Hotel Programs covered so far:
Over the next several weeks I will be going over the basics of the various hotel reward programs. This week I’ll be covering the Marriott Rewards program. Marriott Rewards is the rewards program for Marriott, Courtyard, Residence Inn, JW Marriott, Ritz-Carlton and nine other brands under the Marriott umbrella.
Marriott Rewards has eight different “standard” award categories that range in price from 7,500 points per night in a Category 1 hotel up to 40,000 points per night in a Category 8 hotel. These 8 categories apply to all Marriot brands except for Ritz-Carlton hotels. For Ritz-Carlton award stays, they have a separate award chart with five categories. A Category 1 hotel costs 30,000 points per night and a Category 5 hotel costs 70,000 points per night at Ritz-Carltons. Similar to Starwood’s policy, Marriott offers a fifth night free if you stay four or more nights at one hotel, which can be a big help if you’re spending a week at a high category hotel or resort.
Marriott also has another promotion that can save you points: PointSavers. PointSavers destinations are a rotating list of hotels that can be as much as 33% off the normal price for an award night. For instance, if you can find a regular Category 5 PointSavers hotel, it would cost you 20,000 points per night instead of 25,000 – a savings of 20%. Meanwhile, Ritz-Carlton hotels are always 10,000 points less if they’re a PointSavers hotel, meaning a Category 1 hotel would cost 20,000 points instead of 30,000 points – a 33% savings. As I said before, PointSavers hotels are constantly changing so make sure to look the list of eligible hotels to see if there is a hotel that’s eligible where you’re going.
While staying at Marriott locations you can earn up to 10 points for every dollar spent without any elite status. Silver elite members get a 20% bonus, Gold elite members get a 25% bonus, and Platinum elite members get a 50% bonus. Qualifying for elite status requires 10 nights, 50 nights, or 75 nights for Silver, Gold, or Platinum respectively. Having a Marriott Rewards credit card will let you boost those earning levels even further. The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card lets you earn 5 additional points for every dollar spent at Marriott locations. It also offers 15 nights towards elite status, meaning you’ll automatically qualify for Silver status; no foreign transaction fees; “Smart Chip” technology so that it’s easier to use in foreign countries; and 50,000 bonus points as a sign-up bonus. The card does have an $85 annual fee that is waived for the first year but if you’re going to be spending a lot of time at Marriott hotels, it may be worth it for you. Also, the card comes with a free night certificate at a Category 1-4 hotel, meaning the $85 fee every year could get you a stay worth more than that. There is also the Marriott Rewards Credit Card that has a lower $45 annual fee that is waived for the first year and offers 30,000 bonus points plus two free night certificates at a Category 1-4 hotel. You’ll only earn 3 points per dollar at Marriott locations, but you do get 10 nights towards elite status, which means you’ll automatically qualify for Silver status as well.
Last week, Howie covered how you can transfer Marriott points between accounts, which can be extremely helpful if you’ve got a few different point earners in the household. Next week, I’ll have the first part of my Hilton HHonors program review!