Marriott Rewards Changes for 2009 “Let Inflation Begin”

Marriott Rewards Changes for 2009 “Let Inflation Begin”

The Marriott Rewards changes for January 15, 2009 are detailed on this Marriott webpage.

Now it is official.  And guess what?  The Marriott Rewards changes are almost the same as I posted in August, however, the concerns I expressed in my earlier post also turned out to be true.

Loyalty Traveler wrote this post on August 26 regarding the published changes to Marriott Rewards to take effect on January 15, 2009.  Within a couple of hours of writing my blog post the word had come down from Marriott that the Marriott Rewards webpage was inadvertently published and the information was gone from view. 

Today the 2009 changes to Marriott Rewards were officially announced.

Marriott Singapore


Marriott Singapore

The Marriott Rewards 2009 “Enhancements”

·         Platinum elites will receive 50% elite member bonus points, up from the current 30%.

·         Hotel stay redemptions will offer the 5th night free.

·         Hotel blackout dates will be eliminated.

·         New Award Schedule (Loyalty Traveler note: this is definitely not an enhancement!)

[In August the change was posted as 4th night free.  That would have been a much better deal in my opinion as there are no other programs offering the 4th night free, whereas Starwood Preferred Guest already has a 5th night free award option.]

The Bad News for Hotel Redemptions:

One of the best competitive advantages for Marriott Rewards is the redemption table for free nights with a lower nightly points requirement for longer stays. 

The following example illustrates the advantage of the current chart and the 2009 changes: 

The current table allows a redemption for a Marriott Category 7 Hotel at 35,000 points for 1 night, however, for a 7 night stay at 150,000 points the per night cost is only 21,429 points per night—a 39% per night redemption discount for the longer stay.

The 2009 Marriott Rewards Redemption chart for a Category 7 hotel remains at 35,000 points for one night.

A 7-night stay at a Category 7 hotel in 2009 will cost 210,000 points – a 40% increase in points for 2009.  Now that is what I call INFLATION.

Redemption points calculated as Nights 1-4 = 35,000 points x 4 nights = 140,000 points + 5th night free; Nights 6 and 7 are 70,000 points.  Total cost for 7-night, Category 7 hotel = 210,000 points.

(The redemption cost per night for a Category 7 hotel is the same in 2009 at 35,000 points, but a new Category 8 has been added to the chart at 40,000 points per night and 14 hotels are moving from Category 7 to Category 8 on January 15, 2009.)

Granted I have taken the extreme redemption case with a Category 7 hotel for 7 nights, but the best value awards have been eliminated.  I don’t want to go to Amsterdam and stay at the Marriott Courtyard. 

The increase in points for multi-night redemptions varies across the chart, but there are only 3 instances where the cost in 2009 will be lower than the current cost for free hotel nights.  (See link at end of post to CPRich chart of redemption chart percentage changes.)

2 nights at a Category 4 hotel is currently 38,000 points.  In 2009 the two-night stay at a Category 4 hotel will cost 40,000 points and only be 5% point inflation.  The only lower redemption rates are with the 5th night free option.


Is 5th Night Free an Enhancement?

Category 6 hotel for five nights in 2008 is currently 110,000 points.  The new award will cost 120,000 points or 9% more points.  This is not an enhancement in my opinion.

5th Night Free – Enhancement or Inflation?


2008 5-night Redemption

2009 5th Night Free

Category 1


  30,000  (same)

Category 2


  40,000  ( 7% lower)

Category 3


  60,000  (5% lower)

Category 4


  80,000  (6% lower)

Category 5


100,000 (5% higher)

Category 6


120,000 (9% higher)

Category 7


140,000 (8% higher)

Category 8


160,000 (23% higher)


The table shows there are actually enhancements to require fewer points for a 5-night hotel stay on the lower category hotels (Category 2-4), but the higher category hotels (Category 5-8) will see increases that outpace the decreases in magnitude.

The other factor still to be seen is the category shift for hotel members in 2009.  All hotel programs have been moving hotel properties out of the lower categories over the past few years.  Hilton and Starwood have few hotel properties left in their Category 1 and 2 redemption options. 

It looks like a 5-night stay in a Marriott Rewards Category 4 hotel will be the best value in the new redemption chart.

New Category 8 Hotels for 2009

  • Paris Marriott Hotel Champs Elysees
  • Renaissance Paris Vendome
  • JW Marriott Capri Tiberio Palace Resort & Spa
  • Rome Marriott Grand Hotel Flora
  • London Marriott Hotel County Hall
  • London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square
  • London Marriott Hotel Marble Arch
  • London Marriott Hotel Park Lane
  • Le Merigot, A JW Marriott Beach Hotel & Spa, Santa Monica
  • Renaissance Chancery Court London
  • New York Marriott East Side
  • New York Marriott Marquis
  • Renaissance New York Hotel Times Square
  • South Beach Marriott Hotel

There is a lot to digest with these Marriott Rewards changes.  Loyalty Traveler will have more to say after taking a more thorough look.  Tough times ahead in 2009 as economy disrupts travel plans and Marriott Rewards is making it tougher on the loyal member trying to get good value from hotel loyalty points. 

No blackout dates is great, but you have to have the points to travel.  These changes mostly mean your points won’t get you as many free hotel nights in 2009.

Redeem your points now, if you can.  Changes do not take effect until January 15, 2009.

Related Links:

FlyerTalk thread with the initial announcment of 2009 changes by the Marriott Concierge.

Another Math table by FlyerTalk member CPRich showing percentage changes for awards







About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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  1. I totally agree. I have been a loyal Marriott Member for 20 years and just retires and thought I had at least 2 more weeks of vacation in my old age but now I see it’s gone.

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