Marriott’s 2019 Hotel Category Changes – The Numbers

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At some point on Friday afternoon Marriott quietly published a list of its properties that will be seeing the cost of an award night change for bookings made from 5 March 2019 onwards.

The fact that the news was put out on a Friday afternoon and that no emails were sent out to let members know about the upcoming changes speaks volumes but, nevertheless, I thought it would be interesting to look into the numbers behind the information we’ve been given.

The first thing I need to point out is that I’ve seen various other sources say that around 380 hotels are seeing the cost of an award night change but, on the list I’ve seen (and exported to Excel), there are just 323 hotels changing category.

a white building on a beach
Image – Marriott

From the list I’ve seen…

  • 286 properties are going up a category (and will cost more)
  • 37 properties are moving down a category (and will cost less)
  • No properties are moving by more than 1 category

For reference, here’s what the standard Marriott award chart looks like:a screenshot of a white table

Of the properties going up a category….

  • 161 are in the United States
  • 21 are part of the Autograph Collection
  • 14 are JW Marriott Properties
  • 7 are Luxury Collection Hotels
  • 5 are Ritz-Carlton properties
  • 2 are EDITION hotels
  • 2 are St Regis properties
  • 2 are W Hotels

8 new top-tier Category 8 properties are being created (not including properties previously announced as Category 8 properties):

  • Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina – British Virgin Islands
  • The London EDITION – United Kingdom
  • Pine Cliffs Residence, a Luxury Collection Resort – Portugal
  • Las Alcobas, a Luxury Collection Hotel – United States
  • The Ritz-Carlton Dubai –  United Arab Emirates
  • The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah – United Arab Emirates
  • W Hong Kong – Hong Kong
  • The Westin Europa & Regina Venice – Italy
a building with columns and a gate
Image courtesy of Marriott

Of the properties going down a category….

  • 16 are in Europe
  • 3 are in the United States
  • 5 are in the UAE
  • 1 is in the Maldives
  • 3 are Luxury Collection Properties
  • 2 are W Hotels
  • 1 is a St Regis property

One top-tier Category 8 property is moving down to Category 7:

  • The St Regis Osaka

No Category 7 properties are moving down to Category 6

Effect On Credit Card Certificates

Chase and American Express issue credit cards which offer annual certificates for awards at properties costing 25,000/35,000/50,000 per night (depending on which card you hold).

Following the changes just announced here’s how things will look going forward:

25,000 Points Certificates

  • 64 properties are moving up from Category 4 to Category 5
  • 12 properties are moving down from Category 5 to Category 4

From 5 March 2019 there will be 52 fewer properties at which 25,000 point credit card certificates can be used.

35,000 Points Certificates

a black card with white text and a blue circle

  • 72 properties are moving up from Category 5 to Category 6
  • 3 properties are moving down from Category 6 to Category 5

From 5 March 2019 there will be 69 fewer properties at which 35,000 point credit card certificates can be used.

50,000 Points Certificates

  • 22 properties are moving up from Category 6 to Category 7
  • 7 properties are moving down from Category 7 to Category 6

From 5 March 2019 there will be 15 fewer properties at which 35,000 point credit card certificates can be used.

I’ve already pointed out how Marriott’s introduction of peak and off peak season will be a negative move for anyone looking to use their credit card certificates and now we have a situation where considerably fewer properties will be available to card holders looking to redeem their award night certificates – essentially this is a devaluation of the credit card benefit.

JW Marriott Singapore South Beach

Bottom Line

I’ll be taking a closer look at properties you should be looking to lock in at the current rates and properties you should hold off booking in a separate post but, for now, here’s a summary of my thoughts.

  • Overall a definite negative set of changes for Marriott loyalists
  • More disappointing devaluations to the credit card certificates
  • Almost exactly half of the properties moving up a category are in the United States so this doesn’t bode well for domestic award night redemptions.
  • One positive is that the properties moving down a category (as few as there are) aren’t confined to regions where few people want to travel

Don’t forget that the changes come into effect for bookings made from 5 March 2019 onwards so there’s still time to defend against the increases if you know you need to make a booking.


  1. Hey Ziggy, there are a few paranoid points advance reservation holders (me included) are worried about the new T&C updated that Marriott will increase the cost in points on existing reservations if they don’t lock their points in by 3/5. I’m still working on a CC sign up bonus, which will be done before my reservation in November, I don’t want to lose out to realize that come March, I will need even more points for my reservation.

    Do you think you can ask your Marriott contact point regarding this?

  2. Hi Bernard, I’ll see what I can find out – for now I strongly suggest assuming the worst (and working towards earning as many points as possible) as anything else will just be a bonus.

  3. Thank you for keeping us all informed. Your updates have been invaluable and I always look forward to your emails.
    Just a heads up about a problem with my Cash and points reservation which I made in July. It was a Category 3 hotel and I booked 5 nights for $55 cash and 3,500 points for April, 2019 This hotel is now a category 5.
    My reservation now says $140 cash and 17.500 points. This is wrong and I will phone to have this corrected. It should read $55 and 10,500 points(3,500 x 3). I guess everyone should be checking their reservations to make sure the conversions have been done correctly.
    It has been a tough job for the customer service centre with SPG, but I am very impressed with the way
    they have handled it and how I have been treated when I call.

    • Thank for the kind words and for the heads up on the issue you’re having – I’ll highlight this (when I get a chance) to ensure others are on the lookout for similar errors

  4. Thanks Ziggy.. Really appreciate if you can follow up..
    If given the case, we might need to get a friend to transfer us those bonus points..

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