Marriott Rewards Program Changes: Cash + Points, Redemption Stay Credit, Points Sharing & Points Advance

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Marriott Rewards is making changes to its program bringing its more inline what others have already been offering for years.

Marriott Rewards Program Changes

Marriott Rewards is now introducing REAL Cash + Points rewards and you will soon get a qualifying stay for award stays as well.

You can access Marriott Rewards page for these changes here.

Cash + Points

Marriott Rewards has been advertising “Cash + Points” for several years that has merely meant that one could combine paid and award nights in one reservation. They did this probably only to have the ability to advertise to have this function when it had nothing to do with what competitors were offering.

Now. Marriott Rewards is offering real Cash + Points award meaning that you can substitute part of the points required for award nights with cash.

Here are the Cash + Points charts:

Marriott Rewards Program Changes Cash + Points

Here’s the “purchase” price of points in Cash + Points:

Marriott Rewards Program Changes Cash + Points Price

Just like Hyatt, Marriott Rewards has a sliding scale for the price of a point under this Cash + Points. The higher category the hotel, the lesser of a “deal”.

You can buy up to 50,000 Marriott Rewards points every calendar year at 1.25 cents each. This is cheaper than the price of a point under Cash + Points for category 9.

Note that the 5th night free doesn’t apply for Cash + Points and it is up to the hotel if they decide to offer this award option.

This award type will become available in early 2016.

Redemption Stay Credit

Marriott Rewards has now joined IHG Rewards Club, SPG and Hilton that have already offered qualifying stay for award redemption for years. The Hyatt is the only outlier for now. You will start receiving stay credit for award stays in November

Points Sharing

This is actually nothing new. Marriott Rewards members have been able to combine points from account by faxing documents to service center (done it once or twice).

You can now share up to 50,000 points per member in a calendar year. It is unclear if the combining points via Marriott Rewards Service Center will continue.

Points Advance

This is nothing new either. Marriott Rewards members have been able to make award reservations even when they haven’t had the number of points in their accounts (you need to have them by your stay date, however).

Conclusion

So, two of these four changes are really new and Marriott Rewards has been behind times in both of them.

Considering the award category creep over the years that have happened far faster than the rise of the paid rates has made the Marriott Rewards program uncompetitive compared to other programs.

Also, Marriott Rewards still continues to advertise “No Blackout Dates” that is highly misleading. This only means that there are no program wide blackout dates, but individual properties can definitely have them (moths every year). Surprised that they haven’t been sued for this.

Also, unlike Hilton, Hyatt and SPG, Marriott Rewards doesn’t offer award rooms by default as long as the standard rooms are available for sale. Properties only need to make certain percentage of rooms available for awards regardless the standard room inventory.

For me, the only reason to continue with Marriott Rewards are the Travel Packages. Let’s hope that they won’t be “enhanced” away anytime soon.

Here are the frequently asked questions about the Cash + Points:

Does the Cash + Points benefit exist today?

Yes, members are currently able to combine cash and points for stays of two or more nights. Rewards will be changing Cash + Points in early 2016 to offer members more flexibility.

How do I make a cash + points reservation?

In early 2016, the NEW Cash + Points will give Rewards members the flexibility to use a mix of cash and points within a single night on redemption reservations.

When will the NEW Cash + Points be available for booking?

The launch date will be announced soon, and the NEW Cash + Points will be available for booking in early 2016.

Will the NEW Cash + Points be available for members of both Marriott Rewards® and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards®?

Yes, both Marriott Rewards and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards will offer the NEW Cash + Points. Participation will vary by hotel.

Will the NEW Cash + Points follow No Blackout Dates?

No, members will be able to redeem their points for the NEW Cash + Points at participating Marriott brand hotels and The Ritz-Carlton hotels when available. Participation will vary by hotel.

Will I earn Elite night credits with the NEW Cash + Points?

Yes, you will earn one Elite night credit for every night redeemed and stayed using the NEW Cash + Points.

Will I earn points on the cash portion of the NEW Cash + Points?

No, members will not earn points on the cash portion of the NEW Cash + Points.

Will the NEW Cash + Points count toward “Redeem 4 Nights, Get the 5tTh Night Free”?

No, the NEW Cash + Points will not count toward “Redeem 4 Nights, Get the 5th Night Free.”

Will the NEW Cash + Points amounts fluctuate?

No, the NEW Cash + Points amounts will remain the same within each hotel category. Please refer to the chart below for further details.

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