps you can make a companion post of the “best’ hotels that are going up or down a category so people can set their sights on booking before/after the deadline?

  10. Courtyard King Kamehaneha is going up from Cat 6-7?! Is this to match the even shittier category 7 Waikiki beach? The locations are good but they’re the two shittiest Marriott in all of Hawaii. And Marriott has what, over a dozen excluding Starwood in Hawaii and none of them is redeemable for the free night. I know what I’m doing when our Marriott cards ar rip for renewal.

  11. Had a harx time finding a cat. 5 this year. Getting rid of my wife’s card is a no brainer. We only keep it for the free night. Will transfer her points to my account.

  12. Not to be an apologist for Marriott, but (a) the vast majority of these changes are not on aspirational properties, and (b) why does the points chasing world insist on calling these devaluations? Does the cash rate for hotel rooms increase over time? Yes. So why wouldn’t you expect the points rate to increase as well? If they’re increasing at roughly the same pace, then your points are worth the same as they always were on a cents-per-point basis.

    • They’re called devaluations because it quite literally will take more points to stay at the same property and reduces the number of properties a Marriott credit card certificate can be redeemed at. If they simply wanted to raise prices, they could increase the amount of points required, not impacting certificates, and call it an inflation hedge. That’s not what they did.

  13. I just got off the phone with Chase. I have a business card (I could not get the personal card because of 5/24). I had believed that the business card did not even come with an annual free night. The Chase agent today told me that my business card does in fact earn an annual free night in Categories 1 through 4 (not 5). I asked about the personal card (even though I do not have one, a family member does) and was told that it too has a free night in Categories 1 through 4 (again, not 5). Has something changed here? Or did the agent get it wrong?

    • I think the agent got it wrong – it’s still categories 1-5. They might’ve been getting mixed up with the Hyatt card as that comes with a category 1-4 certificate each year.

  14. I think your numbers for the Category 5 changes are a bit off. I only see around 100 moving up and just under 40 moving down. Still not a good move but slightly less awful.

    • You’re right – thanks for spotting that. I’m used to Excel but used Google Sheets this time around; when highlighting the category 5s, I’m used to Excel displaying both the total and number of cells highlighted, whereas Google Sheets only gives the total. I took that total as the number of cells highlighted.

  15. After 30 years of chasing JWM group, being a lifetime platinum for a while now. Maybe it is time to move on.
    When I retire I will not have miles to use, nor will I be able to afford the price of the rooms. Bye bye

  16. Hey Stephen. I compiled and sorted out all properties expect those going from Category 5 to Category 6 for a very easy view of all the possible loses coming for 7 day certificate redemptions. I am finding 124 (not 123) for what small change that is worth.

    Glad I am getting to Phu Quoc this next month so I won’t miss that.

    Here is a link to the google sheet if you wanna copy the info into the post or link to it. I don’t mind if you want to just copy it in, or do nothing at all. I just found it useful to make for myself as well! Enjoy.

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/14plNYU8F7RMQAi59qug19sF2ztYk2y0mAzWbDIoWdY8/edit?usp=sharing

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