Marriott Rewards MegaBonus certificates don’t buy much in Savannah or Charleston

Marriott MegaBonus offers category 1-4 free night certificates. This post shows how reward category changes in coastal Georgia and South Carolina have severely reduced the usefulness of these free night certificates as hotels have jumped one, two and three hotel reward category levels in the past three years since 2011.

The coastal hotels from Savannah, Georgia to Virginia Beach have skyrocketed in hotel award category since 2011. I have a collection of category 5 free night certificates earned from MegaBonus promotions over the past year. They have limited usefulness for the majority of Marriott brand hotels along the Atlantic coastline of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

Over the past few years I have written about annual hotel category reassignment and noticed lots of hotels in the southeast moving up. Now that I am planning a trip to the Coastal Empire of Georgia and the low country of South Carolina, I decided to go back and see how much the Marriott Rewards hotel category changes over the past three years since 2011 have impacted the usefulness of MegaBonus category 4 and 5 certificates in these locations.

The changes are kind of shocking for people holding and earning category 1-4 or category 1-5 free night certificates with Marriott MegaBonus or Marriott credit card certificates.

2014 Category 7 hotels


  • Savannah – Savannah Marriott Riverfront (2011 category 5)
  • Savannah – SpringHill Suites Savannah Downtown/Historic District (2011 category 4)
  • Savannah – Courtyard Savannah Downtown/Historic District (2011 category 4)

South Carolina

  • Charleston – Courtyard Charleston Waterfront (2011 category 5)
  • Charleston – Courtyard Charleston Historic District (2011 category 5)
  • Charleston – Charleston Marriott (2011 category 5)


2014 Category 6 hotels


  • Savannah – Residence Inn Savannah Downtown/Historic District (2011 category 4)

South Carolina

  • Charleston- Residence Inn Charleston Downtown/Riverview (2011 category 4)
  • Charleston – SpringHill Suites Charleston Downtown/Riverview (2011 category 4)
  • Mt. Pleasant – Courtyard Charleston Mt. Pleasant (2011 category 4)
  • Mt. Pleasant – Residence Inn Charleston Mt. Pleasant  (2011 category 4)


2014 Category 5 hotels

South Carolina

  • Myrtle Beach – Courtyard Myrtle Beach Broadway (2011 category 5)
  • Myrtle Beach – Fairfield Inn Myrtle Beach Broadway at the Beach (2011 category 5)
  • North Charleston – SpringHill Suites Charleston North (2011 category 3)


2014 Category 4


  • Savannah – Courtyard Savannah Midtown (2011 category 3)
  • Savannah – SpringHill Suites Savannah I-95 South (2011 category 3)
  • Savannah – SpringHill Suites Savannah Midtown (2011 category 3)

South Carolina

  • North Charleston – Courtyard Charleston Coliseum (2011 category 2)
  • North Charleston – Fairfield Inn & Suites Charleston Airport/Convention Center (2011 Category 2)


2014 Category 3


  • Savannah – TownePlace Suites Savannah Airport (2011 category 3)
  • Savannah – Fairfield Inn & Suites Savannah I-95 South (2011 category 3)
  • Savannah – Fairfield Inn & Suites Savannah Airport (2011 category 3)
  • Savannah – SpringHill Suites Savannah Airport (2011 category 3)
  • Savannah – SpringHill Suites Savannah Midtown (2011 category 3)

Bottom line is nearly every hotel in the downtown areas of Savannah and Charleston have increased by two or more hotel reward categories. This is one expensive area for hotels and the rates are like big city rates. Marriott category 1-4 certificates used to get you into downtown Savannah and Charleston. In 2014 you can plan on a free night stay in the suburbs or airport locations of Savannah and Charleston with your free night certificates.

This same scenario has played out across the USA as the proportion of hotels in Marriott Rewards category 1-4 have dropped from 85% to about 67% in the past three years.

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. The worst part is that some of those category 6 hotels are crap. Nights go for around $100 at most because they are not good to begin with.

    I find it very dubious that the category has anything to do with the demand for award nights. If it were, then we would see a lot more hotels going down in category which is definitely not the case.

    Thanks for the post Ric. Even the SH Savannah Downtown is far from being worth category 7.

  2. So true. The megabonus isn’t worth participating in anymore. I am now concentrating on Hyatt. The only advantage with Marriott is the volume of locations they have.

  3. Marriott makes no sense to me. You can stay in one of the best hotels in Granada or Cordova, Spain, or a Fairfield Inn in South Carolina for the same amount of points…

  4. Ive seen this over the years with this devaluation of Marriott that has made be look elsewhere for hotel loyalty.

    Any Marriott that can be anything of a weekend vacation destination has gone up to cat 5 or higher.

    Part of the reason for $200/night in some areas has to do with the business traveler nearby there.

    By far the worst I’ve seen has been near airports for airport stays where rates have probably gone up the most.

    What they need to do is change the free cert system to be good at any Marriott.but the hotels have a cert limit. The points stay the same.

    The other option is to change the 2 stay get a free cert to 2 stays get 15,000-20,000 points instead of a cert that has been devalued.

  5. I had 3 certificates and feel I am getting some decent some value from 2 nights at Colorado Springs Marriott, and 1 night at Courtyard Denver Downtown. Heading to CO the week before Memorial day.

    Values in coastal hotels is a different story.

  6. @Carl the Colorado Springs Marriott goes for as little as $59 a night on Marriott.com and unless there’s a reason it can usually be had for less than $100. It really is a steady stealthy devaluation. I have the credit card and may cancel it this year. I’m also moving stays to Hyatt & Hilton. Hilton points are actually easier to use and they have more desirable resort properties than Marriott.

  7. Can multiple certificates be used for one stay? Or is it just one cert per stay? Trying to squeeze out as much value as I can – which is tough.

  8. @Nick – Right now the site is showing $!59 for Colorado Springs (NOT advance pmt), and $179 for Denver Downtown for the nights I have. So at those rates I’m getting about $500 for staying 4 nights on MB and the CC night. Not sure why the rates are higher than your usual experiance.

    Unfortunately Hyatt and Hilton are beyond what I can usually get away with my company stays (usually in DC area). I just do enough Marriott for the Megabonus. But I get where you’re coming from. I’m usually do IHG or Club Carlson properties.

    @Marie – If I get your question I am using two certificates for the two night stay in Colorado Springs.

  9. @Marie. earning and using are different.

    You need 2 stays to earn a cert

    Thecert can be used for one night, and you can use them for consecutive nights at the same place. I have done this multiple times where my entire stay is by using free certs.

  10. Baffled by why they continue these MegaBonus now? If they are going to make them nearly worthless, why not just terminate them entirely. I used to be able to use these things at say the Atlanta Gateway near ATL, or the Maui Courtyard. Not any more!

    This goes double for the Marriott Credit card, another worthless cert on anniversary. Cancelling!

  11. I agree in GA I had four certs that I used before this years devalue. Marriott was nice in giving 1-5 when the promo was 1-4. This issue is both Stone Mountain, and Callaway Gardens properties have gone up to CAT 6. At this point I will not be trying to earn these, and may even close the card. For $65 I am not sure if I can find a Cat 5 I will use. Even worse is only giving you six months to use the cert before expiration from the CC.

  12. Had the same experience searching for Orlando/Disney and DC/VA hotels. Rooms that would cost under $100-$150 per night are cat 6 and above. Frustrating.

  13. @djp @Carl P, thanks. I’ll have to call marriott to do that, won’t I? I can’t seem to apply more than one certificate to a stay online.

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