[Expired] Marriott’s Annual Devaluation: 120 Fewer Properties For Credit Card Nights

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Marriott has announced its annual devaluation and while it’s not as bad as last year’s, it doesn’t make for happy reading if you have any 25,000 or 35,000 point certificates to use from your Marriott and/or SPG credit cards. That’s because there will be 120 fewer properties you can use those certificates at starting from next month.

Renaissance Hong Kong Harbour View Hotel

Renaissance Hong Kong Harbour View Hotel – increasing from category 5 to 6

You can find the full list of 2019 category changes here, with those changes going into effect on March 5. That gives you a few weeks to book before the points requirement increases. In total, 4% of Marriott’s portfolio will be going up a category, while 1% will be going down a category.

Credit Card Anniversary Nights

The Marriott and SPG credit cards all come with an annual free night after your first cardholder year. The value of these will be decreasing as there will be fewer hotels at which they can be used.

Category 4

Some of the credit cards come with an annual free night at category 1-4 properties costing up to 25,000 points per night. With these changes coming on March 5, 2019, 63 hotels will be increasing from category 4 to 5, while only 12 will be decreasing from category 5 to 4. That means you’ll have 51 fewer properties to choose from. This includes many downtown hotels in large cities like New York, Chicago and Bangkok – locations where you could get excellent value from having the free night certificate.

Category 5

If you’ve applied for a new card or had one renewed since last August, you should be sitting on a certificate for a free night at a category 1-5 hotel costing up to 35,000 points per night. These free nights are being hit even harder. 72 properties will be increasing from category 5 to 6, while only 3 will be decreasing from 6 to 5. That means there will be 69 fewer properties you can use your category 1-5 free night at.

Category 8

March 5 also brings the introduction of the category 8 tier requiring 85,000 points per night. There will be 62 hotels included in this category, although only 9 of them are included on the list we’ve linked to above. That’s because most of them have already been allocated at category 8 properties but had been charged at the category 7 level up until now. If you want to see which properties are already allocated as category 8, check out this list and click the ‘Current Award Category’ column a couple of times to sort it so that the category 8 properties are listed first.

If you’re planning on taking advantage of Marriott’s Points Advance feature to book those (or any other) properties now, then beware. Lucky at OMaaT has noted that if you make a reservation at the lower cost now but won’t have the points to pay for it until after March 5, you’ll be charged at the new – higher – category level. That could leave you needing to pay for tens or hundreds of thousands of points you hadn’t budgeted for. If you’ll be in that scenario, it might therefore be worth purchasing the points before March 5 to ensure you don’t get hit with an unexpected points billUpdate: View from the Wing has verified that bookings made via Points Advance will maintain the rate from the time of booking. In other words, it is possible to lock in the current category now and earn the points to cover it later. See this post for more.

Keep Or Cancel?

Nick shared last year about how he planned to cancel all his Marriott and SPG cards, although he subsequently decided to keep one as he’d be able to get value out of the anniversary certificate.

Between my wife and I, we have five Marriott and SPG cards. I’d been planning on keeping them all, assuming we’d be able to get good value from them each year by using them for stays in larger cities downtown. With Marriott giving us 120 fewer hotels that these certificates can be used at, this devaluation has me rethinking that plan.

Paying ~$500 per year in annual fees now seems less appealing, especially since taking advantage of Amex Offers on the SPG cards won’t help offset their annual fees anymore. To clarify that latter point, that’s due to the ‘one card per Amex Offer’ restrictions that went in place last year. Other than Marriott Amex Offers, there’s rarely any value in loading an Amex Offer to an SPG credit card now.

How about you? Are these category changes going to result in you cancelling any of your cards, or are there still enough category 1-4 / 1-5 properties that make keeping them worth your while? Let us know in the comments below.

Last updated on March 9th, 2019

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.

More articles by Stephen Pepper »

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P-nope
Guest
P-nope

The option to redeem free night on the Waikiki area just disappeared 6 months after it became available. Now you’ll need the anniversary night from the $450 Marriott card to redeem for Waikiki properties that cost as low as ~$150

cavedweller
Guest
cavedweller

i canceled my card and transferred my points to AA i guess 6 months ago . Every single year ” Just like Clock Work ” they get worse .Better cards then theirs and only if I can 5 nites free will I ever get a hotel chain card again.
. CHEERs

Pam
Guest
Pam

Thanks for heads-up on booking Las Alcobas in Napa before 3/5. It was 90,000 MRs before the merger where no way I’d book. Now is 60k moving to 85k so locked in finally.

Property has only been open a yr & a half, gorgeous, & in the heart of Napa. I didn’t want to miss out at (much) lower points so thx again!

Frank
Guest
Frank

I stayed at Los alcobas last June ! Amazing property

Pam
Guest
Pam

Going in June as well, thanks!

Mary Jane
Guest
Mary Jane

Hilton is looking better each day……

cavedweller
Guest
cavedweller

Mary Jane
They did well for me in Cairns, ,Aus. Doubletree one card 5 nite stay very nice on beach..
CHEERs

jim
Guest
jim

All 4 will be cancelled. Peak pricing is right around the corner. That will be the official end to the Marriott credit cards. Bonvoyage Marriott.

Glenn
Guest
Glenn

Have 5 SPG/Marriott cards now between self and SO. Will be getting rid of at least 3 and probably 4. The Lux I cant cancel till 12 mos but that’ll Go too in the end.

Billy Jack
Guest
Billy Jack

Between this and the fact that golds no longer get really any benefits (no free breakfast anymore), if you’re going to pay $450, why not just give up on Marriott and go with Hilton’s Amex aspire, where you’re automatic plat and that means free breakfast and other benefits?

Stvr
Guest
Stvr

To be fair this was totally foreseeable.

Jacob
Guest
Jacob

My wife and I canceled our SPG cards last year because we did not think the hotels where we could get free nights was worth it. The latest devaluation makes it even worse. For people like myself, the free night availability is too restrictive and the constant devaluations are making the Marriott free night benefit of no value to me. This is capitalism at its worse: companies figuring out how they can give as little value as possible to their customers.

Marshall
Guest
Marshall

I am a Hyatt Globalist. Lowest point stays. Generate a lot of transferable UR points easily thru Chase cards. MUCH better than Marriot and Hilton. Canceling ALL 5 of my cards becasue not worth it to pay for the cards. Rarely stay at a Marriot.

trackback

[…] you use the Marriott points advance feature, that will not lock in the current points price. See Stephen’s post from yesterday for more on […]

Wayne
Guest
Wayne

It’s hard to justify paying the annual fee on 4 Marriott cards when it becomes this difficult to find a decent free anniversary award night hotel. I will likely cancel all my cards this year.

Deb
Guest
Deb

I will be cancelling all but one. If a card just renewed and I use the free night right away, am I able to cancel the card within 90 days of renewal and get the annual fee back? How does that impact the used free Anniversary night?

miafll
Guest
miafll

To get the AF back you need to cancel within 30 days of the fee being billed. You get zilch if you cancel pass the 30 days, even on 31st.

In the past people justify the AF because the FN usually worth more. By this latest devaluation, an out of proportion properties are taken out the pool eligible for either the 25K or the 35K FNs – therefore making the AFs no longer worth paying. The carrots are now being taken away. My bet is the attrition rates would be very high on both the Chase and AMEX cards. We would only keep one SPG Biz card from 4 years ago. The remaining will be gone.

Jessica
Guest
Jessica

Why didn’t you mention the properties moving from category 6 to category 7? Literally all the properties I considered using our Ritz FN’s are now category 7.

Joanne
Guest
Joanne

I tend to drive from Chicago to DC or Boston at least once a year or overnight at Denver Airport after a visit to the mountains so I will always find some value. I have never yet had the certificates go to waste, though the savings have steadily decreased. A night at a midmarket courtyard/Fairfield might be 120 plus tax. So, maybe 50 savings, pretty reliably (~140-95). Not much but I’ll take it.

Corey
Guest
Corey

Were going to be a zero Marriott household after having dozens of Marriott stays per year for several years. There’s no real upside besides them having a lot of properties. The program is garbage and and the anniversary nights are worthless to us.

Paul
Guest
Paul

Since they are now point based certs, Marriott should allow you to use them on higher point hotel and pay the difference in points from your account.

Boonie
Guest
Boonie

A recent turn offf for me was having to still pay resort fees on a point stay. Yes the room was covered with points but paying $40-$50 a night for fees just didn’t sit well.

Boonie
Guest
Boonie

On the free night certificate I feel like we are forced to use it just so it doesn’t go to waste so it’s not really a vacation. I’m starting to feel like it’s not worth it.

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

I’m glad it works for you but C1 turned me down for 2 many cards . Those cards were holding back from getting big sign up bonuses SO THEIR GONE !!!
CHEERs

trackback

[…] Marriott’s annual category changes have been announced and will take effect on March 5, 2019 (Marriott’s Annual Devaluation: 120 Fewer Properties For Credit Card Nights).  Every year, Marriott adjusts the point prices of many of their hotels by changing the category […]

Eric
Guest
Eric

The deciding factor to cancel for me was I 3 month ago I took out the Starwood preferred luxury card. Spend $5k in 3 months and receive a 100,000 bonus points with $450 annual fee. I called before I applied and was told I was eligible for the 100k bonus and have not had the card before. Even called after I received the card and AMEX confirmed $5k spend in 3 months I will get the bonus. Spent $5k in 3 months. AMEX declined to give me the 100k bonus point citing “other factors” but did not want to explain. The only other AMEX cards I had were over 3 years ago SPG and Marriott rewards premier. AMEX admitted they told me I would get the bonus but stated they would not give any bonus. Needless to say “bait and switch” is not something appreciated. Will be staying far away from AMEX. Wanted to share this with readers so beware of AMEX corporate strong arm tactics.

sanja
Guest
sanja

You are not the only one. I clicked on a link to apply for a business 100K after $5K (an earlier deal, for $95/year, first year free. Similar to the former personal SPG). To make sure all was good I called Amex and spoke with a rep. Amex later declined to give me the 100K points claiming there was no mention of this offer in the conversation. Total lie, as this was the only reason for my call, to verify this offer. Have been upset since. Keeping card this year (first year free). I may or may not renew for another year for $95. But cutting if off when it goes to $145/year. Got the Hilton fee free Amex with 100K after spending $1K in 3 months. Link for that not easy to find, but exists. In any case, I will give Hilton a try. I like Sheraton, just a nice brand that suits me perfectly. With club access for gold (the last 10 years) and a general goodwill attitude up until a year ago. But my latest stays have been regrettable. Gold means nothing anymore, not even for steady clientele to the same establishments.

sanja
Guest
sanja

Time to give Hilton a try.

trackback

[…] Marriott’s Annual Devaluation: 120 Fewer Properties For Credit Card Nights […]

Mark S. Mulman
Guest
Mark S. Mulman

As an over 30 year member of Marriott rewards lifetime platinum elite for 25 years I fired Marriott for exactly what they are doing currently. They continue to erode the value of loyalty at Marriott properties, they continue to increase required points and levels of hotel properties. I switched to SPG about 15 years ago and maintained my platinum elite status with between 75 and 100 nights annually for the past five years ( Gold status the others ). SPG always outshone Marriott rewards and I feel betrayed by the acquisition of SPG by Marriott again in the same fashion that they continue to dilute the value of loyalty. We have had some of the most marvelous travel experiences with SPG and I regretfully say that those are only in the rearview mirror. The only way I can express my anger and disappointment is to switch allegiance to either Hilton or Hyatt hotels going forward. I will be canceling my 2 SPG AMEX cards one preferred the other premium And utilizing my Chase Sapphire reserve card exclusively for travel and dining experiences. Marriott wake the heck up and treat your elite traveler’s with much more respect and value I hope I’m not the only one who will vote with his dollars.