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Will Marriott devalue Bonvoy Platinum Elite status?


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It’s not much of a secret that there are few things that Marriott likes more than a good old-fashioned devaluation so following the news that Bonvoy Platinum Elite status is now being handed out as a credit card benefit, speculation has been growing that the benefits associated with Platinum Elite status will soon be cut. So, is a devaluation imminent?

Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite

Before considering whether Marriott may cut back on the benefits that Bonvoy Platinum Elite status offers, here’s a quick look at what the key benefits are.

  • 50% bonus points on all Marriott stays
  • Space available room upgrades up to and including “select suites”
  • A welcome gift (varies by brand and includes breakfast, bonus points, an amenity, etc…)
  • Lounge access
  • Guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout

There are a few other benefits too but as mentioned above, these are the key benefits offered to Bonvoy Platinum elites.

Why would Marriott devalue Platinum Elite status?

Because the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card now offers Platinum Elite status to anyone who holds the card, a lot more people now have access to the benefits that the status offers. And, when more people (in the US) wake up to the fact that in return for a $650 annual fee (rates & fees) they can enjoy the same elite benefits as people elsewhere who have to credit a minimum of 50 elite night credits to the Bonvoy program, the number of people with access to Platinum Elite benefits will grow even further.

That’s significant growth in the Platinum Elite population and because it costs real money to offer the benefits of Platinum Elite status, you have to ask if Marriott and the owners of the hotels that participate in the Bonvoy program will be happy for so many more people to have access to these benefits.

What could Marriott do?

Most things in the hotel and loyalty world revolve around money, so any changes that Marriott may or may not introduce will be focused on saving as much money as possible (or limiting the amount of money that has to be spent).

  1. Removing the Platinum Elite lounge benefit would reduce the number of people that can visit the various lounges around the world which would offer savings (on food and drinks) to the owners of the properties.
  2. Removing the option for Platinum Elites to choose free breakfasts for themselves and a guest as their welcome gift would not only reduce costs for hotel owners but could also potentially increase hotel revenues as guests who would otherwise have had free meals, now pay for them in the onsite restaurants.
  3.  Replacing the guaranteed 4 p.m. check-out with an earlier check-out time of 2 p.m. (for example) would mean that rooms are freed up earlier and that would allow for more efficient use of the housekeeping staff. Efficiencies = savings.
  4. Reducing the number of bonus points that Platinum Elites earn would mean that Platinum Elites would have to make more stays to earn the same number of points as before. More stays = more money for Marriott (and the hotel owners) and if a Platinum Elite doesn’t make more stays, they’ll have fewer points with which to book free night stays. That’s another win for Marriott and the hotel owners.

The one key benefit that I’m reasonably sure Marriott wouldn’t bother including in any devaluation is the upgrade benefit. Upgrades are usually only offered on a “space available” basis so Marriott doesn’t need to do anything here – most Bonvoy properties are already more than capable of making sure they don’t have any “space” available for upgrades when it suits them so there’s no need for an official devaluation.

What is Marriott likely to do in a devaluation?

If Marriott was to decide to devalue the benefits it offers, I don’t think it will touch the bonus points that Platinum Elites get. Bonvoy redemptions are going to be considerably more expensive than they are right now when full dynamic pricing comes into play next year so no further points devaluation will be necessary.

I also don’t think that Marriott would stop Platinum Elites from choosing the free breakfast option as their welcome gift (where applicable) because I think that would leave the Bonvoy program looking considerably weaker than Hilton Honors. It may, however, make the benefit less valuable.

I can imagine Marriott limiting breakfasts to a dollar value and/or excluding buffets and hot options as that would play well with the hotel owners…and let’s not forget how keen Marriott is to please them..

Lounge access could easily be one of the benefits that gets cut in a devaluation as this would kill two birds with one stone – it would please higher-level elites by reducing overcrowding and it would offer savings to hotel owners. Those are two groups of people that I suspect Marriott is most keen to keep happy.

Another likely thing to be cut in any devaluation to Platinum Elite benefits is the guaranteed 4 p.m. late check-out because with the number of Platinum Elites swelling as it is, I don’t think this is sustainable.

We already know that a good number of Marriott properties (mainly in the US) frequently find themselves very “elite heavy” so with yet more Platinum Elites on the way, some of these properties could find themselves facing situations where during busy periods, a very significant number of their rooms are not available to be serviced until after 4 p.m. That’s going to make life very hard for some hoteliers and I suspect that they’ll demand Marriott do something about this.

So, is a devaluation coming?

Note: I have no solid information from anyone within the Bonvoy program so what follows is speculation and an attempt to work out what Marriott may do next.

Loyalty programs almost always devalue (they rarely get better over time) so I wouldn’t be taking much of a risk if I simply said that yes, Marriott will devalue Platinum Elite status, because that’s taken as a given. At some point, Marriott will devalue the whole Bonvoy program (again!) because that’s how the loyalty program game works.

The real question to ponder is the one that asks if we’re going to witness a devaluation that targets Platinum Elite benefits in the near term.

The answer to that, I think, is no. I don’t expect Marriott to devalue Platinum Elite benefits in the near term.

It was only last week that Marriott and Amex were citing the new Platinum Elite benefit as one of the key justifications for the sharp rise in the annual fee that the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card charges, so it would be very hard for Marriott to now turn around and devalue that benefit in the near term.

Doing so wouldn’t just look bad, it would be a PR disaster and it don’t think Amex would be too impressed if Marriott devalued a benefit that had just been added to one of its premium credit cards.

Having said that, I have no doubt that Marriott will devalue Platinum Elite benefits (and possibly the benefits that other elite status levels offer) as soon as it thinks it can get away with it.

Swelling the number of Platinum Elites to what I assume is a record level will have to be balanced out somehow, so either Marriott will have to find a way to bring the numbers of Platinum Elites down or, eventually, it will have to reduce the cost of offering the benefits that Platinum Elites get.

The hotel owners will demand no less and as it’s no secret that a lot of them are already unhappy with the level of benefits they are expected to offer elite guests, and as we know that Marriott prioritizes the wishes of its hotel owners over the wishes of Bonvoy members, a benefits devaluation is inevitable.

Bottom line

A Bonvoy benefits devaluation is inevitable but I don’t expect to see one next week, next month, or even next year. By 2024, however, I suspect Marriott will feel like enough time has passed since it told us how great the Bonvoy Brilliant credit card’s new benefits are and that’s when I think the hammer will fall.

Now watch Marriott prove me wrong and devalue the program in January! 😁

What do you think? Is a devaluation coming?

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44 COMMENTS

  1. Interestingly, if they remove those benefits for Platinums, it then basically makes it the old Marriott Gold. And Titanium becomes the old Marriott Platinum. Would not surprise me in the least if that’s what ends up happening. Not least as I am sure there are many legacy Marriott owners who are still angry at revenues lost due to many more current Platinums than there were previously (and the reimbursement from Marriott for free breakfasts are much lower than the hotel would directly get from the customer)

    • That’s what I tell BA every time I end up in one of their “priority” lines that welcomes “Gold, Silver, and Emerald” oneworld elites!

  2. 2 other things: lifetime titanium is off limit, in the past 2 yrs they basically throwing 50-75 nights to everyone (no other hotel does this). they would have plat devalue in mind for a long time.

      • Yes. I missed the one-time lifetime platinum to titanium conversion when Starwood was assumed. Nearly 700 stays now and I am sad to say I switched about 80% of my stays to Hilton. It isn’t better but now I have more choices. Sad what Marriott has done to us.

  3. Excellent! Make Titanium and Ambassador the only ones that get access to lounges….and then enhance Titanium amenities. I’m sick and tired of the airlines doing the exact same thing… Giving higher status to credit card holders while the rest of us have to earn status by flying or staying in a hotel… At the end of the day everyone is super elite and no upgrades are available even for the ones who work hard to fly or stay. After the merger I thought that the silver gold platinum titanium crap was a joke… Get rid of silver and gold… Make platinum the first elite level… Go from there. If the hotels and the program give breakfast to titanium level members… That would be an impetus to get to that level

  4. And furthermore get rid of all of the different metals at check-in… Elite check-in should be strictly for elite high level members… Titanium, ambassador and may be platinum… I can’t believe how long the elite check-in lines are at hotels!

    • If you can even find an Elite level check In. I Always see an elite sign but no employee or red rope, etc. It’s a free for all, and hardly ever will an agent say “thank you for your loyalty as a Lifetime Titanium.

          • I am not sure if you can earn it anymore or not. I just know that I do have lifetime Titanium Elite status and a metal card to prove it.
            I guess we will see what this next year brings.

        • Adam – As I am sure many more people will reply to you, yes Lifetime Titanium status does indeed exist. Those of us who have it got it the hard way – because there was no easy way to achieve it (i.e. – you can’t buy a $1000 a year credit card or match into it from another program).

      • I usually ask the lobby staff to show me to the executive lounge and that’s where I do all of my check ins. Grab an espresso, sparkling water and sit at their desk. In some properties they will even show you to a table in the lounge, take your drink orders and come to you at your table for the check in process.

  5. Never underestimate the ability of Bonvoy to disappoint.
    Do you know if I do get the card for the 25 EQNs and I already have 2 cards that get me to 30, will I then get bumped up to 40 this year, adding the extra 10? I know only 2 card’s EQNs count but which 2? That would put me over 50 nights and I actually have used my SNAs this year so it would be worth it.

  6. With the credit cards churning out nights, I wouldn’t be surprised if Marriott drops a tier that requires 380 nights a year. How about just shut down the program altogether? They’ve abused their customers for years, but people keep staying in their hotels anyway. Just take all the customers out to the toolshed at once for the final beating. They’ll still stay. Marriott knows and counts on this.

  7. Why don’t they just become a bank and skip the whole hotel business??? This LT SPG and Bonvoy Plat is liking my Hyatt Globalist program a lot better.

  8. Agree completely. I feel sorry for people that are either lifetime Platinum or earn it with 50 nights (inc credit card bonus nights of course) since this will reduce the value even if Marriott doesn’t devalue (which is almost certain) since upgrades and other amenities will be tougher to get. I’m lifetime titanium and look forward to maybe some of the restrictions like lounge access. Only allow Titanium or above plus people that purchase a club level room (or pay an add on for the lounge) to have access. That would thin the herd.

    BTW – likely dropping my Bonvoy Brilliant credit card. At $450 a year with $300 in credits and a 50K free night it made sense for me but not at $650 w $300 credit (I will use the credit for restaurants but liked the old one better) and basically $350 for an 85K certificate. Sure I can get 1 night of value over $350 but frankly wouldn’t have stayed a lower end property for 1 night and if a longer stay would have to pay cash/points for it. All the other benefits (including obviously the Platinum status) mean nothing to me since I already have them with many other cards (have Amex Platinum and CSR for example). With the $200 AF increase Marriott priced me out as a customer for this card (especially since I have the Chase Bonvoy $95 card and can use that for the same benefits during a Marriott stay)

    • I keep the chase $95 card from years back where I earn 1 elite night for every 3k spend. They try to get me to “upgrade” out of it but I know better.

  9. So awhile ago Marriott Gold status used to have lounge access/free breakfast and its the reason I made them my favorite hotel when traveling for work. I would use that lounge to the fullest. Then gold in the new status program after the merger didn’t have lounge access or free breakfast. And so I started staying at Accor hotels and building loyalty there because I like their hotels and service better and I had less reason to stay at Marriott. Now I can get platinum status with my credit card and go back to getting lounge access so I’ll start staying at Marriott again. I don’t see this as anything other than a course correction to a few years ago where mid-tier and higher got lounge/breakfast access. Am I the only one that remembers that?

  10. I spent over 1,100 nights at SPG and then Marriott hotels over an 11 year period and made Lifetime Platinum. Now all I need to do is pay the annual fee on an Amex card that I already have, to get the same benefit? Really?!?!

    It is called a loyalty program. That loyalty should be rewarded not devalued at every possible turn.

    Anyone know if Hilton is doing a status match? Asking for…well…me.

    • I’m pissed off too. Of course, is $700 worth free breakfast? Most lounges have been cut or at least what they offer in the lounge. Also the quality of the breakfasts have vastly dropped.

      I have Diamond status but Hilton has watered that down even further. Some of the Diamond members I would come across baffled me, then I found out you could get it with a cc so I ditched Hilton.

  11. I don’t think the new Marriott card is as user friendly for the average consumer as people think. Yes, people are going to use airport lounges, but do we think that the average user is staying at the JW,W, regular Marriotts, the Fine Hotels Collection, etc. Most likely they are going to be staying at the Fairfield Inn, etc, were Platinum Status is worth a lot less. Just remember. Most people that get into the hobby start with airlines miles and then try to figure out hotel points. Most people are not as extreme in the hobby like the people writing in the comments. I think the extreme people are probably no more than 10%.

  12. I was upset to see platinum being handed out for a CC. However I believe this is a push due to a significant decline in CC applications. We are in a recession that will only get worse over the next few years. Amex and Chase needed something worth it to keep their new card numbers up. I don’t expect there to be long lines of new platinum members coming through the doors for $700 per year. They are more or less forcing an upgrade for existing Amex/Chase customers that aren’t earning platinum already.
    The devaluation has already happened by way of the properties giving subpar breakfasts and closed/limited hour lounges. I just walked by a closed lounge today at a Sheraton.
    Another major issue for proprieties is staffing. They can’t find reliable help (in the US at least) and I feel like all hotel brands are in the same boat. The hotel experience has been diminished. $600 a night is the new $300 in many ways from just a few years ago. The Sheraton I’m at now was $220/night for Weds/Thurs and I feel like I’m at a holiday inn.

  13. Marriott is a mess at the moment. They consistently are not delivering on their brand promises. The Moana Surfrider told us Ambassador, gold, platinum, we don’t care, we treat you all the same. I am sick and tired of the emphasis on credit cards and the benefits holders receive. American Air is the same way. I have traveled almost constantly this year, but because I don’t use their credit card I haven’t even hit platinum yet. That includes two trips to Hawaii, one to Europe and multiple business trips all over the country. There’s no value in those that are loyal to the brand, people can just buy their way to status without ever staying at a resort or flying with them. I understand the revenue from kickbacks, but frankly loyalty points should reward those who are loyal to the brand.

  14. that would be very unfair to all people outside USA. In Europe we do NOT have all the creditcard options so we need to “work” for the platinum status. I would be very upset if I stayed 50+ nights and do NOT get the benefits anymore

  15. There are no benefits anymore. I’m Ambassador (all on stays and $’s spent on property not cc) and on the last 4 stays – only two recognized loyalty when I checked in. The last one told me they don’t give water – what???!! Never mind breakfast – it’s a joke right now!! Welcome gift – 2 of the four had a treat in the room, as for the last one that didn’t even have water! Breakfast – 2 had continental, of the 2 – one was Greek yogurt, granola, croissant and coffee – the other was horrible dry with no flavor fresh fruit, super sweet yogurt and coffee, the last one that didn’t give water, yep, didn’t give breakfast either. No lounge open at any. There is no difference between Gold and Ambassador anymore. Very very disappointed with Bonvoy.

  16. Why do you publish this type of speculation without any factual information? Marriott has not said benefits will devalue. Hilton did it years ago with Amex Aspire card and gave Diamond status and it seems to be working out fine. Lounge was not taken away. It is bloggers like you who spread hysteria that is not needed. Try reporting factual information and not speculation.

      • Wow, nice. Someone has something negative to say about what you’ve written and immediately you criticize their knowledge on the subject? Oh sorry, not just their knowledge on the subject, their actual understanding of a word they used in their own response. Really? Did it make you important?

        • Where am I criticizing the commenter’s knowledge of a subject? If you’re going to get annoyed with me about something, at least make sure you’re getting annoyed about something that I have actually done, said, or written.

          For what it’s worth (and to clear things up for you), I’m criticizing the commenter’s hyperbolic use of the word “hysteria” which suggests that people are becoming emotionally out of control as a result of an opinion piece that I wrote about a hotel loyalty program. That’s utterly ridiculous.

          P.S If you or anyone reading this knows of someone who’s really getting “hysterical” over an opinion written about a hotel loyalty program, please get them some help.

  17. I’m getting life time platinum this year. If they remove the benefits I will change immediately to Hilton or Hyatt. No reeason to stay in mostly old Marriott hotels and even never can use the benefits like suite upgrades.

  18. Well, I was pissed when they devalued Lifetime Platinum. I hit it when it was 1200 or 1500; can’t remember because I was over 2000 nights and had Platinum 18 of the 19 years in the program. Again, who do they think their audience is? Giving it to CC holders suck, unless you are spending upwards of $80 – 100K, you should not receive it. Marriott will live to regret this.

  19. Everyone talks about lounge access, although 2 out of 5 Lounges are still not available. I never get a legitimate upgrade, like you did before the merger. Marriott hotels are not being kept up to date. They have the lower end hotels that are being catered to, so why spend the extra money for the true Marriotts. The hotels that Marriott got from the merger are very poor quality also. Most Westin’s need serious updates. Again, 50% chance no lounge available. And anymore, everyone seems like they are elite so what is the true benefit. I have one night to get my Titanium and once I do it will be Hilton the rest of the year. Need to keep my options open.

  20. As a Lifetime Titanium member (former SPG Lifetime Platinum), I say “What benefits?”. I never get a room upgrade, the points keep getting devalued, lounges seldom open. I wish Hilton had purchased SPG, not marriott. My points lost 40% immediately at the merger (SPG gave 2+50% per dollar, marriott 10+50% per dollar, yet they only gave us 3 bonvoy points for every SPG point. Should have been 5). SPG 500 check-in bonus when a cat 3 hotel was around 5k points is a whole lot more than bonvoy 500 check-in bonus when a cat 3 hotel is 30k points. SPG would waive parking and resort fees. Not bonvoy! I am tired of being bonvoy’d!

  21. I don’t think the author understands how corporate credit cards work. Delta Air Lines here $2 Billion alone from their Amex credit cards, that’s why there’s always a push for now card holders. And whereas crowded airport lounges are a thing, crowded hotel lounges are not.

    • 1. I’m going to assume you mean co-branded credit cards (corporate cards are not the same thing).

      2. What does Delta’s revenue from its Amex cards have to do with whether or not Marriott will devalue Platinum elite status?

      3. Yes, a large number of Marriott lounges are getting overcrowded. Not all day but certainly at times where food and drinks are being served.

  22. It’s no longer a free breakfast. It’s a $10 credit (market adjusted). So my favorite buffet is at the Westin Hilton Head. I used to get it free for me and my kids. Now I spend $60 plus tip for it.

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