Marriott’s Sleight Of Hand: Category Changes Worse Than Advertised

When is a decrease not a decrease? When it’s an increase.

Being British has endowed me with a decent (some would say indecent) amount of cynicism. So when Marriott announced a huge devaluation in February 2018 that would take effect the following month, it made me wonder if they’d artificially inflated prices temporarily so they could lower them in August 2018 once the Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest schemes had been combined.

As it turns out, that’s exactly what they’ve done; here’s how Marriott’s sleight of hand worked.

Marriott SPG Merger Sleight Of Hand

It’s a trick some stores use. They double the price of a product for a short amount of time, revert it back to its original price and say “Look! Half price!” We think we’re getting a great deal, but it’s simply the same deal we’d have received a week earlier before the price was raised.

Which brings us to Marriott.

The Claim

When Marriott announced which categories each property would fall into from August 2018, it was marketed as:

Nearly 70 percent of all participating hotels can be redeemed for the same or fewer points. (52 percent of hotels will move to a lower redemption rate and only 31 percent will go higher.)

According to Marriott, more than half their properties would cost fewer points from August, while less than a third of properties would increase in price. That all sounds very reasonable.

Except it’s not true.

Not when you take into account all the changes they made back in March anyway.

Back then, 1,082 properties – almost 20% of the Marriott Rewards portfolio at the time – moved up a category. From August, 67% of those properties will cost either the same or fewer points.

Why would Marriott raise the points required for stays at these hotels, only to lower many of them again just a few months later?

So they can claim an increase is a decrease. An alternative fact if you will.

When Less Is More

Let’s take the TownePlace Suites Dulles Airport as an example. Before March 2018, it was a category 2 property and therefore cost 10,000 points per night.

TownePlace Suites Dulles Airport

TownePlace Suites Dulles Airport

In March, it increased to a category 3 property which meant you now had to pay 15,000 points per night. However, from August it’ll be going back down to being a category 2 property. Except category 2 hotels will now cost 12,500 points.

So here’s where we are. The TownePlace Suites Dulles Airport cost 10,000 points per night in February and will cost 12,500 points from August. When phrased like that it seems obvious – it’ll cost 2,500 more points to stay at this hotel from August, so points redemptions there have been devalued.

Except Marriott consulted the retailer playbook. By artificially increasing the price to 15,000 points for five months and then decreasing it to 12,500 points, they can now claim you’ll require fewer points at this property.

That’s not the only example of this happening. In fact, there are hundreds of properties that will cost more, but which Marriott can claim cost less due to their category manipulation.

When Less Is The Same

There are other ways they’ve been able to manipulate the data. For this example we’ll use the Marriott Marquis Washington DC. Pre-March 2018, this hotel was a category 7 property and so required 35,000 points per night. In March it increased to category 8 and thus needed 40,000 points for a one night stay.

Marriott Marquis Washington DC

Marriott Marquis Washington DC

Fast forward to August and the Marriott Marquis Washington DC will be a category 5 property that costs 35,000 points per night. You’ll therefore have to use exactly the same number of points from August as you did a few months earlier, but Marriott can claim they’ve reduced how many points you need thanks to the temporary increase to 40,000 points.

Once again, there are hundreds of instances where they’ve done this.

When The Same Is More

Here’s a final example for a different scenario. Let’s say you want to stay at the San Jose Marriott. If you’d stayed there back in February, it’d have cost you 30,000 points per night.

San Jose Marriott

The following month it went up a category and subsequently cost 35,000 points. This property will be classed as a category 5 property in August and so will continue costing 35,000 points.

The increased category in March means that Marriott can now claim that this property will cost the same number of points, when in reality it costs more compared to just a few months earlier.

The Stats

When taking the 1,082 properties where points redemptions increased back in March and comparing them to how many points you’ll require in August, this is what I found:

  • 353 will require more points than they did pre-March, but Marriott can claim they cost less due to the increase in March.
  • 213 will require the same number of points they did pre-March, but Marriott can claim they cost less due to the increase in March.
  • 159 will require more points than they did pre-March, but Marriott can claim they cost the same due to the increase in March.

The Claim Versus The Reality

When announcing the August changes, Marriott claimed the following:

  • 52% of properties will cost less
  • 17% will cost the same
  • 31% will cost more

Those percentages are based on comparing the current points requirements to those that’ll be in effect from August. As you might’ve guessed from the tone of this post, I think a more accurate comparison would be to the points required back in February.

When comparing that way, this is what you end up with:

  • 43% of properties will cost less
  • 18% will cost the same
  • 39% will cost more

Comparing those percentages, you can see why Marriott did what they did. By temporarily inflating (or inflating a few months early) the number of points required at more than 700 properties, they can claim that more than half their properties will cost fewer points, when in reality far less than half are decreasing.

Similarly, they can claim more than two-thirds will cost less or stay the same, whereas it’s less than two-thirds. Meanwhile, they can also claim that less than a third of their properties will require more points, but in reality far more than a third are increasing.

Other Changes Implemented Early

The category changes in March weren’t the only changes they implemented early in order to avoid some backlash in August when Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest finally became one.

Back in November, Greg wrote about how Marriott dumped rollover nights and status buy back. By implementing these changes at the start of 2018 rather than in August, they seem to be counting on people not associating the loss of these features with the merger of the two loyalty schemes and help ensure they get positive coverage in August.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the category changes Marriott’s implementing in August aren’t bad. Even when taking into account the artificial inflation of properties in March, we’re still seeing a larger number of properties requiring fewer points than costing more.

My issue has been with the seemingly disingenuous way that Marriott both implemented and presented these changes. 43% costing less and 39% costing more is a big difference to 52% costing less and 31% costing more – a 4% difference compared to a 21% difference. It’s also a good reminder that everything isn’t always as it seems when it comes to press releases.

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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Patrick O’Hearn
Guest
Patrick O’Hearn

HILTON IS LOOKING MORE HHONORABLE!!

Ray
Guest
Ray

Nah

Giovanni
Guest
Giovanni

Great piece of work! excellent post

Robert Blake
Guest
Robert Blake

I don’t get the point you’re making, compared with the current award pricing (i.e. today’s cost) more hotels will be going down/staying the same than going up, FACT. Marriott has not made a claim stating that the new award chart is cheaper overall compared with pre-March pricing. Marriott annually revise the categories in March so it wasn’t as if the March adjustment was out of cycle.

People are making award bookings as we speak using TODAYS pricing not pre-March 2018 pricing, so the new award chart rolling out in August is overall either going to result in more hotels going down/staying the same in price rather than going up in price compared with the award pricing we are paying today.

You are making a mountain out of a molehill…

Dave
Guest
Dave

Sounds like @Robert Blake is making a run for Marriott employee of the year.

How about I decrease your paycheck by 50k and promise to give you a raise of 25K 6 months later. FACT I had to adjust your paycheck, but hey, you’re getting a 25k increase!

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

Really good analysis! Thanks for taking the time to do this, and to have the ability to look further back than a few weeks. Although the final numbers weren’t as bad as I was expecting given the lead-up, their tactics are working really well given the general consensus of other blogs.

Dom
Guest
Dom

What about points and cash? The Sheraton Columbia (MD)Town Center goes up from 3500 SPG + $55 to 12k points + $105

Dom
Guest
Dom
Seeking
Guest
Seeking

I have a “what would you do” question.
I’m sitting on 210,000 Marriott points. We have the money to purchase discounted SPG points to achieve the top category.
I’m debating what to do with these, The miles and points packages or just hold on to them?
The background is my husband just completed his medical residency and is onto certification exams (TBA) and we are going to try for a baby in October. I can’t book now because of this.
This leaves our schedule a bit up in the air. We also are more “5 day/night travelers”. The only place I really see us wanting to be for 7 days is Hawaii, possibly Galveston/Cali. These locations leave options for a cat 1-5.
When I called Marriott the representative stated the certificate of would be converted to respective 25,000 point categories come August and that if I had to delay our cert., we would likely pay a fee to extend a year (even if due to pregnancy complications).

I’m spooked by reading the SPG Lurkers comments in the arbitrage post. We could really use the airline miles (we are just sitting at around 75,000 points) and if I can push the cert. back a year it would all work out.

I’m looking for input on what anyone on here would do in my situation. Should I go for the cert.? Should I just hold the points and use at a different, more convenient time and/or a location and not limit myself to cat 1-5 or having to upgrade the cert.? I’m so stumped on if this is worth the hassle and gamble.
Thanks for any opinions shared.

Blue
Guest
Blue

I certainly wouldn’t spend money to buy a cert in your case.

Seeking
Guest
Seeking

Thanks for opinion. I’m not too keen on spending money for points, especially when I don’t even have a plan for the points. Haha
However, I just wanted to throw it out there in case.

johnny D.
Guest
johnny D.

Earn and burn..we probably have more devalueation anyways.Don’t sit years on points they never go up in value and as this thread shows they will tell you about good news while taking your wallet.

Blue
Guest
Blue

The real devaluation will be off-peak/peak. That’s what happened with airline mileage programs when the devaluation spiral began.

Guest2
Guest
Guest2

This. This is the change I am most worried about.

johnny D.
Guest
johnny D.

This is also my biggest problem with the new changes.Everybody in the northern 1/3 of the US and Canada are looking at seasonal rates that will be about 4 months of high season where most people take their vacations..then those same people go south in the winter to hit the high season down south.
We’re always in the high season rates which the math should be fixed at and we will then see that 90% of properties are either staying the same or going up.That’s the real situation

wise2u
Guest
wise2u

yep, this is why I quit Hilton, the hotels set the rate, and low season pricing is 1 week out of the year, they block off most of the year with ridiculous rates and wait until a few weeks before to see how many bookings they have, then it’s a coin toss if they actually reduce the points needed or send them to the stratosphere….they also did this is small incremental changes as to reduce customer outrage, but the end result is the same, massive devaluation.

Brian
Guest
Brian

Marriott is such a shit program. Cant believe they are ruining a great program like SPG

matt
Guest
matt

Were this year’s spring category changes meaningfully different from past ones? I don’t believe so. There’s always a previous devaluation – and the analysis here is a bit misleading/disingenuous. Had the programs not been merging, the Feb/Mar changes would likely have looked quite similar.

Something that happens literally every year is not an artificial inflation, unless you can point to a clear difference can historical behavior.

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[…] not really fair, as Stephen Pepper points out. Marriott increased points prices at a ton of hotels in March, only to lower their prices in […]

Sayeed
Guest
Sayeed

Great post, thank you. So, when can we expect a post from Greg (or someone else) with a recommendation on whether or not to book “miles and stay” packages before August?

Nick Reyes
Editor

Greg actually recently wrote a post on the potential for a big win with current travel packages:

https://frequentmiler.boardingarea.com/2018/06/20/potential-huge-win-with-marriott-travel-packages-before-august/

And I wrote a post with a first look at the new travel packages:

https://frequentmiler.boardingarea.com/2018/06/28/new-marriott-travel-packages-a-first-glance/

In short, if you want a package, you want to book it now, hands down. The new package rates are not as good as they are today. As noted in my post, in my opinion, the travel packages still aren’t a bad deal — but they clearly aren’t as good as the current packages.

Whether or not to book a package before August comes down to whether or not you need airline miles and whether or not you are interested in saving your balance to try to book top-tier properties for only 60K Marriott points.

We don’t yet know what will happen with the certificates, so it’s hard to say which category to get. If you have a hotel redemption in mind, you’d obviously pick the category for your chosen hotel. If not, it’s a tough guess as to which is your best bet. I bought a Cat 6 package last week and went with 120K Alaska miles because those will become much harder to come by since they aren’t transfer partners with anyone else.

Steve
Guest
Steve

If I buy a Marriott travel package that gives Southwest Rapid Rewards points, will that apply towards a companion pass?

Nick Reyes
Editor
Steve
Guest
Steve

Thanks for the quick reply!

Steve
Guest
Steve

If I read your opinions regarding the Marriott travel packages correctly, does this make sense? Before the end of July 2018, I transfer 90,000 SPG points to Marriott, and buy a 7-night travel package for 270k Marriott points with either Delta or Southwest (get 120k airline points); they both fly a lot from my home airport of RDU (Raleigh, NC). Because I have a Southwest companion pass through year-end 2019, my value is much better with Southwest (as long as they fly to places I want to go to, which both do) so I should go Southwest.

Am I missing anything?

Dito
Guest
Dito

Steve, that’s what I would end up doing. I also have the companion pass and get awesome value out of it. The question to answer is if you have a specific redemption in mind or just want to set some extra points. If you have a redemption where you want to go to Europe or something then southwest isn’t your best bet. In my opinion, if you want to stay US/Caribbean then SW with your CP is a great deal!!!

Steve
Guest
Steve

Dito,

I would go Southwest in the hopes that I’ll be able to fly with them from RDU to Hawaii by the end of 2019.

Thanks for the response!

Nick Reyes
Editor

Southwest might be the best choice for you — if you want to fly domestically or to Mexico/the Caribbean, and if you’re traveling with multiple people, Southwest is probably the best choice whether or not you have the Companion Pass (unless you’re looking to book last-minute flights).

But some food for thought: the idea that Southwest points are more valuable when you have the companion pass is a bit of a fallacy. See this post:

https://frequentmiler.boardingarea.com/2016/02/18/strange-but-true-southwest-points-are-worth-more-before-you-get-the-companion-pass/

The argument in a nutshell is this: If you’re thinking about booking a $250 flight for 16,000 points, your 16K points are worth $250 whether or not you have the companion pass. That’s because when you have the pass, that flight still only costs you $250 if you pay in cash — thus 16K points only saves you $250 (not $500 – you have the pass, so you wouldn’t have to pay $500).

The 120K Southwest points will get you about $1800 in airfare. That’s certainly a good deal (especially with the 7-night certificate on top). On the other hand, 120K Alaska miles will get you a round trip business class ticket to Australia or Asia. That would ordinarily be a lot more expensive than $1800. On the other hand, it’s a single trip — whereas your Southwest points could probably get you and your companion at least 3 or 4 round trip tickets together.

Alaska isn’t the only example where you can get more monetary value out of the points, and Southwest points won’t get you to Europe or other places they don’t fly (as Dito pointed out), but if you have the Companion Pass through the end of 2019 you are likely more interested in domestic travel for the next year and a half.

Moral of the story: I think Southwest is a good choice for you, but figured it might be worth chewing on some of that to think about.

Steve
Guest
Steve

Nick,

Thanks for showing it from another angle!

Sayeed
Guest
Sayeed

Thanks Nick! I was thinking of doing exactly the same thing. This really helps.

wadacash
Guest
wadacash

I believe the analysis you’ve done really hinges on whether or not Marriott did more of a devaluation in March 2018 than they did in previous years. Then you can make the argument that they thought of this tactic when creating the new program.

In March 2018, 21% of hotels moved up a category and 5% moved down.
In March 2017, 14% of hotels moved up a category and 9% moved down.
In March 2016, 13% of hotels moved up a category and 5% moved down. This only reflects Marriott hotels as the merger with Starwood closed later this year.

Thus perhaps there is some validity to your claim as Marriott was a bit more drastic this past year than in prior years though the majority of the annual award category change might just be Marriott being Marriott.

matt
Guest
matt

In 2015 27% moved up.
In 2014 21%
In2013 36%

So this year’s annual adjustment was the median of the past 5-6 years. Plus the additional August merger devaluation.

Nick Reyes
Editor

Here’s what it comes down to: Do you think that Marriott adjusted categories in March completely ignorant of what they planned to do 3.5 months later in June? Do you think that being able to claim that more than 50% of properties were decreasing is a lucky coincidence for them?

If you think the March category changes were done irrespective of and/or without knowledge about what they would do in June, you’re right.

On the other hand, if you think they knew in March what they intended to charge in June, it sure seems like there was a lot of foresight put into making that “decrease” number larger than 50%.

And that’s certainly their prerogative…and as Stephen points out, the changes still aren’t a net “bad”. But I personally think that increasing the award rate for 3.5 months in order to say a property was decreasing (even if it was a net 2018 increase) was a slick business move and it’s important to point that out when considering the overall impact of the merger changes.

matt
Guest
matt

2018 21% of properties increased. 2013-2017 an average of 25% of properties increased per year. Seems a lot like business as usual to me.

johnny D.
Guest
johnny D.

Matt do you work for Marriott?
1-I’m a Canadian Gold status..SPG amex card losing 33% earn rate august 1st.
2-Vacation is in high season in 95% of cases which adds 1 cat in points and up to 3 cat in higher levels.
3-52% going down at regular season which is off season for most vacationers equals #2 in points
4-your paycheck went down 5% in march but you get a 5% increase in august but you lose 1.5% in bonus on your CC spend and you lose 5% in high season…equals a net loss of 1.5% on your paycheck.
Please,please 90% or so of properties high season are going up or staying the same with 1/3 less points given on my SPG CC spend.
To be the same the lower cat 1-3 new chart would have to gone down 2 cat. and cat 4 and higher would have had to gone down at least 3++.
I’m looking at the silver lining and i don’t see it.My 0.9cents/point is new about 075 in high season in 2019.

matt
Guest
matt

No, I don’t. I just think that blatantly mischaracterizing a regularly-scheduled devaluation (which Marriott is notorious for, and promises to continue to make the combined program worse) in which significantly fewer (20% vs the previous 5 year average of 25%) than marriott historical average hotels went up a category as an artificially inflated inflation to make the adjustment look better…

If you think that March was worse than average…you’ll be sadly dissapointed in the years to come. The entire premise of this article rests on a lower-than-average devaluation being worse than average! I don’t buy that for a second.

I wish I was that optimistic. Marriott isn’t making things look better with any sleight of hand (except holding off on the bigger cuts until next year). I expect future March recategorizations to be worse, not better.

The better article might point that out, or calculate e.g. average changes in award cost per old category. Instead we get crappy analysis that doesn’t really stand up to even a cursory investigation.

Get a different CC. Maybe stay at some hyatts. The combined program is not cc friendly or long term value friendly.

If you actually stay in hotels much it’s significantly better (it sounds like you don’t actually stay in Starwood hotels much), but still inflation looms.

johnny D.
Guest
johnny D.

I’ll put it simple…my 20k property today is going down to 17.5k in august but back up at 20k next summer high season…wash for most.
My credit card earn rate is going down 33% in august so every single hotel in high season needs to be 30% less in high season next summer to have the same value as today.
High season and CC earn rate are where it hurts.
Show me the properties going down 30% next summer in high season?

90% of all properties will cost most in CC spend to have the same property..that’s the way I get my points.
My 10k spend on my CC today gave me a cat 6 property high season but the new earn rate gives me a cat 4 until july 31st.

This,this is where people don’t see how much that 33% devalueation in earn rate hurts.
I don’t care if you still get 0.09cents/point in value in the back end when redeeming because it cost you 33cents/dollar more on the front end in CC spend to get the same amount of points?!
I’m from Canada…we have 1 credit card..the way you’re talking you have to be in the USA but surprisingly most CC in the US also are going down in earn rates.And for the SPG property I could get the Orlando which I stayed for 3k/night which is 9k MR points last winter and is now 20k MR points on the new chart.That one is going up over 120% in 1 year.

matt
Guest
matt

Your 10K spend on your *SPG* card gives you enough points for an spg category 4 property today. 10k spend in the new program will give you enough points for…a category 4 peak or 5 off-peak in the new program when peak dates are added. 10K spend on a marriott CC today would be enough for a category 2 stay.

If you want a better hotel return on spend, burn your points before december and do something else going forward (including cash-back and price-shopping). Save the annual fee.

Yes, the program is getting worse for your purposes (although it’s still near its recent peak as you still have access to 45k top Marriott hotels…and soon top SPG hotels will temporarily plummet in cost.)

I don’t think anyone “isn’t getting” that the CC earn is way worse. It’s not exactly secret.

johnny D.
Guest
johnny D.

Your talking about SPG versus Marriot peak and off peak

I’m taking about the earn ratio going down 33%.At least you are starting to understand it’s not about the points and the cat. but about the earn rate that hurts the most.
Most people earn their points on the CC spend.My 30K spend earned me 90k MR points..next year the same spend earns me 60K MR points.
Even if the points needed stayed the same at all properties and the same cat. I would still be losing 30k MR points and equivalent nights.
Yes it’s earn and burn but to say that this is not a massive devalueation is not true,they just did it by reducing the earn rate and adding the high season for the cherry on top.

Razzle
Guest
Razzle

Hmmm ….Yes, the earn rate for the AmEX SPG in Canada is decreasing come August. However, the earn rate will actually be an improvement over the Marriott Visa which was discontinued in March. In August, the earn rate will be $5 per CAD spent at Marriott properties (same as the Marriott Visa) and 2 points for everything else (compared to 2 points for food and travel and 1 point for everything else with the Visa). And in all honesty, why should Marriott be concerned about those who earn their points primarily through CC spend rather than stays?

johnny D.
Guest
johnny D.

Marriott Visa only exist in the USA.We had it before it was discontinued in march.That card had a free night,15 elite night credit,foreign exchange fee waived and extra perks..the SPG has a free night coming back and the points,that’s it.USA credit card and Canadian credit card don’t compare but to be clear 100% of regular Marriott regular customers earn most of their points by CC spend if they are not gold or above.
By your thinking Marriott shouldn’t be concerned about rewards at all and not have any CC affiliated with them? Credit card company makes $$ when we spend.Points company make money when people stay at their property because 1 they like it and also the points system and status which attracks people to stay to accumulate points and free nights after a while.
Why do companies have point and perks system so they join and start the game.If it didn’t work they wouldn’t have them right?

Aleks
Guest
Aleks

Good report, agree with you – most bloggers went pro-Marriott and saying deval is Ok, but I run several hotels I can use after August and only 1 came to be lower compare to many being higher than last year, and some just same points. SO overall Marriott devalue the programs (both MR and SPG) = including hotel redemption rates and travel certificates. Bad for Marriott customers.

Brian Cohen
Guest
Brian Cohen

Although you have performed some good research work for this article, Stephen, this is a practice which has been going on for years in frequent travel loyalty programs; but in many different forms.

As an example, look up the term “give back” in the Delta SkyMiles forum on FlyerTalk. See how many benefits were reduced or taken away altogether from members of the SkyMiles program over the years, with some of them reintroduced and then modified with a “new” or “we listened to you” disclaimer.

Dave
Guest
Dave

The best example of this is the Delta Skymiles Flash Sales they run now, even though they still cost more than the award did 1-2 years ago AND we don’t even know what they are supposed to cost.

Bill
Guest
Bill

A sad attempt to look brilliant, Marriott always had changed category assignment in March long before the new loyalty program came along. Our author is just looking for anything to make a good sound bite.

P-nope
Guest
P-nope

I’m upset about some very low-category nice properties going up in places I want to visit by end of 2019:

Le Méridien N’Fis Morocco 9,000 to 12,500
Le Méridien Angkor Cambodia 12,000 to 17,500
Sheraton Mustika Yogyakarta Resort & Spa Indonesia 9,000 to 12,500
Yogyakarta Marriott Hotel Indonesia 10,000 to 12,500

fll
Guest
fll

Yes, many low end SPG properties will go up SIGNIFICANTLY, often by 30% or more.
Sheraton Dubrovnik was a 3/4K property when we stayed there in 2016. It went to 7K in 2017, and now will go from 21K Marriott points to 25K.
The Sheraton Zagreb and Westin Zagreb, good for an overnight before flying out of Zagreb, will go from 12K (4K SPG) 17.5K.
These are SIGNIFICANT increases. and quite common among the 3/4K to 7K SPG properties.

johnny D.
Guest
johnny D.

Now also add a 33% reduction in the points you will have on the SPG credit cards starting in august?
Some see it as a normal price increase…well if a normal price increase is 35% you’re correct but this is not a normal price increase,its a very enormous price increase and it’s more about the points earned by CC spend than the points needed with the high season to put the cherry on top.

Cabet
Guest
Cabet

43% of properties will cost less
18% will cost the same
39% will cost more

Would you, could you give us the names of the properties in each category? TIA

Tom
Guest
Tom

Excellent post indeed. What can we do to limit those nasty evils’ power??

Ricardo
Guest
Ricardo

Another way Marriott is deceiving with the “costing less points” language, is by comparing spg prices hotels today, multiplying the points required by 3 and then saying x hotel is going down in price. While it is true that todays spg points convert to Marriott 3x, is also known that the only way to accumulate massive spg points is by credit card spent. If a hotel today is 12000 spg points and Marriott is saying that this 36000 Marriott point hotel will cost 35000 Marriott points making it less expensive, starting in august to accumulate 35000 points, you will have to spend $17500 (2 points per $ instead of 3)instead of those $12000 with the spg card…a 33% devaluation. Sounds nice, but it is a massacre.

Joey
Guest
Joey

Excellent post! New content and great analysis without writing a novel! This is something I couldn’t never figure out myself but with your concise analysis I will keep my enthusiasm in check. Keep up the great work 🙂 longer doesn’t always mean better!

johnny D.
Guest
johnny D.

Nice article..Now can you imagine the high season rates that are new which nullifies most of the reduction they temporary have but will go in effect next summer? Most people have vacation in high season times so I would like for people to compare with only high season which is really the normal prices for most vacation travelers.

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[…] There does not appear to have been grotesque award chart inflation (though it’s not as rosy as Marriott makes it sound). […]

johnny D.
Guest
johnny D.

The grotesque part is not on the points chart it’s in the earn rates on the CC and the high season redemption.
High season mostly puts the same properties back at the same level instead of going down …now add 33% devaluation in the points needed by the points you now don’t earn on your CC spend?
So my cat 3 high season hotel cost me the same as a level 4 but the 20k points needed costs me 3300$ more in spend…10k instead of 6700$.
Now take that 33% back at 3x as of today and i could get a 30,000 point property with the same spend on my CC.
So next summer i’ll have a cat 3 was a cat4 high season for the same money it now costs for what was a cat.6. today because of those 2 factors.

Ricardo
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Ricardo

That is exactly my point. See above. I dont understand how people are blind to this 33% devaluation.

johnny D.
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johnny D.

Completely agree…Canada is high season vacation time and 33% devalueation on CC spend.
Today with todays MR chart a 10k spend on my CC would get me a cat 6 but the 33% less would only give me a cat.4.
Some see this as a normal adjustment while it’s a massive increase both by playing with the points chart,high season rates and the 33% earn rate reduction.
Of course they will be able to stay close to the 9c/point value but the customer needs to pay 33cents/dollar more to get the exact same amount of points.

It’s the same trick as a CC company that states you can save the foreign transaction fee for a Canadian of 2.5% by applying for a US currency credit card and a US account…then you ask them but I need to pay in USD so how much do you charge to transfer from my CAD account to the USD account…well sir it’s 2.5% in currency conversion fees…OK then I’m at net (0)lol but it costs me 14.95$ month in service fees for my USD account? Yep..this is the same.

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[…] Marriott’s Sleight Of Hand: Category Changes Worse Than Advertised by Frequent Miler. Great article, as bloggers it’s important to call out chains when they try to pull this type of thing rather than just constantly praising them. […]

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[…] Marriott’s Sleight Of Hand: Category Changes Worse Than Advertised by Frequent Miler. Great article, as bloggers it’s important to call out chains when they try to pull this type of thing rather than just constantly praising them. […]

Matt
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Matt

Stephen,

If you include the 4-5% of hotels that saw point decreases vs increases in the March change, how do the numbers look. It looks like you’re suggesting that the March increases created about a 10% delta between what was advertised in the program combination and what the reality is pre-March devaluation. If the 4-5% maintained their March decrease in the merger, it seems like the difference is likely negligible.

johnny D.
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johnny D.

Today—My 30k spend on my Canadian amex this summer got me a cat.6 Marriott property x 3 nights

August—My 30k spend on my ” ” ” ” next summer high season gets me a cat. 4 Marriott property x 2 nights

In other words instead of increasing the cat 4 next year from 30k MR points it’s really equal to 45k MR points..the difference is it’s lost in CC earn rate instead of points.Now the value of the MR points stays close to 0.09cents but in reality it’s around 0.06cents.But we won’t see those stats because they just reduced the earn rate by 33% instead.

Is it just me or people are getting duped by the amount of points as a deflection and not the CC spend massive devaluation of 33%?

Even the Platinum elites at 75% more points end up with 42% with the 33% loss on CC spend

Paul
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Paul

Good analysis! As Stephen points out this a cynical game played by many retailers. I see this all of the time at Safeway. It is so obvious that when I want to buy a certain brand of ice cream I just wait a week when it will be “on sale” for half the “regular” (read inflated) price.

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[…] percentages are accurate compared to what prices are on Marriott’s award chart today, as Frequent Miler pointed out, they don’t take into account the comparatively large devaluation Marriott […]

Owanzer Stafford
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Owanzer Stafford

I really liked how you called out this falsehood in the post.

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[…] анализу моего коллеги frequentmiler, вот как выглядит подтасовка. Среди тех отелей, […]