Making the most of Marriott’s temporary changes to award pricing and elite status

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Marriott announced yesterday that they’re making a number of changes to their rewards program, including offering members extra elite night credits, implementing temporary award pricing changes, and giving additional perks to those with elite status.

These temporary changes are in response to the decline in travel due to the coronavirus pandemic. And unlike most other announcements regarding their loyalty program, this one includes lots of positive news!

Here’s what you need to know.

With this announcement, you could end up saving tens of thousands of points on stays at properties like the stunning The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel. (Photo courtesy of Marriott)

Extra elite perks and elite night credits

Marriott plans to deposit extra elite night credits into members’ accounts in the amount of 50% of the night required for the status they earned in 2019. These credits will be in addition to any credits Marriott credit cardholders receive. And according to Marriott, members can expect to see these extra elite night credits in their account in early July.

What does this mean for you?

In my opinion, this is the best piece of news to come out of yesterday’s announcement. That’s because earning elite status just got a whole lot easier.

Here’s what you’ll get according to each elite status level:

Elite status earned in 2020Annual status requirements50% elite night credits deposit
Ambassador Elite100 qualifying nights AND US$20,000 stay spend50 elite night credits
Titanium Elite75 qualifying nights38 elite night credits
Platinum Elite50 qualifying nights25 elite night credits
Gold Elite25 qualifying nights13 elite night credits
Silver Elite10 qualifying nights5 elite night credits

As an example, I earned Platinum elite status last year, meaning I’ll get 25 free elite night credits under these new rules. That’s on top of the 15 elite night credits I automatically receive for being a Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card cardholder (one of four Marriott cards in our list of best hotel credit cards). So without any stays, I’ll earn 40 elite night credits toward earning the next elite status level – Titanium elite – which requires 75 elite qualifying nights total.

I had 21 stays pre-pandemic, which means I only need 14 more elite night credits to obtain Titanium status. And with that, I’ll get a number of extra perks like a free night award, worth up to 40,000 points, or Five Suite Night Awards.

Better award pricing (for a limited time)

Expanded off-peak pricing

Members now have the chance to book select hotels (approximately 5,500 of them) at off-peak rates for bookings made by June 30, 2020, and completed by July 31, 2020.

This doesn’t leave a huge window of opportunity to book these hotels at the discounted rate, but it’s certainly better than nothing. If you have any travel planned in the next month and a half, this could translate into significant savings.

Take, for example, The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, in Dana Point, California. This is a Category 7 hotel, meaning peak award nights cost 70,000 Marriott points where off-peak nights cost 50,000 points. If you were to book a three-night stay over a long weekend in July, you’d only have to pay 150,000 Marriott points instead of 210,000 points at peak pricing rates. That’s a savings of 60,000 points – more than enough for another free night!

With regular nightly cash rates running $675+, you’d be getting a value of 1.35 cents per point, which is an excellent deal. You could even squeeze out more value with Marriott’s fifth-night free perk on award stays.

Temporary hold on peak pricing

In addition to expanded off-peak pricing, and during the same time period, Marriott is also putting a pause on peak pricing. That means no hotels will be priced at peak levels through July 31, 2020, so long as you make your reservation by June 30, 2020.

Similarly to the expanded off-peak pricing, this means that you could save points on stays that might otherwise be priced at peak levels. For example, a Category 8 hotel that would cost 100,000 points during peak season will now be capped at 85,000 points per night. Again, this could translate into significant savings if you have a multi-night stay planned.

It’s also worth checking any existing reservations you might have to see if the same room is available for less. And if you haven’t already redeemed points for any Points Advance reservations, it’s worth looking at those, too. If the rate’s lower, you’ll be charged fewer points.

Overall, this is welcome news, and we hope it translates into extra savings or an easier time earning elite status for many of you. Feel free to share your thoughts regarding these temporary changes in the comments below!

Meghan Hunter is an editor for Million Mile Secrets. She covers points, miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels and general travel. Her work has also appeared in The Points Guy.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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