The new Ritz-Carlton Rewards Travel Packages have some built-in convenience fees. The Hotel + Air Travel Package has several reward options, each for 7 hotel nights plus 35,000 to 120,000 airline miles, depending on airline and reward level. These Ritz-Carlton Travel Package rewards, often called one of the best value rewards in hotel programs for the similar Marriott Rewards Travel Package, are actually more expensive for hotel nights and miles at the lowest miles level than redeeming points in separate transactions for a hotel stay and a points-to-miles exchange.
The problem with the Ritz-Carlton Travel Packages is Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 hotels are lumped together in the same reward price. Marriott Rewards does this for category 1-5 hotels, but maintains separate reward levels for category 6, 7, and 8 hotels.
A Tier 1 Ritz-Carlton hotel is only 30,000 points per night or 180,000 points for seven nights. A Tier 3 hotel is 50,000 points per night or 300,000 points for a 7 night reward stay. There is a 120,000 points difference in the cost of a seven night hotel stay at a Tier 1 versus a Tier 3 hotel, yet the 7-night package cost is the same for these two different tier hotels.
The way I view Marriott’s Travel Packages is the full cost of the hotel is charged for the reward, but the air miles are effectively 1 point = 1 mile. The best exchange rate available in a Marriott/Ritz-Carlton Rewards points-to-miles exchange is 2.5 points = 1 mile when redeeming 125,000 points for 50,000 miles.
- Ritz-Carlton Hotels in Tier 1 are 30,000 points per night with the option for a 5th night free reward.
- 5 nights at a Tier 1 Ritz-Carlton cost 120,000 points. 7 nights are 180,000 points.
- Points-to-Miles Exchange for 50,000 United Airlines Mileage Plus miles = 125,000 points.
In separate transactions a seven night stay at a Tier 1 Ritz-Carlton Hotel and 50,000 United miles only cost 305,000 points, yet the Hotel + Air Travel package for 7 nights + 50,000 miles charges you 350,000 points. This is a 15% higher rate for the same items.
This Marriott deal reminds me of when I went to a bagel bakery and the sandwich on the menu was more expensive than buying the bagel and paying for each item separately as a bagel addition. When I pointed this out to the salesclerk, he said, “But the one on the menu is a sandwich.”
So, I guess Marriott Rewards and Ritz-Carlton Rewards feel there is something about the Travel Package menu that warrants a higher cost for a Tier 1 hotel stay + 50,000 miles.
My advice is just order these rewards separately unless going for a Tier 2 or higher hotel.
Hotel + Air Travel Packages increase in value for rewards with more miles
There is no savings redeeming a Ritz-Carlton Hotel + Air Travel Package at a Tier 1 hotel for 50,000 miles. There is a slight savings of 15,000 points when redeeming a Ritz-Carlton Travel Package for 50,000 miles at a Tier 2 or Tier 4 hotel. The big savings occur when using the Travel Package at a Tier 3 or Tier 5 hotel.
Savings increase as you go to Travel Packages including more than 50,000 miles. Additional miles above 50,000 miles are given at the rate of 1 point = 1 mile, so the package with 120,000 miles is only 70,000 points more than the points needed for a 50,000 mile Hotel + Air Package.
Again, the best exchange rate available with Marriott/Ritz-Carlton Rewards points-to-miles exchange is 2.5 points = 1 mile when redeeming 125,000 points for 50,000 miles.
The real value behind redeeming points for a Hotel + Air Travel Package reward is the points-to-miles 1:1 exchange rate.
Redeeming points for anything other than a Tier 3 or Tier 5 hotel will give less than 1 point = 1 mile exchange rate in the Ritz-Carlton Travel Package. You might want to look at redeeming for a Marriott Category 7 or Category 8 Travel Package for a better deal.