When Marriott Rewards introduced Cash + Points Rewards in 2012, I wrote a post Marriott Announces Cash + Points reservations that save no cash and no points (July 28, 2012).
Marriott Rewards cash and points is different from other hotel loyalty program offers. Each night of a Cash + Points reward must either be a paid night or a points reward night. There is no discount as seen with Cash and Points rates in other hotel chains. You either pay the regular points for each night or the regular room rate.
The primary value in Cash + Points is the opportunity to book a 5th night free extended stay using non-consecutive reward nights and extend your stay with additional paid nights on dates when the rates are lowest.
The Algonquin Hotel, Times Square, Autograph Collection
Marriott Rewards Category 8 = 40,000 points per night.
Saturday, March 15 – Friday, March 21 (six nights)
195,000 points for 6-night reward stay or $339.15 per night, except Sunday night March 16 is $207.
195,000 points for six nights.
Check Use Cash + Points box and a rate calendar appears:
The six night rate automatically combines 5th night free and PointSavers discount reward rate for March 16.
- 5th night free = 40,000 x 4 = 160,000 points.
- Sunday, March 16 = PointSavers date = 35,000 points.
This is still a points-only stay. The PointSavers night also happens to be the only night of this stay with a substantially lower rate drop from $339.15 to $259.
By changing Sunday, March 16 to a paid night this stay also counts for Marriott MegaBonus (2 stays = 1 category 1-5 free night certificate) and the paid night counts for elite qualification.
March 15-20 for six nights is 160,000 points + $259.
Marriott Rewards Cash + Points allows a paid night in the middle of a six-night stay while still receiving the benefit of 5th night free reward. The rate on the paid night is $80 less than any other night of this stay.
Paid Rate = $2,205 after tax for six nights March 15-21.
Note that the rate on 3/16/14 is listed as $207.20, yet the rate shown in the Cash + Points calendar for this same date is the Best Available Rate (BAR) at $259.
Cash + Points display shows the flexible cancellation rate while the cash only rate gives the prepaid, nonrefundable advanced purchase discount rate.
Cash + Points rate = 160,000 points + $300.70 ($259 + tax).
Pay $2,205 or redeem 195,000 points for Standard Reward.
$2,205/195,000 points = $11.31 per 1,000 points redemption value.
This is good redemption value for Marriott Rewards points.
Cash + Points Reward redemption value:
$2,205 – $300 (paid night) = $1,905 saved by redeeming 160,000 points.
Redemption value = $11.90 per 1,000 points.
Marriott Rewards member gets 5th night free on five nonconsecutive reward nights. This is a reward option for someone who has 160,000 points, but not 195,000 points. Buying 35,000 points from Marriott Rewards at $12.50 per 1,000 points will cost $437.50, so it is less expensive to pay for the one night than buy 35,000 points.
Additional benefits of this Cash + Points reward are the paid night qualifies for elite and promotions credit. There is no elite or promotion credit for reward nights. The one paid night in this Cash + Points 6-night stay will qualify for Marriott MegaBonus credit (2 stays = 1 free night Category 1-4 or 1-5). The $259 rate will earn at least 2,590 points.
There is one major limitation to the online Cash + Points reward system. The paid Sunday night required booking the BAR $259 rate when the prepaid rate is $52 less. Members report that a rate adjustment to lower rates like AAA, corporate and prepaid rates are sometimes possible after booking Cash + Points stays online by contacting Marriott Reservations. The limitation of the online Cash + Points site is the BAR rate is always used in the calendar. This is a limitation members have complained about since the Cash + Points tool was released in summer 2012.
Another good outcome reported by Marriott Rewards members using Cash + Points stays can happen when paying for an upgraded room to start a hotel stay, then switching to reward nights. Some members report getting to stay in the upgraded room/suite on the Standard Reward nights.
Bottom line is Marriott Rewards Cash + Points is most useful when it comes to extended stays where 5th night free reward night counts even when reward nights on a single hotel stay are not consecutive nights. You can adjust the reservation to pay for nights when rates are lowest and redeem points for higher rate nights.
Marriott Rewards Cash + Points reward option, while not a traditional Cash and Points Reward, does allow members to play with dates and rates to land the best value hotel deal on extended stays while getting the 5th night free discount.
Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.
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