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I’ll explain the changes, and how to make the most of them!
What’s the Deal?
I wrote last week about rumored changes to the Marriott award program. And now Marriott confirms they’re true!
It’s exciting to see an award program add new benefits instead of take them away. If you like to stay at Marriott hotels, you’ll have new perks to enjoy!
Marriott brands include AC Hotels by Marriott, Autograph Collection Hotels, Courtyard by Marriott, EDITION, Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott, Gaylord Hotels, JW Marriott, Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Marriott Vacation Club, Renaissance Hotels, Residence Inn by Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, SpringHill Suites by Marriott, and TownePlace Suites by Marriott.
1. Points Advance
You can now book an award stay before you have enough Marriott points in your account.
But you must have the points in your account before your stay begins.
This was previously an unpublished benefit, but Marriott is adding it as an official part of the program.
2. Points Sharing
Previously, you could only share Marriott points with a spouse or domestic partner.
But now, you can share up to 50,000 Marriott points each year with friends or family members.
Plus, once per year, you can exceed the 50,000 point limit. Marriott says:
Immediately prior to Reward Redemption and only once per calendar year, a Member may authorize the transfer of the necessary number of Points into the Rewards Program account of a friend or family member, in order to qualify for a specific Reward. This transfer may exceed the 50,000 Point maximum per calendar year.
But, to take advantage, you must have a specific award stay in mind, and you can only transfer enough points to book the stay, rounded to the nearest 1,000 points – “no more, no less.”
This is a great way to help a partner take a special trip, have a memorable honeymoon, or top off their account!
3. Redemption Stay Credit
Beginning November 1, 2015, award stays will count toward Marriott elite status.
Folks who have award stays at Choice, Hilton, IHG, or Starwood hotels already enjoy this perk. So it’s good to see Marriott matching other major hotel chains.
This means it’ll be easier to earn Marriott elite status. Marriott Silver Elite status starts when you stay at least 10 nights, and gets you late check-out and 20% bonus points on paid stays.
4. Enhanced Cash + Points
Marriott already offers a Cash + Points option for stays of 2 nights or more at Marriott hotels.
Currently, you simply pay the cash rate for part of your stay, and the points rate for the remaining nights. You only earn elite status credit from the cash portion of the stay. It’s no different than if you booked the nights separately at different rates.
But in early 2016, you’ll be able to book 1 night (or longer) with the new Cash + Points system. And stays will count toward Marriott elite status.
Keep in mind, though, you will NOT earn bonus points on the the cash portion of Cash + Points, and it’s NOT eligible for the 5th night free perk.
But overall, this is a fantastic way to get more award stays at Marriott!
Who Do These Changes Benefit?
While the addition of new perks is always good for folks because it gives them more ways to use their points, these changes basically put Marriott’s program on par with other hotel programs.
1. If You Already Stay With Marriott
The new changes may not be enough to be worth switching your stays over to Marriott, but folks who already enjoy Marriott hotels will appreciate them.
Especially because it’ll be easier to earn Marriott elite status with the new Redemption Stay credit. And, the Cash + Points enhancements can be a great way to enjoy more award stays!
2. If You Want to Redeem for Hotel + Air Packages
Marriott offers 5 Hotel + Air Packages.
These can be a fantastic deal! All of the cheapest packages start at 200,000 Marriott points.
The best deal is Southwest’s Hotel + Air Package, because you can get an award stay at a Marriott hotel and enough Southwest points to qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass, which is THE BEST deal in domestic travel!
With Marriott’s new Point Sharing option, you’ll be able to transfer 50,000 Marriott points to another member each year (and you can exceed the limit once per year).
Or, you can receive those points from someone else. Then, once you have enough Marriott points, you can redeem for a Hotel + Air package!
3. If You Want to Pool Your Points
Before, you could only share Marriott points with a spouse or domestic partner. But now, you can transfer up to 50,000 Marriott points per year to anyone!
This is great news for folks who travel with friends, or want to share their points with someone else!
Earn More Marriott Points
The current sign-up offer for the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card is 80,000 Marriott points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of account opening.
Remember, folks with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Plus, or Chase Ink Bold can always transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Marriott at a 1:1 ratio.
And because Marriott and Ritz-Carlton are essentially the same frequent-guest program (just with different branding and marketing), you can use your Ritz-Carlton points to stay at Marriott hotels and vice versa.
Marriott is changing their award program and it’s good news!
Starting now, you can book award nights before you have all the required points with Points Advance. Just make sure you earn enough points prior to your award stay!
You can share up to 50,000 Marriott points with a friend or family member each year. And once per calendar year, you can exceed the limit if there’s a specific award stay you want to book. You can transfer to the nearest 1,000 points.
In early 2016, Marriott will change Cash + Points to allow for 1-night award stays, and give you more options to stretch your points. You’ll also earn elite status credit on those bookings.
These updates are very good if you stay a lot with Marriott!
What do you think about the new perks?