Marriott Bonvoy Announces a Very Painful List of Award Category Changes

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Award category changes are a fact of life in the hotel loyalty game. Every year, a bunch of hotels change from one award category to another. Some chains take a reasonable approach to these annual changes – with hotels just as likely to drop a category as to go up. Marriott, on the other hand, takes advantage each year to slip in a stealthy devaluation. 2020 is no different…

On 4 March, 2020, hundreds of Marriott hotels will be increasing in award category. A few will drop, but those will certainly be the hotels where cash rates are far lower than the value of the points you would be spending.

As always, you can book now at current prices for stays after 4 March. However, if you subsequently try to modify that reservation in any way, you will end up repricing to the as-current price. And as I’ve written about previously, “Points Advance” is now completely useless for locking in award category / pricing / etc.

Which Hotels are Changing Award Category?

Because the list is so long, all I can do is point you towards Marriott’s special website, dedicated to outlining which hotels will change in award category. You can access the website by clicking here.

As a reminder, this is what Marriott’s award chart looks like:

Are Airline Miles Now the Best Use of Marriott Points?

Of course it is easy enough to overreact when one peruses a list of “award category changes” and finds many of one’s favourite hotels about to increase in price (using points at least). At such times, it is useful to remember that you can still convert your Marriott points into airline miles. By converting 60,000 Marriott points, you will receive 25,000 miles.  More if you wait for a conversion bonus…

Share the Changes That Most Annoy You

I’m not surprised to see the Marriott Auditorium hotel near Madrid airport increase from Award Category 2 to 3.  But the nearby AC Coslada hotel – much worse in every way, including substantially lower room rates – also goes from 2 to 3.

By the same token, the super cheap Moxy hotel near London’s Heathrow airport is dropping from Award Category 4 to 3. Perhaps sensible, but the Sheraton Skyline and Sheraton Heathrow hotels are also dropping to Category 3. Only the hippest of millenials would rather use their points at the £50 per night Moxy instead of the £100+ per night Sheraton Skyline.

Does it make sense to have one hotel undercut nearby hotels when using points? I suppose it doesn’t. But at the same time everybody just gravitates to spending their points at the better hotel, so isn’t that equally as bad for Marriott?

Which changes most annoy or bother you? Let us know in the comments section…


  1. Gtellez says

    Most of the hotels I usually stay are increasing the price, like the Marriott Auditorium you mentioned (so points is not a great value anymore there, since cash rates are usually 80-90 euros a night, that for 10-15k points made sense…not for 15-20k).
    Same with AC Aitana en Madrid (from category 3 to 4), one of my favorite hotels in Madrid, where cash rates usually are in the range of 120-150 euros a night, so 17.5k was a really good redemption.
    Other notable mention is The Langley, where cash prices are well over 500-600 pounds during summer, but I have booked a night for 40k (peak) in July!

    • Craig Sowerby says

      Yeah. The Langley was always going up. It probably could have been two categories.

      The only other UK sweet spot hotel that comes to mind is the new Courtyard in central Oxford, which doesn’t appear to be on the list.

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