Need to burn Marriott MegaBonus category 5 free night in high category world

Last November I earned a free category 1-5 hotel reward night e-certificate from Marriott MegaBonus with two stays on best rate guarantee discount rates in Denver. My free night certificate expires in two weeks.

Marriott Rewards had a major shift upwards in hotel category reassignment on April 8, 2014. Over 200 hotels moved up from category 5 to category 6 on that date. This change pushed over 200 hotels out of contention for redeeming a Marriott category 5 hotel certificate. The MegaBonus certificates and Marriott Rewards Visa card member annual free night certificate are capped at category 5 hotels. Loyalty Traveler – Marriott Rewards hotels geographical list for category 5 to category 6 reassignment April 8, 2014 (March 20, 2014).

There has been a significant shift in Marriott Rewards hotel reward categories over the past two years. In late 2012 there were fewer than 9% of Marriott Rewards hotels in Categories 6, 7 and 8. Marriott Rewards added a new high end category 9 in 2013 and the proportion of hotels in categories 6-9 grew by more than 50%.

Marriott Rewards category distribution 2013

Changes in 2014 pushed another 200 hotels into Marriott Rewards category 6. The proportion of hotels in categories 6-9 jumped to 20% of Marriott properties. Two years ago there were less than 9% of Marriott’s global chain in categories 6-9 with just over 300 hotels out of reach of a category 5 free night certificate. Now, in 2014, there are more than 750 hotels in Marriott Rewards categories 6-9.

Marriott Rewards 2010-2014 category changes

I will take a road trip to California’s north coast redwood country in the next two weeks. There are a still a couple of Marriott brand hotels where I can burn a free night in a place I want to travel.


Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. Check out current hotel loyalty program offers across all the major chains in Loyalty Traveler’s monthly hotel promotions guide.

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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’m dumping the Marriott Chase card, as this benefit is now worthless. I have 2 certs also that are bound to expire unused, the California and east coast locations I frequent have few locations lower than Cat6. I mean sure I could drive an extra hour so I could stay in a Fairfield but why?

  2. Thanks for posting. I live in the SF area and am struggling to find a place to burn mine on an overnight trip with the kids nearby. Anywhere I’d want to take my kids in Northern California seems to be category 6 and up. Used to be able to burn the certs at the Fairfield Inn in Anaheim across from Disneyland, but even that is a Cat 6 now. This may be the last year I have the Marriott card. California seems completely blacked out. I may have to join you in Ukiah.

  3. A LOT of us feeling that way. Megabonus was pretty good at Cat5, then even that reduced to Cat4 for most of us before going away (the current MB promo is totally bogus – just cheezy marketing noise). Coupled with the upward shift of so many properties, a real loss.

    Wake up Marriott.

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