Marriott Rewards Changes Coming

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Gary Leff from the View From The Wing Blog is reporting that his sources at Marriott Rewards have told him of some upcoming positive changes to the loyalty program.

The key changes appear to be:

  1. Introduction of true “Cash & Points” awards. Marriott currently has a version of this that is all but useless but, if these reports are true, that’s about to change. Marriott is to finally follow the other major hotel loyalty programs and introduce a fixed redemption model whereby points will, essentially, be assigned a cash value so that a cash payment will reduce the number of Marriott Rewards points that you need to use for a redemption.
  2. Reward nights to count towards elite status – another Starwood-esque change. This will be particularly useful to Marriott Rewards members who struggle to balance the high targets Marriott sets to achieve elite status with the wish to redeem points.
  3. Points will be shareable with anyone – not just immediate family. Gary is reporting that base and silver members will be required to pay a fee of $10 while Gold and Platinum elites will have this perk for free.
  4. Points advances to be an official benefit. For years Marriott has allowed it’s Marriott Rewards members to book award nights even when their accounts don’t hold the requited number of points…just as long as the required points are in the account when the stay takes place. This nice perk has always been an unwritten one but Marriott now intends to make it a published benefit of the loyalty program.

There don’t appear to be any details of when these changes will be coming but it’s probably safe to assume that the changes will be coming sooner rather than later.

Having a true cash + points system will be a nice option to have when redeeming Marriott Rewards points but I’ll wait and see just how expensive being a points discount will be before I get too excited about this option.

Having reward nights count towards elite status will give me a bit more freedom to redeem points when, in the past, I’ve opted to pay cash to get me over the line for Platinum status. So this is a benefit that may actually save me real cash…and that’s always good!

The other two benefits don’t affect me but its nice to see the “point advances” being officially recognised in the Marriott Rewards program. It’s a lot easier for a loyalty program to discontinue benefits that aren’t written into the rules than ones that are set out in black and white.

All in all I’m cautiously happy with the changes that are reportedly coming our way but I’ll wait to see what the full scope of changes is before I get overly excited. I’m quite the pessimist when it comes to changes in loyalty programs – what they give with one hand they often take away with the other – so I like to see the small print and make sure that there are no nasty surprises tucked away before breathing too big a sigh of relief 🙂