Marriott Caps Award Pricing at Off-Peak and Extends Elite Nights to Members
In a rare positive adjustment from Marriott Bonvoy, today the brand announced changes to its award night pricing policies through July 31st, as well as additional qualifying elite nights for Bonvoy members. Let's dig into the details!
Marriott Bonvoy Makes Award Redemptions Better Due to Coronavirus
If you book your stay by June 30 for travel through July 31st, Marriott Bonvoy is reducing the number of points needed at 5,500 of their open hotels to their off-peak redemption rates. You might recall that Marriott switched to off-peak, normal, and peak pricing last year, which greatly raised the price for high-end redemptions, like at the Ritz Carlton, Kapalua, which can be as high as 100,000 points per night after the switch!
Also a problem, the hotels themselves are able to dictate when those "off-peak" and "peak" nights are, with no caps instituted by the brand. Hyatt, by parallel, was going to institute peak/off-peak pricing before the coronavirus but would install caps as to the number of peak nights that a hotel could claim per year. Those plans were further pushed off for a year because of the coronavirus.
That means that a Category 1 hotel, like the Townplace Suites Albuquerque Old Town, would only be 5,000 points a night through July. Remember, Marriott gives members their 5th night free when making award reservations, so you could stay at Category 1 properties for five nights for only 20,000 Marriott Bonvoy points!
As a reminder, here's Marriott's redemption chart:
This is great news for those that have certificates from the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card, which is capped at 50,000 points a night. This means that it's now useable at any Category 1-7 property with award availability. Furthermore, those with 35,000 point certificates from Marriott Bonvoy Boundless and the Marriott Bonvoy Business Card from American Express won't be locked out of in-demand Category 5 properties, which at peak pricing is just out of reach at 40,000 points a night.
If you happened to have reservations already for this time period, it's worth checking to see if the price dropped on your reservation, and rebooking. I've already done so with my stay at the TownPlace Suites in Whitefish, Montana, which dropped 5,000 points and is now only 20,000 points a night!
Elite Have an Easier Time Meeting Status Requirements
In addition to Marriott giving up to 30 elite nights per year for credit card holders, Marriott has temporarily extended further elite qualifying nights to members, in light of the inability to stay at many properties due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The amount varies based on your status, but Marriott has said that you'll be receiving 50% of the elite nights required to earn the status you acquired in 2019. That's in addition to your 2020 status already extended into 2022. Bravo, Marriott!
Regular members with no status won't receive any nights, but Silver members will receive 5 elite nights, Gold members will receive 13 elite nights, Platinum members will receive 25 elite nights, Titanium elite members will receive 38 elite nights, and Ambassador members will receive 50 elite nights.
For me, I was already at 30 nights this year because of my two Marriott credit cards (personal and business), and as a Platinum member, I'll receive 25 more nights, which locks me in at Platinum once again for 2020! That comes with a choice benefit of 5 elite nights, 5 suite night awards, the ability to gift Silver status, 40% off a mattress, or a $100 charity donation.
At 75 nights, I'd earn Titanium elite status, which would earn me a gift of 5 more suite nights, or a free night, worth up to 40,000 points a night. At this rate, I'm already at 55 nights for the year and only 20 away from Titanium. If I elect to receive 5 elite nights towards my status as my 50-night gift, I'll only be 15 stays away. With award night and certificate nights counting towards status, it's possible I might earn Titanium elite status completely free this year, which is incredible considering I wasn't going to re-earn Marriott status this year.
Overall, this is great news for Marriott elites and casual travelers alike. Marriott has lowered points values and made status earning easier so that members can keep traveling. I can't wait to see what I can earn this year from my domestic stays, since international traveling is unlikely for me this year.