Marriott Adds Gas To The Bonvoy Dumpster Fire


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Marriott Bonvoy has released details of all its properties that are moving categories in a few weeks’ time and if there was anyone left out there who still viewed Bonvoy as a great rewards program, even they are going to have to now concede that Bonvoy is a dumpster fire that just had gas added to the flames.

Before I continue, let’s start off with the Bonvoy award chart – the key to all award redemptions:

Before this news broke, multiple recent devaluations and the introduction of “seasonal pricing” had already brought us to a point where top-tier Marriott properties now cost 100,0000/night (they could be booked for as little as 60,000 points/night a year ago) and some of us were beginning to think that Marriott couldn’t really devalue the program much further….at least not in the short term.

Well, it looks like we were wrong.

As of 4 March 2020 approximately 22% of Marriott’s 7,200+ properties will be moving up a category (and costing more points per night) while just 7% will move down a category and become cheaper so, once again, Marriott has essentially increased the cost of booking awards quite significantly.

Those numbers themselves don’t actually tell the full story either because, although Marriott will claim that 7% of properties will cost fewer points from 4 March, the fact is that most of those properties will not be of any interest to the vast majority of Bonvoy members.

Yes, it’s good to see the JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach and the St. Regis Singapore both move from Category 7 to Category 6, but that’s an oasis of good news in a colossal desert of disappointment.

JW Marriott Singapore South Beach
JW Marriott South Beach Singapore

If you head over to the Marriott page which shows all the category changes and search for “New York” you’ll find that 34 properties are moving categories and only one is going down….and that’s at LaGuardia.

If you check to see what’s happening in Los Angeles you’ll find that out of the 7 properties that are moving category just one is moving down and that we now have an Aloft airport hotel that will cost up to 40,000 points per night.

These aren’t isolated examples either.

  • Chicago: 5 properties are getting cheaper while 34 are getting more expensive
  • San Francisco: 1 property is getting cheaper and 9 are getting more expensive
  • New Orleans: 1 property is getting cheaper and 10 are getting more expensive
  • Boston: 2 properties are getting cheaper while 44 are getting more expensive

Further afield, London is seeing a mix of properties moving up and properties moving down…but the only two properties on the list that most people will care about (London Marriott County Hall and London Marriott Hotel Park Lane) will both soon cost up to 100,000 points/night.

Paris will see 13 properties cost more points per night from 4 march 2020 while not one single property will be getting cheaper.

Of the 29 Ritz-Carlton properties that are moving category just one is moving down and of the 27 JW Marriott properties that are on the move, just 4 will be cheaper in a few weeks’ time.

Overall, Marriott is creating 30 new Category 8 properties which will cost up to 100,000 points per night (just 4 properties are moving down from Category 8) and 95 properties are moving up to Category 7 out of reach of even the best credit card free night certificates.

Wherever you look you’re likely to find bad news. One of my favorite properties at which to relax (the Langley) is moving up a category, the Aruba Marriott Resort will soon cost up to 70,000 points per night, the Domes Noruz Chaniain Greece will be joining the Category 8 club and we’ll soon have another 4 Courtyard properties that will cost up to 70,000 points per night.

The Langley

Bottom Line

Marriott’s Bonvoy program has been getting steadily worse for quite some time and now it’s just taken another dive downwards. It’s incredible to think that properties that cost just 60,000 points per night in January 2019 cost almost 67% more just a year later.

Bonvoy points haven’t become any easier to earn, Marriott’s promotions (when they bother to publish them) are as useless as ever and yet all we’re seeing are rate rises after rate rises after rate rises.

I haven’t actively gone out of my way to earn Marriott points for some time but I’m now left wondering if there’s anyone at all who can make a good (and honest) argument for collecting Bonvoy points over Hyatt or Hilton’s currencies?

I know I certainly can’t make that argument right now…but no doubt a very well known credit card site will soon be along to tell us all just how wonderful all these changes are and how Bonvoy is the best loyalty program in the world 🙂

34 COMMENTS

  1. I understand the whining and frustration but look at it from a business standpoint (which is how ALL programs actually work – not to provide outsized benefits to participants). Marriott’s process, which they have followed for years, is to adjust categories to align points with the expected cost of the room.

    For example if a category 4 property which costs 25,000 standard award points has an average price of $175 a night in 2019 (.7 cent a point) and the projected room rate, due to higher demand, for 2020 is expected to be $210 then Marriott is likely to move it to a category 5 property so the 35,000 points required are worth .6 cent each instead of them being worth .84 cent if it is left as a category 4. People may not like it but that is the reason – to align with expected cost and ensure overall point value remains constant. It also benefits the franchisee since they get a higher reimbursement for the higher cost room. All this makes sense from a business standpoint whether you like it or not.

    The alternative would be to keep the categories the same but adjust the points in each (making “standard” category 4 30,000 points for example). People would whine about this as well.

    If you don’t like Marriott’s program find one you do. However, as someone who is a Lifetime Titanium member, lifetime elite on 2 airlines, high elite status on 4 other hotel programs and has been traveling extensively since the mid 80s, I assure you that ALL programs go through this and you will soon be complaining about your “new” program.

    Most people don’t “earn” the miles themselves but get them through reimbursed business travel or credit card promotions (as I have also done) so really anything you get is a benefit. It is up to you to maximize it and not the various programs to do that for you!

    • The number of points a room costs has little to do with the cost or projected cost of the room. If it did then properties like the Langley wouldn’t be cat 5-6 when the entry-level room rate is almost $500, the Sheraton Grand Wuhan would not be going up a category, the London Marriott County Hall wouldn’t be moving to a higher category than the London EDITION and no one would ever find properties where using points is a good deal.

      Lastly, you admit that you earn most of your Marriott points (and therefore your status) courtesy of someone else’s money so of course any devaluations are going to hit you a lot less – most of what you’re getting is free so everything is a bonus. If you had to earn every mile and point using your own money (as I do) and then watch a loyalty program decimate the value of those points you’d probably feel considerably more aggrieved.

  2. Hyatt points are typically valued at 1.5 cents each, with Hilton points around 0.4-0.5 cents each. Standard rooms at top Hyatt properties cost 30,000 points/night, while costing 80,000-95,000 points/night at top Hilton (e.g. Conrad, Waldorf Astoria) properties. With these latest award chart devaluations, it’s clear that Marriott is now setting point prices in line with Hilton, which means Marriott points (formerly worth around 0.7 cents each) are now on par with Hilton’s.

    Hilton at least offers large (e.g. 125,000 or 150,000 points) signup bonuses and Gold or Diamond status (giving free breakfast) on their Amex cards, while Marriott gives far less on their branded credit cards. So Marriott now offers the worst of all worlds. Bonvoy!

  3. Some people just love to make posts so that they can brag about themselves. I see this on the internet all the time. I feel sorry for and have little respect for people who have a need to brag about themselves.
    “However, as someone who is a Lifetime Titanium member, lifetime elite on 2 airlines, high elite status on 4 other hotel programs and has been traveling extensively since the mid 80s”

    • If you hadn’t cut off your quote right where you did the next sentence makes clear why he mentioned his extensive experience with various reward programs.

      “I assure you that ALL programs go through this and you will soon be complaining about your “new” program.”

  4. Why do you bitch about things you get for free? I understand that it’s not “free” and that their policy has changed but the fact that you are loyal to a certain brand and it is bought out by another brand gives them the right to do what they want. I have been a Marriott rewards/Bonvoy member for 20 years and have never had an issue with how they remit their points. Including recently

    • 1) Your comment seems to suggest that I’m a disgruntled ex-Starwood loyalist…which I’m not.

      2) If you’re happy with Marriott that’s great. Personally I’m not overly enthused when a loyalty program makes inflation busting changes year after year.

      3) Yes, Marriott can certainly do what it wants but that doesn’t mean that we have to like it or that we shouldn’t call it out when it makes changes that are bad for Bonvoy members.

  5. B******t. Loyalty is either a two way street or not. I’m looking for a relationship that provides value for both sides, and Marriott ain’t it. Marriott has been massively devaluing awards by hiking hotels into higher categories for almost a decade, and doing so much more than increased rates would justify. If you can name two changes since the inception of Bonvoy that have actually benefited the customer but not the corporation or hotel owners, please feel free. That won’t happen because Marriott has made no such changes and views the customer as the enemy, which is novel perspective for pretty much any company. Ziggy is lifetime titanium, so his status is safe. He’s just calling a dumpster fire a dumpster fire. My lifetime status is lower but it’s irrelevant because staying with Marriott just isn’t worth it anymore and even if it still marginally was, the company has proven singularly untrustworthy. Why do business with a company that detests you as a customer and that you can’t trust?

  6. AC. What is your position at Marriott? Sound like an employee! If you think the changes are simply “price rebalancing, I would suggest you are not in tune. I am top tier in airlines Bonvoy, blah blah blah also. I was an SPG loyalist. Without question, the Bonvoy program after integration is being piloted by revenue management types with no concept of loyalty. AndThis topic I know a lot about. Program is okay but definitely declining and lessening loyalty, not maintaining it. At this point it’s strictly transactional, not about loyalty. So I for one have For the first time in about six years been trying to find a secondary program to begin diversifying my stays. I don’t think I am the minority. If I am correct, does that seem like a rev par / share positive loyalty program?

  7. Marriott may not be the best program out there but it’s still the one I got the most value from over the last years. I don’t travel for business, so I pay for every point myself. My trips take me all over the world and that’s why I often end up staying at Marriott places. Hyatt may be better but just try to find a Hyatt in some places, my points would probably be expired long before I could use them. Even Hilton’s are tricky in some places.
    I agree that it’s hard to find attractive point valuations in trending world cities like Paris and London and in the United States, this is where most points are redeemed. If you go to less popular places your points are worth more. 2 years ago I stayed on points for an almost complete 2 weeks in South Africa, last year I spend points in the Azores (the properties deflagged in the meantime) and this year I booked some hotels on points in Canada.
    I’m not going out of my way to stay in Marriott properties but I almost always can find a Marriott property wherever I go. That’s not something I can say about the otherl hotel chains.
    The fact that I can earn almost worldwide, that I don’t need to do mattrass runs to retain my balance, and that I can redeem at good valuations makes the program still worthwhile for me.

  8. All at the cost of employee raises. Again Donald Trump’s trickle down economy, the CEO of Marriott get raises, while his employees haven’t seen raises in 5 years.

  9. Ill play devils advocate. Here are 2 positive changes:
    1-The earning rate when paying for rooms became much better. If you are titanium and pay with an affiliated card you make 23.5 points per $ spend. 10 basis+ 7.5 bonus+ 6 credit card.

    2-It became posible to earn Platinum status only from spending on credit cards ($75000 annualy with both Ritz Calton card or Brilliant.

  10. When you are the biggest, you tend to not give a rats butt about your customers and can shove bad programs at them. I could see this coming they day they went after Starwood. It’s called domination. We the customers do have choices, and I will wind down my relationship with Marriott.

  11. Bonvoy has taken a premium product, that is the Marriott all around service/properties and driven it straight into commodity status. Used to be you could Increase your status or maintain it by spending large sums on the credit card… Now it’s strictly how many nights you stay. Even worse, they’ve gone the ultra cheap route and farmed out their customer service to call centers in the Philippines and Mexico City. Good luck trying to find somebody that can understand your issues or help you with out muddling through nowhere conversations in broken English. Bonvoy is the death of what are the best run, efficient and worthwhile service companies in the world. #Bonvoysucksass

    • “Used to be you could Increase your status or maintain it by spending large sums on the credit card… Now it’s strictly how many nights you stay. Even worse, they’ve gone the ultra cheap route and farmed out their customer service to call centers in the Philippines and Mexico City.”

      This^

  12. My initial thought here was letting no good deed go unpunished – Marriott put all of its properties that were above 60,000 points down to that figure in Summer 2018 and made it abundantly clear it would be introducing the 85,000+ point Category 8 during 2019. It seems you’ve pocketed all those hotels that were temporarily less than 85,000 points and then applied your calculations form there.

    Make no mistake these latest changes are inflationary and are following Bonvoys strategy of increasing redemption categories at those properties most pressed by redemptions. This creates a scheme that is simoultaneously both excellent and rotten value. Wanna stay at the worlds most prestigious cities, best resorts, theme park locations? That’s gonna cost you, but walk down the road less travelled and there really is excellent value to be found. I personally value Bonvoy points at a cent apiece and have never found that value easier to attain than right now…

  13. I am also a Lifetime Titanium with Marriott and Lifetime Platinum with SPG, and this new BONVOY program is total BullS&*T!!! Instead of improving the benefits, they have totally ruined the program to satisfy the BEANCOUNTERS!!! I have switched to Hilton and Hotwire for my accomodation needs..

    Bye Bye BONVOY!!!

  14. By increasing the points you must use, it will most likely deter many people from using the higher point hotel and booking a different hotel in the area. Along with booking a different hotel, the original hotel will now loose additional spending in their gift shops, restaurants and spas. In using points, the hotel room is free whether it’s using 60,000 points or 100,000 points, Marriott is giving us the room free, so Marriott isn’t losing any revenue on the room.
    In the long run, I think this points increase for rooms will hurt Marriott rather than increase their sales?

  15. I never comment on these things but this time I just cant shut up! I have been with Marriott Rewards for 35 years back to when looking at time shares gave you points on this rewards membership, long before the credit card came out. once that came out it was a really great system the one thing that was better then the rest was the fact that the points never expired when you do not use the card. Then everything evolved into credit and the points were not only added by stays but credit spending, the system stayed pretty much the same until the last couple years when everything changed. Now! why did it change lest not go into all the BS about dollar amounts vs point spending and room costs that’s part of it but not the real underlined reason and Trump has nothing to do with it so jump off that stagecoach. The reason you are seeing this happen is the shift in generations from the Baby Boomers & Traditionalist generation to the Generation X generation – the (its all about me) generation. All they know how to is have meetings, run spread sheets and analyze numbers and then do it again. Now don’t start complaining think about it. ALL of corporate America has moved in this direction they have completely lost touch with human want and need, everything is on e-mail form them and there is no real conversations unless its them telling someone else about them.

    This is the reason that this program is changing the way it is no one ever asked people using it what they think or how they feel (if they did it would have been rolled out completely different in a way that might even end up the same way but with some twists that unhappy people could live with because they actually had some input.
    This is what’s happening all over right now and this generation is pushing away all the other generations on both sides of them which includes the Millennials and Gen Z – its no wonder there arguing with everybody (on e-mail) they never go face to face!!!

  16. Millennials need constant hand holding and reassurance and give up on everything to fast when it gets to hard which would appear like its all about me and I guess in many ways it could be but their baseline is not about complete self focus its more about concept and the world around them while bringing themselves into the mix carefully!
    Gen X is just self marketing and self defending, most and I say MOST not all are only focused on what can they get for themselves only not asking opinions of others whatsoever and operate everything through primarily e-mail as there defense for non-confrontation of subjects. Which s why we see corporations moving more and more in this direction because that’s who is now running them more and more. Don’t get mw wrong they are not a stupid generation they are just tuned out of everyone but their generation.

  17. Anyway, since the merger of SPG and Marriott loyalty program, it’s going worth and worth. Gold members have less privilege than it used to be and since that time, it was clear Marriott couldn’t care less of customers…
    I’m gold for life and I try avoiding this company since the downgrade of gold members.

  18. Sorry but after reading all of these comments I just have to say it. The sense of entitlement that many (I will acknowledge NOT ALL) of the heavy users of the these programs have is astounding. The wealthy really like their free stuff man. Marriott and all the other programs have been handing out candy for years with little to no actual return because people just take advantage of the rewards, and now when they pull back there is outrage. This is right up there with how crappy the gift bags at the Oscars are this year. Talk about a first world problem…give me a break!

  19. I’m a Lifetime Bozo-nium Elite w/Marriott… and you’re correct – the program belongs in a dumpster! Used to use Marriott exclusively and now use Hyatt when I can… as someone commented, when you’re that big, you cease to care about what your customers think. Though, I understand the comments indicating It’s basically a freebie. However, one point that I have not seen anyone make, is that Marriott started this program and gave us these benefits? They turned us all into being spoiled brats about our points and benefits, and now they’re pulling the rug out from under us. As a result I think the blame is squarely on Marriott’s shoulders for not listening to their customers.

  20. The time to have complained was when the merger was in front of the regulators. As soon as it was approved, your options were reduced (less competition), the hotels were emboldened to make changes that weren’t related to loyalty but bottom line, and your complaints were falling into a bottomless pit, because you’re just going to move to a program that is doing the same thing. When these mergers are promoted to provide greater value to customers, it wasn’t related to Loyalty programs.

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